So after printing 600 drawings and hand writing title block information for all of these drawings I stumbled upon something that pissed me off so bad that I yelled "shit-fuck!!" in the cube farm. I am writing this article in hopes that you too can avoid that "shit-fuck" moment. Turns out that printing 600 drawings was Stupid with a capital 'S'. There is a much better [faster, less spelling errors and it doesn't have the stank of ginger hand writing on it] way to get all that information out of the drawings. That is unless you are in a one man attack on the forests of this world. In addition to getting titleblock information I also need to see if I can discover missing references files that were not provided; I'm hoping that they are left un used in some of the files. This is how its done...

Step 1. RTFM! AutoCAD comes with a nifty command "DATAEXTRACTION"

Go to you command line and type in:

 DATAEXTRACTION

now you are 99.9% done. Not really it just felt that way after doing it the other way. There are 8 fairly easy dialogs to follow. in this example I'm creating a new extraction so I select create new. It will ask you where to save the extraction settings.. cause once you get a handle on this tool you'll probably use it a lot for similar tasks.

 

In the next dialog it will prompt you to select files. I added a folder cause I've got a quite a few drawings to mess with. This dialog allows you to select individual files within the files in the folder. This was very helpful to me as there were some drawings that needed to be recovered and some drawings in didn't want info for so I could just deselect those drawings. Click next and it'll start loading those drawings.

This step takes a little while if you have a large number of drawings. I got a warning indicating that there were different units used which for my purposes is not an issue so I told it to continue.

In the next dialog you can select the objects that you need the data for. I chose to deselect the check box next to display objects currently in use. This is specific to my needs as I'm not just looking for title block info I'm also looking to recover information that may exists in the files as left overs from their creation and I'm not necessarily looking for just the information as shown or displayed in the files. In other words I'm hoping to the great one that they did not purge these drawings.

In the next dialog you will chose the attributes that are found for all the elements that were selected in the last dialog... or at least that's the bullshit imma tell you cause imma have to pull my noob card and say im not 100% on what's going on here. There are certain things that it looks to pulling out of the drawing database and its different kinds of information that I have not sought out before. I going to do the ole college standard of just clicking next and hoping for the best. When you click next it jumps into another dialog which I assume is pulling the info and this one took a good while for me... probably because I was pulling a bunch of information I probably didn't need.

Its interesting to watch the file explorer window while this is happening cause you can see the progress as AutoCAD opens each file which creates its temporary files and then closes them. You can watch the progress by looking at which files are being used.

So here is a noob note for you. The number of drawings I tried to process in this example (600+) was too unwieldy for my system. I let it run overnight and it could not fulfill my request. I eventually had to break it into smaller pieces and restrict the information I was looking for and it went through with our much trouble.

In the next dialog it gives you some options on how you want to sort or organize your collected data. I just went ahead with all the settings as they were cause I'm a noob and the water is getting deep here.



The next dialog just asks about weather you want the data in a drawing or a file. I need the file as an excel so I selected to output the data to an external file. I then selected my desk top cause I will be using the file shortly to create other documents.

 

It should be noted that the next dialog is number 8. So it looks like we skipped one but in reality dialog number seven is a dialog that pops up when you decide to insert the data into your drawing. It give you a dialog where you change some of the design elements etc.



Step 2. Do what you gotta do.

So voila, I now have all that precious precious data in a spread sheet sans my spelling errors. This was way faster, and I'm really looking forward to adding this tool to my tool box. From the look of the amount and type of data you can extract I can image several scenarios where this kind of data would be useful.