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Is anyone out there effectively using the Vectorworks Notes Manager & using databases efficiently in an office environment?


I'm  trying to bring databases into a workgroup environment so that my co-workers can use it as resource. I have a good database that I have used as a solo practitioner however how to I retain good management of it whilst also getting my co-workers to both contribute to it as well as use it as a resource?


Would anyone like to share their set up or can share some sage advice?

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Thanks Kevin. Yes I have put my database in our workgroup folder. I am wondering more how to organise people using it without all sorts of random stuff being thrown in there and/or my sets of nicely organised notes I have accumulated over the years being be completely trashed or lost.


Ive thought people could make their own database for each project so it becomes like a vessel for standardising notes across a project and use my one as like a central database resource. At the end of a project the "project" database could be gleened for any notes that could be brought into the central database located in the workgroup.


i am wondering if others are using a similar set up or another one that they could tell me about.







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I'm not sure you can reconcile notes as you suggest. Organizing a team is always a challenge. There need to be some rules about how and where notes are added to the database. On a recent project we saw duplication of notes and inconsistent use, so training is needed.


One other issue I've seen is a Mac/PC thing with Dropbox. The Notes tool would 'lose' the link tot he database and s=need to have that link reset when a user switched platforms.

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All my standard notes are page based symbols in my library file purely because there is no way to format text how I want it with indents,tab stops,etc or  let’s with legends. I only use the database for keynotes - although I found that quickly blew out and became unwieldy with to many variations, so I have a set of general things in it and copy the database to the project folder and tweak them to be job specific from there. I find you on;y need to alter them once as well as adding some new ones and doesn’t add that much extra time - certainly quicker then typing them all out from scratch and copy pasting to other sheets.

Edited by Aspect_Design
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Thanks Aspect.

Yes I wish there was more formatting control on callouts.

My database is also more general type notes that we use regularly and they typically get put into a general notes list on a sheet, not as callouts.


Copying the database to the project file retains the original which I like. Do you go through the project data bases occasionally to pull out new notes to add to your central database?

I'm also wondering about a workflow where you add callout notes to a project database as they are created so that they can be pulled out again and reused elsewhere on a different sheet. The tricky bit is when the notes get edited later as there is currently no way to update all the callouts throughout a file.

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I'll have to play with the reconcile notes command a bit. I thought it only works on text objects (not callouts) and only in one direction. I.e it will update the database but you can't use it to actually change a note on a drawing from the database.

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8 hours ago, Kevin Allen said:

The Callout tool could use some love,

Heck yes it could - formatting for one (bullet points pls!) and having to different callout tools - one for text entry and one for database text. Its a pain in the butt to go between the two functions at present.

I'm assuming that if the database is a single file accessed by all the project files, opening an old project and needing to modify database callout notes could create some issues - I'm not wanting to test it so I copy the database from my library to the project folder just so any new tweaks are incorporated.

I have a reasonably standard set of notes in the database - I found that I ended up with 20 different roof entries due to differing projects having variations on roof design.. so I culled the notes to a general wording to suit most stuff I do and then alter them to be job specific when I do the first section and elevations.

Same with my standard note symbols - they have variations in them so I delete the paragraphs not applicable (how about a rich text toolbar in the text box when selected?).

My usual work flow is to start on the first section  - I set up my database keynotes on that page (I hate having all these notes on a single page separate to the drawing) and I usually cover all the notes I need and the wording changes required. I then copy the callouts  and keynote to the next sheet, select all and assign the callouts to the keynote on that page and move the callouts to the right places and add new ones to the database for details not on the other section(s) - super easy, quick and looks organised. Then I keynote the elevations, etc from there.

I do put my standard notes on the 2nd and 3rd pages because its more product specification and code compliance jargon/cited standards, etc. As an ex builder I found it frustrating to read a section then have to leaf back to another page to find out what the keynote abbreviation meant... some jobs though, its the only way, but works for the stuff I do.


Hth 🙂 

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1 hour ago, Aspect_Design said:

I then copy the callouts  and keynote to the next sheet, select all and assign the callouts to the keynote on that page and move the callouts to the right places and add new ones to the database for details not on the other section(s

Thanks Aspect.

What about the inevitable revisions? Do you need to go through each sheet and update the duplicated notes individually or do you use the reconcile notes tool?


I just had a play with the reconcile notes tool and yes it looks like it does two way updates on text & call outs. Still need to play more but it looks like it needs to be used with caution as it seems you could easily inadvertently change central database notes rather than a cloned project database.

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  • 2 weeks later...



I've just started to use Notepad XML 2007, to try and edit/import a lot of spec notes. It looked promising, but unfortunately the names don't come through to the organisation tree. 




So I spent a good while naming the notes in notepad. Lucky I stopped after an hour and tested it. It loads fine into VW, but if you then make any changes in VW, it seems to save over all the updated section names and note names, with nothing again!!!!


If anyone knows a good external editor, I could build up the spec information in this, and just use VW to place the notes??


OR if any VW tech are reading this, can you get VW database controls to name the entities as per the VW control, so editing them externally is achievable?


Sorry its not a useful workflow, but its more that I'm suggesting the use of an external editor to control the text content. Only I've not found a good one yet.




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I'm leaning a little about xml. !!! It seems there is something called a schema, and this can control how the xml file is imported into excel. So, if any has (or has the ability to write a schema) that tells excel how to import into excel, then excel could be the editing software, which could solve the team work flow problems? Certainly this would help for me.


Whereby each section from the VW data base imports to a seperate tab in excel, named as per the section name

Then within each tab, each note has a row, with the description in one column, and the note text in the next. 


Then assuming (?) its possible to export using the same schema, all the editing could be done in this way. And use the in-built excel track changes and comments to control revisions with colleagues?


for me, I'm just currently trying to find a quick way to bring a lot of good text content into the notes database.


Sorry, don't think I'm good enough to create a schema.


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Dear all, an update on progress regarding notes, data bases and work flows. Anyone who finds this helpful, you have my brother to thank for this. Sadly I'm not a VB coder. 


Attached is a text file with a script written in Visual basic for excel. It allows you to use excel to drive your Vectorworks notes database, where by it runs an export from an excel file, creating:

-    The A column becomes the description, 
-    The B column becomes the notes (main text content).

Tabs become different sections, but as yet it just names them -1, -2,-3 etc, and these need to be changed within VW. But we are looking to resolve this.

This means as a team you can use excel to edit, and input into a central data set (and use all the notes and track changes included in this). 


For those of you using NBS, its possible to export into excel using a few methods, then with some simple editing you can have your NBS references etc as notes (NBS used to make a tool to do this, but it stopped working with VW 2016 I think. There was little uptake on it, so NBS stopped supporting it) 


How to use.
You need excel. Maybe it works in google sheets, I’ve not tried it yet but I will. 

-    First turn on the developer tab. Do this via File>options>customise ribbon, and tick the developer tab.
-    Then open the visual basic editor (far left on my version)
-    Then click inset > module 
-    Copy and paste the contents of the text file into here. 
-    goto tools >> references and scroll down and tick "Microsoft scripting runtime" to include the libraries that you need
-    No need to save anything. Just close the VB editor.


Every time you want to run the macro, go to the developer tab, click on macros (second left on my version), then run the macro called export. This will save a .xml file where you choose. From VW, go to database controls > choose > click the exported xml, and… all your data is now in the VW database😀


Obviously, we are taking no responsibility for messing up excel files/data files. But all the above worked well for me. I’ll post up if we get the tab naming thing working. 


Here are some more detailed notes about the code and external data base control, if you are using them…


The long random strings in the example files are GUIDs which are unique identifiers that are used by databases to identify objects. 

Usually they are automatically created whenever you add a new entry to a database table.

If you are importing your xml to create new items in the CAD database it probably doesn’t expect to be given guids - it will create its own as it creates each object from the xml entries

However, reading the documentation it looks like they can be used by the CAD software to synchronise between its objects and those in an external database (or excel etc) and it’s own items. In which case they may be needed.
There is a flag at the top of the code to turn on and off the ability to generate guids in the xml when it creates the file depending on whether the cadsoftware needs them or not. Change to true or false (with in the code in the module) to export with or without guids.

Also note that it will generate a new guid for each item every time you export the file. If you intend to use the xml to sync or update entries then you don’t want it to create new guids every time - it will likely create duplicate entries in the cad data - instead it will need to use existing guids and will need some slightly different code to this.


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