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kdo

Vectorworks & Project / File size handling capabilities

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About 2 years ago we have upgraded from 12.5.3 to VW2011 and to be honest we had not much joy since. Initially, we struggled migrating one project but gave up and simply only started new projects in VW2011? thinking this would make a difference!

We are mainly working with large residential developments, in the range of 300-600 apartments, which requires a lot of symbols and referencing of multiple files. Note we do not even bother using 3d, we try to keep everything as simple as possible drawing everything in 2d? yes even elevations & sections.

The major problem we are facing is that references are extremely slow to update - the problem as usual occurs randomly thus can not be reproduced easily.

To be honest what is well beyond us is that a software released in 2011 does not seem to be able to handle 2d drawings which are referenced into each other with file sizes of around 80-120MB - btw. why they are that size in the first place is rather questionable as well.

We are told that we are pushing the software, so we thought we ask around on to understand how other offices handle projects of the aforementioned size? surely we are not the only ones working with Vectorworks at that scale?

As 2014 is about to be released and support for VW2011 will be stopped, we are looking down the barrel of once again upgrading in the hope of improvement or switching to another software altogether.

Does anybody have positive experiences with large scale projects and VW - maybe you have figured out the sweetspot beyond which it simply does not work properly?

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Our files can get close to 100 MB on occasion.

In general, yes bigger files are slower and possibly more prone to crash.

In general, I think even newer VW programs seem to be better at references, etc.

I wonder what your RAM is on all the office computers you use? Obviously, the more the better, but you don't mention how much RAM you have, and whether you work on a network, or pull the drawings down to each individual computer, which I recall did help on a few occasions back in older versions. Or, maybe our server was just slow.

As to drawing technique, the biggest single factor we usually had was drawing curving contour lines as polylines, and when converted to polygons, they had bazillions of vertices. There was/is a "simplify 3D poly" command, and VW2014 has a "Simplify 2D polylines" command, which would help if you work only in 2D (or allows earlier file reduction workflows if converting to 3D later)

We also had problems with duplicates of those polylines, which I have never fully figured out. Somehow, we had two or three identical contour or edge lines right on top of each other. We took a few minutes at the end of the day to sort through these to eliminate some of them as we found them.

Of course, import DWG often had tons of unneeded info. Cleaning up those is important, if time consuming on the front end. Referencing seems to be improved in 2014 as well.

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Thanks for getting back - to answer some of your questions...

1. yes our files live on a server, unfortunately our project teams are too large (3-7) for them to live locally - one theory we are currently testing is that long file paths might have an adverse effect on speed... did you ever see anything like that;

2. all our workstations are 27inch i5 or i7 iMacs with at least 8 mostly 12 GB of RAM - strangely enough, though we have never seen any of them start using SWAP...?

3. our files vary in size from approx. 80MB to 130MB - we agree regarding the DWG cleanup, which is something we should revisit... do you have any specific tips in this regard?

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Our files always did seem slower when working right off the server. Our only problem was that a few guys never seemed to remember to put them back on after downloading to their desktop.

In the last few years, I have gone to 16GB ram on my machines.

No real tips on cleanup. Hard work and no one really likes to do it.....

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About 2 years ago we have upgraded from 12.5.3 to VW2011 and to be honest we had not much joy since. Initially, we struggled migrating one project but gave up and simply only started new projects in VW2011? thinking this would make a difference!

We are mainly working with large residential developments, in the range of 300-600 apartments, which requires a lot of symbols and referencing of multiple files. Note we do not even bother using 3d, we try to keep everything as simple as possible drawing everything in 2d? yes even elevations & sections.

The major problem we are facing is that references are extremely slow to update - the problem as usual occurs randomly thus can not be reproduced easily.

To be honest what is well beyond us is that a software released in 2011 does not seem to be able to handle 2d drawings which are referenced into each other with file sizes of around 80-120MB - btw. why they are that size in the first place is rather questionable as well.

We are told that we are pushing the software, so we thought we ask around on to understand how other offices handle projects of the aforementioned size? surely we are not the only ones working with Vectorworks at that scale?

As 2014 is about to be released and support for VW2011 will be stopped, we are looking down the barrel of once again upgrading in the hope of improvement or switching to another software altogether.

Does anybody have positive experiences with large scale projects and VW - maybe you have figured out the sweetspot beyond which it simply does not work properly?

Hi kdo,

We are doing similar work (large multi-family projects, 2D only). Basically, heavy production-oriented use of the software. We use similar hardware (iMac i7's with 16GB RAM). We do see slow downs when we have multiple design layer viewports referenced from external files (say more than 20 DLVPs). Our staff all work "live" over the server with Gigabit speed. Typical file size is 80 - 120MB. We have numerous custom plug-ins that also reside on the server (accessed using workgroup folders). I would say in general that speed has improved considerably from 2011 to 2014.

Wherever possible, I like to use WG referencing, however I always consider the performance hit when doing so. Sometimes, by shuffling staff resources around, it's possible to eliminate referencing to some degree. You need experienced users to do this, but we commonly have only one person responsible for developing floor plans (even for a 100-200 unit building), with another working up sections/elevations, and another 1-2 staff doing detailing. All of this of course depends on staff experience and project complexity.

Hope this is helpful. It's nice to dialogue with someone who uses the software in similar ways to ourselves.

VectorGeek

Proud Vectorworks user since 1859.

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Thanks for getting back, this very much sounds like we are having a similar setup although our projects tend to be bigger.

I suppose my real question is if there is anybody out there who is using Vectorworks (which ever version) successfully for projects of that size (300-600 apartments, 80-130MB).

To be honest I have serious doubts, thus we would really appreciate to hear from such users.

BTW > the irony is that the logic behind upgrading from VW12.5 to 2011 was to avoid VW12.5 no longer working in newer OSX versions... how wrong we were!

Edited by kdo

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I have a planning design project made up of four blocks. Three blocks are residential with 12-18 flats each and the last block is student accommodation with 82 rooms. All modelled in 3D. The residential model files range between 50-100 MB, the student block is 150 MB and the central file with everything referenced into it is 350 MB. All work is done directly off a local server.

There was heartache, particularly with various workgroup reference bugs and with rendering, but we got planning permission in the end. Next step is construction phase model.

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That does not sound very promising - in our experience the level of complexity & associated problems will only increase as you go into documentation? which I am sure you have also experienced.

Are you normally continuing in 3d or are you doing your documentation mostly in 2d - also how are you dealing with 3d external information, such as mechanical or even structural IFC models?

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Btw. as indicated above we have done a test and radically simplified the file paths on one project, which seems to result in VW2011 crashing less often, however reference update times seemingly have not improved by much.

Has anybody else made similar observations and has any recommendations as to max. file path length?

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