Jump to content

0,0 Origin

Recommended Posts

so after importing a dwg file and foolishly working on it for a couple of days i realized my drawing and "sheet" in my design layers was 10 miles north and 19 miles west of 0,0.

i could have reset the origin, but after reading a couple of threads here i decided to move all objects instead.  now one question remains; how do i get my design layer sheet to move as it seems to be unselectable and immovable? 


Screenshot 2016-10-21 09.58.01.png

Edited by jmartinarch
added file
Link to comment

Hi Have a look at this Help tip about user and internal origins.



In tools/Origin/User Origin "set user origin to internal origin (0,0)" then double click the move page tool.


The center of a Vectorworks drawing has fixed coordinates of (0,0); this location is called the internal origin. A user origin also exists. Drawing coordinates display relative to the user origin. Normally, the internal origin, the user origin, and the page center are all coincident. While the internal origin cannot move, the user origin and page center can be moved.


Changing the user origin can have far-reaching consequences. Use caution when changing the user origin.


We have experienced these far-reaching consequences occasionally when things were way off. Grid lines moved without warning, windows disappeared things jut moved at random. Tek support picked this issue and when we found the offending item way off in the distance and deleted it all was well. Happened a few times, enough to know this was the real problem.


I usually move my imported object down to the internal origin and place a point that i will at the internal origin (0,0) use as reference or place a User origin as needed but I always bring my imported file (usually a survey file) down to the internal origin.

If you have set up sheet layers i will usually move the VP crop across to the new location.





Edited by Alan Woodwell
Link to comment


One step I have found useful in bringing in dwg into VW, is to set the "LOCATION" when importing dwg to "Align with User Origin".

User Origin, by default is set to the VW Internal Origin. This way, your user origin won't be moved and you can move the drawings that is imported to 0,0 if needed.

I find that leaving the user origin coincident with the Internal origin eliminates all the problems described by Alan in the post above.

All other import dwg LOCATION options will move your user origin away from VW internal origin to what was set in the dwg file  and create problems if you had to reference it into other files.

To move the user origin back to VW internal origin  go to TOOLS > ORIGIN> USER ORIGIN> SET USER ORIGIN TO INTERNAL ORIGIN.

Screen Shot 2016-10-28 at 10.33.29 AM.png

  • Like 1
Link to comment

There is just one cardinal rule,

if your geometry is far from VW's internal Origin, you may run into some problems.

(Rounding issues, problems in OpenGL or boolean operations, ...)


The distance from origin that is save, in an official video, I think was 4,5 km, that

is only about 2 Miles in funny units. Please correct if I am wrong. But I heard that

number in default safe size for Solids max size somewhere else before.


Some Users say that they need to exceed that area in their work anyway and it would be better

to therefore just keep the GIS position and distance from VW internal Origin anyway,

I don't know.


I "center" my projects to VW origin always as I need to read positions of elements from a special

site position in XY anyway to be able to work realistically.

But I never use the "Center to internal Origin" for first import but import DWG's into a blank test file

to see where it is positioned and try to set a relevant point there myself it not already communicated.

So like the the most left crossing below of the future Grid System or similar.


That exact position I will use for any working file to move their User Origin in exactly the opposite

direction. So I import all data centered to the custom User Origin.

This way I can import and export all Data in a geo-referenced way at the real positions

while keeping max accuracy in VW.

Link to comment

i dunno how you handle things in the u.s.a. but when i'm doing the general site plan for the authorities i'm required to maintain the world coordinates for the office that approves the installations outside of the edifice. setting the user origin ruins the coordinates in this case. the easy part is that the survey dwg plan comes automatically with world coordinates. 


in any other case (the edifice itself on the plot) i may surely set up the project origin to match my (0,0) coordinates, and to choose any dwg import appropriately. 


both plans are at a different scale, so it's also easier to differentiate the approach.


Edited by gester
Link to comment

@Alan Woodwell

i use world coordinates practically for the site plans for authorities (scales 1:500 and 1:1000), so i don't really have any issues. 

to be frank i've not exported to kml format (google earth), so i can't tell more when the whole project must be in world coordinates in order to export correctly to the site on earth. but it's only my presumption, i haven't dealt with the format.

are world coordinates necessary for any other use?


Link to comment

Can someone explain to me why it matters if you are at 0,0 or if you are at 1billion,1billion?  I have never understood why being far away from 0,0 causes issues (AutoCAD user here) just curious.  This is one of the items we struggle with here in our office in regards to file/xref managmenet.  I have been told to do this several different ways.  


We have had issues where after all xrefs were set up and we closed the drawing - after re-opening the xrefs were miles apart.  This was using the first option.  I had about a 20 email exchange with tech support on this when we were doing our very first project.    


We have found to have the best luck with using the 3rd option (align with User origin).  We always let the survey file we get be the first import.  seems to work......so far.

Link to comment
  • Vectorworks, Inc Employee
2 minutes ago, benboggs said:

Can someone explain to me why it matters if you are at 0,0 or if you are at 1billion,1billion?


This is an extremely complex mathematics and computer sciences related problem, but I will attempt to explain it in the simplest way as I understand it:

Currently all units in Vectorworks are actually converted to millimeters at the base level for Vectorworks to perform mathematical calculations. So even if you think you are only 1 unit from 0,0 if you document is in Miles, you are actually 1.609e+6mm away. Each time you DO something to objects at that distance, that number has to be factored into the underlying math. So If I have a rectangle and I want to move it half a mile to the left, rather than the math just being as it appears to the user:


Rectangle at 1mi - .5mi  = Rectangle at .5mi


it is actually:


Rectangle at 1,609,344mm - 804,672mm = Rectangle at 804,672mm


If it were 15mi off of 0,0 however, still appearing to the user to just be "15 units" off of 0,0, the location is actually 24,140,160mm off of 0,0.


Computers do not treat math as more complex because of specific numbers used, but they DO have more difficulty when there are a large number of digits in the math it has to perform. So to give an inexact example, moving 15 rectangles from 0,0mm to the right 1mm is only making Vectorworks do 15 digits-worth (yes I'm making that term up) of math, to move those same 15 rectangles 15 miles it would need to do 120 digits-worth of math. This leads to what are known as floating-point errors, or basically rounding errors. When this is amplified by a fully fleshed out file often having tens of thousands of objects each made up of dozens of subcomponents, the internal errors get out of control and very strange behavior starts to occur.


EXTREMELY simplified explanation:

Think of what would happen if you had to remember 4 numbers in order, most humans can do this no problem as long as each of those numbers is just one digit. If you tried to remember 4 numbers that were in the millions, you would be much more likely to get one number slightly off. Once you did get that number slightly off, all math on that object would inherently have that rounding error included in it AND any math done on those results might have more errors since the numbers are staying so high. A computer can obviously do this much better than most of us, but it still runs into errors especially when a Vectorworks document contains hundreds of thousands of objects with sub-components and VW has to track each of those at it's actual location in relation to 0,0.

  • Like 1
Link to comment

Sounds like VW has a linear workspace (?)


Microstation changed its file format once about the time of the millennium because

they shifted from their linear to an infinite workspace like Autocad.


In the linear workspace you had to carefully set your internal units to your project size

to keep the maximum resolution available. Other than working units, which just show

any units you prefer to work with and are independent from accuracy.

So it is just like a kind of a limited sized grid. Distance from origin doesn't matter as long as

your model fits in and you do not waste resolution by choosing a too large workspace.

If your project is very large, you can fit the workspace to it but will get less resolution

and so accuracy than a smaller project. Which is normally ok as a civil design will need

less accuracy than a jewelry design.


In an infinity workspace you will automatically have the maximum resolution around the

internal origin. As larger your project and longer the distance to the origin you will just lose

some resolution as it decreases with distance from origin to allow that infinity.

That allows to work on large project like a Moon Base including the street from Cape Canaveral.

Again, important is to center the Moon Base to the internal origin to get needed accuracy for your

architectural/interior/mechanical design there and put Cape Canaveral to the far side from

origin as the street design may better suited to the lower resolution so far from origin.

In this case it is important to keep the center of interest close to the internal origin.


As models in world positions may be far away from their origin,

it is accomplished by moving that special origin in the CAD so that the center of interest sits

again around the internal CAD origin for best accuracy but it remembers the differences between

origins. So if any new data goes in or out that position differences get added or subtracted again.

In VW that works by moving the User Origin compared to the Internal Origin.


There is just one problem with larger georeferenced projects that use special projections,

(that try to project the spherical world space onto a cubic CAD space)

you may corrupt these by moving the origin in any way.

In this case it may be a smaller problem to live with accuracy problems when being far from

internal origin versus wrong positions in general.

(Or better use a special GIS compatible type of CAD)


Another thing may be resolution of Parasolid Model Core Solid Elements that seems to use an

own (linear ?) resolution in the CAD coordinate System.

That resolution is independent from CAD Origin and starts from each center of any solid object,

no matter which position (as long as their positions in CAD are accurate enough that they can

correctly interact which each other, like boolean operations and such)

Their standard maximum size in Microstation was about 4 km, which works well in 98%.

If you need any larger solids or have very small solids and need even more accuracy, you had to also

adjust the default solids size and accuracy.


VW does not have ll these annoying user settings to keep it simple.

In 98% of usage, the cardinal rule of VW for best user experience is to center the drawing at the

internal origin. Period.

Link to comment
  • 8 months later...

sorry for reviving of this thread...


1. is there a possibility to reference an edifice project run as a shared project on a plot set up with world coordinates?

i mean some mark for a 0,0 user origin of the referenced shared project inserted in some place on the plot with external infrastructure. our infrastructure engineers need the world coordinates for their workouts.


2. can such composed project (the edifice and its surrounding infrastructure) be exported to kml exactly and without further manipulation?


Link to comment

ah, and another question:


3. the imported survey dwg should have the same units as the edifice project (either both cm or both m, in case of a metric system. when using centimetres, the world coordinates turn to centimetres value). does kml export have to be in metres, or can be in centimetres, too?



Edited by gester
Link to comment
  • 1 year later...

@gester Do you mean if you'r main BIM model file is drawing in location 0.000 and you want to export an IFC file / BIM model in real world co-ordinates for the design team to co-ordinate with Structural and MEP models? if so yes you can, the way we tend to do it is we create an 'intermittant' export file, which references in the BIM model as a viewport and locates it in Real World Co-ordinates, and from there on we export the IFC file.


kind regards anton

Link to comment
  • 2 weeks later...


i gather you answer to my #1, thanks for this.

i mean a vectorworks project that has been moved from the world coordinates via replacing them with the user coordinates. sometimes the world coordinates are not retrievable anymore, we don't have a cache (like the one in revit) to store the world coordinates for the future exports.


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...