Installing Plug-ins

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Some plug-in vendors provide installers for their products, in which case you just have to follow the instructions that they provide in order to get the new functionality hooked up. Other vendors just provide loose files, and it's up to you to know how to integrate these files into your VectorWorks installation. In this case, this page is for you.


What is a plug-in?

VectorWorks plug-ins are files that can be added to a VectorWorks installation, to add new functionality. When VectorWorks is launched, it scans one or more folders, looking for plug-ins. If a filename has the appropriate extension (vso, vst, or vsm), and the internal structure of the file is correct, VectorWorks will add that plug-in to the list of available features within the application. Then you can open the Workspace Editor and add the new feature to your favorite workspace. Files with the vsm extension are menu items, and can be added to the workspace by clicking the "Menus" tab in the Workspace Editor. Files with the vso or vst extension can be added by clicking the "Tools" tab.

Where to put plug-in files so VectorWorks will see them?

All Versions

In all versions of VectorWorks, you can put plug-in files directly into the Plug-Ins folder in your VectorWorks installation, and on restarting VectorWorks, the new functionality will be ready for adding to your favorite workspace. In versions 11 and above, there is more flexibility as to where these files can be placed.

VectorWorks 2015 and above

Starting with v.2015, plug-in developers can package up their plug-ins in a zip file, and you can "install" the plug-ins from within VectorWorks.

  • Save your open drawing files.
  • Tools -> Plug-ins -> Plug-in Manager
  • Select the "Third Party Plug-ins" tab at the top.
  • Click the "Install" button at the lower left.
  • Navigate your hard drive to locate the zip from the developer, and click "Open".
  • When the installation is done, you'll see a message saying, "Installing new plug-ins requires restart of VectorWorks."
  • Click "OK".

VectorWorks 2008 and above

Starting with v.2008, VectorWorks will search for plug-ins in the following locations:

  • application plug-ins folder (such as /Applications/VectorWorks 2008/Plug-Ins)
  • workgroup plug-ins folder (for Industry Series customers only; user-definable, defaulting to blank)
  • user plug-ins folder (user-definable, defaulting to:
    /Users/[username]/Library/Application Support/VectorWorks/2008/Plug-Ins)

For more information on the workgroup and user folders, see the VectorWorks Help. Essentially, you open up the VectorWorks Preferences dialog (under Tools -> Options in the menu), and set the paths as desired. Then VectorWorks will search for stuff there whenever it is starting up.

A file present in the workgroup folder will over-ride a file of the same name in the application folder, and a file in the user folder will over-ride a file of the same name in the workgroup or application folder.

As the name suggests, the workgroup folder is the most appropriate place for plug-ins that are going to be used by more than one person. If each person sets the workgroup folder in his/her installation to be the same folder on the network somewhere, then plug-ins in that folder will be available to all of them. This eliminates the need to have copies of the plug-ins for every single person. In a workgroup environment, the user folders should definitely not be used to point to a common location. The user folders contain, among other things, personal settings such as the recently used file list, last-used tool modes, workspaces, etc. These should never be co-mingled. So always use the workgroup folders for plug-ins in a workgroup environment.

Please note that if you have purchased plug-ins under a per-seat licensing agreement, usage of the workgroup folder does not free you from having to buy as many copies of the plug-ins as there are people who are going to be using the plug-ins. The workgroup folder mechanism is just a system administrator's convenience provided by NNA, not an alteration of any license agreement that you may have with your plug-in vendor.

VectorWorks 12

Starting with v.12, plug-ins can be put into a folder within the user account hierarchy. This makes the plug-in available to any VW 12 installation on the computer, but only to users logged into that account.

  • Macintosh: /Users/[username]/Library/Application Support/VectorWorks/12/Plug-Ins
  • Windows: C:\Documents and Settings\[username]\Application Data\Nemetschek\VectorWorks\12\Plug-Ins

On Windows, note that the "Application Data" folder might be hidden, and you might have to set the "Show Hidden Files and Folders" preference in Windows Explorer in order to see it.

VectorWorks 11

Starting with v.11, plug-ins can be put into sub-folders under the Plug-Ins folder of the VectorWorks installation.

How to add plug-ins to your workspace?

VectorWorks does not automatically add new plug-ins to the workspace — you have to decide where to put these items in your interface.

  • Open up the Workspace Editor (Tools > Workspaces > Workspace Editor).
  • Click "OK" to edit the current workspace.
  • Select either the "Menus" or the "Tools" tab, depending on the type of plug-in, and search for the plug-in you wish to add. (Note that if the plug-in does not appear anywhere in the Workspace Editor, you might have the wrong version of the plug-in. For example, plug-ins compiled for 2009 will not appear in the Workspace Editor if you're running 2008. For the correct version of the plug-in, contact the vendor.)
  • Drag the item from the left panel to the right panel.
  • Click "OK" to save the workspace.
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