DXF/DWG and DWF import options

The DXF/DWG and DWF import procedures are very similar. This is because when you import from DWF, the drawing objects are first converted to DXF/DWG, and then converted into Vectorworks format. Change the import options to import a DXF/DWG or DWF file with the maximum integrity. The same import options display for import of single files and batches of files.

The first dialog box, DXF/DWG Import Options (or DWF Import Options), contains basic settings. If you get unsatisfactory results from the import, import again and click the Advanced button to open another dialog box with additional import options.

Options that do not apply to the current file import are grayed, and an explanation displays next to the option. For example, if no points are contained in the file to be imported, the Points options are grayed, and the message “No points were found” displays.

If true line weights are not present in the file, you can map the DXF/DWG line colors to Vectorworks line weights for import (on the Map Colors to Line Weights dialog box).

To make custom imports faster and easier, save the sets of options that you use frequently.

Basic import options

The DXF/DWG Import Options and DWF Import Options dialog boxes establish the basic import settings.

Click to show/hide the parameters.Click to show/hide the parameters.




Default: Uses the default settings.

<Active Settings>: Uses the import options currently selected in the dialog box (the setting changes automatically when you change a default option).

Saved sets: To use a set of saved import options, select the set from the list.

Model Space Units


Use detected DXF/DWG (or DWF) file units

If a single file is selected for import, the units display to the right of this option, along with the unit format (such as Architectural). In most cases, these detected units should be used for import. If multiple files are selected for import, <Multiple files with different units> displays, and the units set in each file will be used.

If any files to be imported are unitless, the For unitless DXF/DWG (or DWF) file use option is available. Select the units to use from the pull-down list.

Import DXF/DWG (or DWF) files using specified units

If the files to be imported have unit settings but you do not want to use them, select this option and select the units to use from the pull-down list. The Units Ratio fields display how many DXF/DWG (or DWF) units correspond to real units.

Change current Vectorworks document units to match the specified DXF/DWG (or DWF) file units

Changes the Vectorworks document units and units format to match the DXF/DWG or DWF file being imported; the physical sizes of imported objects will not be affected. This option is disabled when the DXF/DWG or DWF file is imported as a referenced file.

If a DXF/DWG or DWF file is set to meters, but the Vectorworks document is set to feet and inches, then a dimension object that shows 1 meter in the original file will show as 3'3.37" in the imported file. Select this option if you want the imported drawing to be the same as the original. You can also import with the option to convert dimensions to groups (see Advanced import options: Blocks pane) if you want the document to stay in the current units, but you want the dimensions to look the same as in the original.

This file contains georeferenced geometry

(Design Suite product required)

This option is automatically selected when importing a survey file or georeferenced DXF/DWG file. This imports the file and also sets the coordinate system in the Document Georeferencing dialog box accordingly. The imported geometry is located correctly about the geolocated internal origin of the file, preserving the survey file’s geolocation and placing it near the origin for full precision.

The options in the Advanced import options: GIS pane allow further control over the coordinate system if needed.

The option is only available for single file imports and is not available for batch imports.


References the original DXF/DWG or DWF file (master file), so that the imported objects can be updated when the master file changes. See DXF/DWG and DWF references for more information about referencing.

Absolute path

Stores the absolute file path of the master file. Select this option when the location of the master file will not change in the future, or if the master file is on another volume.

Path relative to current document

Stores the file path of the master file relative to the target Vectorworks file; this option is available only if the master file is on the same volume as the target file. Select this option if the target file and the master file may be moved to another volume in the future.

If you’re using server-based project sharing, and the master file is not on the same volume as the Project Sharing Server, you’ll be prompted to upload the file to the server’s project folder.

Save referenced cache to disk

Saves a copy of the referenced data with the target Vectorworks file. When this option is deselected, a copy of the referenced data is not saved, which means that the target file size is smaller; the referenced data is updated when the target file is opened.

Automatically update out of date reference during file open

Updates the reference each time the target Vectorworks file is opened; when deselected, the reference is updated only when Update is clicked from the References tab of the Organization dialog box.

Import as symbol

Imports the file contents as a symbol definition in the Resource Manager; for more information, see Resource Manager and Concept: Vectorworks symbols.

If this parameter is selected, Reference is disabled.


Opens the Advanced DXF/DWG (or DWF) Import Options dialog box. If the basic import options do not produce satisfactory results, explore the options in the various panes as described in the following sections.

Advanced import options: Saved settings

Click to show/hide the parameters.Click to show/hide the parameters.



Saved Settings Options

See Using saved sets to save and apply saved settings

Advanced import options: Location pane

Depending on the coordinates of the imported file, objects in the file might be located far from the drawing’s internal origin, which can cause issues with Shaded rendering and with calculation precision due to rounding errors. It is recommended to center the first import about the internal origin at import, and align subsequent imports with the user origin. Normally, the internal origin and the center of the page are coincident, so this option also centers the objects to the page center.

Sometimes DXF/DWG or DWF drawings are split up and saved as separate files, such as different areas of a large city map. When multiple files like this are imported into one file, they need to have their coordinates aligned, and their layer scale set the same. The recommended workflow is to import the files with the Center first import, align all subsequent imports option on the Location pane.

If importing a georeferenced file with This file contains georeferenced geometry selected from the DXF/DWG Import Options or DWF Import Options dialog box, only the Align with Internal Origin option is available. The import should always be aligned with the internal origin.

Click to show/hide the parameters.Click to show/hide the parameters.



Center first import, align all subsequent imports

Centers the first imported file about the Vectorworks drawing’s internal origin, preventing problems with the imported drawing’s coordinates. The file’s user origin is shifted if necessary, so that all coordinates and measurements appear unchanged. Any subsequently imported files are then aligned to the file’s user origin, so that the imported files are aligned correctly relative to each other.

Center on Internal Origin

Centers the imported file about the Vectorworks drawing’s internal origin. The file’s user origin is shifted if necessary, so that all coordinates and measurements appear unchanged. Only objects from this import may have their user origin shifted by a specific distance, and potentially, previously imported objects and subsequently imported objects may have their user origin shifted by a different distance. Objects from these other imports may not be at the same relative user origin location.

Align with User Origin

Imports objects relative to the user origin currently set in the Vectorworks file. Note that some imported objects may display off of the page. If objects are located far from the Vectorworks drawing’s internal origin, calculation issues may result.

Align with Internal Origin

Positions imported objects according to the Vectorworks drawing’s internal origin, but does not shift the user origin; coordinates of the imported file may change.

Advanced import options: Conversion pane

Click to show/hide the parameters.Click to show/hide the parameters.



2D/3D Conversion


Convert Objects To

Specify whether objects should be imported as 3D, 2D, or a mixture of 2D and 3D. Generally, select the 2D and 3D option, which converts objects that appear to be 2D (planar objects parallel to or in the active layer plane) to Vectorworks 2D objects. The remaining objects are imported as 3D.

To import 3D versions of AutoCAD Architecture objects such as walls and doors, select the 3D View setting for Architectural Objects on the DXF/DWG or DWF Import dialog box, and select a 3D conversion option. To import both 2D and 3D versions of the objects, import them twice from the DXF/DWG file: once with 3D View selected, and once with 2D View selected.

Because the Vectorworks program does not have 3D text, selecting 2D and 3D can cause text in 3D symbols to be deleted. When the active plane is set to Layer, text in 3D symbols is imported.

In addition, objects parallel to the active layer plane that have a thickness are imported as 3D even though the originator of the file may not have intended for them to be 3D. If problems occur, import all objects as 2D by selecting All 2D. A warning displays if selecting this option will distort any objects, such as 3D symbols with 3D rotation.

If the file contains only a 3D model, select the All 3D option. Otherwise, parts of a large object composed of several entities could be converted to 2D.

Occasionally, none of the choices is appropriate for all the objects. In this case, select the option that best converts most of the objects.

2D/3D Conversion Res

Specify the resolution that will be used to import both 2D and 3D objects. By default, the 2D and 3D resolutions set in the Vectorworks preferences are used (see Vectorworks preferences: Edit pane and Vectorworks preferences: 3D pane). Higher resolutions can have an adverse effect on drawing performance.

This parameter is disabled for DWF import.

Model Space

Once the units have been determined, specify the scale to display the imported file.

Choosing the model space scale is important. The scale affects the dash length scaling and the conversion of polylines with widths (world-space line weights) to Vectorworks line weights. If the scale or drawing size are set incorrectly, some polylines may seem to have the wrong line weight and some dashes may be too long or too short.

Fit to page

The Vectorworks program estimates a scale based on the bounds of all of the objects in model space; the scale fits those objects on the page. Select this option to use the estimated value.

This scale

To import at a different scale, set the scale manually. Click Scale to open the standard Layer Scale dialog box, and select the desired scale. (All Layers and Scale Text do not apply to DXF/DWG files.) Click OK to return to the Primary Settings tab, and the selected scale displays.

Advanced import options: Classes/Layers pane

Click to show/hide the parameters.Click to show/hide the parameters.



Mapping Set

To map Vectorworks classes or layers to a specific layer naming standard at import, select a mapping set


Opens the Mapping dialog box to create, edit, and rename mapping sets (see Mapping layer and class names)

Import Layers As

DXF/DWG and DWF layers correspond more closely to Vectorworks classes than they do to Vectorworks layers. Normally, import DXF/DWG and DWF layers as Vectorworks classes.

There is no equivalent to Vectorworks layers in a DXF/DWG or DWF file. When DXF/DWG or DWF layers are mapped to Vectorworks layers, a warning displays if some of the objects in symbols or groups would leave their original layers and take on the layer of the symbol or group. For simple files without blocks, or files with objects inside the block that are set to “by block” attributes, importing layers as Vectorworks layers should pose no problems.

Add prefix to imported layers

To group imported DXF/DWG or DWF layers in Vectorworks class and layer lists for easy identification, select the option to add a prefix to the imported layers. Enter the custom prefix to use in the field to the right of the check box. Depending on whether you are importing layers as classes or as layers, the prefix and hyphen are added as appropriate to either the beginning of the layer or class name.

Rays and XLines Use Guides class

Rays and Xlines (or construction lines) are DXF/DWG or DWF objects that are similar to Vectorworks guides. A ray starts at a point and goes off to infinity, while a construction line is anchored at a point and goes off to infinity in both directions. Select Rays and XLines Use Guides class to convert Rays and Construction Lines into lines in the Guides class, which are of finite length.

Advanced import options: Layers Filter pane

Click to show/hide the parameters.Click to show/hide the parameters.



Import all layers

Imports all layers

Import visible layers

Imports only visible layers; visible layers can be identified from the Layers list

Import selected layers

For single DXF/DWG import, imports layers selected from the list below; if no layers are selected, all layers are imported

Layers list

For single import, lists all DXF/DWG layers from the file; you can scroll the list and click a column header to sort the list. A check mark in the Select column indicates which layers are included for import; the Visibility column indicates which layers are visible in the DXF/DWG or DWF file.

For the Import selected layers option, click in the Select column to place a check mark for the layers to import. 

When batch importing, DXF/DWG files are not loaded until later in the process, so the Layers list cannot be populated; Import selected layers is not available for batch import.

Advanced import options: Graphic Attributes pane

Click to show/hide the parameters.Click to show/hide the parameters.



Color and Line Weights

Most DXF/DWG or DWF files do not use true line weights, although that is starting to change. Color is traditionally used to indicate line weights. There are some standards that specify the mapping between colors and line weights, but those standards are often ignored. The Vectorworks program automatically chooses the standard mapping when exporting, if the document does not already have a hidden record left over from a previous export or import that specifies the mapping. When importing, the Vectorworks program does not choose the standard mapping, but rather defaults to a reasonable line weight for all colors, implicitly alerting the user that he or she should determine the true mapping that is desired.

If desired, select Map colors to line weights to specify mapping. Select the desired color mapping during the import process; if necessary, communicate with the file originator to determine the correct line weights.

The colored lines can be changed to black (or white if the background is black). Select Set colors to black and white. Note that most DXF/DWG or DWF files are created with a black background, and the colors may not show up well on a white background.

Version 2000 and later uses .ctb files to store color mapping information, but it also supports line weights, so these options may or may not be needed.

If no .ctb file is detected during import, and true line weights are present, Map colors to line weights is deselected automatically, and the line weights import exactly.

If no .ctb file is detected, and true line weights are not present, Map colors to line weights is selected automatically. The Map Colors to Line Weights dialog box opens to allow manual mapping (by default, all colors are mapped to the same line weight, or to the last mapping used during the current session).

If a .ctb file is detected, Map colors to line weights is selected automatically, and the Vectorworks program reads the file to determine how colors should map to line weights. A dialog box opens to allow manual mapping (values are pre-set by the mapping file; duplicates are indicated by italics).

For a referenced DXF/DWG file, the Map Colors to Line Weights dialog box opens only when the reference is created, not each time is it updated.

If you used a set of saved import options, the .ctb file overrides any color mapping in your saved settings. Remove the .ctb file from the DXF/DWG or DWF file folder to use the saved settings instead.

Dash Patterns

In some files, dash lengths may import at an inappropriate scale. Change the dash length scale by selecting Manually scale all dash lengths by and entering a scale value. A suggested scale value is displayed. The scaling does not affect line thickness. The Vectorworks program converts any dash patterns that are extremely small to solid lines to avoid unacceptable slowdowns during file display and printing. To adjust which dash patterns convert to solid lines, select Import as solid line when gap is smaller than and enter the smallest line gap size you wish to maintain (in document units).


When enabled, textures and texture mapping are imported from AutoCAD materials.

Color and image shader types can be imported; to import image shaders, the image file itself must be included with the import. The Vectorworks texture library currently does not support the checker, gradient, marble, noise, speckle, tiles, waves, and wood shader types. Vectorworks software uses the defined color shader when importing those types. Additionally, the AutoCAD non-metallic reflectivity is automatically converted to plastic reflectivity in Vectorworks programs.

AutoCAD global materials are correctly imported only if they are not modified.

If DXF/DWG or DWF files have their material property set to ByBlock, the final appearance of the imported objects may not match the source file because Vectorworks does not define entities inside the block in the same way.

Adjust imported textures as needed by Editing textures and shaders from the Resource Manager.

Advanced import options: Blocks pane

Click to show/hide the parameters.Click to show/hide the parameters.





Create symbols and groups

Imports all named blocks as symbols with symbol definitions; unnamed blocks are imported as groups

Convert all blocks to groups

Imports all blocks as groups

Explode all blocks

Imports blocks as individual elements/decomposed graphics, not as symbols or groups. This option is not recommended, because it breaks the connection between the block and attached information, removes clipped block boundaries, and can lead to a much larger file size.

Ignore block clipping

Imports a clipped block as a normal scaled or unscaled Vectorworks symbol, which may look very different from the original image.

Deselect Ignore block clipping to import a clipped block as a cropped design layer viewport (Vectorworks Design Suite product required) or as a cropped layer link. This can create many layers in the Vectorworks file, and the created objects cannot be manipulated easily. Clipped blocks that are inside other blocks will still be imported as normal scaled or unscaled Vectorworks symbols.



Convert dimensions to groups

By default, the import process automatically creates custom dimension standards to match the dimension styles in the DXF/DWG or DWF file. If a dimension was customized in the DXF/DWG or DWF file after the style was applied, the converted dimensions may not match the originals; select Convert Dimensions to Groups to convert the dimensions into groups instead.

Block Attributes

“Attributes” in a DXF/DWG or DWF file are similar to linked text in a Vectorworks file. Select how to handle attribute conversion into Vectorworks symbol linked text. Regardless of the selection, record formats will be created based on the attributes found during import, and imported blocks with attributes will have record formats attached.

Choose a Linked Text Handling method from the list. Depending on the file to be imported, not all options are available.

Preserve look and links

This option should be selected when available. The attributes will display as they did in the DXF/DWG or DWF file, and they will be converted to symbol linked text.

If the file contains invisible attributes or attributes that override the attribute definitions, this option is not available.

Preserve look

This is the next best option. The attributes will look and print as they did in the DXF/DWG or DWF file, but some symbol text may become unlinked, if necessary, to preserve the look. Symbol record field updates are not reflected in unlinked text. With this option, an individual symbol could have a mixture of linked and unlinked text.

Preserve visible links

This option is available when the DXF/DWG or DWF file contains attributes marked as “invisible.” This type of attribute is converted into a record format attached to a symbol, but is not converted to linked text. The look of the drawing should be preserved, but minor changes to visibility are possible. The advantage of this method is that linked text is preserved for all visible attributes.

Preserve all links

The link between record fields and symbol text is preserved with this option. Any invisible attributes will become visible. The look of the DXF/DWG or DWF file may not be preserved, but the symbol text will not be unlinked.

Hide all

All attribute text is hidden upon import. The information is still attached to the object in record format, but it is not visible.

Group record fields

Each block attribute imports as a record format field. Select Group Record Fields to group those fields into a single record format. The Vectorworks program groups sets of attributes into record formats if they have the same set of field names. For example, if two blocks (symbols) have attributes with field names of “color” and “part number,” both blocks are converted with the same record format. If one of the blocks has “color,” “part number,” and “price,” while the other only has two of those, then the blocks are converted with different record formats. When grouped, the record format name is created from the names of the first few fields in the record format.

Deselect Group Record Fields to create one record format per field, with no grouping. Without grouping, the record format uses the same name as the record field.

Advanced import options: Objects Filter pane

Click to show/hide the parameters.Click to show/hide the parameters.



Import all objects

Imports all objects

Import selected objects

For single DXF/DWG import, imports objects selected from the list below

Objects list

For single import, lists all DXF/DWG/DWF objects from the file; you can scroll the list and click a column header to sort the list. The Number of Objects column indicates how many instances of each object type are in the file. 

When batch importing, the DXF/DWG/DWF object list cannot be created from the files for import. Instead, all object types Vectorworks is capable of importing are listed, regardless of whether they are in the files to import. 

For the Import selected objects option, click in the Select column to place a check mark beside the objects to import.

Advanced import options: Objects pane

Click to show/hide the parameters.Click to show/hide the parameters.




DXF/DWG or DWF Points act either like a locus in a Vectorworks file (a drawing aid that is not printed), or like a symbol that is visible and can be printed. Select whether to import points as Loci or as Symbols. The default behavior is to import as symbols if the point style has specified a real world size (that is, it is zoom invariant and always prints the same), or as loci if the point style is specified as a percentage of the pixel size of the drawing window (that is, it varies with the zoom level). Select Use Guides class to import points as Symbols in the Vectorworks Guides class; this allows them to be hidden. In the Vectorworks program, use the Show/Hide Guides commands to toggle their display.


Multilines (or “mlines”) are similar in some ways to walls in a Vectorworks file, in that they can have breaks that are “healed” and can be connected to other multilines. There are several significant differences between multilines and walls, but an option is provided to import multilines as walls. Do not select this option unless all multilines in the DXF/DWG or DWF file are intended to be walls.

When you import multilines as walls, the wall heights may need to be adjusted. To do so, select Tools > Custom Selection, select all walls, and change their height in the Object Info palette.


Select Grouped text and lines to import each table as a group of independent objects and text that will precisely reflect the format and structure of the original table; select this option if you only need the graphical representation of the table and do not intend to alter the table or its content.

Select Worksheets to create a worksheet resource and place a worksheet object in the drawing. The worksheet has the attributes of the original table and can be more easily modified.

Advanced import options: Purge pane

Click to show/hide the parameters.Click to show/hide the parameters.



Purge all unused drawing elements

Purges all unused blocks, layers, etc. before importing the drawing into the Vectorworks file.

To purge only specific types of unused elements, deselect this option, and select the elements to purge.

If an empty layer is selected for import on the Layers Filter pane, but Purge unused layers is selected, the layer is not imported.

Advanced import options: GIS pane

When This file contains georeferenced geometry is selected from the DXF/DWG Import Options or DWF Import Options dialog box, the GIS pane is enabled for single file import.

These options select whether to import the geometry using the specified coordinate system or the one set for the document.

Click to show/hide the parameters.Click to show/hide the parameters.



Use the document’s coordinate system

Imports and transforms the geometry using the coordinate system settings that were already set for the document. See Specifying document georeferencing.

Use the following coordinate system

Uses the specified coordinate system for importing the file. Select Set the document’s coordinate system to match.


Opens the EPSG/CRS Lookup dialog box, for selecting a Well-Known Text (WKT) coordinate system. (Changing to a different coordinate system is not recommended as it will transform (change) the imported geometry.)

Set the document’s coordinate system to match

If selecting a different coordinate system for the import, select this option to keep the layers and document using the same coordinate system.

Importing a single DXF/DWG or DWF file

DXF/DWG and DWF file import


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