AutoCAD: Extracting Data from Drawings

Get the most from your AutoCAD DWG files by learning to extract the data within. Learn to create tables linked to data, export to other file formats, and even combine drawing data with Excel.
Course info
Level
Beginner
Updated
Jan 25, 2018
Duration
1h 21m
Table of contents
Description
Course info
Level
Beginner
Updated
Jan 25, 2018
Duration
1h 21m
Description

Have you ever spent a lot of time designing in AutoCAD, only to turn around and have to manually create some sort of report containing the same data you put into your CAD drawing? In this course, AutoCAD: Extracting Data from Drawings, you'll learn how to tap into the often ignored data already embedded in your CAD files, allowing you to create reports easily, accurately, and save time in the process. First, you'll explore valuable best practices for CAD design, which will help you make the most of Data Extraction. Next, you'll delve into using the Data Extraction command to create tables linked directly to design data, which are easily updateable as your project evolves. Then, you'll discover how to manipulate the extracted data by adding formats, sorting and filtering data, and even adding formula columns. Finally, you'll learn about different file formats you can export data to for use outside of AutoCAD. When you're finished with this course, you'll not only know how to make the most out of the Data Extraction and Data Linking features, but you'll know how to make your designs do the talking for you. Software required: AutoCAD 2008 or higher (AutoCAD LT does not have the required functionality).

About the author
About the author

Ben Rand has been using Autodesk software since AutoCAD Release 12. He learned to program using LISP in AutoCAD and worked his way up through VBA, VB6, and VB.NET. Now he spends most of his days programming in C#.

Section Introduction Transcripts
Section Introduction Transcripts

Course Overview
Hey everyone, my name is Ben Rand, and welcome to my course: AutoCAD: Extracting Data from Drawings. I'm a director of IT and CAD manager at Job industrial services in Salt Lake City, Utah. I have been an Autodesk certified instructor, and have been a presenter at Autodesk University since 2015. In 1998, Autodesk, the maker of the world-renowned AutoCAD design software, estimated there were over 2 billion DWG files in existence. Together with the billions of DWG files that have been created since, there is an awful lot of design data out there. This course provides an in-depth review of the Data Extraction and data linking features provided in AutoCAD. Some of the major topics that we will cover include: review of best CAD design practices, creating reports based on block data, reporting on data stored in multiple DWG files, extracting geometric data, and linking AutoCAD data with Microsoft Excel. By the end of this course, you'll know how to use Data Extraction to mine all sorts of information out of your AutoCAD DWG files. Before beginning the course, you should be familiar with basic drawing tasks in AutoCAD, how to create and use blocks, and some familiarity with modelspace, layouts, and viewports. A little bit of Excel knowledge will also be helpful, but is not required. From here, you should feel comfortable diving into AutoCAD with courses on Utilizing Dynamic Blocks and Data Extraction for BIM in AutoCAD, or Designing Impressive Architectural Plans in AutoCAD. I hope you'll join me on this journey to learn Data Extraction with the AutoCAD: Extracting Data from Drawings course, at Pluralsight.

Understanding Recommended CAD Design Practices
Hello. This is my course on AutoCAD: Extracting Data from Drawings. My name is Ben Rand, and I've been using AutoCAD for almost 25 years in a variety of roles; from architectural drafter, to Autodesk certified instructor, to CAD and IT manager, to developer, to presenter at Autodesk University for the last few years, and now as a Pluralsight author. Let's get started. Before we get into the real guts of this course, I wanted to spend a few minutes discussing some best practices for AutoCAD that will help you make the most of the Data Extraction tools we'll be concentrating on in the rest of the modules. In this module, I'll share my thoughts on the importance of designing to full scale, and how to leverage model space, paper space, and scalable viewports. The proper use of these tools allows you to not only convey your design intent flexibly and accurately, but also positions you to easily extract meaningful data from your design. We'll also discuss the importance of layering standards, and take a quick look at the various components of the AIA layering standard. While your particular industry or company might use a different layering standard, it's important that you understand and try to adapt some of the intent behind the standard. This will help you in deciding which layers to use in your own designs, and what objects to place on those layers. While we're on the topic of layers, we'll also look at why it's important to use the BYLAYER settings when drawing objects in AutoCAD. Proper use of these settings allows us to benefit from layer property settings, and gain flexibility when we want to display our designs in different ways; and finally, we'll examine why the proper utilization of blocks and dynamic blocks can be critical, not only to our drawing efficiency, but also in our ability to pull meaningful information from our drawings.

Creating Schedule Reports Using Blocks
Hello. My name is Ben Rand, and this is my course on AutoCAD: Extracting Data from Drawings. In this module, I'll introduce you to the Data Extraction command, and how you can start mining some of that valuable data from your drawings. Let's get started. Our CAD drawings are full of geometrical objects, such as lines, circles, arcs, and hatches. We can also create annotative objects, such as text and dimensions. As you learned in the first module of this course, we sometimes group primitive geometry into collections called blocks, which make many design tasks more efficient. Blocks can also carry special annotative text objects called attributes. All of these objects carry with them a rich set of data which we can extract and use as the basis for various reports. Lines have lengths, circles have radii, circumferences, and areas; and hatches also have areas. Blocks have insertion points, attribute data, and even dynamic property settings, which can all be extracted and quantified. Our primary tool for the rest of this course will be the Data Extraction command. This is a powerful tool to have in your toolbox go-to commands, and can be used in a variety of ways; however, this isn't the only command AutoCAD offers to help us make sense of our data. So we'll take a few side trips along the way to see other ways AutoCAD provides access to this data so that we can better understand our drawings.

Generating an Index to Drawings Report
Hello, my name is Ben Rand. Welcome back to my course on AutoCAD: Extracting Data from Drawings. In this module, we'll again use the Data Extraction command, this time focusing on how we can extract data from multiple drawings to create an index to drawings report. Most projects require multiple drawings, and important project data is often spread out. Using source drawing options in the Data Extraction wizard allows us to build reports that can automatically add new drawings to the report. For example, a multi-story building might have separate drawings for each floorplan. We might need to create consolidated reports for furniture takeoffs, or door and window schedules across all these plans. These floorplans may in turn be referenced by several other sheet drawings via xreferences. Each sheet drawing could use one or more layouts to present a particular view of the plan, such as a dimensioned floorplan, a reflected ceiling plan, an electrical plan, and so on. Each layout could have a title block with attributes indicating the drawing name, one or more lines for the drawing title, and other important information, such as the drawing revision, who the drawing was drawn by, and more. This is the scenario we'll explore in this module, so let's get started.

Generating Reports Containing Geometric Data
Hello. Welcome back to my course: AutoCAD: Extracting Data from Drawings. My name is Ben Rand, and I'm glad you're watching. In this module, we'll switch from the floorplan examples we've been using in the previous modules, and look at a couple of different types of plan. The first demo takes us into the realm of industrial engineering and a footing location plan. The second demo takes us into the realm of landscaping, where we'll work with a landscaping plan to calculate areas of landscaping materials. Let's get started. All AutoCAD objects carry a rich set of geometric data. Lines have a specific start and end point with precise X, Y, and Z coordinates within AutoCAD's model space. Lines also have a length and an angle. Circles have a center point, as well as a radius and diameter. Circumference and area are automatically calculated for you. Polylines have a whole set of vertex data, as well as length and areas properties, and the list of extractable geometric data goes on.

Sharing Data with and from Microsoft Excel
Hello. My name is Ben Rand. Welcome back to my course: AutoCAD: Extracting Data from Drawings. In this module, we'll learn how to combine data extracted from AutoCAD with data linked from Excel. We'll also take a look at some of the other output options for our extracted data. It's very common in many design industries to create spreadsheets to track various design related data. In the architectural field, door, window, and wall schedules are frequently created and maintained in Excel. Without Data Extraction, this can lead to silos of information, with some information in our AutoCAD drawings, and some in spreadsheet documents, requiring a lot of manual updates or an error prone verification process to ensure that new data added in the drawings is properly accounted for in the spreadsheet, or vice versa. In AutoCAD, we know that we can extract data from AutoCAD using Data Extraction. We can also bring data in from Excel using data links, which we'll be learning about in this module. The question is: can we combine these? We'll also learn about other file formats the Data Extraction command allows us to export to, and discuss some of the limitations of each format, and we'll explore the differences between relative and absolute paths, and why it's important to use them appropriately in conjunction with data links and Data Extraction, or DXE files. Let's get started.