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Revit versus Vectorworks


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Hi there,

I sure this subject has been explored extensively however I have not been able to locate it on the forum probably due to a long day and too much wine at his late hour.

Our office (Architects) has been using Revit for the last 5 years and though as the BIM Manager I am reasonably competent in its use there are some colleagues that still struggle with it no matter how many times I instruct them. Having looked at Vectorworks over a week or so it looks so more intuitive and easier to use in comparison with Revit. Our office is moving to BIM certification according to BS ISO EB 19650 in the coming months also. As you all are aware also the Autodesk subscription cost has got ridiculous given the pathetic development of Revit. Seriously Dynamo courses to make up workarounds for Revits inadequacies. Are there any disadvantages moving to Vectorworks I am missing?

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Vectorworks IMHO is of course much more intuitive for not-so-technical

but creative people. Perpetual license offer is a great plus, but maybe

more important to freelancers or small offices than large corporations.

VW price is competitive too.


Nevertheless there are also a lot of hidden things in VW that you just

have to learn or know how VW works and how to make best use of it.

And like any other CAD Apps it has some restrictions and limits you

have to live with. Or thinks you don't understand why they are that way.


Once you are experienced and learned the workarounds or how to

avoid running into its limits, I think it is a fast, comfortable and

fun Software to work with, for Architecture.


Revit is just a de facto industry standard which means an advantage

in collaboration and compatibility with larger companies and clients.

Or if your colleagues are used to Autodesk workflows, there are newer

DWG based alternatives that may fit better.

Edited by zoomer
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I started with Revit just before Autocad went to a full subscription model.  While I totally got the logic of Revit, the costs were just too much for my taste. Also, any plugins you might need are typically quite expensive. This coupled with some annoying things about Revit moved me to Archicad. After a couple of years, the cost of Archicad was less than Revit and every year, this just got better. On some projects I incorporate timber framing which was always an issue in Revit. Archicad was better but not great. This brings me to Vectorworks. Cost is much better than Revit or Archicad. The timber framing part is much better in VW and I prefer the general paradigm of classes and layers. However, I have found a lot of things in VW are not intuitive at all. Having just done my first real project, I found a lot of road blocks which made no sense. With any program you have to discover the idiosyncrasies to become productive but in VW's case, some of the solutions are well hidden. An example - Section lines could be simple to control through classes and layers but the visibility is controlled through the OIP for the section viewport. There is no need for this. VW definitely has a learning curve which I personally found more difficult than the other 3D programs I've been exposed to. Guess I don't have the right mix of left brain and right brain. Bottom line though is that the more I work with VW, the better I like it.

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3 minutes ago, KrisM said:

I have found a lot of things in VW are not intuitive at all.


3 minutes ago, KrisM said:

I found a lot of road blocks which made no sense.



I agree.


And there so many details that could be so much better,

users were criticizing for years but no one is willing to fix these,

for whatever reasons.

So there would be so much potential but it just won't happen.


So as a CAD BIM manager, test it and try to convert an example project.

If you run into issues ask here for a possible solution to get a feeling for

VWs restrictions. If there are for you, don't expect them to change in

a reasonable time frame.

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3 hours ago, Smgo said:

there are some colleagues that still struggle with it no matter how many times I instruct them


No software will fix this, it's a matter of the individual's aptitude to learn new things.

Sometimes it's not the student, but the instructor... Send some of those folks you have had struggles with to a workshop or online class taught by an industry pro and see if you get different results.


Revit, Vectorworks, Archicad, etc... all have their strengths and weaknesses.  I would say Vectorwork's biggest weakness is the extreme difficulty in finding employees who are already competent in its use.  Great Revit operators are plentiful throughout the world.

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I've used a number of different CAD softwares over the years,  started in AutoCAD (when it was DOS),  used Architectural Desktop, Inventor, Rhino, Chief Architect, Vectorworks and tried a number of other programs like ArchiCAD.

All the programs have things that they do really well and they all have their weaknesses and they all have things they do the same it is just a matter of where you find the tool and what buttons you have to push.  I started in AutoCAD and even taught it for a while but I left it behind  years in ago in favour of BIM programs. I wish you could take the best of each program and mash it into a single super program.

What I've found in my experience is that it is not which of the major BIM programs you use but the willingness of users to learn how to drive the program to it's full potential. 


Our office uses Revit and Vectorworks, although I use mostly VW.  I have co-workers who have used VW since the 90's and still draw section marker manually,  use none of the plug-in tools for windows doors and stairs etc,  yet they update to the latest release every year.   Fortunately there are a few younger and more open minded people in the office and I've been teaching them how to use VW as more of a BIM tool.  We have an open office it's fun to listen to some of the senior people standing over the shoulders of juniors now as they spin the model around and cut live sections for them to look at and they go WOW! I didn't know you could even do that.  Also helpful when the construction management company calls you says they are not clear what is happening in part of the building and you just use the clip cube and send them a 3d screenshot.

So back to the original question Vectorworks Vs Revit,  they are both competent programs.   I like Vectorworks more as it is much more affordable,  and the fact that your license never expires. You can chose to be a subscription member or not.   For a single user office (like I used to be) this is a big deal.     If I was still working solo I probably wouldn't be able to generate enough revenue to justify the current cost of Revit (also being close to retirement I don't want to have a CAD program that I need to keep paying for simply because I want to do a little CAD work).


My two cents.

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 TomKen ... I just had to put my two cents in about one comment you made.  I am retired and kept VW to do (mostly) charity work.  I thought I could just keep it "forever" since it was not on subscription.  This is proving to be a mirage.  What happens is that I am now unable to upgrade my Mac OS because VW 2015 won't work on a more recent Mac OS.  Since I can't upgrade my Mac OS, I can not upgrade my Safari browser.  I'm pretty well constrained to use Firefox since some websites (like my bank) don't work with an old Safari browser.   I figure the age of the OS and browsers will become intolerable within 2-3 years.  Thus, my conclusion is that keeping the old VW running won't work anyone more after about 8 years.  At that time I'll have to decide to buy a whole new computer system and VW, or give up on CAD work.   (My other computer, a 16 year old iMac, still works really well as a music player and to show photos of project sites while I'm drafting on my late 2012 iMac.)   This sort of constant-update cycle is exactly what everyone has complained about since Steve Jobs was working in his garage.  No solution in sight.

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I forgot to mention one other important factor why you can't keep using VW forever ....   I try to use VW 2015 on my old Macbook Air, which also can not update to the newest OS nor browser.  Since VW requires internet verification, when I start VW2015 it will not verify on the internet.  The VW tech guys confirmed with me that the internet verification for VW2015 will not work, and thus, it will not start up.  They have no intention of fixing it.   I suspect this will happen to all subsequent versions of VW.     Also ... there is no setting for which browser the internet verification uses, so I can't try to use a more recent Firefox browser. (setting the default browser differently makes no difference)

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domer1322 -  I  hear you.  Technology keeps improving and there is always this constant leap frog software and hardware.    So sure eventually old software becomes unusable.  But with a current VW license you could probably go 4-5 years.   With Revit your license is dead the minute you stop paying the annual fee.

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  • Vectorworks, Inc Employee

@domer1322 You can still use Vectorworks 2015 as long as you are on a supported operating system, even with mac OS X. Can you send me a DM with your license details so I can look into your issue and make sure we can get you up and running with 2015?



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jblock ....   I sent you a message and repeat the main part here ......  I was very surprised to find from another test that VW2015 now DOES ACTIVATE on my old laptop using Mac OS 10.10.5.    If anyone reading this cares, I now retract my earlier disparaging post about the lifetime of VW products.   I don't know what happened, but for a couple years it definitely did not activate, and I now have no idea why it activates now .... but I'm happy.

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