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exchanging files with Autocad DWG... and back into VW

P Bartoli


I will shortly need to extensively exchange VW drawing files with partners working with Autocad, back and forth.

I've been for years using VW and sending DWG file to clients, what I usually do is send both a DWG and PDF file, to be sure that they understand and read my drawings correctly. But I didn't need to get back the same drawing into VW again...

I would like to hear your advices about the best way to organize my VW drawings and the best exchange options to use when exporting and importing DWG.

I know VW drawings structure are quite different from DWG:

- in VW I use often layers with different scales (1:1, 1:50, etc). How can I manage this in DWG?

- styles and thickness. I'd like to keep the same look in VW and DWG files since I will be going back and forth from VW to DWG and back to VW. How to achieve the best compromise?

All contributions will be welcome... Thanks

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a few things to consider:

1. settle on class (VW)/layer (ACAD) names to be used

2. avoid the use of xref's on Acad if possible as this may generate unwieldy names

3. in VW try to stick with the dwg colour palette to maintain consistency.

4. if real colours are used specify the RGB values for both programs to be used

5. if you need to have multiple scales in one document put the viewports on sheet layers in VW and then export from the sheet layer, that way the viewports with different scales will end up on a layout in Acad.

Do keep in mind that Autocad does not have an equivalent for VW's design layers so using multiple design layers need workarounds for round-tripping.

6. VW does NOT support dwg document text styles, upon import/export from/to dwg all text will have manual size and font applied and not as per Acad text style

7. Use truetype fonts where possible, as VW cannot use the acad shx style fonts

8. specify the text size and convert to the proper size in the other program. Vectorworks uses line height to specify text height whereas AutoCAD uses capital X height. It's roughly a factor 1.4 difference (e.g. if you want VW's 10 point text to end up at (almost) the same size in Autocad then specify it as 14 point text).

The best workaround for now would be to set up an Autocad file with sample texts using the various text heights to be used and then import this into VW. That way the imported text sizes will be correctly specified in point sizes and you can build VW text styles to keep track of them and make sure you end up with proper size in Acad (e.g. call the style XYZ_20 for 2mm text height XYZ_35 for 3.5mm text height in Acad). Do keep in mind that as mentioned above VW text styles to not export to DWG.

9. Autocad can use line thickness, it can be shown by setting the LWDISPLAY variable to ON.

10. In Acad make sure the viewres is set sufficiently high to avoid not-smooth polygons/polylines display. A setting of 2000 is good enough for everything but the most demanding situations.

I'll mull a bit more over this later and maybe have a few other things to consider.

Edited by Art V
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