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Vectorworks Project Sharing Etiquette

A Project File is like a shared community garden. The time and attention put into caring for it will help the team flourish and make the file a pleasant experience to work in.

It’s all too easy for a project file to get out of hand. The result is a drawing that’s painfully slow to navigate through and takes forever to commit changes. It makes you want to pull your hair out trying to figure out what layers and classes to turn on and off.

Here are some tips to review and share with your team to ensure that Project Sharing remains the efficient tool it was intended to be.

Use Folders in Resource Browser

There’s bound to be a ton of resources in your shared file with multiple vendors contributing. If you’re the designated ‘owner’ or manager of the project file, start the project off on the right foot by creating some empty folders in the resource browser to lead the way.

Also set yourself a little reminder to spend a few minutes once a week to poke around in there, clean up any stragglers, and make sure things aren’t getting out of hand.


Avoid Duplicate Symbols

When you bring in a symbol into Vectorworks, you’ll get a pop-up notification if there is already a duplicate resource in the file with the same name. Instead of importing anyway but with a new name, take a second to confirm whether or not the existing symbol is the same object or not. If so, use the symbol that’s already in the project.

Even if it looks like the same object, don’t override it with yours. Why? Because the existing symbol, with its particular classes and loci, has already been incorporated into the shared file. It’s been used in ways that you weren’t a part of. If you bring in a symbol with different classes, loci, or other unexpected variations, you could create a real mess in both the design and sheet layers.

Now, I completely understand why you would be tempted to import a duplicate of the symbol and simply re-name it, but then you end up having 5 of the same exact hotel chair. And if and when some brave soul attempts to go in and clean up/merge these duplicate symbols it might not be possible for the reason mentioned above. Unless these symbols are an absolute match, they cannot be so easily replaced project-wide. It all hinges on that precious little pop-up window.


Follow the Existing Org Structure

I know there’s some debate about the proper use of classes vs. layers in a Vectorworks file. Don’t be stubborn and chart your own course despite the existence of a clear org structure in the project file.

If there is no existing structure, by all means, do the team a solid and let that organizational freak flag fly. It can’t hurt to communicate with your team to confirm your approach makes sense to them.

In general, even if you don’t totally 100% understand or follow the existing structure, at the very least use some sort of delineating class or layer to keep your items separate. If you use a general class like ‘0’ or ‘None’, you’re likely creating extra work for your teammates. In this case, if someone wants the ability to turn only your objects on or off, they will have to manually reclass them.

Track Your Changes

Even the smallest change can be extremely impactful to other vendors. It’s so important to record what you’ve changed whenever you’re committing changes.

Also, remember to version up any sheet layer changes in case other people have been publishing sheets without your direct knowledge.


Release ASAP

We’ve all forgotten to release only to be reminded by someone from the team. It’s totally human to forget and it happens all the time. It’s for this reason I recommend implementing some sort of chat option for the project sharing team, like gchat or slack, to ensure that any release requests can be resolved asap. Also, be sure that your dropbox has finished syncing before you go to close your laptop or shut down for the day.


Keep it Optimized

In general, aim to keep your contributions to the file optimized. If you notice the file starts to slow down after you’ve been in it, backtrack to see what you’ve added. Is it a crazy high poly 3d object? Or maybe it’s a complex 2d venue that has a lot of unnecessary layers and classes visible. Can you convert your audience of 3d chairs into hybrid objects? Do your part to keep the file running smoothly for the team.


Don’t ‘Borrow’ Symbols

It’s generally not cool to take resources/ symbols from the shared project without asking for use in other projects or with other teams. Resources may be a reflection of a given company, and they may have paid to acquire them, either by purchasing them directly or hiring someone to make them. Additionally, resources can be an extension of the company brand.

It’s a small world in the events industry. If you ‘borrow’ someone’s symbols or titleblock style, chances are your cover will be blown when evidence eventually finds itself back in the hands of the original owner. Instead, be inspired by the resources of others to create your own, unique versions.

I hope these tips help you and your team rock your next project sharing endeavor! Follow me on Linkedin for more Vectorworks tips & tricks.


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