Monday, September 29, 2008

How to be More Efficient at AutoCAD - Part 5

CAD-a-Blog has been running a series called "How to be More Efficient at AutoCAD." Part 5 is going to take a look at using Fields to increase Efficiency and decrease errors.

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.

Part Four demonstrates how Sheet Sets can be used to manage your drawing sets, files, data management and batch plotting.

How to be More Efficient at AutoCAD
- Part 5 -

In part four we introduced Sheet Sets. Sheet Sets can be used to hold and maintain project data. BUT how do users get that data into their files and drawings? Fields.

Autodesk Fields are links to data sources that display that data inside text. If the data is changed, then the field will update inside the text. Fields are used most inside of Title Blocks. They can display Project Names, Drafter Names, Company names, Sheet Numbers, Titles, and so on. There are many preset field values available in Sheet Sets. Sometimes users need more, or more unique data fields than what are provided. Easy enough. If you want the data to be project related just add the property to the Custom Sheet Sets Properties and link your field to it. If you want the field to be in the DWG file, open the file properties and add the appropriate info.

Fields can also read object data and display it. Add the field, and select the object in the file. Any data that can be displayed in a field will be listed. Just pick it. When that specific data of that object changes, the field will be update. This procedure can be useful for bill of materials, or descriptions, etc. Here is an example: Users may need to display the area of an object. Insert a field, select the object and pick the area data. It's that easy. Now change that object and see the field update. No need to change the object, determine the new area, and edit the text. There are at least two chances to make a mistake. Using a field for the area, just change the object's area and you are done. Also note that the user saved two steps. If there are several sets of areas that need changed and displayed then the time saved will add up.

Fields are definitely a big part of the "Less is Less" practice of efficient CAD work.

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