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Driving Efficiencies in AutoCAD – 1,2,3

Named Views, Attributes, Fields, Formulas and Tables

For those of you who now me, the fact that I am writing a paper about AutoCAD and not all things Revit may come as a shock...but recently I spent time on-site with a client developing their Revit template and several times during the day they commented how Revit made various tasks so easy i.e. the Project Browser to locate views, Labels to populate title sheets and the Room tool to schedule areas etc.

Whilst the company is currently transitioning to Revit, they still have various teams using AutoCAD and this will remain the case for a good while yet.

This got me to thinking and I looked at their current AutoCAD template and workflow. Turned out that this was based on from a time way back when the dinosaurs were roaming the earth and AutoCAD ran in DOS (Windows didn’t exist – a scary concept for you youngsters out there!)

So, I demonstrated and subsequently implemented 3 simple and neat time saving solutions into their AutoCAD template and workflow. If you are still using AutoCAD, then are you using these tools?

Revit AutoCAD
Project Prowser Named Views
Labels Attributes, Fields and Formulas


NOTE:
I will write about the Sheet Set Manager another time

Named Views

This is great if you have a drawing with multiple plans, sections, elevations and callouts etc. instead of constantly panning and zooming around trying to locate areas, you can save a list of Named Views.

  1. Click View tab> Views panel> View Manager. efficiencies autocad view manager icon Find
  2. In the View Manager, click New.
  3. In the New View dialog box, View Name box, enter a name for the view.
  4. If the drawing is part of a sheet set, the view categories for the sheet set are listed. You can add a category or select one from the list.
  5. In the Boundary section, select one of the following options to define the area of the view:

             • Current Display. Includes all the drawing that is currently visible.
             • Define Window. Saves part of the current display. The dialog box closes while you use the pointing device in the drawing to specify opposite corners of the view. To redefine the window, click the Define View Window button.

      6. Click OK twice to save the new view.

NOTE: If the View Manager is not displayed in the View tab, then ‘right mouse click’ in a blank area of the Ribbon and go to Show Panels> Views

efficiencies autocad view manager views

In the View Manager click on New and complete the details for the View Name and Category. Select the Define View Window button and draw a window around the portion of your drawing you wish to be captured

efficiencies autocad view manager new views

efficiencies autocad view manager named views

It’s as easy as that! Your saved or Named Views, will appear in a list inside the View Manager and so you can select one at any time and make current. That view will then become the focus.

Attributes

An attribute is a label or tag that attaches data to a block. Examples of data that might be contained in an attribute are part numbers, prices, comments, and owners' names.

The following illustration shows a "chair" block with four attributes: type, manufacturer, model, and cost. Because the tags were set up as variables, specific information about each instance could be added for each inserted block reference.

efficiencies autocad attributes

Attribute information extracted from a drawing can be used in a spreadsheet or database to produce a parts list or a bill of materials. You can associate more than one attribute with a block, provided that each attribute has a different tag.

When you define an attribute, you specify:

  • A unique tag that identifies the attribute by name
  • A prompt that can be displayed as the block is inserted
  • A default value that is used if a variable value is not entered at the prompt

If you plan to extract the attribute information for use in a parts list, you might want to keep a list of the attribute tags you create. You will need this tag information later when you create the attribute template file.

Note: It is important to make sure that attribute tags have unique names. The Enhanced Attribute Editor will display any duplicate tags in red. Duplicate tags will cause problems when extracting data or if you use them in dynamic blocks.

To define an attribute:

  1. Click Home tab> Block panel> Define Attributes.efficiencies autocad define attributes icon Find
  2. In the Attribute Definition dialog box, set the attribute modes and enter tag information, location, and text options.
  3. Click OK.
  4. Create or redefine a block (BLOCK). When you are prompted to select objects for the block, include the attribute in the selection set.

Attributes are useful for adding information into blocks in a consistent and fast manner. Users don’t have to keep placing text, ensuring that the text style is correct, that they are on the correct layer etc.

efficiencies autocad attributes definition

If you haven’t used Attributes in you AutoCAD title sheets then you need to seriously think about implementing them now, as when they insert the title block, they will be presented with a dialog box containing all the attributes they are require to complete:

efficiencies autocad edit attributes

Fields and Tables

Finally let’s look at Fields ad Tables

NOTE: Tables can also be used with attributes and thus extract information from blocks e.g. Door Type, Width, Heights etc. if the block definition of the door contains these Attributes.

A field in text contains instructions to display data that you expect to change during the life cycle of a drawing.

When a field is updated, the latest data is displayed. For example, the value of the FileName field is the name of the file. If the file name changes, the new file name is displayed when the field is updated.

Fields can be inserted in any kind of text (except tolerances), including text in table cells, attributes, and attribute definitions. When any text command is active, Insert Field is available on the shortcut menu.

Some sheet set fields can be inserted as placeholders. For example, you can insert SheetNumberAndTitle as a placeholder. Later, when the layout is added to a sheet set, the placeholder field displays the correct sheet number and title.

Block placeholder fields can be used in block attribute definitions while you're working in the Block Editor.

A field for which no value is available displays hyphens (----). For example, the Author field, which is set in the Drawing Properties dialog, may be blank.

Fields can be added in normal text, attributes and in Table cells.

A great example is using Fields to extract the area of Hatching into a Table and so create a Room Schedule.

Firstly, we add a blank Table into our drawing. (A table is a compound object that contains data in rows and columns. It can be created from an empty table or a table style. A table can also be linked to data in a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet.)

The Table tool is located on the Annotate tab> Tables panel> Table

In the Insert Table dialog box, specify the number of rows and columns you require and change the Insertion behaviour to Specify window. This will allow you to specify the placement and size of your table.

efficiencies autocad attributes insert table

Clicking in a cell will allow you to place either text (just like in an Excel spreadsheet) and / or ‘right mouse click’ and choose Insert> Field

There are many Field categories from which you can choose. In this case select Object as the category, then in the Object type you click on the Select Object button. Pick one of the Hatch regions and the Field dialog will now display the various Properties which can be used. In the preview we can then alter the precision and alter the Conversion factor so that the result is in meters (0.0000001) finally add a suffix for Sq m and hit OK.

efficiencies autocad field options

Repeat for each room and then finally you can add a formula into the last cell to add all the areas up: Insert> Formula> Sum (just like Excel)

efficiencies autocad areas

What about using Fields for automatically taking the Layout tab name and adding it the title sheet block as the sheet name or how about the scale of a viewport placed on the layout?

efficiencies autocad fields

efficiencies autocad fields titles

Conclusion

So even if you are still required to use AutoCAD for whatever reason. It can be more than just a dumb electronic drawing board.

If you like this paper and want to know how else you can improve your AutoCAD workflow, then let me know and I will think about writing a few more AutoCAD papers.

If you'd like to learn more about this product, why not look at our AutoCAD Training Courses or our e-learning platform? For more information or to request a quote, please get in concatct with us through the link below: 

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