Wednesday, September 24, 2008

How to be More Efficent at AutoCAD - Part 4

CAD-a-Blog has been discussing ways to be more efficient at AutoCAD. This will be Part 4 in the series, Sheet Sets.

Part One talks about "double fisted" cadding. I call it Double Fisted because the theory takes advantage of both of the users hands to input commands and data. One hand works the keyboard while the other manipulates the mouse. This way time is saved by eliminating mouse movements across the screen to invoke commands.

Part Two discuses Template Use. Starting a file with a template provides a file that is already set up and ready to use. Users will not have to tale the time to get the file where it needs to be in order to draw. Another time saver.

Part Three looks at referencing files. Referencing files means that users can create a data source that can be used in multiple files. Change the model, or base file, and the sheet files are instantly updated. We also, briefly, discusses referencing OLE objects, sharing data between reports, letters, and drawings.

How to be More Efficient at AutoCAD
- Part 4 -

Sheet Sets were introduced into AutoCAD several releases ago (release 2005 I believe) but many of us are not using them, YET!!!! Sheet Sets is a group of tools used to manage , well, a set of sheet files. It also much more than that. It is also a means to manage project data, to some extent. At a minimum, users can use Sheet Sets to organize and manage files. This will place the project files in order and allow easy access to them. Clicking on a file in the list will open it. No more keeping track of each departments "strange" file naming procedures. Plotting can also be done through the Sheet Set Manager, as well as publishing. If there are multiple sheets in a project, and your client needs 15 sets plotted, just do your batch plotting through the Sheet Set Manager. Right Click on the Set, select PRINT, and tell the print manager how many copies you need.

Sheet Sets can also manage the way your users create new files. You can set which template is to be used for new files, thus taking advantage of Part Two's advice, using templates.

One of the biggest advantages to using Sheet Sets is its data management abilities. Project information can be stored in the Sheet Set and applied to drawing files. In Part Five will will look at fields and how they can reference data from sheet sets. Sheet Sets can be a place to store data that needs to be shown on multiple drawings. Some examples are: Project Name, Sheet Numbers, Project Information (Like number of parts, rooms, etc.), Client Name, Engineer/Architect Name, or anything that is needed to display.

These features follow the theory we have been discussing. Less is Less. For example, project names often change throughout the design life. How annoying is it to set up all of your drawings with a project name in a title block, notes, etc. only to have the client decide they want the name the development something else. GRRRRR!! Now you have to go, open each file, change it, and so on. If you stored that information is a Sheet Set, and referenced that data, all you have to do is to change the data in the Sheet Set and every drawing is now updated!! No brainer here.

The concept here is similar to using x-ref's for a drawing's geometry. Sheet Sets are an "x-ref" for data. Any data that needs to be in multiple drawings and could potentially change should be in the projects Sheet Set. Important data used for the design, or calculations, should also go into the sheet set even if the information does not need to be displayed in a drawing. That way the data can easily be accessed by anyone that will need to know it.

Sheet Sets are a place to store and share data. They also provide a means for file management and batch plotting. Use them, you will do less work throughout the project's life span.

Happy Cadding.

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