Extracting block references from AutoCAD files and loading them as DIAGRAMS symbols is a semi-automatic process.
DIAGRAMS Project Manager processors automate:
- importing block geometries, and
- importing block attributes into Tables as new Fields, and
- positioning blocks as symbols inside AutoCAD ribbon sections.
- setting DIAGRAMS insertion routines, and
- creating symbol PNG image files user interface
Collectively the results are found under the DIAGRAMS Symbol Library Ribbon groups.
After importing symbols converting AutoCAD files into DIAGRAMS files that contain them becomes possible.
Design engineering firms are tasked with project work that requires AutoCAD process and instrumentation diagram (P&ID) drawings to be revised. Using DIAGRAM enables the company to quickly and effectively:
- become connected to the Project Database.
- modify drawing using DIAGRAMS insertion and numerous drafting utilities.
- data drive visible attribute values from outside AutoCAD using the Windows Project Manager.
- extract lists of attribute values as Excel reports and extend the dataset with custom columns.
- track visible attribute changes by color.
- colorize Routes & Symbols by property or by modified date for change control.
This article is a step-by-step guide on how DIAGRAMS extracts, loads, and transforms block references from AutoCAD Drawings into DIAGRAMS Symbol Libraries so users can draft with them and help satisfy project reporting and change control requirements.
STEP 1 - Creating a new project
Launch the Project Manager and click on the New Project button in the Ribbon
Populate the A New Project form and click Create Project.
- The New Project Directory must be empty.
- The database can be SQL Server, see the manual for configuration.
- The Drawing Configuration is only going to be applicable if new drawings are added using DIAGRAMS. All these values can be overwritten at the time of new drawing additions, so Prefix, Suffix, Start Number, and Increment could be left blank
STEP 2 - Import Symbols from Legacy Drawings
First, browse to the Symbol Library in the lefthand navigation then click on the 'Import Symbols from drawing files' processor from Library controls.
This action will open the Select Drawings dialog. Choose one or more drawings and click Open.
This action will launch the Audit/Import Symbol Processor. It automatically inspects files for all blocks and lists them all so users can work on importing one or more of them.
- Select Symbols to Import by using Shift and Control to pick rows.
Hint: use column headers controls to filter and sort.
- Set the ribbon Section, Symbol Type, Table Name, and Layer values for rows that you want to update and click Apply.
- Review the row settings applied and as a final step click the Import Selected button.
The processor will import the selected and then check them to identify that the Symbols and Files exist.
Repeat steps 1 & 2 on all those drawings that you want to include in your project
STEP 3 - Populating Symbol Properties & Ribbon Sections
If you completed Steps 1 & 2 then you have already populated almost all symbol properties and updated the CAD interface with them. Scroll to the bottom of the Library Editor Sections and you'll find Imported following this example set. If you selected another Ribbon Section in Step 2, then look under that Section for imported symbols.
Here you can see the 3 ball valve symbols imported.
Notice that almost all the Symbol properties have been populated with values and that there is one bound in red which highlights a problem. Some values like Size 1 require user input. In this case, DIAGRAMS is unable to determine the break distance for the symbol so it is blank. DIAGRAMS requires this value before it can be drawn.
Once symbols are imported and located in Ribbon Sections, users will find them in the Diagrams Ribbon Tab.
Remember to Reload the project settings before browsing for the ball valves to insert.
STEP 4 - Importing Symbol Data, the smarts
This step is where DIAGRAMS will inspect the symbol library for Block Attributes that do not exist in the assigned Table. Click on the Audit Attributes Library control to launch the processor.
The Processor launches where users are able to set Feild Types prior to clicking the Add Fields button.
Once added they become visible and accessible for consumption in views.
STEP 5 - Add newly added fields to Views
Open the View Manager and select the table where the fields were added.
Here you can see a new View, Imported Attributes' was added and newly added fields were Selected from the Available field list in the middle.
STEP 6 - Draft with Imported Library
Once the symbols, their attributes, and views have been added, users can start drafting.