While AutoCAD’s attributes are extremely powerful, they can also be quite confusing. Here are a few tips when working with Attributes inside of AutoCAD blocks.
Because attributes can be modified per block instance, modifying attributes in existing blocks can be confusing. Even deleted attributes will still be in block instances that were placed before the unwanted attribute was removed. Attributes need to be synchronized to the block instance after changes have been made to the actual block definition. Do this using the ATTSYNC command. This command is on the Block panel after it’s expanded.
When creating the block, the order that the attributes are selected is the order they will appear in the Edit Attribute dialog. When simply windowing the entire block, attributes and all, the attributes tend to appear in a random order. If the block is already created and you want to modify the order. Try the BATTMAN command.
This command allows you to change the order of the attributes. Once the order is right, WBLOCK it back out over the existing block and the order will be right the next time you use that block on another drawing.
Attributes can be set to a fixed position, invisible, constant, contain multiple lines, and more. While building the block, select an attribute and then open the Properties Palette. Here you can change all of the properties that make up an attribute.
Attribute values can be extracted to a table on the drawing or to an external Excel file. This requires an addional data extraction file with a .dxe extension. This file can be created using the Extract Data command. It is on the Insert tab on the ribbon.
Using these three blocks as my example extraction, I’ll walk through the steps to creating the data extraction file. These blocks contain hidden attributes with random values in them.
Starting the Extract Data command will walk you through the steps to extracting only the data you want.
Step 1 creates, or references and existing, .dxe file.
Step 2 allows multiple drawings to be selected in the extraction. The current drawing is automatically added.
Step 3 shows all objects in the drawing. Filter the majority of the objects from the list by changing the bottom options to only show blocks with attributes.
Step 4 allows even more filtering as we remove all properties but the attributes themselves.
Finally we see the extracted data in Step 5. Here the table can be edited as needed. Also note that the identical rows can be combined and then counted. The columns can be renamed as well here. Simply right click on a column header and Rename Column is one of the choices.
Step 6 has you pick what type of output is desired. The data can be exported to an Excel file or placed on the drawing in a table.
I went with Excel and here is the data hidden in the attributes on the three blocks. Turns out that a small square costs far more than a small egg or tent.
When the enhanced attribute editor came along it replaced the simple attribute editor. However 99% of the time I only want to change the values of the attributes NOT the justification, layer, color, ect. Also the simple editor allows easy tabbing or shift+tabbing around the cells on the dialog. Where the enhanced dialog require the use of the mouse.
Enhanced Attribute Editor
Simple Attribute Editor
You can modify this double click preference by typing CUI on the Command Line. That opens the Customize User Interface dialog.
Expand the Double Click Actions and then the Attribute Block line as well.
Then over on the right, remove the E from the Command Display Name and from the Macro fields. Then Press OK.
From now on when you double click on an attributed block you will see the ATTEDIT dialog instead of the more complex EATTEDIT one.
I hope some of this was of use to you. If you have other attribute questions feel free to comment below.