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Vw vs autocad for mac

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Been a user of vw for quite some time, tho like many started on ACAD. i had a chance to spend some time with the 2017 mac version, and boy did it make me appreciate VW! Maybe just my experience but ACad for mac feels archaic at best, and i was amazed at how limited it was. Curious if any other users are in an enviorment that uses both? Experiences? Props to VW for make such big strides in intuative commands. 

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  • Vectorworks, Inc Employee
4 minutes ago, barkest said:

It was my understanding that it was rebuilt for the Mac (as opposed to porting from Windows) and they are quite some way behind the Windows version.


This is my understanding as well, though I have no personal experience with it. Autodesk has a few comparison charts as well, but they do not seem to be comprehensive:


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Im not sure if it was ported or designed for. Seems like an workflow that was designed years ago, with a fresh coat of paint. While I did like the way some things were approached.. I was often left feeling amazed at the lack of adjustability to tool pallets as there is none. No txt option for tool icons, and some of the commands require alot more input than VW. I guess I didnt realize how good we Vw users have it. Maybe that will change w more time in the software. As it looks like Ill be dealing in both. Heck 2015 version seemed better than the most recent 2017 imo.

Edited by Moto2
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VW just cannot do some of the things I need it to do, or it takes an inordinate amount of time, like drafting a parking lot for example. With command keys in cad I can draft and average commercial parking lot in minutes. VW takes me much longer using buttons and it seems to get the lot into 3D is almost impossible without advanced 3D modeling...then you have to make changes. 


VW has some nice capabilities, but a lot of the tools seem sort of half developed, at least in the BIM world, which makes me question why we aren't just using CAD if modeling is such a pain. I guess it depends on your needs...

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Well thats why I started this thread to get some additional opinions. I did fee the 3d aspect was simpler.  Maybe id be more impressed with the windows version. 


Not being able to assign shortcut keys was a big downer. Lack of scale bars and library type items was surprising. 


One huge thing is information feedback and smart hints. VW while not always clear does provide a explination in every field or on every tool. While the command line does soething similar.. i often was left wondering "what does this do?" Especially in menus and preference settings. 

Edited by Moto2
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I learned cad through the command line in 2002, still using it today. I type virtually every command. I use almost none of the other buttons and toolbars. Actually I usually have them all closed so I am essentially working with a big black screen. You can imitate VW's WYSIWYG style by working through paperspace with plot style display box checked. Theres a rhythm to it that I have just been unable to match in vw. 


FOr now, I'm using vw to do quick site model studies, but precision drafting and documents are still done in Autocad unfortunately.

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nca777, I'm saying this in an honest question so as to learn & not a slam on your system...


i have always viewed the command line as equal to the DOS prompt days when you had to know DOS in order to do anything. 


i know its faster but not intuitive...right? thats how i see it.. comments?

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It depends on how your brain works.

Some enjoy working in Marionette and feel at home and some don't.

My father is much more comfortable with the DOS dir *.* command,

I am very happy that there exist visual Explorer/Finder Windows.


Generally I think most users who made their decision for VW are the opposite

of those liking ACAD and prefer a visual way over a more abstract text based way.

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Last September I took on some 3rd year students who had been using ACAD for 2-years and had to teach them VW. As we approach the end of the academic year it was interesting to see the students reaction. Some fell by the wayside and went to SketchUp (students always try to take the path of least resistance and look back and regret it), some carried on with ACAD and some with VW. No surprise there but (hand on heart) the output from the VW students was far superior than anything else. Maybe because they had dedicated support (me) but I think that only accounts for part of it. Once they were up and running they had very few issues at all and their 3D work was great and they generally found it much more intuitive.

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I can tell you I am 36 years old, so Im not an old fart. And my firm works almost entirely in 3D. SO I speak the language. I'm not 'old school' by any means. Cad command prompt is way, way faster than drafting in vectorworks imho. I am a designer, not an engineer or draftsperson. Yes, VW has 3D capability, but drafting is sketchy imo.

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Just now, barkest said:


Gets coat and leaves the room :(




I'm not sure exactly what that means..I just got the feeling you were assuming I was from the 'old school' CAD demographic...Internet communication can be tricky. If I offended, it wasn't intentional. Trying to respond to the discussions here while waiting for some help from the VW team under a tight deadline and feeling like Im wasting time again using a tool I thought would save time...so Im admittedly a little cranky ;)

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Cad command prompt has 2 issues with it imo. 1. It requires you know all the commands. So if you dont your limited right from the get go.


2. I find it far more easy to hit A key for a tool rather tan typing the word and sifting thru the multiple functions and then having to select and return. Requires more keystrokes. 


3. Not command line related. But I found it silly that the command im in doesnt hold. I have to right click or hit return to reactivate that same command. So drawing 3 lines requires activating the command 3 times, why not hold the command until its deactivated?? It took me a while to get used to that.


i also prefer vw object info pallet over the list command. No need for any command just have a glace and its all right there. Command line feels ancient to me. Im 34 nca. Def not old school haha. 

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1 minute ago, Moto2 said:

3. Not command line related. But I found it silly that the command im in doesnt hold. I have to right click or hit return to reactivate that same command. So drawing 3 lines requires activating the command 3 times, why not hold the command until its deactivated?? It took me a while to get used to that.


Exactly why I would never work with ACAD or any other App that works like ACAD.

OK, I am also not Command Line compatible at all.

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Anyone who works in this industry (geezer or newbe) should watch the outstanding Webinar that VW hosted earlier today. To quote one of the presenters " The question isn't is BIM coming? BIM is here & how we are going to work" (or words to that effect). Sketching is fine, I've carried a pen & sketch book since school in the 70's & 80's.  But a tool that not just creates, but develops an artistic vision into all that the AEC & related industries do, is BIM. The beauty of VW is it is BIM AND  it allows one to take the 2D stuff to become part of a BIM world. It may take some 0.5% more time to draw stuff than in ACAD but the payoff is huge.


Is VW perfect? Nope. (hello stair tool) and as I say I'd like it to work more like SU from time to time on PD & CD But VW makes our firm much more productive than many that I work with.  



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2 hours ago, Jim Smith said:


Is VW perfect? Nope. (hello stair tool) and as I say I'd like it to work more like SU from time to time


+1 on the stair tool


I genuinely feel that it's pretty close already. Out of interest what are you looking for?

Edited by barkest
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On the landscape/landmark side I have to say there is quite a bit still to be desired, but I understand our industry probably isnt a top priority. The fact that NNA is developing landscape arch specific tools is pretty good as it is. I getthe BIM thing--It's what brought me here in the first place. I triedn archicad and revit as well. My partner picked up acad in about two weeks ten years ago, she is struggling to even get started with vw. It would be good if nna offered free video training. there are a lot of random tutorials on specific tools, but not enough on the day-to-day operations. Today for example I just needed to get a model out for sketchup for another consultant. 3Ds works fine, but lone behold you have to import in milimeters even though Im working in feet and inches...a lot of weid quirks in vw I cant quite undertsand.

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22 hours ago, barkest said:


+1 on the stair tool


I genuinely feel that it's pretty close already. Out of interest what are you looking for?


I use other apps too, and I have to say the stairs seem to always be an issue.  There are just too many variable to deal with.

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just an observation on the whole 2d vs 3d work flow..

i have a small job that requires me to draw plan, sections and exterior elevations all in 2d lines (they work in auto cad & just want simple)

so...2d line work is fast & there are never any crashes or problems

however this is what i also noticed..

2d drafting is a 1 to 1 workflow.

what i mean is that i draw one line i harvest one line...


3d is... i model one object i harvest many things...

i get:

6 views (that are connected to each other i.e. edit one and they all adjust)



ability to count each object


granted 3d is slower at start up but delivers in the end.


its like this "i challenge you to a 10 mile race"

so you immediately start to run and get a head start on me.

whereas i go into the shed get my bike, pump up the tires, and start pedaling.


who is faster?


been direct modeling (no parametric) since Fall of 2014 & have never looked back.

have an extensive 3d library, so most of my time is spent just assembling 3d objects rather than making them

cannot see why anyone would chose to work in 2d as their workflow.  (just to be fair, i still do some 2d work & it has its place) 


















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