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AutoCAD user interested in VW -- What's the best way to test-drive?

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I have used AutoCAD for the last 15 years and I'm feeling stuck in the mud with it (I'm using version 2002 now and haven't seen the worth in upgrading).

VW seems like it might offer some things that AC does not, at a better price.

How can I evaluate it though, without just purchasing it? Is there any sort of time-limited evaluation program offered? Are there good books that give a sense of the program without needing the program there to experiment on?

I use SketchUp a lot and like it. All of my work in AC is 2-D. From what I have read about VW, it will allow me to work in 2D, Import from SketchUp, and do 3D in VW if I want -- that appeals to me, not having to work a certain way as in Revit, etc.

Thanks for any advice you can offer!

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Hi John,

I also use AutoCad but v2000.

If I remember correctly when purchasing VW I was told there is NO TRIAL PERIOD offer like other programs.

I was told that they were so confident we'd love it and VW offers a money-back guarantee instead.

If you are getting into the rendering more you might consider getting the version with RENDERWORKS.

While I am still learning VW I am really using Renderworks for my renderings as I had been using AC for all my drawings 2D and 3D. ( I was not doing renderings until recently)

I use the AutoCad for rush jobs as I know it but my intentions are to switch over to just the one program, VW w RW.

So I'm working kinda backwords but find the quality and ease of use excellent in Renderworks. (With the help of all these fine people in here).

I have no problem opening an AC drawing in VW, saving it as an .mcd VW drawing and rendering it.

However I have read on this Forum that newer versions of AutoCad will not work.

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When I switched from ACAD last year, I got a trial version (12.5 not 2008) from NNA. I have heard that NNA might have changed it's policy but it seems pretty crazy to me if they don't offer a trial/demo version. Have you tried calling NNA sales and asking for a trial version? As I understand it, NNA offers a free educational version to students - it adds a watermark to all drawings - perhaps they'd let you use one for evaluation purposes.

Good luck.

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FYI: If you do get a trial version, you may want to inquire as to the service pack it has. I had a full trial version (RenderWorks, Designer, Architect, etc) sent to me a few months ago, but it did not include even SP2 and you can not upload a service pack to a trial version yourself... and it was REALLY buggy.

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I have used AutoCAD for the last 15 years and I'm feeling stuck in the mud with it (I'm using version 2002 now and haven't seen the worth in upgrading).

When I had worked 6 months with AutoCAD the senior architect (owner) asked to another architect who was kind a AutoCAD guru in the office what new features comes with new version (then it was AutoCAD 2007) and is it worth to upgrade. The answer was that there are 2 nice new functions, but nothing much.

Now, after more than 2 year work experience with AutoCAD versions 2007-2009 and moving to CAD managers position I can tell you that if you use AutoCAD as a big, comfortable drawing-board there isn't any reason for you to upgrade to new version. I you think about software more just than a drawing-board, there are plenty functions, features, technologies worth to upgrade. Especially from 2002.

Regarding VectorWorks - it's just a different peace of software, at some point similar to AutoCAD Architecture. If you didn't find much luck with AutoCAD this might be an option - the interface is different, the logics are different, the bugs are different :)

If one thing didn't work something different might do.

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The free VectorWorks2008 viewer....


... is always available for opening sample files. It lacks the object tools and modifying commands, and can't save. But there is enough there to get a feel of the user interface - navigating classes, layers, sheets, etc. And some good sample files to look at are the BIM practice files:


I've found VectorWorks Architect is great to use at home, if not at the AutoDesk-oriented office. Its graphic tools are miles beyond AutoCad, even in simple things like hatching. Revit's a lot better, but it lacks in site modeling, does not have parametric plug-in objects, and, as you pointed out, it only works one way.

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And some good sample files to look at are the BIM practice files:



About those sample files: The Alexandria Lofts has the entire project in one file. This means that there are lots and lots of viewports in one file. So it is probably better to avoid the "Update all viewports" command. I tried it, and after about a half hour, force quit the program, because there is no way to cancel the update viewport operation (wish list item).

That said, my experience tells me that VectorWorks runs much better with externally attached files, or workgroup references - instead of one file for everything. This means having a separate a file for the civil drawings, and another file for the floor plan drawings, etc. And with less viewports per file, the update viewports function will be less tedious.

So in summary, the Alexandria Lofts file does not feature the ideal drawing management. I also noticed that it has 2D dimensions and line patterns on a 3D modeling layer - tsk, tsk.

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I love your avatar.

Thanks, I got this from RobiNZ Cad Blog. He said it is the cover of a Swiss children's book. I use it, because I've learned that BIM could mean anything. A nifty 3D software package. IFC documentation. A Cad procedure for documenting accurate site conditions. That animated flash on the TV screen when Batman socks a criminal.

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