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sarah_earney

Vectorworks vs Microstation

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I should probably say first that however much I like Vectorworks I'm not intending that this post becomes a major rant about one cad programme or another!

We are a small office (7 of us) that runs both VW (on Mac) and Microstation (on PC, or on Mac via Parallels or Bootcamp) and are currently reviewing how we do things before we decide whether or not to upgrade our 4 licences of VW 12.5 fundamentals to VW2009 architect (I want the ability to spin around what I'm drawing) - basically is it worth us spending the money on upgrading VW if Microstation can do everything we currently use VW for. Historically we have used VW for the smaller jobs in the office (eg ~?150k - ~?500k house extensions and refurbs, historic building work) and larger projects (eg ~?8m leisure centre)up to planning. Microstation (Powedraft) is used to run the largest project in the office, a ~?35m mixed us development.

So, I have a few questions that I wondered if anyone could shed some light on, particularly if you're someone who know both programmes:

- Batch printing; is this possible in VW2009 architect?

- File sizes; why is it that a VW file can be ~40MB, but when exported and imported into Microstation it can be a tenth of the size? And, is there anyway round this? I know that using symbols should keep VW file sizes down, but I always seem to end up with larger files than the Microstation crew do. If we were to run a large project in VW then we'd end up having to buy more server memory just to store it all.

- Is Vectorworks really capable of running large (ie +?5m) projects? I know of a large-ish office locally that runs it and has problems (server crashing every day), but I don't know if that's more to do with their general IT set up or VW.

- What would you rate as the most valid reasons for using VW over Microstation (my list already includes cost of licencing, prettiness of drawings, being able to see as you're drawing what your drawing looks like - colours, line weights etc, speed of exporting dwgs, quicker to draw stuff initially), or indeed Microstation over VW (arguably better equipped for running large projects, quicker to change drawings)?

- Does anyone know/has it been announced when the next version of VW is due out? If we're going to make the upgrade I'd rather do it now before it gets even more expensive!

Thanks for your time and thoughts.

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Batch printing; is this possible in VW2009 architect?
Yes and batch export DWGs. See this page for more info: http://www.nemetschek.net/upgrade/

If we were to run a large project in VW then we'd end up having to buy more server memory just to store it all.
I've never understood this argument. You can buy a 500GB hard drive for less than a few rounds of beer these days.

Is Vectorworks really capable of running large (ie +?5m) projects?
It's capable, yes.

What would you rate as the most valid reasons for using VW over Microstation
You've got the usual arguments covered. I haven't used Microstation.

Does anyone know/has it been announced when the next version of VW is due out?
Around September based on last year's release.

If we're going to make the upgrade I'd rather do it now before it gets even more expensive!
I'd be thinking more along the lines of wait until the next version as any increase in cost between now and then will pale in comparison to the added functionality that will likely come in the next version.

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- Is Vectorworks really capable of running large (ie +?5m) projects? I know of a large-ish office locally that runs it and has problems (server crashing every day), but I don't know if that's more to do with their general IT set up or VW.

We run jobs nearly 10 times this size on Vectorworks (12.5 and 2008), but we don't do anything fancy - 2D drafting mainly with separate files for each building and each projection. We also don't run off the server for the most part - you get far less crashing if you work on files locally and then file them back on the server at the end of the day. If a file is over 20Mb we generally split it.

I haven't used Microstation since it last ran on Macs, which must be 9 or 10 years ago, so can't comment (it was a terrible program back then...)

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- Batch printing; is this possible in VW2009 architect?

Yes, in each individual file but not across files. You have to open each file then you can batch print from that file. If your project documents are in multiple files you will then have to open each file to Batch Print the Drawing Sheets located within that file.

- File sizes; why is it that a VW file can be ~40MB, but when exported and imported into Microstation it can be a tenth of the size? And, is there anyway round this? I know that using symbols should keep VW file sizes down, but I always seem to end up with larger files than the Microstation crew do. If we were to run a large project in VW then we'd end up having to buy more server memory just to store it all.

The files size is created due to the richness of the graphic capabilities that you mention in your commentary on the ability to create better looking documents in Vectorworks. The file size does not effect speed of the working in the file as much as Microstation. As Christiann mentioned HD cost is quite low though you should factor this into your use and purchase of the VW upgrade. Using Symbols does not effect the file size as much as they do on Microstation based upon the way that Vectorworks handles Symbols. We work on and create large Mixed Use projects that take up to 20GB (Giga) on the server which has not been an issue. How one divides the work in each file is more of a critical factor than the overall size of all the files.

- Is Vectorworks really capable of running large (ie +?5m) projects? I know of a large-ish office locally that runs it and has problems (server crashing every day), but I don't know if that's more to do with their general IT set up or VW.

See comments above but the quick answer is yes. In any project you will end up dividing the work into multiple files with Vectorworks or Microstation. We work off the Server but we run an Apple Server not a Windows Server and have not had crashing issues due to working on the server. We have one file that is over 1GB in size and once open works as if it is local. This is more dependent on the amount of RAM you have in the local user computer than the files size. We have a minimum of 4GB of RAM for our computers as Apple Computers can use all of this and it eliminates paging out to the server. So you may have to factor this into your decision. You may encounter more file management issues with Vectorworks, as Microstation still has a slight edge with Referencing and Resource Sharing. Most mixed use projects require more communication of digital files between the consultants and Microstations ability to work Natively in DWG reduces the time needed to translate Vectorworks files.

- What would you rate as the most valid reasons for using VW over Microstation (my list already includes cost of licencing, prettiness of drawings, being able to see as you're drawing what your drawing looks like - colours, line weights etc, speed of exporting dwgs, quicker to draw stuff initially), or indeed Microstation over VW (arguably better equipped for running large projects, quicker to change drawings)?

It all depends on your office makeup and the type of work you create with each application. Your assessment seems valid, though others may have a few more reasons.

- Does anyone know/has it been announced when the next version of VW is due out? If we're going to make the upgrade I'd rather do it now before it gets even more expensive!

Vectorworks is on an Annual release Cycle and September seems to be the month where the new Release is available, though this could change.

Thanks for your time and thoughts.

Wonder how efficient you find having your office know how to work in two different applications for the same purpose. It would seem that you all would benefit from deciding on one application and making work for all your projects so you can develop a deep understanding of all its capabilities? We had both applications in our office and made the decision to go with just Vectorworks due to our needs for our project types.

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I worked with Microstation for 5 years at my previous job a couple of years ago with all sorts of projects, what I recall is that Microstation can basically do everything in 5 different ways (good) problem is that if something is wrong it can be wrong in 5 different ways (bad), what i'm trying to say is that I found Microstation had a very much steeper/longer learning curve than any program I've used.

Once learned everything is fine and dandy but with every upgrade it took a very long time to get into time and again and I remember this as more frustating with every upgrade(since 97 I've worked with Point, ADT, Bentley, ArchiCAD, 3DVis and VW, all self learned). Bentley however was the most capable program I've worked with so far.

On a side note VW is absolutely my favorite, I find it graphically superior to all the others flexible and innovative.

Even though i haven't used VW in large projects I get the feeling it is least 'capable' compared to the others (especially when large amounts of 3D are involved) of this, however with the setup (Referencing and Viewports) VW has, i think that with a smart division and management of files it can manage most projects just fine.

At the moment I work at an office where we have 4 ArchiCAD, 2 ADT and my VW license. I personally work mainly with ArchiCAD (because it is the chosen app for the office) it is a very good though boring app. :) , and i use VW as soon as there is a need for 3D visualisation (and when ever i get the chance a whole project (mainly villas/private housing)).

I find this mix of programs fine, the thing is that everyone must be capable of using all apps if it is not to lead to problems within the office.

I'll stop rambling on now hope this helps some?!

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- Does anyone know/has it been announced when the next version of VW is due out? If we're going to make the upgrade I'd rather do it now before it gets even more expensive!

The upgrade price of Vectorworks depends on what version you are upgrading from. Also, as you are going from fundamentals to architect, a tradeup is also involved.

The prices below are current rrp ex vat prices for a product tradeup from Fundamentals to Architect 2009. This will hopefully give you some idea as to whether it is worth upgrading from 12 to 2009 or waiting for 2010. All prices are for 2nd license. 1st licence will be more.

?1103 Architect 2009

? 816 Fundamentals Pre 10 tradeup to Architect 2009

? 713 Fundamentals 10/11 tradeup to Architect 2009

? 666 Fundamentals 12 tradeup to Architect 2009

? 524 Fundamentals 2008 tradeup Architect

? 264 Architect 2008 upgrade to Architect 2009

There may very well be a price change and different upgrade matrix when 2010 comes out, but if all things stand equal, its going to cost ?666 to upgrade to 2009 now, with a potential further upgrade of 264 (total 930) if you decide to go 2010 at a later date, or theoretically, 713 if you wait until 2010 comes out. So it all comes down to whether you want 2009 (?666) or wait till 2010 (?713).

Your reseller may well have different pricing so they can give a firm price. The above are simply indicative rrp prices.

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... Microstation can basically do everything in 5 different ways (good) problem is that if something is wrong it can be wrong in 5 different ways (bad).

Cripes, that's how I feel about VW. Don't think I'd enjoy it much if it's worse than VW in this way.

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... Microstation can basically do everything in 5 different ways (good) problem is that if something is wrong it can be wrong in 5 different ways (bad).

Cripes, that's how I feel about VW. Don't think I'd enjoy it much if it's worse than VW in this way.

Much worse! :)

I find VW is a cinch compared to Bentley Arch. in this respect.......unfortunately VW is heading that way too now, especially when it comes to lineweights/linetypes/class overrides, PIO lineweight/linetype/class adjustment etc.

AC also has this problem, it's frustating to have to search/change settings in several places, not just one.

This has started to be a problem when using VPs (in VPs in VPs etc with overides set) in VWs.

Hope they develop a clear overall viewing/editing setup for this soon.

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