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How to organize classes / Ten Commands

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I work for a residential remodeling company, and am seeking some advice on ways for us organize our classes. We have a decent number of VW users, and are now in a place where setting up standards would be a very good thing for us.

The big problem we have with the standard way of naming classes (wall-exterior, door-interior, etc?) is we need to have a clear and simple distinction between existing objects, demolition work, and new construction. Also, we are trying desperately to reduce the number of classes to a minimum.

Instead of re-inventing the wheel, I thought I would seek our some suggestions and opinions from anyone listening, especially those who do residential remodeling drawings for mid-sized companies.

Oh, and while I have you?re attention, what do you think are ?ten commands? that you think any normal VW user should be expected to know how to use beyond line, wall, window etc...(yet another thing we are trying to figure out?)



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This is all very well and good until you - opps!...import a .dwg and get another 150 classes, because those new classes were their layers.

Not a bad idea to use the AIA standard layering for VW classes, whether or not you contemplate importing drawings.

The use of the hyphen is brilliant for allowing the nesting/outlining of classes.

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I agree that AIA standards are a must, however I only partially appreciate the hyphen nesting function.

As an Architect, my classes are always A-this or A-that. So, when I open my class menu I have an inevitable and unnecessary extra click to access the "A-" nest. So, I don't like the "A-" nest, but I do like the "Wall-" or "Flor-" nests.

I really wish this feature could be toggled or customized in preferences.

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I am experimenting with a new class setup for me. I am listing my classes by the sheet that they are on. My attempt is to shorten the intial list of classes.

For example: 04 Floor-Wall-Int, 07 Section-Shade, 05 Roof-Outline. These may not make sense to others, but so far it seems to be working for me.

I tried to conform to VW or AIA standards, but they simply did not make sense to me. So I thought I would name them myself. This may not make sense in a multi-person office environment.

As far as importing documents, there is a plug-in that will reclass your imported classes with a prefix. I do not remember where it can be found.

If I import a survey, I can simply use this plug-in to give all "150" classes the prefix of Survey-. That way they only take up one line on my class list. I wish I could remember where I found the plug-in.

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We separate existing, new, and demo by class. For example, our wall classes might be:


Wall-new stud

Wall-new CMU

Wall-new concrete

because we hatch stud, CMU, and concrete walls differently (and all attributes are set by class). We used to do classes like this:


N-wall stud

N-wall CMU


so that all E (existing) objects were listed together, all N (new) objects were listed together. I preferred this way.

In both cases, DEMO is a class of its own, but we don't distinguish different object types within DEMO. They're all just the same dash, same lineweight.

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I am simply grateful for the "Modify Layers and Classes" command.

Where do I find this "Modify Layers and Classes" command?


How to organize classes

This is an interesting subject and people can get really worked up over it.

One good thing about classes is that you can always rename them later.

Changing classes is awkward and time consuming in Vectorworks, so what I like to do is draw everything in one class and then go back at the end of the session and move everything into its proper class.

As for naming classes, I'd opt for whatever is quickest to pick from the drop down menu. Nesting them (placing a "-" in the name) seems to be faster than just listing them in a column.

I've never liked the AIA standards either; they seem rather silly. But if you must exchange drawings with other firms, then that might be the way to go.

My system is totally unorthodox and everyone hates it except me:

As a hand drafter, I always drew by line type and weight. So when I changed to CAD, I continued working the same way: light, medium, heavy weight; continuous, dashed, hidden, or center lines. For example, "lin01" class is a continuous blue (light weight) line; "lin25" class is a hidden red (medium-heavy weight) line. The system is actually from an old AutoCad overlay called AutoPE.

When I look at my screen, I know exactly how it's going to plot; I don't have to run any test plots. A blue line is always thin. A green line is always medium. A red line is always heavy.

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I agree, whatever works for you is the right way, (unless you have to share with others).

Under Vectorworks preferences you can toggle on the "Zoom Line Thickness" button. This will give your lineweights a graphic scale on the screen.

David is more organized than me. I simply use colors as they suit the situation. But Zoom Line Thickness will allow me to see lineweights without a test plot.

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to take full advantage of VW in the architectural side of things having Architect is almost a must

then to make the best use of the tools one has to think about objects rather the lines

the lines weights then become less of an issue

especially if colour fills are use; which prints as grey tone when set up an engineered copier

as for classes we do not follow the standards but

try to create a hiearchy that relates the the layers.

We use more than one file for a typical 2 or 3 storey residential project - we workgroup reference if required

so a Site Plan file would have

2 or 3 layers to get info to sit front to back

LL (layerlink) to bring in WGR

and classes would have








text-zoning info

acadimport- we would move the acad layers here


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This topic has touched on an idea I had last year and would like to throw out to the good folks at Nemetschek. I have also struggled with this over the years. What about posting, for access, full VW drawings (of varying types) that would be available for download so you could actually see and navigate the drawing structure. Users could submit work, much like the gallery. Nemetschek could look through these drawings and post the ones they thought were good examples of how the classes and layers were organized. I realize there would need to be permissions granted and perhaps logos removed, or whatever. But, sometimes it is easier to learn by example rather than reading through the manual. I think the video cd's start this with very simple drawings, but this could take it to the next level.

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drawing with objects is not an evil plot, its faster than drawing with lines. As for classes, I have a few simple rules:

- draw as much as you can on each layer. for a building, draw everything on each floor level of the buiding.

- use classes to control visibility,[/b] this means if you have two objects that are different, say text and dimensions, but you turn them on and off at the same time, put them on the same class.

- use classes to control grahpic quality, [/b] this means breaking up the design (using lines of you want) into graphic stuff. For example I have a class for floor joists and another for bearers... I have a class for rafters and another for purlins. All these classes are purely to control the grahpic style of the drawings.

if you have my VectorWorks Architect Tutorial you will a file with my standard layers and classes on the CD

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I have been struggling to understand the best use of classes eversince I started with VW.

Due a few bad experience with the distinction between classes and layers, I became terrified with the option Show/Snap/Modify Others. Sometimes things become invisible and I would redraw objects/walls, et cetera. During the completion of my drawings, I find mysterious/unexpected objects floating about because I had duplicated things out of pure confusion. When I resort to using only Show/Snap Others, it becomes really inconvenient. Hence have completely stopped trying with different classes or layers. I am not sure where I went wrong with understanding the basics.

This thread is a little helpful for the hopeful me. I am trying to revive the courage to get into the right thinking cap of how classes and layers work, yet again. While I am still working on my own with small remodelling projects, it is safe to learn it now before business picks up and I have to share drawings with a bigger team.

What are the few thumb rules that differentiate classes from layers? What are the functions?

atari2600 has asked some right questions that probed me to rethinking my deeply embedded fears with classes and layers..

I agree with johnharley about learning from examples.. preferably with a realistic project, and not just with simple objects like spheres, cubes and cylinders as in the manuals..

archoncad has given a few simplified rules that is clueing me in..

.. BUT I STILL FEEL TOO PARALYZED IN UNDERSTANDING!! And I do find the nesting so annoying as it is so inconvenient to move from one class/layer to another..

When it comes to having drawings of demolition and new, I simply have separate drawing for them. One saved as original site and another saved under another name after I have changed things around.

I am new to drawing with the computer, and VW is the very first cad program I have ever properly attempted on my own (had very limited experience with AutoCAD many years ago, forgotten everything). Some say that I am lucky to start without the prior AutoCAD knowledge, some would disagree...

Please help me with my fear of classes and layers..

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I would just like to encourage Poesy to let go of your struggle and your fear and just experiment. Find a way to make classes & layers work for you in the way you like to work. I can't add to what Archoncad described as the basics buy I might give some

examples. If I need to design spaces where the client wants specific furnishings to work, I create a furnishings class. I toggle the class on to make sure the space works but after that it remains off unless I want to include the furnishings in a printed drawing. As an example for graphic attributes I may use

an electrical class to give me a dashed line with no fill so that I can draw arcs from switches to fixtures, etc. I use classes and

layers freely and with no rules just to explore their functionality.

It is a liberating start and I'm at the point where I need to refine

and standardize my uses. You can't learn to swim without getting wet!

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Does anyone know if there is a plug-in that would allow one to toggle all classes to visible? This would be a help to me and I believe would also help Poesy.

Often an item becomes invisible because it's class is set to invisible. A quick check by toggling all classes on would be helpful.

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Kevin - there are several Class Utilities on the Vectordepot site. Have a look in both the Plug-ins and Market sections of the site.



As Peter correctly points out if you upgrade to VW12 this will solve your problem. Given all of the other improvements you would get as well it sounds like a fairly clear choice

[ 10-30-2005, 07:06 PM: Message edited by: mike m oz ]

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Do the classes and layers have the same names?






I only need these for simple interior projects so far. It is a good selection to start with but I am not certain whether it is classes or layers that I would work with..

Do floors go together with walls?

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  • Vectorworks, Inc Employee

> Kevin, you will be pleased to know that in version 12, in the new "navigation palette" (NP), you can select all classes and change them to visible. The whole procedure takes about two seconds ;-)

Hi Peter,

You can cut that to one second by holding down the option key while you click in the visibility column. That will change the visibilities of all of the classes regardless of the selection.

Mark Farnan

Core Technologies Manager


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Sometimes having options is too confusing. Perhaps it would be best for you to start simple and then allow yourself to discover what you need.

You do not need to use classes at all. You can draw everything in the None class. You might try this first and then work your way up to using different classes.

If you were hand drafting, you would use a pencil and put linework on paper. Your floor plan would be one sheet and your roof plan would be another sheet, etc. Each sheet is a Layer.

As you become a better drafsman, you will begin using different line thicknesses and styles. You might make your walls dark and thick and make your dimensions thin and light. These differences are perfect for Classes.

Your wall class can be thick lines and your dimension class can be thin lines.

I would suggest too that you look into training. NNA offers training classes, training CD's and of course there are books out there, both in priint and on-line. Archoncad, (see above), publishes training manuals.

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Originally posted by Mark Farnan:

...You can cut that to one second by holding down the option key while you click in the visibility column. That will change the visibilities of all of the classes regardless of the selection...

Thank you for letting us know, and thank you for your hard work in implementing these improvements.

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