Nate Holt's Blog

September 21, 2009

“Super” Project Manager utility – AutoCAD Electrical

Filed under: Electrical — nateholt @ 1:34 am

Tool to create and manage sub-projects within an overall “super” project set of AutoCAD Electrical drawings

Performance takes a hit when an AutoCAD Electrical project gets very large. Also, on large projects, a user sometimes needs the ability to divide the overall drawing set into separate document numbers.  They require that each different type of document (i.e. schematic, panel layout, wire list, parts list) have a separate document number and title block information.  They want all drawings to be intelligently linked for design and editing but separated for title block update and page numbering.

There is a nifty way to manually split a project into more manageable or logically grouped 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.

This idea has resonated with some users including Nick Hall who has indicated that he has put together a VB program that can combine multiple subprojects into one “super” project (see note 2 at the end of the above link).

Super Project Manager tool

Here is another approach, an automated way to split out sub-projects. This is a manager tool that will take one big project and break it down into multiple, related sub-projects where each sub-project is a stand-alone AutoCAD Electrical project. This tool gives a listing of all drawings in the overall “super” project and lets you pick groups of drawings to move into sub-projects. Each new sub-project inherits the settings of the main super project. NOTE: the overall “super” project never changes – drawings in this overall project stay… the sub-projects just reference subsets of the drawings permanently held in the overall super project.

It seems to work pretty well.


We’ll use the small, simple example give in the previous posting. Our overall project, PROJ-07, has just 29 drawings. But we want to create three sub-projects that each contain a sub-set of these 29 drawing references. This will give us the ability to either work on a small subset of the main project drawing set (a sub-project is marked as the “active” project) or instantly flip over to take the whole project drawing set into account (main project is flipped to be the “active” project).

We appload the new tool and then launch it by typing SPM at the “Command:” prompt. It checks for the current active project and pops this active project’s drawing list into the dialog shown below. If it detected any existing sub-projects tied to this main project, these would be listed in the lower display list.

All subprojects are identified by this tool by their file name…. “<main_projectname>[subproj_name].wdp“. None are found for this sample project – there is project file PROJ-07.wdp but there are no PROJ-07[xxx].wdp projects found in the same folder.


Our first sub-project

We want to reference six of these drawings in a small sub-project called “CELL01”. Highlight the drawings that you want to reference in this new sub-project. Hit the “Create a new sub-project” button. Enter “CELL01” as shown in the sub-dialog that pops up.


Hit OK to dismiss this “suffix code” sub-dialog.

The new sub-project reference goes into the first position of the sub-project listing. A “1” marks each drawing that is referenced in this first sub-project.


Adding a 2nd sub-project

Repeat the process. Let’s say we want drawings 001 through 006 to be referenced in a second sub-project. Repeat the above but type “CELL02” as a name for this new sub-project.


A third sub-project

And we repeat the above for the third sub-project, picking drawings 001, 002 and 010-014, and 019.

Here’s what our main dialog display now looks like (below). Note that each of the three sub-projects that we’ve defined show up in the bottom list box along with an “index” number. The upper dialog records which drawings have been referenced in each of the three sub-projects. Up to 9 sub-projects in one main project are supported by this tool.


Tools are there to add and remove drawing references from selected sub-project(s).

When all looks good, hit the “Save changes” button. The three new sub-projects are created. The main AutoCAD Electrical Project Manager window now displays the original, main “super” project and now three more sub-projects. Each sub-project is the same name as the main project but with a unique suffix shown in square brackets.


This Super Project Manager tool keys off of the square bracketed suffixes at the end of the project files names to automatically group all sub-projects together with a main “super” project. Seems to work well.

Touch base with Doug McAlexander if any interest in this cool tool.

U P D A T E:  short video demo of this tool is here.


1 Comment »

  1. […] “Super” Project Manager utility – very cool […]

    Pingback by Index of AutoCAD Electrical Utilities – April 2006 through August 2009 « AutoCAD Electrical Etcetera — September 28, 2009 @ 8:21 pm

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