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From Vectorworks to Archicad?

_c_
Newcomer
Hello, I am considering switching from Vectorworks Architect (International) to Archicad.

Can anyone share a similar experience?
Where did you have most difficulties?
Are there different language versions including localized packages?

I am an European architect in DE, standard praxis, BIM Professional (TU München). I can use Vectorworks well (maintained for years a programming site for Vectorscript and such things) and would love to learn GDL too, at one point.
23 REPLIES 23

Sunny75
Contributor
We switched from Vectorworks to Archicad 1 year ago, and did not regret it at all. There is a learning curve, sure, but working in 3d is so much more intuitive.

runxel
Mentor
There are localized versions, including a german one. There is even a german forum. The localized version also come with slightly different libraries, filled with objects (think of symbols in VW terms), including windows and doors. Most offices build their own libraries over time.

There are some small differences, like Archicad has no classes, only layers. But most people are confused by VW's system anyhow, so it's rather easy to switch this way then the other way around.
In general you will feel at home quite fast. Also working in 3D is now an easy and fun thing to do.
AC 24 [ger] | Win 10 | Developer of the GDL plugin for Sublime Text |
«Furthermore, I consider that Carth... yearly releases must be destroyed»

It depends on how you're using Vectorworks at the moment (either primarily as a 2D drafting and documenting tool or as a (quasi-) BIM 3D modeling and documentation tool like they seem to be trying to drive the program to be).

Having worked with firms that use it in either of those two ways (and sometimes in an unholy mix of the two), I'd posit that it's more straightforward and inuitive a switch if you're currently using or trying to use it as a BIM tool (rather than a CAD drafting tool) - for the simple reason that ArchiCAD has always natively been a 3D BIM virtual designing tool from the offset whereas Vectorworks is trying too adapt to become one or be transformed into one from the very capable 2D drafting and documenting tool it's always been known as.

Yes, some of the differences are stark and harder to grasp when you're going in either direction (but typically and usually easier to go from Vectorworks to ArchiCAD, especially if you're working in 3D) such as the lack of the 3 hierarchical system that Vectorworks has (Classes, Design Layers and Sheet Layers). ArchiCAD only has layers, much like AutoCAD in this regard, but layers in ArchiCAD are more akin to Classes in Vectorworks rather than Design Layers (while it isn't a direct equivalence, the closest equivalent of Design Layers in ArchiCAD, would be somewhere between saved views and actual storeys/levels. But you don't think like that or work like that in ArchiCAD), and Sheet Layers in Vectorworks are straight equivalents of Sheets and Sheet layouts in ArchiCAD.

Outside of these major distinctions is just the little quirks and small differences predicated on how you work differently in th 2 programs.
ArchiCAD has a lot of tools and little hidden tricks that make working in it more intuitive IMO and help you along once you get used to the system (although I will admit there are somethings in Vectorworks that I do wish we had in ArchiCAD). It's also vastly more stable (when they do get it right in their version releases), of the 3 major BIM programs I've worked with (Revit, ArchiCAD and Vectorworks)

_c_
Newcomer
Thank you for your kind answers so far.

I would prefer an English version, I work in Germany since a gazillions of years but am not German and cannot even write German acceptably, that was why I asked.

I use VW to the limit, 2D, 3D, BIM, programming, the whole of it. The main reason for me to wish to change is the lack of quality in the architectural plugins and the strong limits for anything spanning outside a single document structure. VW has an amazing core, it's like a Ferrari, but without weels and you order the weels, but they never come. In decades. Ever.

I am aware of the quality in Archicad's architectural plug-ins. No need to praise that.
I would be interested to hear your experience in the logistic of middle to large projects.

How do you organise your project structure? For example: you are working on planning, on permits and on constructive drawings (I think you call that documentation) at the same time. You need lots of drawings and they have different attributes sets. How do you set this up?

runxel
Mentor
_c_ wrote:
I would prefer an English version, I work in Germany since a gazillions of years but am not German and cannot even write German acceptably, that was why I asked.
You can always go with the International version, which comes in English.
But again, have in mind that the so called libraries with objects (and also some features) are tied to the language versions. E.g. the german version has a special "Wohnungsstempel" and "Flächenberechnungs-Addon" which is engineered towards the german administrative demands.
Btw: How big's your office? The recommendation might change with your size.

_c_ wrote:
How do you organise your project structure? For example: you are working on planning, on permits and on constructive drawings (I think you call that documentation) at the same time. You need lots of drawings and they have different attributes sets. How do you set this up?
That's a strength of Archicad. All this can live in the same place, every bit of information can be in your file.
Archicad has a very flexible way, where you have one model, and then you generate so called views (german: "Ausschnitte") from that. Those views have settings associated with them and you can tweak them however you like. Those settings include everything, from scale over dimensioning units and floor plan cut plane, to LOD and graphic override (how hings should look) – and actually a ton more.

Those views in turn can be placed on layouts which in turn can be published semi-autonomously. Once this is set up you can generate permission documents, DWGs, renderings, and much more by one single click.
AC 24 [ger] | Win 10 | Developer of the GDL plugin for Sublime Text |
«Furthermore, I consider that Carth... yearly releases must be destroyed»

_c_
Newcomer
To tell you the truth, one of the main reasons to leave VW is that I don't like all in the same file. On large or long lasting projects this is not efficient.

Let's say take the most basic example: a floor plan (Grundriss).
You have a very large floor, and this should display in various layouts from 1:200, to 1:100, 1:50, in portions or in its entirety (LP3 bis 5). Perhaps it is so large that you must display it parts.

Where do you place the dimensions?
In the singular layouts or together with the geometry?
Please note that the fact that you have to cut the plan in portions is relevant in this case.

I will download the 30 days demo in December, when I'll have more time and try everything out, but I'd love to hear the experience of long term users before that.

BTW, the last time I saw Archicad it was called Radar...

runxel
Mentor
_c_ wrote:
To tell you the truth, one of the main reasons to leave VW is that I don't like all in the same file. On large or long lasting projects this is not efficient.
As with most things: It depends.
But yes, splitting projects is no problem either. In most cases you will use a process called "hotlinking". As I said Archicad is flexible enough to handle the smallest to the biggest projects (the second tallest building in the world is planned with Archicad).

_c_ wrote:
Where do you place the dimensions?
In the singular layouts or together with the geometry?
Please note that the fact that you have to cut the plan in portions is relevant in this case.
You never work in the layout in Archicad. All work is done right next to the geometry.
Typically you would do different dimensions in different scales. They will reside on their own layers. Hiding and showing things is determined by the display attribute of the layer the object is on.
In the layout you place the drawings ("views") and then you can cut them into place there.
AC 24 [ger] | Win 10 | Developer of the GDL plugin for Sublime Text |
«Furthermore, I consider that Carth... yearly releases must be destroyed»

Brett Brown
Contributor
_c_ wrote:


The main reason for me to wish to change is the lack of quality in the architectural plugins

I am aware of the quality in Archicad's architectural plug-ins. No need to praise that.
As someone who is using Vectorworks more and Archicad less, I'm intrigued to know what you mean by both these statements above? To be clear what do you mean by the Vectorworks plugins? And what do you mean Archicads architectural plugins?

By the lack of answers from people going from Vectorworks to Archicad, seems more are going the other way from what I have read on the Vectorworks forums.

As Runxel has said, most of the good plugins are country-specific, so the rest of us who would dearly need them, are out of luck because of Graphisofts closed society mentality.
Imac, Mojave, AC 20, AC 25 Solo UKI, Vectorworks Architect 2021, Revit LT 2021

_c_
Newcomer
Windows, Doors, Slab, Structural Member, Roof, Walls, etc.
In VW they are to be found in the Plug-ins folder and are thus called plug-ins. Architectural plug-ins, in this case, since their target group is architects. These are rather poor. Some, like the Roof, are truly relics of the '80es.

As of the VW forum, or any forum, please mind that there are group dynamics that make a forum give an impression which isn't the reality. I won't enter a discussion VW <> AC now. I am sure you also agree that is fruitless.

_c_
Newcomer
You never work in the layout in Archicad. All work is done right next to the geometry.
Typically you would do different dimensions in different scales. They will reside on their own layers. Hiding and showing things is determined by the display attribute of the layer the object is on.
In the layout you place the drawings ("views") and then you can cut them into place there.
Perfect, just what I wanted to know. We'd call the hot linking Referencing, I think.

Brett Brown
Contributor
Terms are obviously different, why the question was asked, so I could understand your statement. We would call those standard tools.
Archicads are very similar to Vectorworks, some are worst, some are better which is expected.
Interesting what you say about forums, and yet you believe what Runxel says, which was mildly misleading re working in Layout views. You can if you want to. I use it for marking up and revision listing.
Unfortunatly, to truely see how good or bad a piece of software is, you have to work at least a couple of projects in it to compare.
One thing about Archicad is it can be used simply to get the job done but the user is not using it the way it was designed, and in my experience the majority of users don't use it to its potential. Don't know whether that's good or bad.
Imac, Mojave, AC 20, AC 25 Solo UKI, Vectorworks Architect 2021, Revit LT 2021

_c_
Newcomer
I fail yet to understand how to organise large sets of drawings (presentations, permits and their variants, the usual endless set of constructive drawings, etc.). But I will take a project and rebuild it in AC with the 30 days demo. Let's see how that goes.

Brett Brown
Contributor
Have a look at Master Template (not free) and some of his YouTube videos with his already setup Template which addresses those queries. Might be a small price to pay to see how Archicad should work.
Imac, Mojave, AC 20, AC 25 Solo UKI, Vectorworks Architect 2021, Revit LT 2021

_c_
Newcomer
Thank you, I will.
Other good resources to learn Archicad?

I usually read the whole handbook while trying every single feature, but after that I do deepen with anything I find around.

Brett Brown
Contributor
There are a few others but Eric is the Jonathan Pickup of Archicad.
Imac, Mojave, AC 20, AC 25 Solo UKI, Vectorworks Architect 2021, Revit LT 2021

_c_
Newcomer
I had a chat with Jonathan already. He brought me in 10 minutes around the major differences.
He knows me well and where I come from, as user type, so he warned me of the real hurt point: records.
I'll have to live with that.

If Eric is as good a teacher as Jonathan, then all is well.

runxel
Mentor
_c_ wrote:
I fail yet to understand how to organise large sets of drawings (presentations, permits and their variants, the usual endless set of constructive drawings, etc.). But I will take a project and rebuild it in AC with the 30 days demo. Let's see how that goes.
I am pretty sure you already know this, but there a handful of sample projects on the website of Graphisoft, you can download and explore freely.

Organizing is done via folders, practically spoken.
I don't want to confuse you, but still I will drop a word here, which surely helps a lot with organizing: "clones". If you feel read, look it up.

And btw: of course you can work on the layouts. Brett criticized me correctly – but regarding dimensions you wouldn't do them on the layout. Instead you do some annotation on the layout which is specific to that layout (like the revision table).
AC 24 [ger] | Win 10 | Developer of the GDL plugin for Sublime Text |
«Furthermore, I consider that Carth... yearly releases must be destroyed»

_c_
Newcomer
Thank you, I will look into clones. As I said, I cannot install the demo yet, it would go wasted since I don't have the time to fully explore it.

I think that annotations should be used only sparingly as long as they don't have a mechanism of synchronisation and management across the project, which, I seem to gather, also AC doesn't have. So they are good for the occasional label or masking, no more.

Another question. Is there somewhere a comparison list of the difference across the various localised packages? Are there large price differences?

runxel
Mentor
_c_ wrote:
I think that annotations should be used only sparingly as long as they don't have a mechanism of synchronisation and management across the project, which, I seem to gather, also AC doesn't have. So they are good for the occasional label or masking, no more.
If you mean something like key notes, well yeah, then sure, Archicad doesn't have it natively. There is a wonderful plugin, tho.
But Archicad has "properties", and you can bind them directly to your geometry and then you have smart labels, to textually display all the data you have. This is a very flexible way of working and managing data, actually.
_c_ wrote:
Another question. Is there somewhere a comparison list of the difference across the various localised packages? Are there large price differences?
You'd need to contact the reseller directly. Since this is not a very typical request I am not aware of any comparisons between language versions.
AC 24 [ger] | Win 10 | Developer of the GDL plugin for Sublime Text |
«Furthermore, I consider that Carth... yearly releases must be destroyed»

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