Jump to content

ACad user new to VW

Recommended Posts


I know there have been some topics about this before but I did not see quite the answers I was looking for.

Those of you who have worked with both Autocad and VectorWorks, could you explain the fundamental differences, both in Drawing and organisation (layers, classes, sheet layers, viewports). Those who have never used Autocad are of course welcome to explain how they organize a project in VW. At first glance the organisation seems more complex in VW than AC, but I could be wrong. In AC, I draw everything in 1:1 anywhere in model space, and then I use paper space with viewports to organize the drawings on sheets and control the scale of each drawing, how do you do this in Vectorworks?

Thanks In advance

Link to comment

VW Tools work like SU tools.

VW Commands work like AC commands.

VW Symbols are like AC blocks & SU components.

VW Groups are like SU groups.

VW Classes are like AC/SU layers.

VW Sheet Layers are like AC layout tabs.

VW Design Layer is like AC's model tab.

If you're not sharing drawings with AC users, you can use multiple Design Layers, and you can give them scales other than 1:1 if you want. And you can combine Design Layers that have the same layer scale, making 2 or more of them visible at the same time. When combined, they have a stacking order, as do objects within each layer; that becomes important if you use filled polygons that can cover up objects behind them. Filled or hatched polygons are very useful in VW 2D work, especially when drawing elevations.

Since you want to migrate to 3D, a good way to start might be to use the Wall tool to do your 2D plan drawings, with window and door objects plugged in to the walls. It's a good way to draw plans, plus whenever you want you can just decide to give those objects a third dimension; then your plan automatically becomes both a 2D plan and a 3D model, with some things visible only in plan view and other things visible only in 3D views.

Link to comment

I moved to VW from ACAD because I wanted to INTEGRATE 3d into my workflow. VW allows me to draw in 2d to "automatically" build much of a 3d model. I have found this to be a boon for the design process as well as for my clients. Being able to really see things in 3d helps us both understand the design better. I have also found this to be a boon for my 2d drawing production because I can get elevations and sections from the model without having to draw them from scratch.

The transition was not easy, however. VW works in a very different way. There is no command line in VW, everything runs from a tool or menu (there ARE keyboard shortcuts, though.) In VW, you generally select the object first, then the action - in ACAD you generally select the action first, then the object. VW is designed to work more like a drawing program than a drafting program. In ACAD, you draw LINES for most things. In VW, you draw SHAPES for most things (although you can draw lines too) and those shapes can be moved in front of or behind one another (similar to Adobe Illustrator.) VW has parametric objects for many things (windows, doors, cabinets, furniture, etc.) which do much of the drafting and modeling for you - you drop an object into the drawing and customize various settings to configure it.

For me, the big struggle was trying to make VW do what ACAD does - this does NOT work. There are many "simple" things that seem stronger (to me) in ACAD (hatching and dimensioning, for example) but there are MANY "complex" things that don't even exist in base ACAD (like walls, windows, and doors.)

After roughly a year of using VW, I'm just as fast in straight 2d work as I was in ACAD after 12 years of use. Overall, I think that I'm probably still a little bit slower in VW than I was in ACAD BUT I'm producing 3d drawings on every project and was producing NONE when using ACAD.

Simple drawing exchange (sending ACAD plan backgrounds to engineers) has been fine (not perfect.) More complex drawing exchange (sending information on sheet layers and other 3d info.) definitely needs more work on VW's part.

There are certainly days that I'd like to throw my computer out the window (sometimes because of bugs, sometimes because of my lack of VW experience) but most days, I'm glad that I switched.

Oh, and did I mention that moving to VW allowed me to dump my PC in favor of my mac? I literally can not remember the last time I turned on the old PC.

Hope that this helps.

Link to comment

I left out a key difference between VW & ACAD. VW has layers and classes in a single file. You generally use layers to separate things like floors of a building. You use classes to separate different kinds of things (like walls, windows, doors, millwork, plumbing fixtures, etc.) on each layer. ACAD, of course, only has layers - people generally use separate files and x-refs to separate things like floors of a building.

Link to comment

VW layers may be used as a functional organization of objects. In architectural drawings you can use layers for each of the floor plans, site plan, electrical plan, hvac, etc. and you can control the look of the objects in each layer with classes.

VW symbols are hybrid meaning they can have both 2D and 3D components. So as you draw your floor plan in 2D, you are also drawing the 3D model.

The layer scale is a feature that was necessary to print before VW introduced sheet layers and viewports. It is still useful to control the look such as text and symbol scale.

If you work with different units on each job, you would not need a different set of symbols for each unit because the symbol dimensions are converted when imported into a document (i.e. 1 foot is converted to 12 inches when moving a symbol from a foot unit to an inch unit document).

Link to comment

Thanks guys for your input.

I downloaded the Alexandria Loft Bim sample, and the file organisation is making a lot of sense after your information. The Sheet layers and annotation modes in conjunction with viewports seem very effective to me.

One thing I don't understand though. When I am viewing the 3D model, all kinds of 2D information is blocking the model in the foreground. What is up with that?

Link to comment

As a relatively recent VW convert from AutoCad, my experience has been quite similar to Bill's (see above). Most of the different concepts were realtively easy to grasp (VW design layers, for example, can be imagined as multiple AutoCad model spaces), the parametric objects and object-oriented drawing are great once you get used to them, and the different command entry methodology is just a matter of changing your habits. The thing that's taken me the longest to grasp is VW's mysterious relationship between 2D and 3D space:

In AutoCad, when you draw 2D geometry, it is drawn in 3D space with Z=0. In VW I've finally come to think of 2D and 3D as separate universes that somehow have a mysterious relationship (thus allowing for hybrid objects). It's this weird thing where 2D objects always relate the same way to each other, but their relationship to 3D space changes as you change your view -- extrude a rectangle in different views, and it'll have a different orientation in 3D space. I've given up on trying to understand it logically and just learn the way it works, and I think I've succeeded...

Link to comment

Conceptually, though, it does make some sense to have a separate "universe" for the 2D representation of the 3D model -- there are certain times when I want to show things a little differently on an architectural floor plan than they would look if the drawing was literally a plan-section of the actual model. But yeah, it's a bit of a brain-twister...

I haven't worked with Revit or Archicad, but from what I've heard and read it seems like this is where VW actually has a lot more flexibility, by allowing you to mix 2D and 3D at will or as necessary to achive the most efficient solution to any given drawing/modeling task. By the same token, I'm sure this flexibility can present a pitfall at times.

Link to comment

Thanks for all your replies! I've been playing around with VW some more and so far, most things seem logical enough after all of your explanation. I have drawn a simple 2 storey building in 3D and I'm in the process of extrating views from it and annotating and dimensioning. I am of course running into problems every now and then. Right now I'm struggling with the section viewports.

I'm in plan view on a design layer named "ground floor". I make the section viewport and assign it to a sheet layer. The section that appairs only displays the ground floor, not the floor above it. I have checked the layer options in the section viewports, and all design layers seem to be active. Any thoughts?

Link to comment

I'm in plan view on a design layer named "ground floor". I make the section viewport and assign it to a sheet layer. The section that appairs only displays the ground floor, not the floor above it. I have checked the layer options in the section viewports, and all design layers seem to be active. Any thoughts?

The section viewport you made is cut on the "ground floor" layer, so the section cut line can't see the other layers. I usually create a layer called "model", and create layer links or design layer viewports for the floor and roof layers that make up the building model. THEN you can make the section viewport on the model layer. You can also make elevation viewports of the model layer from the sheet layer. Vw Architect has a "model setup" command under the File > Document Settings which helps in setting up the building model, so that your floor layers are vertically aligned.

Layers can have different view orientations, so it may also help to use the "Align Layer Views" command under the View menu. Top/Plan view is 2D only, while the Top view is a 3D overview.

Link to comment

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Restore formatting

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...