I taught an Advanced AutoCAD class recently and was reminded of how much data can be mined from AutoCAD drawings.
In the example below, I have a simple floor plan with several blocks in place. I can use AutoCAD’s data extraction tools to do count of all the light fixture blocks that I have in the drawing. This can be accomplished with no additional programming or customization.
On the insert tab, there is a panel called “Linking and Extraction”. One of the tools available on this panel is Extract data. One this tool is selected the data extraction dialog box will appear.
In this case, this is the first time I have extracted data from this drawing, so I will choose “Create a new data extraction”. The next screen asks me to save the data extraction settings that I am about to create. This is saved in a file called a .dxe file.
Next, I can choose which drawings to extract data from. In this instance, I will only use the current drawing. Additional files could be added on a per file basis, or entire folders could be added. The file selection is concluded by choosing the “Next” button.
Now the dialogue displays all the drawing types that information could be extracted from. For what I am doing, I will uncheck the “Display all object types” check box. Now I only see the blocks in the drawing. I will choose the recessed light fixture block name and click on the “Next” button.
I am now presented with a series of data that I can extract from the blocks. I will change the category filter to only show Dynamic Block information, and select the height and width properties.
After hitting next, I now see a preview of the data that is being extracted. I have chosen to include the block name column and the count column.
On the next screen, I can choose to put this information on the drawing in the form of a table, or extract it out to an external file. In this case I will put it directly on the drawing.
Having completed the dialog box, the table is now ready to be placed on the drawing.
If any part of your workday includes counting up symbols on drawings, the data extraction tool can save you hours of busy work.