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Autocad layers import


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Does anybody have any advice for the following problem?


1. We received an Autocad template (.dwt) containing a layer system used by the client (we have to use the same system)


2. When we import the .dwg (saved from the .dwt) in Vectorworks it only brings in the layers (VW classes) which contain objects. The .dwt template doesn't contain any objects so no classes in Vectorworks


3. Possible solutions would be:

- manually draw an object in each of the +300 layers in autocad and then import in VW

- some kind of autocad script that does the above

- a magic VW trick or script?



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Can the client send you another file from a different project that has objects on each of the template classes. If so you could then import that file into vw and the classes will import too. Then just delete the objects.


Alternatively if you can get a text file listing the classes then I'm pretty sure worksheets could be used to create the classes. The scripters and worksheet experts would have to help there though as that is beyond my level of expertise...

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Pat Sandford on another part of the forum came up with a simple script for importing class names from a txt file. It works really well. I hope he won't mind me sharing it here. Its years since I used AutoCAD but I am sure you can export layers as a text file. What you may have more trouble doing is getting all the class properties. If you post about this on the scripting section of this forum I am sure someone will have a solution for you.


Class from text.vwx

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  • Vectorworks, Inc Employee
8 hours ago, Cris Dopher said:

My solution would have been to use a copy of ACAD or Draftsight to open the template, save as a .dwg there, then import THAT into Vectorworks.  I've had plenty of dwgs come in with empty classes.

Vectorworks does not create empty classes (or layers) anymore. Unused block definitions, line types, materials, dimension styles are also purged during the import.   

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I already have a script that creates classes form worksheets but no way to get the Acad classes (with properties) in a worksheet.


I managed to solve the problem by importing the .dwg in VW 2015. As Nina mentioned VW stopped importing empty classes somewhere between VW 2015 and 2018. Would be nice to have this as an option when importing instead of just deleting the functionality :S

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  • 4 weeks later...
On 2/21/2018 at 8:43 AM, Nina Ivanova said:

Vectorworks does not create empty classes (or layers) anymore. Unused block definitions, line types, materials, dimension styles are also purged during the import. 

This is very bad practice as I regularly deal with files having a set of standard symbols included and having those purged means I can no longer add those items for drawing updates.


As mentioned by others, it is the user who should have the option to import non-used items or not as this can be a really messy situation. So far I have (un)fortunately not noticed this new behavior because most of the time I insert items from the library so I wouldn't really notice if it is not present anymore. Or I didn't need the missing items at the time.


But not knowing things are missing in VW unless one happens to open the original dwg file is a big no-no as it can really mess up drawing consistency in a project.


Please, please do revert this automatic purging of dwg files upon import. I'd rather have a dialog pop up or an option in the import dialog asking if non-used items should be imported or purged or be handled on an item-by-item basis during import (i.e. decide per item or item type to import or purge).

Edited by Art V
typo corrected for clarity
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6 hours ago, JMR said:

^^ Exactly.


We MUST be able to import an empty client DWG with client's own class (Autocad layer) system. This is absolutely critical!


Please fix this ASAP.



Yes, I have that requirement too, just noticed I forgot to mention this in addition to the symbols.


Even worse, (inter)national standards bodies have their own template sets with predefined layers which you have to adhere to unless you have no alternative than adding additional classes/layers for a specific purposes. The current import situation means you can't use their dwg based templates at all if they don't already have at least one object in those layers and one would have to recreate the template from scratch and try to mimic line types etc.


This also means that non-used line types also should be imported if they are not already linked to a layer (usually they are, but occasionally they are not) and the same applies to anything else not used in layer in the dwg file that would otherwise be imported if it would have been used in a layer.


This also means that there should be an option to maintain empty classes (dwg layers) and other non-used items in the exported dwg file for roundtripping purposes (though this could be fixed by using a dwg based editor to fix the VW exported dwg file with the original template, it would be another few steps which could easily be omitted).

Edited by Art V
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  • 4 weeks later...

I think that is based on the income DWG file, not VW.  


VW is going to import everything in the DWG. When you purge it removes resources (plus layers/classes) that are not actually in the drawing layers. If the DWG comes in with lots of stuff that is not used, there is little that VW can do about that other than let you purge it.


If it auto purged, there would be a possibility that you needed something that was imported but not yet used.


You could ask the file sender to purge (or whatever the Autocad name is) before they send you the file.

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I was simply comparing my experience to Nina's description of current function.


It never dawned on me that VW might delete things contained in a DWG file. I purge because I know I'll never want them, and they come from clients that are usually to busy for me to add to their load. If VW is going to delete things then I want the option to keep them for all the reasons listed above. Just because I purge often doesn't mean I always will or that others want to as well.

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