Vectorworks Architect FAQ

Who uses Vectorworks Architect?

Architects, engineers, architectural designers, drafters and interior designers take advantage of the many special features and functions in Vectorworks® Architect. The software allows you to handle all phases of a building’s design: blocking out and analyzing the building’s space program, easily developing the design, creating compelling presentations, and documenting construction plans, all while visualizing the design in 2D and 3D. Multidisciplinary firms can also benefit from Vectorworks Designer, which contains the entire Architect package plus a full suite of tools for landscape and entertainment design. Click here to learn more about Vectorworks Designer.

How does Vectorworks Architect do BIM (Building information Modeling)?

Vectorworks Architect was a Building Information Modeling application before the acronym “BIM” existed. Vectorworks Architect integrates the data-rich 3D model with live, dynamic viewport presentations of the plans, elevations, sections, and details of the building. You design and make your changes on a single model of the building, and the results automatically show up on all views. Constrained walls and slabs and auto-joining wall networks simplify your design process. Automatic Drawing Coordination means your drawings are always numbered and coordinated correctly. And, if your client needs a BIM model, you can export an industry-standard IFC model for use with any number of “downstream” management and simulation applications. For more information check out our BIM in Practice page.

Is Vectorworks Architect suitable for large projects?

Many notable architects and firms as well as thousands of successful designers around the world, all depend on Vectorworks Architect for the design and execution of large-scale projects. The program deftly handles the needs and functions of a large project with the ease of a smaller project.

Can I draw accurate floor plans directly in Vectorworks Architect?

Yes. In Vectorworks Architect, you can start with a 2D plan or with a 3D model and change your view at any time. Vectorworks Architect provides a structure of design layers, sheet layers, and classes for drawing organization. Drawing sets can be easily organized so you can quickly accomplish floor plans, sketches, elevations, details, sections, and schedules.

Can I design a 3D model in Vectorworks Architect?

Yes. Our 3D modeling is based on the leading Parasolid technology to provide best-in-class modeling. You’ll see many 3D objects such as walls, windows, doors, and stairs. Additionally, Vectorworks Architect features a set of sophisticated tools that facilitate true, free-form modeling.

Do Vectorworks Architect drawings look like other CAD drawings?

Vectorworks drawings look better than other CAD drawings. Vectorworks supports (and encourages) your individuality and does not dictate how your plans must look. We give you the freedom to create your own look. This is one of the many reasons why so many great designers choose Vectorworks Architect. To view some completed drawings, check out our Residential plan set and our Commercial plan set.

What graphics options does Vectorworks Architect offer?

Vectorworks Architect offers you the freedom to design your way, and we’re known for our graphics capabilities—we have tons of options: colored fills, gradients, 2D tiles, hatches, unlimited colors, variable line weights, and many other tools to help you realize your exact vision.

Can I create renderings, videos, and path animations with Vectorworks Architect?

Yes. Vectorworks Architect with Renderworks provides the ability to create videos of orbital, path and solar animations. With the Renderworks add-on, you can also create high-quality photorealistic and non-photorealistic and stylized rendered models that you can use to produce stunning images and animations.

How quickly can I learn Vectorworks Architect?

Vectorworks Architect is known for its intuitive user interface and workflow. Getting you up and running quickly is our goal. Typically, after a two-day training course you’ll understand the basics of Vectorworks Architect and you’ll be able to start designing. We also have a number of self-training options available, so that you can learn at your own pace. We offer tutorials with illustrated, step-bystep instructions and sample designs. See our Training page for a list of tutorials. we can put you in touch with a VectorWorks Expert - who can visit you onsite in Europe or do a web session. Contact us for details of rates.

Which schools are using Vectorworks Architect?

Many institutions of higher education and other schools throughout the world have already discovered Vectorworks Architect. To effectively prepare your students for a successful career in architecture, please contact our educational team.

After the original purchase of Vectorworks Architect, are there further costs?

You are not obligated to upgrade at any time. If you choose to upgrade, you may do so for only a fraction of the original cost of a new license. Nemetschek Vectorworks offers a variety of services (many of them free) to help users succeed with Vectorworks products. Take advantage of free options like service pack updates, Getting Started Guides, technical support, the knowledgebase, the eDispatch online newsletter, the Community Board and tech tips. Or, for more personalized training, you can purchase workbooks, training CDs, online training options, Vectorworks Service Select, and group or individual training courses. Check out the many resources on our Training page.

What types of files can I import or export from within Vectorworks Architect?

Vectorworks handles a large variety of import and export formats. You can import or export your plan in DXF/DWG format, which will allow you to seamlessly and accurately send files back and forth between Vectorworks and the application being used by your colleague. You can exchange BIM models successfully to other BIM applications using our IFC 2x3 and gbXML support. You can create PDFs, DWFs, JPGs, TIFs, EPS, PICTs and MOVs of your designs for your clients to see. Many other formats (Parasolid X_T, SAT, IGS, 3DS, STL, SKP, C4D, and 3DM) allow you to exchange data freely with almost every application. With Renderworks, you can even export FBX and COLLADA models for use in other standalone modeling and rendering applications.

Can I install my licensed software on either a Macintosh or a PC?

Yes. Your license is cross platform so you can choose to install your software on either a Macintosh or PC. Please refer to the end user license agreement (EULA) for further details regarding additional restrictions or limitations of different licenses and protection methods.

Can co-workers simultaneously work on the same project?

You bet! Vectorworks Architect uses reference technology to allow several co-workers to work on the same project simultaneously. You can reference symbols, parts of a plan, or even entire floors together. And, with the help of workgroup referencing, the office standards can be set up so that everyone can access the standard office libraries, colors, documents, organizational structures, and much more. With Vectorworks Architect, you can all move ahead together.

Are object libraries included in the purchase price?

Yes. At no extra charge with the purchase, you’ll have access to thousands of items like symbols for manufacturer specific windows, doors, HVAC equipment, details, equipment, human figures, fixtures, furnishings, designer furniture, vehicles, trees, and plants. We update all libraries constantly, and this content is completely customizable—you can even add your own.

Who can get the free Vectorworks Viewer?

You, your colleagues, your clients—anyone who wants to open, view, or print Vectorworks documents can get the free Viewer. The Viewer helps the plot service or printer who needs to work with Vectorworks files. Owners and clients can use the Viewer to see the documents without the need for a full version of Vectorworks. The files cannot be changed; all tools except those for revision control are blocked. With the Viewer, you can open drawings from all Vectorworks products. Download it from our website, free of charge.

What are the system recommendations for Vectorworks Architect?

VectorWorks System requirements / recommendations - AxonWare

System recommendations

Vectorworks 2014

The following are real-world system recommendations for running Vectorworks 2014. In some demanding cases, we would suggest a more capable machine than is described by these recommendations. Likewise, there are some less demanding situations where Vectorworks will perform well on older hardware.
 

General Recommendations

Macintosh

Windows

Operating System

Mac OS X 10.6.8 or later

Windows XP SP 3
Windows Vista SP 2
Windows 7 SP 1
Windows 8

Other Software

QuickTime

QuickTime 7.7.0 to 7.7.3

(higher versions not recommended)

Processor

Intel Core 2GHz or better

Pentium 2GHz or better

Other Hardware

DVD-ROM drive (dual layer)

Screen Resolution

1024 x 768 minimum, 1280 x 800 recommended

RAM*

2GB minimum,

4GB highly recommended,

8GB recommended for large files and complex renderings.

* See the discussion in the Optimizing Performance section below.

Additional Details

Video Cards

IMPORTANT - Vectorworks 2014 added improvements which placed higher demands on graphic hardware. The performance and quality of the graphics provided by the new Vectorworks Graphics Module depend directly on the speed, memory, and supported extensions of the graphics card. These new features have the potential to provide a very fast and fluid experience if used on capable hardware, or a noticeably slower experience if used on older or incompatible hardware. Starting with Vectorworks 2014 graphic cards should support at a minimum OpenGL version 2.1; cards not meeting this recommendation will have limited functionality and poor performance when rendering in OpenGL mode. In general, the more powerful your video card is, the better your Vectorworks experience will be.

The amount of Video RAM (VRAM) required to drive Vectorworks adequately depends largely on the size of the display being used and the complexity of the Vectorworks document.¬†Medium-sized displays with a native resolution of 1600x1200 or less should be driven by a graphics card with at least 256MB of VRAM.¬† Larger displays, such as displays that are 30” or larger, should use a modern graphics card with at least 512MB of VRAM, with 1GB or more recommended.

Vectorworks 2014 introduced significant OpenGL improvements that drastically improved the rendering of shadows and edges. These improvements are VRAM-intensive and require at least 512MB, with 1GB of VRAM being preferable. If you want to take full advantage of improved OpenGL shadows and edges, especially in situations where you have any combination of the following:
- many lights
- point lights
- image textures
- anti-aliasing
- high shadow quality
and if you have a video card with less than 512MB of VRAM, you should consider upgrading your video card.

We strongly recommend that all users check that their video drivers are current. The majority of display problems reported to our Technical Support department have been traced to older video drivers.

For the latest information on our video card recommendations for Vectorworks 2014, see the following Knowledgebase article:http://kbase.vectorworks.net/questions/714, or go to theVectorworks Knowledgebase and search for "OpenGL".

Remote and Virtual Machines

We do not consider remote login environments such as Remote Desktop, Terminal Services and VNC or virtual machine environments such as Parallels and VMware to be appropriate for regular work, so Vectorworks performance in these situations is not of primary concern to us. They may be appropriate for administrative testing or utility purposes, and Vectorworks is fully functional in these environments. You should not expect high performance in these environments, however, especially with interactive screen feedback.

We do support Vectorworks running under Bootcamp on Intel Macs. As long as you have appropriate and current drivers for the hardware on your machine, you can expect fast and reliable Vectorworks behavior.

Maintenance Releases

Unless there is a known problem with a maintenance release of the operating system, we recommend the latest maintenance release at the time we ship a new release of Vectorworks as a minimum because that is what we test with. If you have problems with an earlier maintenance release, we will often ask you to update as an initial troubleshooting step.

On Windows we recommend against updating QuickTime, primarily because many Windows users are not aware that Vectorworks depends on QuickTime and can possibly change behavior when QuickTime is updated. We have never had problems, however, which were traced back to bugs in newer releases of QuickTime, so updating QuickTime on Windows is not a risky choice.

64 Bit Windows

While Vectorworks is fully supported in both 32 bit and 64 bit Windows environments, we generally recommend using a 64 bit Windows operating system for Vectorworks 2014.

While Renderworks is fully supported in both 32 bit and 64 bit Windows environments, we strongly recommend using a 64 bit Windows operating system for Renderworks 2014, as it will take full use of 64 bit addressing.

Optimizing Performance

RAM requirements are usually driven by performance considerations. Large files and especially complex rendering modes consume large amounts of memory. On the Mac the operating system will take advantage of nearly all of the RAM that you have up to 4GB. On Windows the operating system will by default only take advantage of 2GB of RAM, but can be coerced into using up to 3GB. See the following Vectorworks Knowledgebase article for information on how to use up to 3GB of RAM on Windows: http://kbase.vectorworks.net/questions/663, or go to the Vectorworks Knowledgebase and search for "3GB".

For users who have 64 bit machines and work with large files and complex renderings, we recommend installing 8GB of RAM to give the rest of your system more RAM breathing space when Vectorworks is approaching the maximum. When RAM runs out, Vectorworks usually continues to function, but is slowed significantly by the need to access the hard drive to provide virtual memory. Extreme lack of RAM may cause operations to generate errors in cases where given sufficient RAM they would otherwise succeed. Faster hard drives can have an unexpectedly large impact on system performance especially when virtual memory is actively being used.

Faster or slower processor clock speeds have a predictable impact on Vectorworks performance. Hard drive size requirements are driven by the total size of Designer with Renderworks including all content files. You can reduce this size by opting to not install some Vectorworks content files.

More Information

For the latest support information on Vectorworks 2014, go to the Vectorworks Knowledgebase and search for "2014".


Vectorworks 2013

The following are real-world system recommendations for running Vectorworks 2013. In some demanding cases, we would suggest a more capable machine than is described by these recommendations. Likewise, there are some less demanding situations where Vectorworks will perform well on older hardware.

General Recommendations

Macintosh

Windows

Operating System

Mac OS X 10.6.8 or later

Windows XP SP 3
Windows Vista SP 2
Windows 7 SP 1
Windows 8

Other Software

QuickTime

QuickTime 7.7.0 to 7.7.2

(higher versions not recommended)

Processor

Intel Core 2GHz or better

Pentium 2GHz or better

Other Hardware

DVD-ROM drive (dual layer)

Screen Resolution

1024 x 768 minimum, 1280 x 800 recommended

RAM*

1GB minimum,

4GB highly recommended,

8GB recommended for large files and complex renderings.

* See the discussion in the Optimizing Performance section below.

Additional Details

Video Cards

IMPORTANT - Vectorworks 2012 and Vectorworks 2013 contained improvements that placed significantly higher demand on the graphics hardware. The performance and quality of the graphics provided by Accelerated Navigation and Improved OpenGL Shadows depend directly on the speed and memory of the graphics card. These new features have the potential to provide a very fast and fluid experience when used on capable hardware, and a noticeably slower experience when used on older or incompatible hardware. In general, the more powerful your video card is, the better your Vectorworks experience will be.

The amount of Video RAM (VRAM) required to drive Vectorworks adequately depends largely on the size of the display being used and the complexity of the Vectorworks document. Medium-sized displays with a native resolution of 1600x1200 or less should be driven by a graphics card with at least 256MB of VRAM. Larger displays, such as displays that are 30” or larger, should use a modern graphics card with at least 512MB of VRAM, with 1GB or more recommended.

If you use OpenGL rendering, Vectorworks 2012 contains significant OpenGL improvements that drastically improve the rendering of shadows. These improvements are VRAM-intensive, however, and require at least 512MB, with 1GB or VRAM being preferable. If you want to take full advantage of improved OpenGL shadows in Vectorworks 2012 and Vectorworks 2013, especially in situations where you have any combination of the following:
- many lights
- point lights
- image textures
- anti-aliasing
- high shadow quality
and if you have a video card with less than 512MB of VRAM, you should consider upgrading your video card.

We strongly recommend that all users check that their video drivers are current. The majority of display problems reported to our Technical Support department have been traced to older video drivers.

For the latest information on our video card recommendations for Vectorworks 2013, see the following Knowledgebase article:http://kbase.vectorworks.net/questions/714, or go to the Vectorworks Knowledgebase and search for "OpenGL".

Remote and Virtual Machines

We do not consider remote login environments such as Remote Desktop, Terminal Services and VNC or virtual machine environments such as Parallels and VMware to be appropriate for regular work, so Vectorworks performance in these situations is not of primary concern to us. They may be appropriate for administrative testing or utility purposes, and Vectorworks is fully functional in these environments. You should not expect high performance in these environments, however, especially with interactive screen feedback.

We do support Vectorworks running under Bootcamp on Intel Macs. As long as you have appropriate and current drivers for the hardware on your machine, you can expect fast and reliable Vectorworks behavior.

Maintenance Releases

Unless there is a known problem with a maintenance release of the operating system, we recommend the latest maintenance release at the time we ship a new release of Vectorworks as a minimum because that is what we test with. If you have problems with an earlier maintenance release, we will often ask you to update as an initial troubleshooting step.

On Windows we recommend against updating QuickTime, primarily because many Windows users are not aware that Vectorworks depends on QuickTime and can possibly change behavior when QuickTime is updated. We have never had problems, however, which were traced back to bugs in newer releases of QuickTime, so updating QuickTime on Windows is not a risky choice.

64 Bit Windows

While Vectorworks is fully supported in both 32 bit and 64 bit Windows environments, we generally recommend using a 64 bit Windows operating system for Vectorworks 2013.

While Renderworks is fully supported in both 32 bit and 64 bit Windows environments, we strongly recommend using a 64 bit Windows operating system for Renderworks 2013, as it will take full use of 64 bit addressing.

Optimizing Performance

RAM requirements are usually driven by performance considerations. Large files and especially complex rendering modes consume large amounts of memory. On the Mac the operating system will take advantage of nearly all of the RAM that you have up to 4GB. On Windows the operating system will by default only take advantage of 2GB of RAM, but can be coerced into using up to 3GB. See the following Vectorworks Knowledgebase article for information on how to use up to 3GB of RAM on Windows: http://kbase.vectorworks.net/questions/663, or go to the Vectorworks Knowledgebase and search for "3GB".

For users who have 64 bit machines and work with large files and complex renderings, we recommend installing 8GB of RAM to give the rest of your system more RAM breathing space when Vectorworks is approaching the maximum. When RAM runs out, Vectorworks usually continues to function, but is slowed significantly by the need to access the hard drive to provide virtual memory. Extreme lack of RAM may cause operations to generate errors in cases where given sufficient RAM they would otherwise succeed. Faster hard drives can have an unexpectedly large impact on system performance especially when virtual memory is actively being used.

Faster or slower processor clock speeds have a predictable impact on Vectorworks performance. Hard drive size requirements are driven by the total size of Designer with Renderworks including all content files. You can reduce this size by opting to not install some Vectorworks content files.

More Information

For the latest support information on Vectorworks go to the Vectorworks Knowledgebase and search for "2013". These can change so always check the VectorWorks knowledge base for latest updates.


 

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