Understanding the DWG Translator

Coordinating DWG’s with consultants can be one of the trickier things to figure out; working between AutoCAD and ARCHICAD is not as simple as it seems like it should be. Here we will look at all things DWG (or as much as I can cram into a single post).

ARCHICAD and AutoCAD are Different!!!

Lets take a quick glance at how a few common program features are handled differently between ARCHICAD and AutoCAD.

  • Layers are a unique view attribute in ARCHICAD, used primarily to control the visibility of elements based on layer combinations.
  • AutoCAD combines other features into the layer settings; such as pen weight and line type
  • ARCHICAD fills require at least 2 pens to define their appearance; a foreground, background, and an optional boundary/border pen.
  • AuotCAD fills are only defined by their hatch pen (from the layer they are placed on)
  • ARCHICAD utilizes individual segments to cleanly relate element interactions, such as wall intersections
  • ARCHICAD can save objects and components to DWG as CAD Blocks or Drafting Primitives

Because of these differences, a DWG saved from ARCHICAD will often contain more layers, fills, and lines/polylines than you may expect. This often leads to consultants dealing with a slightly clustered or messy drawing file, and often leads to unnecessarily large and cumbersome DWG files.

It is important to solicit a response to the files sent when those files are sent, so that we can fine tune the drawing for their exact needs. The following steps and recommendations should help hit closer to the mark the first time when sending DWG files out.

Check your View Settings

The first and easiest way to control the DWG output is to make sure the view settings you are exporting from are all set up correctly. The addition of Graphic Overrides in AC20 gives us even more control over what fills are visible, and how they are viewed; both in ARCHICAD and in the drawing output from ARCHICAD.

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Default View Settings for DWG to Structural Engineer

Once the view settings are correct in the View Map you can save out using the File> Save As from the drop down or the publisher. Once you get to the save menu in either location, you should review the DWG Translator Settings. Below is a list of the important translator settings to review.

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Drawing Units Should Match Project Input Units (Inches for Imperial Projects)

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In Most Cases, Save Options Should be Set to Save Layout Into Model Space, and Place Drawings Into Single DWG File. This Allows DWG’s to be Saved From Views or Layouts Consistently. Most Consultants Have Asked to Have Objects Saved as Lines, Not Blocks. This is Controlled by Saving Floor Plan Drop Down to Explode Complex ARCHICAD Elements.

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Layer Method Should be Extended by Pen Number and Visible Layers Only

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Export Fills “as is”. Conversion Tables Can be Used to Override Drawing Fills to Empty Fill if Required by Consultants.

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All Save Extras Should be Unchecked to Accurately and Correctly Save Blocks and Labels

 

Save and Share Custom Translators with Project Team Members

If changes are made to the out of the box translator for consultant specific needs, the translator should be saved using the “Create New…” button in the translator setup window. These custom translators are specific to the computer that created and saved them, since they are stored in the application folder of that computer.

In teamwork projects they will be visible, but grayed out and not accessible to other users. If they are shared to a common folder, they can be imported to the project file using the Browse… button. Doing this however will replicate/duplicate the translator every time a drawing is saved. The best way to ensure all users have access to custom translator settings is to locate the translator file in each team members application folder.

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This can be located under your computers user > Library > Application Support > Graphisoft > DXF-DWG Translators Vnumber USA. Care should be taken to not remove, rename, or duplicate files or folders in the application support folder, as it can cause problems with the application performance.

The final step when coordinating DWG files is to check the drawing before sending it. We have eDrawings on all computers for viewing DWG files. This is more effective and real to AutoCAD than opening the DWG in ARCHICAD, since the fills are viewed more true to their final destination.

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2 thoughts on “Understanding the DWG Translator

    1. wwabim Post author

      it is the difference between ARCHICAD and AutoCAD; that AutoCAD will create a layer for each pen used in AC, so it may as well define those layers when we save the .dwg. There may be a better option, but we don’t go into that level of detail for our consultants.

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