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Georeferencing settings


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I've upgraded to VW2020 and as a GIS champion, I love the look of the geoimage tools and being able to tap into these libraries! 


However - I've opened an existing file, which is located correctly in terms of X, Y location as E, N location in relation to British National Grid. I want to change the geo referencing settings in the file to pick this up, and I've got the EPSG code 27700 - but I seem to need to also input the lat / long of the internal origin?


This is an issue for me because I've already centred the drawing on the internal origin, which is at something like X: 270545.936m Y: 846170.209m - i.e. not an easily convertible integer. 


I'm sure I could find an online converter, but I don't want there to be any issues with conversion, because I need to use my file for construction setting out - so I need millimetre tolerances on the co-ordinates. British Geological Society only convert to the nearest metre.


Does this mean I can only do this with new files - like set the 0,0 origin to the attached lat / long settings before drawing anything? Or am I missing something? 

Screenshot 2019-09-11 at 11.56.48.png

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  • Vectorworks, Inc Employee

Hi Lisa

Yes, these new features are very exciting!

When you select the 27700 EPSG code (presume you are looking at File > Document Settings > Georeferencing), you can indeed enter the coordinates that you want to use for the Internal origin. However, as your drawing is already centered, instead, you can use the new Geolocate tool to click on the point on the drawing which you would like to use as the internal origin. This will update the files in the Georeferencing dialog for you with the coordinates of your click point.

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  • Vectorworks, Inc Employee

@lisagravy check your decimal accuracy settings. And Tamsin is correct. Just set using the Geolocate tool. If you are concerned with the file as you are not used to the new workflow. Make a duplicate file to test with. This will allow you to play and not alter the original file.

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Thanks both - the problem I'm having with the geolocate tool is that is seems to move my drawing along with the internal origin? If I choose a point I'd like the internal origin to be - for example using a stake tool - and then use the geolocate tool to move my internal origin to this point, my drawing seems to move in relation to this as well? Does that make sense? 

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  • Vectorworks, Inc Employee

Yes, check in your layers and ensure that the drawing layer is set to Georeference. try toggling that on and off to understand the difference. This will set the drawing at the geo ref vs the point set by page zero zero.


Let me know more if you need. HTH!!!

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Thanks @bgoff - but I'm still struggling with this? I'm toggling geo referencing on for each layer. This allows me to move the internal origin without automatically moving my drawing. But I'm getting close to the right results but not there! So just trying to establish the workflow? 


Right now I am: 

- Toggling all layers to georeferenced

- Using 'geolocate' to move the internal origin to a point at which I know the lat and long values

- Using file > document settings > georeferencing to put in those lat / long values.


Below screengrab of the results I'm getting - you can see the line of existing trees on the aerial vs the drawing.


Any help gratefully received! 



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Thanks @Tamsin Slatter - I've already emailed the file to Bryan, but have uploaded to Cloud Services too. 


As I've explained to Bryan, the positioning I have in the file currently isn't technically geo-referenced, but the X position directly relates to the Easting position of British National Grid, and the Y position directly relates to the northing, accurate to millimetre precision - so if georeferencing is likely to move this at all or change the accuracy of the current positioning I don't want to go there, as I need to be able to use the drawing for Construction setting out for a Contractor to this level of accuracy? 


It's an exciting tool though so I'm hopeful I can use it! 

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  • 2 months later...

@Mark Aceto I think you'll need to convert your .gdb first - I might be wrong but not sure that will import to Vectorworks directly. You want to convert to .shp.


Looks like you can do this from open source QGIS software https://gis.stackexchange.com/questions/304780/converting-gdb-files-to-shapefiles-for-autocad or there may be some online converters you can use. Then if you make sure your georeferencing settings in Vectorworks (File > Document Settings > Georeferencing) has the correct CRS selected (from your data it looks like you want to be using WGS_1984_Web_Mercator_Auxiliary_Sphere) when you import the shapefile it should be in the correct geographic location... so you shouldn't need to move geo-image? 


I think the idea is that if your geo-referencing settings are correct, you can't move the geo-image, as the image shows the aerial photography of the geographic location in vectorworks... if it doesn't match with where your drawing is, your drawing isn't located correctly or your settings are off somewhere.





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On 12/10/2019 at 9:10 AM, bgoff said:

If you need to move the geo image just click and hold using the Geo locate tool and move to the desired location


@bgoff thank you! As a VW user since 2012, I never would have guessed to click and hold vs move by points.


The other thing that threw me at first was drawing a rectangle to create the geoimage. Although that sort of made sense in hindsight (cropping images and viewports), it took hours of trial and error until I randomly noticed a rectangle being drawn in the promo video (must have watched it a dozen times before I caught that).


I totally get the choices made but some of them break with Vectorworks logic / behavior, and the documentation in the help app is like reading a Jane Austen novel, so a quick video or cheat sheet would be really helpful to get us started with this tool / feature set 🙏


Continued thanks for making this possible - it's a massive game-changer in the outdoor live events industry 🙌


Edited by Mark Aceto
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On 9/11/2019 at 8:10 AM, bgoff said:

Ill show in a video and all should be perfect!


On 9/17/2019 at 1:47 AM, lisagravy said:

Did you manage to get anywhere with this @bgoff?


On 9/19/2019 at 1:04 PM, HEengineering said:

A comprehensive video on this subject would be great.  I think once people see it in use its so much easier to understand vs trying to interpret the help files.

@bgoff - Is there a link for the Geolocation workflow video? It’s been 3 months since your post, so I’ve probably just missed it.
Like the others in this thread — I’ve tried following the Vw2020 help file to properly geolocate a DWG survey file and had little success, certainly not enough progress for the amount of time I spent trying to figure it out.

Thank you in advance.

Edited by rDesign
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  • 4 weeks later...
  • 1 month later...

As a landscape architect I am glad that VW is reworking the geo-referencing functionality.


Like Lisagravy described above, we have been using the XY coordinates as Northings and Eastings for more than 10 years. It has been working for us to a certain extent, except for the mysterious need to reset the user origin once in a while in order to import CAD files correctly again. We have never used the "old" Geo-referencing Tool.


On VW2020, while I change the geographic location around with the Geolocate Tool, the value on the Coordinate Marker doesn't seem to change. Is this "new" GIS workflow a separate entity to the XY coordinates?  If so, you can imagine it is quite a big change for us and there is a lot of uncertainty around the impact it might have on how we issue dwg for construction. I am a competent GIS user myself but I am as confused as my colleagues.


A workflow video, or a simple diagrammatic explanation on how all these systems fit together, would be great.

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  • Vectorworks, Inc Employee

Yes, the GIS system uses a Geographic Coordinate System which is different to the X and Y values. You should use Easting and Northing instead. But you can also use Tools > Origin > User Origin and then use the new checkbox to align the User Coordinate System with the Geographic Coordinate System. And make sure you are using SP2 or you won't have the checkbox.


Essentially, X and Y is a rectilinear system, which requires considerable distortion to represent a curved surface on a flat plane.  Once you introduce GIS, the X and Y is no longer relevant. Northing and Easting is used instead. However, the new checkbox described above aligns the X and Y numbers with this coordinate system.

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Hi Tamsin,

It would be really useful for us end users to have some examples of how this works, there are many options to set within the “Document Georeferencing” panel as well at the options in the “User Origin” panel that are not clearly explained in the help file on what combinations work in what way and the lack of tutorials or videos which have been requested many times by users on the forum and the fact that users are still asking how to get this to work means it has not been clearly answered.


Could you please give us an example of where we have an existing file set up with the user origin set using X and Y coordinates and how we get this to align with GIS

Edited by axhake
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