October 31, 2007

A Real Head-Scratcher

My mission, regardless of whether I choose to accept it, is to figure out how to streamline the attribute extraction process we use in AutoCAD at work. Particularly as regards fastener counts, and lineal feet of various metal shapes and accessories.

The problem starts with a detail. In the drafting sense. A connection detail of several pieces of metal at the eave of a metal roof, for example. This connection may stretch for a couple hundred feet with a couple of different fasteners spaced at different intervals.

What I have to figure out is a means of automating the process of identifying which fasteners have been specified, calculating how many of each fastener will be required for the detail, count up the lineal feet of each metal shape (with associated part numbers), extract all that data, and put it into a format that can be used by Excel.

There is an attribute extractor built into AutoCAD, but it isn't capable of doing the math my boss wants it to do while extracting that data. As a matter of fact, it's really only capable of looking at the attributes contained in blocks (at least for our purposes, that's all it can do).

The tools available to me are a mix of AutoLISP, Diesel, and VBA. I've got a bit of the first under my belt. It's the latter two that I have no experience with...

Once I've figured out how to get all that information out of one detail, I have to get it out of the other 10 to 150 details. Some parts and fasteners will have been reused in latter details and I need to make sure they all get added up.

I know I'm going to have to build at least some of the tools myself. The problem I'm running into is the lack of tools required to build my tools. At this stage, I'm pretty sure I'm going to need access to object handles (which are persistent for the life of the file), but all I can seem to find are tools to work with entity names which are not persistent beyond the current session.

Posted in AutoCAD by: Will at 03:39 PM | No Comments | Add Comment
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