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Upgrading from MiniCAD 6

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I'd like to surprise my dad with an upgrade to the latest VectorWorks. He is an architect, I am the geek in the family. He is currently running MiniCAD 6 on Mac OS 9 (some old PowerPC) and the time has come for a software/hardware upgrade. I'd like to hear your opinion on a few questions:

Which VectorWorks?

- I assume that VectorWorks Architect 11 is the right upgrade to get. He mostly does 2D drawings now, and loves MiniCAD's ease of use.

Which hardware?

- I used to love the Macs, but I've switched to PCs in late 90s. I am thinking of upgrading dad to a modern PC. The reasons are that I have to be his sysadmin, and learning OS X is not trivial. Any advantages/disadvantages of running VectorWorks on a PC vs. OS X?

Upgrade path?

- What's the file upgrade path between MiniCAD6 and VectorWorks 11? Are the files compatible between a Mac and a PC?

Thanks in advance,


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That is such a considerate idea. You pose many questions and I can offer but two answers:

My kids offer to clean my office because it is a "mess" to them. But for me, I know where everything is. If my kids "surprised" me by cleaning my office I would not be happy. I am used to the way that I do things.

Your dad would probably benefit from the increased versatility of VW11. But he has to be willing to adjust. He may love it or may say thank you and put it up on the shelf.

If he is used to using a Mac, then why force him to change. Does not make sense to try and conform him to your world. I switched from OS9 to OS10 and it was painless. As far as system administrator duties, I do not have a "sysadmin" and don't need one.

My advice is to let him continue with what he knows. Upgrade him to a new Mac and give him VW11 architect if your wallet allows. And then let him switch over at his own pace.

A new G4 or G5 Mac will make a world of difference to him over his old computer. It will run OS9 in Classic mode and I assume will still be faster than his old Power PC.

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I still have my old Power PC G3 running OS9. I use it to access my non-OS10 programs.

I was hesitant to change to OS10 and procrastinated. When I did change I did not want to go back. I love OS10.

The difference between OS9 on a Power PC and OS10 on a Dual G5 is amazing. Also Apple just came out with new monitors.

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Kevin certainly has a point about "surprising" your dad, but I say "go for it". "IT" being VW11 with Renderworks, but not VW Architect or any of the other industry specific packages.

I too go back to the MiniCad days and really appreciate the straight forward 2D drafting this program has always provided. He should have no trouble coming up to speed and will enjoy many of the improvements since MC6. On the other hand, I have found NO use for VWArchitect.

Please, do not attempt to move him from Mac to Windows though. That is a move he will probably resist, and thus possibly not be able to take advantage of the software improvements. OSX is fantastic.

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Originally posted by atotic:

I have to be his sysadmin, and learning OS X is not trivial.


I use/d OS9, OS10, Win98, Win2K, and XP. Kevin is right: you don't need a Sysadmin on OS10. (unless, perhaps you're running a monster network off a server or something....?) ;-)

seriously; if you get a half decent after-market book on OS10 you can learn all you need to run OS10 in an evening in front of the telly during the add breaks. No having to edit registry nonsense, no bizzaro-world hardware-software conflicts, no incomprehensible Runtime error messages..........

It pretty well just works, and, it's a lot easier and more convenient to use than OS9 (after a little acclimatisation).

3 Days a week I use VW10 on XP, and 3 days a week I get irritated about the inefficiencies and inconsistencies,and awkward clumbsy-ness of Windows. -and it's butt-ugliness ;-)

For full-on Nixies, you have the option of opening the Terminal and typing away like you would with any Unix system, but, for Pete's sake, don't imagine that OS10 is like Linux!!!

Run Disk First Aid> Repair Permissions after installing software and maybe once a month, and basically; that's it for maintenance.

I'd also agree with broesler that if he's happy with MC6, then the bits and bobs that he'd get with Architect are probably not "needed" for the extra money. (spend it on a bigger monitor ;-).



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One other consideration you will have to make: You will need a copy of VW8 or VW9 to be able to convert his MC6 files to VW11. This assumes that NNA still doesn't have a translator for the older versions yet. VW typically reads back 3 versions, so VW11 should be able to open VW8 files. I believe the sales department will help you bridge the gap.


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Thanks to everyone for their replies. I plan on purchasing VectorWorks plain. I've been a strong proponent of moving away from OS X, but now I'll reconsider and let the dad decide. Mac or PC is such a personal question. The purchase is not totally a surprise, he knows it is coming, but he trusts me with the computer decisions, since I end up supporting him and all his crazy cameras/plotters/printers combos.

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Originally posted by atotic:

I've been a strong proponent of moving away from OS X,...............since I end up supporting him and all his crazy cameras/plotters/printers combos.

You (and he) might find yourselves pleasantly surprised by OSX; built-in Firewall, built-in Apache web server, "industry standard" SAMBA protocols, NO viruses (yet), everything where you might expect to find it, but best of all; from his (and your) point of view; all those cameras, plotters etc, -I've always just plugged em in, and they mounted by themselves and just worked. :-)

That's what I want from a computer! ;-)



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I've used VW version 6 through 10 on a Mac and then a PC, and don't have much preference one way or the other between the two OS's. They do have a different feel, though, and a lot of people seem to get used to one and to feel disoriented when making a switch.

And if, as you said, he likes MiniCad's "ease of use", he might be disappointed with the newer versions. The program got more complicated with each new version, and picked up a very different feel with version 9 -- I would describe it as a slow, heavy, awkward, or clunky feel which v9 and v10 have as compared to v8 and before. I've been told that v9 was a complete re-write from scratch, to move to the new data size convention.

So your father might want to continue using the old version, at least for a while, and v6 never ran on any PC. Version 8 was the first one available for PC. But then v6 might not even run on a new Mac; I don't know. I know that v8 still runs on Windows XP, since that's what I've been using for the last 6 months. But they won't sell you a copy of version 8. Version 11 is the only one they sell now.

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  • 1 year later...

Hey Version 6 was still pretty simple with no plug-in objects as yet or a number of the other features that can get lost in translation.

You could try exporting the files as Vectorscript, which v11 or 12 should be able to read without trouble. You might loss saved views doing it that way but i'm not sure on that. It would be worth trying a test file.

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Hi Aleks,

If you go with a PC I bet your father will have a much steeper learning curve than the switch to V11/v12 on OS10. If he uses his computer for other things apart from CAD, there will be additional complications in the change over.

Yes I admit, I'm a Mac fan, but let me tell you I bought my 80 year old mother an iMac (OS10) for her first ever computer -she was a complete novice. 2 years later nothing has gone wrong, no crashes, no viruses, and she's thrilled with it. Can I say more?

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just wanted to give you an update on what happened with me & dad. My dad was adamant about getting a Mac, and we got a G5 after an impromptu stop by the Apple Store. This started the upgrade cycle, with VectorWorks 11, a new large-format printer (the driver for the old one printed jaggy curves), and a Canon scanner. Everything we got works better than before.

Thanks for the VectorScript tip. We'll try it next time I go for a visit.


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