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holsteinson

VW09 still no ground and grid coordinates support !

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Another VW release and again no support for real land surveys and stake out designs!

When will VW support UTM grid coordinates as well as WGS-84 datum?

AUTOCAD CIVIL 3D and Land Desktop, Eaglepoint, Bentley, Microstation as well as all other serious CAD provide support for ground and grid real world curved earth coordinates.. so the question remains, when VW will?

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It would be very much appreciated if someone at Nemetschek would comment on this issue. It is causing a dilemma for me as road design projects often exceed 1 kilometre, survey data is collected from optical total stations & GPS, source cadestral data are in ground distances & agencies are requiring that as-built drawings be georeferenced.

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For some unkonow reason Nemetschek doesnt see as profitable module to support the GIS and Land Survey requirement for real curved Earth designs and providing stakeout tools...

Since this georreferencing feature has been requested since MiniCAD days and still there is no response, one has to conclude that there is no technical georreferencing capabilities and resources to implement it within Nemetschek!

Maybe Nemetschek should say, just buy another real world CAD software, we dont know how to program it

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I have been investigating other software because of the lack of georeferencing (will check to see if Safe Software's FME translation engine could be incorporated into Vectorworks).

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Honestly, I do not understand what is the big fuss with georeferencing. Do you mean to say that you want survey points expressed in degrees, which is the only way they would be mathematically correct, rather than a linear measurement?

I am under the belief that the survey equipment should give you the correct georeferenced location and then you layout a new road based on the grid provided by the survey.

Every single civil engineer I have known works this way and although all use AutoCad or Microstation, they rarely make use of any georeferencing. In some instances, I have used microstation files as a base for other projects and have found errors in the layout with lines not being tangent, etc. The point is that some of these designs and the way these roads are constructed are not accurate either so it defeats the purpose of being georeferenced correct.

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Dear Miguel

I am amazed that you are asking what is the big fuss about georeferencing the projects.... It goes without saying that all federal projects require mandatory WGS-84 UTM or state grid coordinates for all works, as well as all GIS applications... The advantages of using 3D georeferenced coordinate systems to survey and layout any project have been documented for over a decade, when all machine control requires it.

Your belief it totally incorrect. The survey equipment does not generate the stake out file out from the design drawing by itself, the engineer or surveyor has to manually select the vertex, IP and any other points on the drawing to generate a point coordinates (X,Y,Z) list to be exported to the data collector and then is when you can do the layout in the field with the survey equipment.

AutoCAD has more than 5 scripts to do this task and AutoCAD Landesktop and AutoCAD Civil 3D include this feature. PLIST for AutoCAD is a free download script but VW has not been able to program (even copy it)

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Trimble LINK add on can be downloaded for free in www.trimble.com and installed to AutoCAD Civil 3D and Landesktop 2006 and up and will allow you to download georeferenced survey files directly from the data collectors and generate georeferenced data preparation files for 3D machine control and layout works with no effort. I am sure that if VW approach Trimble they would be able to provide a similar add on module!

Trimble Geomatics Office 1.63 does handle great 3D georeferenced surveys (GPS, total stations and digital levels traverses) and has a ROADLink module that would solve your problems with road design and layout files blues ...

Also another real CAD programm is Pythagoras that has all the support for 3D WGS-84 georeferenced surveys and layouts

Landmark module should be called artist landscaping, since it doesnt provide real world coordinates support at all to make a LANDMARK

Edited by holsteinson

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Holsteinson,

You just reinforced the point I was making that the georeferenced survey is provided by the data collectors. Once you import these points into VW, you can layout the road infrastructure on a georeferenced correct coordinate system. What you are really asking NNA is to provide the means to communicate both ways with these data collectors or any other software that may use survey information.

In my workflow, I ask the surveyors for a text file with the x, y, z, id, code, description, etc. I import this point data into custom plug-ins that hold all the information and then I create 3d points and 3D polygons (for existing curb lines) to build the DTM. Once I have designed the road alignment, I provide all the information needed to build or reconstruct the road on the plans. Unfortunately, I have not been asked to provide digital files to stake out the road so consequently, I have not taken the time to develop the script to export the data.

Exporting the data can be done easily as long as the file format is known and one such format I have heard about is LandXML. If Trimble LINK has the ability to read and write to a public or known format, then it would not be a problem developing the scripts for importing and exporting data.

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Miguel

Would appreciate your comments on my dilemma "agencies are requiring that as-built drawings be georeferenced." I have old optical total station data, old road designs & over 1 thousand cadestral plans that need to be georeferenced to GPS control. I am looking for a method of being able to switch views between ground & georeferenced grid so I can adjust the source data & check it against georeferenced aerial photography.

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Miguel regretfully your workflow is based on the old "flat earth" approach long discontinued by modern georeferenced "curved earth" practice where you have ground coordinates surveyed with optical total stations and grid coordinates with GPS receivers and the software transforms the coordinates between these 2 datum planes.

VW2009 does not support datum grid/ground distances and coordinates so any editing done to the survey data in the VW CAD drawings would be incorrect since it is NOT reflecting correctly the changes in the scale factors done when it is layout!

Obviously the ground coordinates should be reduced to UTM grid or state plane coordinates in order to have all the surveys compatible with GIS and other mapping products.

The data collectors DO NOT generate the georeferencing of the jobs or drawings, the surveyors when they occupy the control points with know coordinates and link their traverse to them from these.

Again the REQUIRED coordinates TEXT (CSV) export format for all data collectors in order to be able to layout the user selected polygon's vertex, line endpoints and locus points in the VW drawing is:

point number, Northing, Easting, Elevation, Description

Also XML and LANDXML are coming rapidly as import and export surveying format that need to be supported by all CAD programs

VectorWorks should really contact Trimble Navigation and get them to program a Trimble LINK module to solve these serious georeferencing shortcomings of VW and bring it up to date in the surveying and layout practice!

Alexander Holsteinson

Civil Engineer

Trimble RTK GPS Product Specialist

Geomatics Professor, University of Santo Domingo

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Yes, I do still work with the old "flat earth" approach but so do all engineering firms I have had contact with. I do understand your dilemma but not much is going to change unless local agencies require the survey points to be georeferenced. If this becomes a requirement all across, then CAD & survey software will be forced to add this capability to stay competitive.

You should also keep in mind that Landmark is meant for Landscape design and the set of features conforms to that discipline. Being a user since MiniCad 1, I opted to upgrade to Landmark when it came out to make use of the DTM. I knew beforehand that I would need to develop my own tools and adapt it to my line of work because the package lacked what I needed.

NNA had a GIS product a while back, so I do not think they are in the dark in this respect but most likely, did not pursue it further because there was a low user interest.

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Miguel, the GIS functionality you are referring to does still exist and hopefully will become an essential tool as landscape architects and landscape designers take a larger view of how their project will impact, and is impacted, from surrounding areas. The ability to import world referenced image files and similarly world referenced shapefiles is present, and has been present for a few years. Since I have joined the company just under a year ago, I cannot say definitively how Vectorworks Landmark tools carry on civil and survey engineering functions, particularly with export of point data (in formats other civil/survey engineers would expect), since that has not been my area of expertise, it is an area that I am growing in knowledge about, so hopefully soon can speak more about. I would like to mention that we have a user case study on the site that mentions how the importing of GPS data into Vectorworks helped them avoid problems with their site plans (See http://download.nemetschek.net/news/CS_LAND_morris_architects.pdf

I am glad to hear that there are some plug-in options and perhaps some scripting options that may do some bridging of areas not already meeting the needs of users who do the data export to civil/survey engineers.

Thanks to all who have commented, I will keep reading and taking notes!

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Miguel, most of my work (Landscape Architecture) is as detailed as yours. Most of design teams I lead, whether as a subdivision planner, resort planner, site development planner, project manager,etc. require that I be able to provide road profiles and designs, storm water concepts, grading plans, etc. to the civil engineer. They, then refine my drawings under my direction to achieve the design goals. I believe Landmark is intended to be more than a planting plan generator. Unfortunately, it is the issue of which comes first - the chicken or the egg.

If you have developed tools which help along the civil engineering lines, I would market them to those of us who are patiently waiting for VW to fully realize that the egg needs to come first before others will buy the package. If they really thought of Landmark as only a landscape garden package, then we would already have a functioning irrigation design package.

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Thom,

I would like to market what I have developed but I do not have the resources and the time needed to support it. There are also some gaps in the design process that can be automated but have not had a chance to develop the scripts for them. I still consider it a work in progress and would hate to market an unfinished product that users will be unhappy with. I say this from previous experience when I developed and marketed WallFramer and ended up selling the idea and the code to Diehl Graphsoft (now NNA) because I could not keep up with requests and improvements to the tool in a timely manner.

Since you mention that the irrigation package is not functioning, can you provide a list of things that need to be added to work correctly?

Eric,

The mapping product offered was called Azimuth and checking the latest offering, it is listed as discontinued.

While thinking about a solution for the geographical coordinate system, would it be possible to export points in a format that Arcview could convert them from a projected to a geographical coordinate system? I know the reverse can be done because I used shp files to get property information and convert point locations using ESRI MapObjects SDK.

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The present irrigation package is just symbols, no automation etc. It needs to be a complete package. Rumor mill says it is being considered / worked on. I was hoping to see it in 09. Until VWL has one, many LA's will not consider the package.

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Azimuth update

I spoke to Richard in late September & he the provided the following: I've been updating Azimuth recently to make it fully compatible with both PowerPC and Intel Macs. I've also been making Azimuth run more cleanly. There were too many bugs in the last version. There is still no support for datums. That would require Azimuth to create the upper plot layer to do some independent things that I've never gotten into.

Richard Furno

Azimuth

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I think that VW should rename LandMark module as Lanscaping Module since there are no real surveing, COGO, DTM, DEM, hydrology, road design, GIS or layout tools built into it to really be a "landmark" module

If the Azimuth new release still wont support datums, grid and state plane coordinates systems as well as geoid models, then it is as useless as VectorWorks for all GPS surveys, layouts and georreferencing DTM, background ortophotos, GIS products, ect..

It is amazing to find out that since 1994 when the GPS system became operational worldwide, VW is not capable of programming and implementing these industry standard georeferencing features, that are mandatory for all federal and state agencies!

How can VW without any georeferencing support think it can compete with AutoCAD Civil 3D or Landesktop or EaglePoint, just to mention some real competitors?

Edited by holsteinson

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Miguel we can generate mapping data out of surveing data but not the other way around since it does not have the precision required.

Real world civil engineers, contractors and surveyors need the surveying and layout tools in "LandMark" or a new "Geomatics" Module in VW.

State plane coordinates would give you a maximum accuracy of 1 meter for every 10,000meters surveyed or layout when using flat earth instead of curved earth! UTM grid coordinates are worse giving you 1m for every 2,500m accuracy! So as you can see it is a significant cumulative error introduced when not corrected!

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You are correct Thom if the users have manually design and size all components of an irrigation project, VW LandMark doesnt have the tools to accomplish this, specially with such a limited DTM set of features and tools (no slope analysis, shading gradients, different type of soils and permeability, etc)

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Miguel georeferencing is mandatory for surveys, cadastral, design, layout and as built drawings for most federal and state agencies for over 5 years and everyday more and more clients are requiring it for private project to avoid coordinate errors and duplication!

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I have just attendend the AutoCAD 2009 Civil 3D and their main focus was 3D georeferenced data preparation and design for machine control, something obviously we will never see in VW LandMark by the lame Nemetschek tech support responses on this issue

I am amazed how short sighted and poorly researched is VW's new features product development team, releasing new versions with very minor features that have almost no real value for the $$$ spent for it!

Edited by holsteinson

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Holsteinson

I have always worked for local government agencies and routinely had to design or review state highway projects of local interest. Neither Caltrans nor TxDOT had ever required the surveys to be georeferenced and I find it hard to believe that most state agencies require this while the states that are at the forefront of new technology do not.

Although there might be very good civil engineering CAD packages, the truth is that most state and local agencies have already set their CAD standards and it would be an uphill battle to change their preferences. I have observed for the past 20 years that large, multi-discipline agencies require Microstation while small sized consulting firms use AutoCad.

Since I work for the government, I have been allowed to work with VW because I can produce construction drawings in a fraction of the time and at a much lesser cost than it would take a consultant to do. These projects are typically time sensitive and they do not care how I do them, as long as I draw the plans fast and can provide pdf and dgn files.

VW does not provide the tools to produce civil engineering projects but this does not mean it is not capable of being one of the best. No other CAD software can compare with the drawing features such as hybrid objects that you can use to model the real world. The printed output is also far better than what you can get from other CAD software.

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Miguel

I find it unbelievable that Caltrans & TxDot are not georeferencing your design drawings, surely someone at these agencies is inputting your drawings into their GIS-T system! How are your design drawings integrated with their other projects?

It is my understanding that all states have a congressionally mandated requirement to provide US DOT with state transportation geospatial information.

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