This is an archived edition of the CADDtools Data Exchange video series. While the information on this storefront shop drawing is relevant today, the data extraction process has changed with the introduction of the CADDtools Data Exchange utilizing a VB.net program in AutoCAD. Refer to the main video instruction page for the data extraction process.
This video series will utilize a VB.net program in AutoCAD allowing you to import and export data from AutoCAD to Excel. My purpose for this program was to manipulate the AutoCAD data with Excel and create tag information; I then export the tag information back into AutoCAD. I will use the MetalOpt optimization/cut list program to achieve this. Please note the MetalOpt program has its own import/export feature and can export tag information directly to AutoCAD. For more information about purchasing the MetalOpt program go to MetalOpt.com
A little information on my background and the sample project you will see in the videos. I work in the Architectural aluminum and glazing field, I use these programs to create fabrication cut lists automatically from my approved shop drawings.
There are three distinct procedures to follow for an efficient work flow. I start with creating the data in AutoCAD; see the “Create AutoCAD Data Video”. Next I will extract the data in AutoCAD and export it to a new Excel spread sheet, see the “Extract AutoCAD Data Video”. Finally I will use the MetalOpt material optimizer to create fabrication (Fab) sheets them manipulate the data by adding Tag information then exporting the Tag information back into AutoCAD, see “MetalOpt Input Output Video”.
Create AutoCAD Data
Less than 11 minutes
Start by adding attribute data in AutoCAD. It may be helpful to download the sample shop drawing I used for the CADDtools and MetalOpt demonstration. Download Below. I tried to make the visual basic project a universal extraction program. Although these videos will focus on extracting specifically formatted attributes, the program should extract any data that is put on the target filtered layer “CADDtools”.
To download the Sample shop drawing and Data Exchange program perform the two steps below.
Thank you and enjoy the video.
Extract AutoCAD Data
Approximately 6 minutes
Now that the data is created I will extract or export the data from AutoCAD to Microsoft Excel using the “CADDtools_Data_Exchange” program. This is the part that has been updated utilizing the VB.net programing. See the new main videos for an explanation on installing the CADDtools Data Exchange program see CADDtools main Video page. Once the attribute data is exported to Excel I can manipulate the data there or can use the data in your favorite material optimizer M E T A L O P T. After that you can import it back into AutoCAD. I do not show the import feature on the video since I will be using that feature from MetalOpt. The VBA program extracts a unique AutoCAD tag handle to help distinguish the individual pieces of data. See below for the reason I do not use AutoCAD’s data extraction wizard.
Key items to note when exporting data from AutoCAD to Excel:
You can leave the Elevation Number and Quantity blank.
Attribute data or blocks are filtered by layer “CADDtools”
Tag Handles have an apostrophe added to the beginning of the data. This is to suppress the scientific notation formatting in excel.
Key items to note when importing data from excel to AutoCAD:
Excel must be running with a workbook open.
The Import feature works from the last current excel workbook and worksheet.
This Import feature is dedicated to importing “TAG” information only.
The selected AutoCAD blocks are filtered by layer “CADDtools”
MetalOpt Input Output
Approximately 6 minutes
Finally I will use MetalOPT to manipulate the Excel data by creating fabrication (Fab) sheets and adding individual Tags’ then exporting the TAG information back into AutoCAD. For more information about purchasing MetalOpt go to MetalOpt.com
MetalOpt Cut List with Manual Input
Approximately 17 minutes
This is a demonstration using the MetalOpt material cut list program. I will show the manual use of entering part information into the Excel spread sheet and running the various cut list operations. For more information about purchasing MetalOpt go to MetalOpt.com
A note about the AutoCAD Visual Basic module
If you are using AutoCAD 2011 or older then you are looking to use the archive VBA version of the CADDtools Data Exchange program. Below is some original information on installing the Visual Basic module. Send me an email if you are having trouble finding the VBA module. I will try to help you find it.
First AutoCAD 2010 and newer does not come with the Visual Basic module installed. You will need to download the VB module from Autodesk and install it before you can use the "CADDtools Data Exchange". See the link below to help you find the proper module.
Click the Autodesk VBA link then search for VBA. Now the bad news! Autodesk is discontinuing the Visual Basic module so I will be transitioning to the .NET Framework. I will not be developing the CADDtools Data Exchange any further. I am unsure of the time frame it will take to transition to the .NET frame work since I will need to learn the .NET programming language from scratch. Thanks Autodesk!
The reason I do not use AutoCAD's data extraction wizard
I originally tried to use the AutoCAD data extraction wizard, and it works well for extracting the main data "Extrusion", "Length" and "TAG", but I need it to distinguish between individual attributes that have the same data in them. That is where the AutoCAD tag handle comes in, which is a unique number generated by AutoCAD for each attribute. I never could get the wizard to include the "tag handles", although I assume AutoCAD may include that data in future versions of AutoCAD.
Please take a look at the MetalOpt.com material optimizer.