Anyone who follows me on twitter got a heads up about this post yesterday. Ever since its introduction in 2008, Excel table linking has been one of my favorite features inside AutoCAD. Likewise, it seems I’m not alone with that notion, as my posts discussing AutoCAD and Excel interoperability are consistently some of my post popular posts here at The CAD Geek. Another one of my personal favorite features inside AutoCAD are Data Extraction Tables. The idea is that you can get AutoCAD to create a dynamic table from the information contained inside your drawing or drawings (yes Data Extraction tables can work with multiple drawings – very cool).
While Excel table linking and Data Extraction tables are certainly powerful features by their self, what if we could combine them into one super table?
That’s exactly what I’m going to show you today. The process is rather involved, so rather than attempting to write things out, I chose to make a video that allows you to see everything (not just what I choose to grab screenshots of). Here’s a basic outline of how all of this magic comes together to help you follow along with the video:
- Create a new drawing (you can also use existing drawings)
- Create a new Attributed Block. I kept it simple with just one field, but your Attributed Block could have any number of fields (attributes). I’ll expand on this in a moment.
- Create a new Multileader style (optional). To remain true to the concept of a parts list, I chose to use multileaders to help illustrate some of this methods versatility. This method will still work if you chose to key in on a block you inserted into your drawing.
- Use the Extract Data tool found on the Linking & Extraction panel of the Insert tab.
- Create a new Data Extraction; data extraction file, select drawings to extract from, etc.
- Select the object (block/multileader) you want to extract from the current drawing(s).
- Select the object property (ID in this example) you want to extract.
- Link External Data; set up link and select Excel spreadsheet from the Data Link Manager.
- Data Matching; match Data Extraction (drawing) column with a column in the Excel spreadsheet.
- Set up table structure, and insert into your drawing.
Once again, the Parts List example is just one of many applications possible using this method. Just recently I had someone ask about adding information (that wasn’t otherwise available from Sheet Set Manager) to a Sheet List table. An architect may use this method to display information about rooms, doors, & windows. While Civil 3D has many tools for creating tables, this method could also be used to ID an area in your DWG, and then link it to additional information from Excel.
Those are just a couple of examples I was able to come up with as I wrote this post. I’m curious, how have you/could you use this process in your drawings? Let me know in the comments section below!