“Necessity is the mother of invention”. This phrase rang true for me, or in this case the mother of investigation, when I finally got frustrated enough with time being wasted dealing with an all too common problem of late. It is AutoCad related so if you have no interest in, or use for AutoCad I won’t be offended if you just skip over this post.
First off, what are AEC Objects and why are they such a problem? AEC objects are custom objects used in some flavours of AutoCAD to represent items like doors, windows, walls, etc. When these drawing files are opened in other versions of AutoCAD that don’t use AEC objects these objects are called proxy objects. Usually a warning box is displayed letting you know of this when you open the dwg file. The problem is sometimes these proxy objects need to be edited or changed, and the only way to do that is to explode them, which creates its own set of problems. Typically parts of the proxy disappear. For instance a wall may have windows and doors embedded in it until you explode it and they disappear and the wall fills in the area the window or door was. Not good when you don’t notice, or have to redraw them by hand.
This is the problem we were having. Entities disappearing when we exploded the proxy objects. We used to be able to save to an earlier version of AutoCad and the objects would be automatically converted to entities but that process no longer worked in the current versions of AutoCad. As I said, necessity, and frustration caused me to spend a little time investigating since I figured there must be a better way. Low and behold, enter the EXPORTTOAUTOCAD and AECTOACAD commands. (yeah i know, “enter” – bad pun)
The EXPORTTOAUTOCAD and AECTOACAD commands create a new drawing file and explode all the proxy AEC objects into editable AutoCAD objects. The information stored within the AEC objects is lost in the new file, but the former AEC objects can now be easily modified and manipulated.
1. Filename: This is the name of the new file you are creating. It’s best to use the Prefix or Suffix options to create a unique filename and avoid overwriting your original file.
2. Prefix: Added to the beginning of the filename, the default is “ACAD-” which helps differentiate from the original file.
3. Suffix: Appended to the end of the filename, the default is “no suffix” which is what i use.
4. Format: File format for the new file. Options are r14, 2000, 2004, 2007, 2010 and 2013. – typically just select whatever version of Acad you are running.
5. Bind: If the Bind setting is set to Yes, Xrefs are bound to the drawing. Blocks, layers,styles etc. are merged into the new file. If set to No, the links to the Xref are retained.
6. bind Type: There are two options when the Bind option is set to Yes: Bind and Insert. When Bind Type is set to Bind the Xref name is added to the beginning of block, layer and style names, when Insert is used, the names of blocks, layers and styles are merged into the new drawing.
Hit enter and wait for a few moments (depending upon size of file, number of AEC objects and speed of computer) and presto, all done and ready to be edited and cleaned up as you see fit.
Hopefully this will help some of you who struggle with this issue as we do, or more precisely – did. It is a definite time-saver, especially with some architects we deal with, and in a business where time is money, saving any time at all is a good thing. Especially in this world were deadlines have gone from weeks to complete a project, to mere days. I think it’s a conspiracy by the coffee makers to keep us so busy we have to drink more in order to do our jobs, but that may just be the caffeine talking.