Lightwright, Dropbox, and Vectorworks

I discuss the relationship between Lightwright and Vectorworks at length in Entertainment Design; Scenic, Lighting, and Sound, with Vectorworks Spotlight 2013.This is an important excerpt about good workflow, and avoiding Potential issues.

Lightwright was developed by John McKernon and not by Nemetschek Vectorworks. The
two work together to ensure a smooth workflow, but they are not one product, like the Vectorworks Designer Suite.This is explained again below, but as a critical point, it need emphasis.

You need to keep your VWX, LW5, and XML files in the same folder or directory. That’s for good record keeping and so you can easily “see” the relationships.

You will have the files like these:

  1. Show-LightPlot.vwx
  2. Show-Data.xml (in reality Vectorworks will name this the same as your LightPlot, but with the XML file extension)
  3. Show-Paperwork.lw5

If you Save As or rename the VWX, that file will create a new XML so you may end up with

  1. Show-LightPlot-2.vwx
  2. Show-Data-2.xml

However,the Lightwright file will still be looking at the original Show-Data.xml file. The Lightwright file will still be linked to Show-Data.xml.

Any changes you make in Show-LightPlot-2.vwx will not appear in your Lightwright file unless you now link the Lightwright file to the new XML file.

Some things to bear in mind:

  • Save the Vectorworks XML file in the same location as the VWX file.
  • Keep the VWX, XML, and LW5 files in the same folder. I know, this is redundant, but it bears repeating.
  • If you set up a collaborative environment using a service such as Dropbox, do not work on your files while they are on the server. Instead move them to your desktop for work. The server may be copying parts of your files at any time. When this happens, the file is likely to be locked and cannot be written to by either Vectorworks or Lightwright. Whatever changes are made when the file(s) are locked will not show up in the XML file.
  • Do not use degree symbols anywhere in your Vectorworks symbols—in the name of the symbol, in the default data/information for the Lighting Device, or in the OIP data. For detailed information on the reasons behind this restriction, search the Lightwright Reference Manual for “degree symbol.”
  • Use Lightwright 5’s Save a Backup command to make copies of the LW5 file, but do not Save As. The Save a Backup command automatically turns off Data Exchange in the backup copy, so it will not interfere with Data Exchange on the original VWX file.
  • Do not change the name of your VWX file. If you need to make a backup, make a duplicate of the file in the OS using a different name rather than renaming the original. This way the XML file that Lightwright is looking for will not change, and you won’t have to do a full export on exit and re-link Lightwright to the XML file. When you open the duplicate copy, it will automatically export a new XML file. The new XML will not be linked to Lightwright. I usually turn off the XML export (Use automatic Lightwright Data Exchange in the Lightwright Tab of the Spotlight Preferences) in the new file.

Once your VWX file is linked to your LW5 file via the XML file, as you add lights and information to your plot, that information will be added to the Lightwright file. Similarly, if you prefer to add information, even lights in Lightwright, that information will be added tot he Vectorworks Light Plot. Here is one caveat, if you add an instrument in Lightwright, a symbol for that instrument must already exist in the Light Plot VWX file. Lightwright is incapable of searching your hard drive or contacting Steve Shelley to download a symbol.

Sorry, no pictures.

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