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Spotlight Data Import Issues

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I want to preface `this rant/feature request/bug report` as coming from a long standing user, professor, industry professional, and enthusiast. I'm not really looking for a workaround or a third party tool: I want Vectorworks to natively fix the following issues. I also develop a piece of software that uses the XML Data Exchange so I have a fairly deep knowledge of how Vectorworks functions. These are core issues in the program. MVR does address several of these issues indirectly, but the export and import of raw data is a critical part of many workflows and it should either be depreciated or fixed.


File -> Import -> Lighting Device Data

  1. Data Import needs to import Position/Rotation data when a fixture is created and the field is included in Data Exchange or via the Import. Currently the tool creates "Orphans" for anything it can't match and ignores Position X/Y/Z. This fails in metric or imperial with the format of `#.##m` or `#.##'`. I suspect this is because anything that is "unmatched" is set as an orphan and the position is ignored. This makes moving data from another program into Vectorworks. 
    • As a side note I believe this behavior is present in the Data Exchange workflow as well, because when I add a light and provide `PosX/Y/Z` data via the XML it also appears as an orphan without the correct position.
    • The identifier should also be allowed in mappings a second time as Vectorworks disposes of it if it doesn't match a UUID. As such I can't synchronize another drawing to Vectorworks UUIDs by doing an import, export to sync up the UUID, and then reimporting to try to correct position information.
    • Workflow example: I use my software to examine dimensions offset from zero and correct minor errors like x:=`15'-6.23"` and correct it to x:=`15'-6"` 
    • Workflow Example: Export data from Capture 2020 or lower into Vectorworks
    • I suspect there are other fields that are ignored/suppressed and that logic should be audited
  2. Data Exchange Seems to suffer from the same issues which is not surprising


Spotlight Data Exchange (Feature Request)

This API should be documented and exposed. It is a simple XML exchange and I was able to reverse engineer it in a couple of hours, but it would be nice to have some documentation on how Vectorworks processes the files. 


Excel Import/Export (Feature Request)

Given the fact Excel exchange is now standard in the architectural modules I would like to see lighting device data exchanged via Excel in Spotlight as well. We used to have this with the "Editable Worksheet" back in Vectorworks 12 (not 2012)--I can't remember exactly when it was eliminated but that was a huge blow to productivity. It seems like we're basically there again, and, I suspect implementing this would address my concerns above.


In Conclusion

Can I make all of the above work? Yes, but (as I discovered while teaching a class on lighting design) these tools behave inconsistently and in a clunky manner with no easy solutions. It would be nice to see 10 or 20 developer hours spent cleaning up these scripts and I would be happy to volunteer my time to explain--in detail--the issues to a developer if they don't understand the industry enough to make an adequate feature request. 


I realize the vast majority of my posts on this forum come across as crotchety at best, but that is because I come here when I have a problem I can not solve on my own. I really miss the basic export/import functionality from Vectorworks as it was a good way to teach how the software thinks, how data works, and why some tools are preferable to others. The database has always been the strength of Vectorworks and this has eroded in recent years. For someone like me who has their own database and workflow for production this amounts to being hamstrung in my workflow. My students prefer to visualize in Capture and draft in Vectorworks, but for the first time I can remember several of them have opted to create paperwork and plots in Capture rather than use Vectorworks at all and this is a major contributing factor, hence my post.


-Daniel B. Chapman


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  • Vectorworks, Inc Employee

Hi Daniel,


Thank you for posting this. I'd like to dive into each of the items above with you in more detail when you have the time. Feel free to message me directly at jpowell@vectorworks.net 


-Jeremy Powell

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