Nate Holt's Blog

August 12, 2009

Multiple projects within a “Super” project – AutoCAD Electrical

Filed under: Electrical — nateholt @ 9:55 am

This has been published before. Back then it was floated as a possible work-around for dealing with large drawing sets. But the idea seems to have resonated with some users and probably deserves a fresh, second look.

The original posting is re-published here with some additional comments.

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Performance takes a hit when an AutoCAD Electrical project gets very large. Here’s a way to split a project into more manageable sub-projects while still allowing ability to do overall project cross-referencing and reporting functions.

Let’s say you have an electrical design project consisting of three manufacturing cells. Each cell could pretty much be its own “project”. But there is a small amount of interconnection between the cells. And there is a need for overall cross-referencing and full BOM reporting over the whole project. For the most part, each manufacturing cell will be worked on by its own team using AutoCAD Electrical.

Instead of having a single project of a thousand drawings, it would be nice to split this into three smaller sub-projects that can be worked on independently. Then, when necessary, be able to process all three sub-projects as a single project.

There is a work-around to accomplish this. Here’s how.

1. Create all three sub-project files (the “.wdp” ascii text files) in a common folder.

2. Create a new fourth project in this common folder. This extra project will be the overall “super” project and will list ALL of the drawings that are listed in the three sub-projects.

3. Work in a sub-project. But when need to do an overall “super-project-wide” operation, temporarily make the “super” project the active project. Do the project-wide operation(s). Then flip your original sub-project to be the “active” project again.

  

Simple Example

We’ll just use three small sub-projects containing 10 or fewer drawings each to illustrate how this might work.

Setup

superproj01

We create an overall folder for our project, “PROJ-07”. In this folder we create three sub-projects, “PROJ-07-CELL01” through “PROJ-07-CELL03”. Each sub-project’s drawings are stored in a separate subfolder (not required but necessary if drawing names are going to be repeated!). 

We create an overall “super” project, “PROJ-07-ALL” as well. It does not have any unique drawings in it. It just references all of the drawings already referenced in all three of the sub-projects.

 

 

 

Here are the drawings in PROJ-07-CELL01:

superproj02

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

superproj03

 

 

 

… and here are the drawings in the sub-projects for CELL02 and CELL03:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Fired up and Ready to Go

superproj05

Now, with all four projects set up (three sub-projects and the one “super” project), we list all four in the AutoCAD Electrical Project Manager window (at the right), here is what it looks like with all four projects “expanded” to show the individual drawings (below):

 

 

 

 

 superproj06

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In Operation

superproj07

Let’s say you’ve been assigned to work on CELL02 and you’re currently working on drawing 004.dwg in the CELL02 project. You suddenly have the need to insert an interlock relay contact and cross-reference it… but it is tied to a relay coil that is somewhere in one of the other two sub-projects.

Just temporarily flip the active project to the overall “super” project (moves to the top of the Project Manager list as shown at the right)…

… and do your project-wide operations. Then flip back to the CELL02 project as the “active” project.

That’s it.

Creating the overall “super” project is probably the most tedious part of this whole work-around. You need to include each sub-project’s drawing list. But there is a quick way to do it…

 

  1. Set up your sub-projects with their drawings listed.
  2. Create an empty overall super project.
  3. Open this overall project’s “.wdp” file with an ASCII text editor like wordpad.exe. Scroll to the end of the file.
  4. Open each of the sub-project “.wdp” files with an ASCII text editor. Cut and paste the list of drawings found in the bottom section of each of these “.wdp” files into the bottom of the overall project wdp file.
  5. Save the modified overall project “.wdp” file.

That’s it. It should work.

UPDATE: this idea might also be a good work-around for title block updating. Let’s say that you want to process subgroups of drawings “sheet x of n” within your “super” project. This might be a way to do it… run title block update on each sub-project.

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8 Comments »

  1. This is a really neat idea! However, my company is considering using Vault. How would this fit in with Vault? Any comments?

    Comment by Scott Gensemer — August 18, 2009 @ 2:25 pm

    • Hi Scott,
      I have not thought about how this might be impacted by Vault. Seems that as long as you check out the main project and all of its drawings, then all of the sub-projects should be good to go too. Guess it will take some experimenting. Sorry I don’t have a good answer for you.

      Comment by nateholt — August 18, 2009 @ 3:32 pm

      • That’s OK. I might test it if I get a chance. Maybe someone out there has tried it? I’ll post the comment on the AutoDesk Acad-e forum and see what I get there.

        Comment by Scott Gensemer — August 18, 2009 @ 3:45 pm

  2. I looked at this with a customer (I work for an AcadE reseller in the UK), because their schemes have 1000+ drawings, and they are going to use this method.

    As it says, “Creating the overall “super” project is probably the most tedious part of this whole work-around. You need to include each sub-project’s drawing list. But there is a quick way to do it…”

    We decided that hand-editing the “super” project to keep it in sync would be difficult (aka impossible) in practice and that it needed to be automated, so I wrote a VBS program to regenerate the “super” project from the sub-projects.

    If anyone wants a copy of the script, just let me know (nick dot hall at altasystems dot co dot uk)

    Comment by Nick Hall — September 17, 2009 @ 8:55 pm

    • Good idea! This “super project” idea seems to have “struck a chord” with a number of users. Doug McAlexander, another user, has a tool that works in the opposite direction – building and managing subprojects from a main super-project. Looks like the two of you have similiar ideas.

      Comment by nateholt — September 17, 2009 @ 9:32 pm

  3. […] Performance takes a hit when an AutoCAD Electrical project gets very large. There is a nifty way to manually split a project into more manageable sub-projects while still allowing ability to do overall project cross-referencing and reporting functions. This is described in detail in a posting made last month, link here. […]

    Pingback by “Super” Project Manager utility – AutoCAD Electrical « AutoCAD Electrical Etcetera — September 21, 2009 @ 8:40 am

  4. Sr. Nate Holt. I find your blog very interesting and helpfull for me. I work with autocad electrical and I have a problem with the sheet number edition. I need to start a project from the middle and I don´t know how many sheets will need before the first sheet I will draw. I understand that the sheets could be updated automaticaly with the “title block Update”, but I can´t find the way to do it (I have my own dwt with attributes that refers the sheet). I don´t know anything about autolisp.

    Sorry for my english.
    Hope you can help me.
    Ernesto Fraga
    Montevideo – Uruguay

    Comment by Ernesto — July 20, 2010 @ 7:14 am

  5. Can you make updates for the new 2016+ versions notating the .aepx as well?

    Comment by RickyBobby — August 1, 2017 @ 1:42 pm


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