Thursday, February 28, 2008

Using Blocks to Create a Table

Hi Everybody
I promised more info on Tables, and here it is! I bet you're falling off your chair in amazement that I am posting again so soon. Well, I've been meaning to write in this blog more often, but it's more like a New Years Resolution than a promise. So I'm working on it.

Today I'm going to show you how to create a table by extracting data from your drawing. I've inserted some blocks with invisible attributes into this tiny office drawing, hopefully this will give you ideas for applying this to your own projects. I'm going to make a table that lists all the furniture I'm putting into this 'office remodel'. The Attributes I added to each block are the Manufacturer and the Price.

The first step is to start the TABLE command, whichever way you want to get to it. Then instead of choosing how many columns & rows you want, click on the button for "Object Data in the drawing (Data Extraction)" -shown in the next picture

Once you do that, it asks you to create a new .dxe file. AutoCAD refers to this for creating and updating your table, so make sure you put it in a safe place and give it a name that makes sense.

Next you'll be on Step 2, Define Data Source. Here is where you pick whether it's just objects from this drawing or if you want it to grab information from several drawings. You also have a Settings button on the second screen, where you can tell AutoCAD whether or not you want it to look in Model space, Xrefs, & blocks.

Step 3 lets you decide which kinds of objects you want in your table. You can have it just find lines and circles, or all blocks, or only blocks with attributes if you want.

Then in step 4 you refine it further; there are 5 category filters to apply, to decide which things you want in your table. For example, under the Geometry filter you could have the X,Y, and Z coordinates of your blocks show up. (There must be someone out there who needs to have this information in a table) Under the Drawing filter, you can have your filename, filesize, & 'saved by' all show up in your Table.

I went with just the Attributes for my table.

In step 5, you can rearrange the order of the columns by dragging them . If you click at the top of the column, that will sort your table according to that column, and you can toggle it between Ascending and Descenging. You also can right-click on any column and hide it. All these things can't be done once it's inserted into your drawing.

I dragged the Count column over to the right, and sorted by Block name.

In the picture towards the right here I've got steps 6, 7 & 8. In step 6 you decide whether you want your table in the drawing or as an external file. You choose the Table Style and give it a Title in Step 7.

Step 8 is just clicking on the Finish Button.

Then you pick a spot in your drawing, voila, a beautiful table. Next time I'll talk about some things you can do to your table once you've created it. See you soon!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Custom Table Style

I used to spend a lot of time creating symbols schedules, light fixture schedules, equipment schedules - anything they could think of that needed to be put in neat rows and columns. Invariably after I was finished and it looked just right, (those of you who did this know it could really be a lot of fiddly picky work!), something would either get eliminated or added, and inevitably that Thing would be in the middle of my nice neat schedule. So I'd have to move a bunch of stuff down, and copy the row, and of course the new Thing would have some long name that wouldn't fit in the same size box as all the other Things, and I'd have to adjust the whole blasted schedule.
I wish AutoCAD Tables had been around back then! It would have saved me so much pain!
But they're here now, they've been out since 2005 and every year they've improved them. With the new features added to Tables in 2008, there really are no more excuses, you ought to be using them. Of course, it's not so fun if you don't know how to use them, or how to make them look the way you want. So let's look at some basics of table styles today, and next time we'll look at more of their features. By the time we're finished, you're going to want to make tables for everything!
First of all, the AutoCAD templates come with a Standard Table Style, with Standard text, sized by default to be put in paper space. They figure you'll only want these on one sheet, so you'll create them on that sheet, at the size you want it to print. Makes sense, so let's stick with that for our first table style.
Let's say that a drawing has the blocks you use and you were told to make a simple schedule from the furniture blocks. All they want is a picture of it, with the name next to it. They want a border around the whole thing, and a title above it, but they don't want any lines between the blocks.
Get to the Table Style dialog box either from the Format Pulldown Menu, or from the Styles Toolbar - it's the Table with the paintbrush over it. Click the New button to create a new style, and give it a name. This puts you right into the new table style so you can edit it.
There is a pulldown at the top where you choose which Cell Style you're editing. For each Cell Style, you click on each of the 3 tabs - General, Text, & Border. Click through the pictures below to see how to create a new Table Style.

When you're inserting a table, you can choose how many columns and rows it has, or if you choose window, the column and row amount will be decided by where you click. You can easily add or delete rows or columns later.

To add a block to a cell, choose it with one click, then right-click. If you double-click you'll be in the text editor.

Then it's just like inserting a block in your drawing, except you have an Auto-fit box to make the block fit in the cell, and an alignment pulldown so the block sits where you want it to in the cell.
I added blocks and text to my table - on the right is a picture of how it looks in Paper space, and in a print preview.

Next time - soon, I promise - I'll go into some of the new, cool features of Tables they added in AutoCAD 2008. Talk to you soon!