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Monday, September 23, 2013

Autodesk ® Autocad Symbol Libraries for Autodesk ® Design Review

 Hello all.

In this entry I address something fairly simple, and yet so (IMHO) poorly documented, that it took me quite some time and a few grey hairs to nail down the procedure.  I'm referring to creating a custom symbol catalog for Autodesk ® Design Review, using blocks from Autodesk ® Autocad.

The procedures for this seem to be spread out between Autodesk ® Design Review help files, Autodesk ® DWG TrueView help files, and a number of Autodesk ® Discussion Forum posts on several different forums.  Piecing together information from several of these sites I was able to figure out a procedure that makes this actually quite simple.  I'm posting it here to hopefully save some folks from having to do all the research across all of those other sites.

The procedure starts out simply enough, you need to create an Autocad drawing file (.dwg) containing a collection of blocks that you would like to group as a catalog in Design Review.  Open the drawing in Autodesk ® DWG True View software.  Now the secret is in creating and using a Block Template file.  This was one of the details I found hard to find help for.

In DWG True View, Use the Publish tool under File, Publish.  Set up the sheet list as needed.  Set the Publish to: to DWFx format.  Then on the right hand top of the dialog box, select the Publish Options... button.  The shot below is the sub-dialog that opens.

Block Template File Dialog Box



























In the middle section under DWF data options, Block Information, set to Include.  Then go to the next line for Block template file.  Click in that field, and grab the down arrow on the right.  A list of available files, or Create and Edit are your choices.  If this is your first go around, Create will be your choice.

Publish Block Template before Scanning


Your source drawing will appear in the top section of the dialog that opens.  Select the button Scan for Blocks.  This will create a list of all unique blocks in the source drawing, as well as properties from those blocks.  The properties will be used later to decide how your symbols appear in the menu in Autodesk ® Design Review.  I generally uncheck all of the properties except for "Name".

Publish Block Template Dialog Box  

When you have selected all of the blocks and properties you wish to publish, hit Save.  You will be prompted for a file name and location.  The extension of a block template file is .dxe.  When you return to the Publish Options screen, hit OK, then Publish on the main Publish window.  Once the block template file has been published, Autodesk ® Design Review will open the DWFx file you just created.

On the Markup & Measure tab in ADR, pull down the Symbols button at the end of the panel.  A number of catalog creation options become available.

Catalog Creation Options
Select Create Catalog from DWF, to create a catalog of symbols from the DWFx file you just published.  You will be promted to select the DWFx file that contains the block information (even though you currently have it open on the screen).  You will be prompted to Name the catalog.  Also you will have the choice to import each object an all sheets, or to import each sheet as a symbol.  For the method I am describing use import each object.  Next you will be asked to select from the list of block properties, which one will be used as the symbol label.  This is why I uncheck all of the properties except for "Name".  If you left all of the properties in the block template file, scroll through the list and select whichever one you want to use as the symbol label in the catalog, and hit OK.  All of the symbols in the DWFx will be added to the catalog, and are now ready to be used in markups.

To create catalogs that have similar content, I created several block drawings, and ran through this whole process 6 times, creating 6 unique catalogs instead of one very large one.  Since I had to make these available on about 14 different user's computers, I chose to export the catalogs to a shared drive so they could be easily added.  To do this, pick the Symbols button again and go to Manage Catalogs.

Manage Catalogs
A list of available symbol catalogs will open, simply select the catalog you want, and select Export.  You will be prompted for a name and a location again.

Export Catalogs
Once you have exported all of the catalogs you want to share, go to each person's computer and open ADR.  Select the Symbols button and Manage Catalogs.  This time use the Import button and select the libraries you want to add.  You will have to select them one at a time.  Still quicker than re-creating each one on every computer.

So now you can add custom symbol libraries of your standard Autocad blocks to Autodesk ® Design Review, which will save people having to try to sketch them in print markups, on ECO's or however you choose to use them.  This tip brought to you just in time to receive the news that Autodesk ® Design Review will soon be discontinued by Autodesk ®.  Sigh.

Enjoy?

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