Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Extracting Attribute Data to Tables

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If you have worked with blocks in AutoCAD, chances are you have worked with attributes. Most of the time attributes are visible, like when they are used for title block information or as tags. Attributes can also be invisible. An example use may be a model number or color of furniture. It's data that you may want, but is not necessary in a floor plan. That type of information will most likely need to show up in a schedule or a table. Today I'll show you how to extract that data directly to an AutoCAD table. It doesn't matter if your attributes are visible or not, I just want you to be aware that it's possible either way.

Once your attributed blocks are placed in a file you can extract that block data to tables or external files using the Attribute Extraction tool under the Tools pulldown. This simple wizard function walks you through the data extraction every step of the way with lots of great options like, dropping unattributed blocks, adding referenced blocks and nested blocks, and only use Model Space blocks.

In this example attributes from a door block will be extracted into a door schedule.

1. Under the Tools pulldown select Attribute Extraction…
2. The first page of this dialog gives you a choice between creating a table and using a template. For this first time we will create a table that we might later use as a template.
3. Next pick the data source to use either select some objects, the current drawing, or a group of drawings.
4. The Additional Settings… button allows you to select block and count settings.
5. Page 3 (below) provides options for which blocks and which attributes to use in the table.

On page 4 select export data to Table and check the full preview if you like

On page 5 select a title and a style for your table.

Page 6 allows you to save this configuration as a template or just finish your operation. See the final results below.

If you are feeling adventurous, add to this door schedule by using one of a formula field.

1. Double click in the bottom right cell of the schedule and hit tab key on your keyboard to add a new row to the schedule.
2. Double click in the bottom cell in the Quantity column.
3. Rick-click in the text editor and select Insert Field…
4. Select Objects for the Field category, and then select Formula for the Field name.
5. Average, Sum, Count, and Cell formulas are available.
6. Select Sum to return a total number of doors. You are returned to the drawing editor, window the cells to sum and hit Enter.
7. Select a format, and then select the OK button to insert the new field (see below).

The Average function will average the values in selected cells. The Sum function add the values in selected cells. The Count function will return the number cells selected. The Cell function will return the contents of a selected cell.

Now go eat a donut. With all the extra time you'll have from automatically extracting attributes, you'll probably need to join a health club.
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