DesignSeries.pngSpecifying document georeferencing




File > Document Settings

The goal of working with a georeferenced drawing in Vectorworks is to align the drawing’s internal origin, and therefore its geometry, with a specific location on Earth. Georeferencing options are complex; what works for architectural workflows may not be suitable for a planning workflow. Additionally, different regions of the Earth have different geographical requirements. Since the earth is not a perfect sphere, it is not a straightforward process to correlate the Earth’s three-dimensional surface with a two-dimensional map. Coordinate systems use mathematical formulas to translate the shape of the earth onto a 2D page. Because the translation loses data, different coordinate systems are preferable for different regions of the globe.

A proper coordinate system has a big impact on distance measurements. A distance in the drawing and the same distance on the map will match, more or less, depending on the selected coordinate system. The closer the match to the region being worked upon, the closer and more accurate the measurements and dimensions are.

When georeferencing is enabled, each design layer saves information that describes the mapping of that layer’s Cartesian coordinate system onto a geographical coordinate system of latitude and longitude or easting and northing. The origin offset determines how the geographical coordinate system relates to the internal origin (the center of the drawing in the Vectorworks file); this offset can be adjusted at the document level or at the layer level.

The Georeferencing parameters set up the document’s georeferencing. Normally, all or most design layers have the same georeferencing information as that of the document; layers without georeferencing enabled automatically assume the document georeferencing settings. A georeferenced layer moves with changing geolocation (essentially, remaining on the globe), while a non-georeferenced layer always remains around the internal origin. After the document georeferencing is set, you can enable and customize a layer’s individual georeferencing settings differently, but this is rarely needed.

When importing a shapefile, the document georeferencing can be automatically set to match the coordinate system of the imported file.

To set georeferencing for the document:

1.      Select the command.

The Document Georeferencing dialog box opens.

2.      Enable georeferencing for each design layer that requires it, as described in Specifying design layer georeferencing.


Advanced import options: GIS pane

Importing Shapefiles

GIS and georeferencing


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