Options for Databases, Schedules, Bills of Materials, Etc.

Question

What are my choices when using PowerCADD to create schedules, lists and build a database of text data for drawing, project and facility management?

Requirements

PowerCADD 2000 (v5) through PowerCADD v7
PowerCADD v7 and Mac OS? X Tiger (10.4.4) or newer recommended



Background

What you're describing is database creation and database management and yes, you can use PowerCADD to just that. Unfortunately there is no one click answer and a sound understanding of the fundamentals is critical to success in this type of situation. The trade off is some time and effort is required on the part of the user to learn the available methods and how they can be applied to their specific needs.

The key to remember is PowerCADD is a 'graphic' interface to the 'drawing database'. Every object in the drawing already contains a variety of information (e.g.it's x,y location and 'size' among many other attributes). You can also assign your own unique text attributes to special objects using a variety of techniques. The PowerCADD database, both the standard and your own specially added data, can be imported into other applications to perform 'value added analysis'.

In essence , PowerCADD has provided several solutions which are in need of a problem(Drunk to solve.

What To Do

We can't really tell you what to do as it depends on your specific drawing and data management needs. However, we can give you an overview of your available options which may get you started. In all cases, it's important to clearly understand and plan out in advance just what your data management needs will be, then compare those needs to your available choices. There is rarely a single automagic solution to a particular data management situation. Rather, you may need to look at using several techniques to meet your project needs.

Here's a basic breakdown of the current features and what they do to help guide your decision making process. Each feature has a unique and valuable place in the database work flow.

1) Object Text:
Lets you assign any type of free form text to any object or group of objects in a drawing. Example, Object Text can be assigned to a snap point or any object or group of objects in a drawing.

Window Menu -> Obj. Text window

Behavior / Qualities:

  • very easy to use
  • data does not print
  • data does not export via DWG? or DXF?
  • plain text only
  • use object text export command to generate text file reports
  • can be applied to any object at any time in the drawing process
  • no particular 'pre planning' involved to use this database feature, free form in that regard
  • copy/paste of an object with 'object text assigned' retains the object text data

2) Symbol Libraries:
Libraries may contain any PowerCADD object or collection of objects. A symbol may be as simple as a snap point containing text attribute data or as complex as a master construction detail, site plan or wall assembly.

File? Menu -> New Library

Behavior / Qualities:

  • very easy to use
  • library can be used on multiple projects (i.e. it's not linked to a specific file)
  • drawing data will export via DWG or DXF once in the drawing (not including raster based data)
  • can contain any valid PowerCADD object(Drunk
  • can be applied at any time in the drawing process
  • automatic scaling of objects when inserted into drawings
  • may contain additional attribute data in addition to 'name'
  • best applied with some 'pre planning' to maximize it's power
  • symbol library object may contain special user defined text assigned using Object Text Window, Set Symbol Tags command or Set Data command.

3) Symbol Tool:
This tool contains two optional settings and works in conjunction with Symbol Libraries and the Set Symbol Tags Command and Set Data Command

Behavior / Qualities:

  • very easy to use
  • option click to set tool for inserting objects as groups or instances
  • symbol instance creates a one to many relationship for updating Set Symbol Fields
  • ability to use Replace Symbol to globally replace symbols inserted into a drawing with this tool speeds up drawing management / increased productivity
  • ability to Set Data Fields (as opposed to Set Symbol Fields) when objects inserted into the drawing

4) Set Symbol Tags:
This command permits data tags to be set for any existing object in a drawing or for objects inserted from Symbol Libraries. Data tags can be reported and opened in other applications for value added editing and analysis.

Edit Menu -> Set Symbol Tags...

Behavior / Qualities:

  • moderate to easy to use
  • requires pre-planning to make best use of this feature
  • use Save As... Symbol Report to get a report of objects in a drawing and their data
  • up to 4 unique data fields in addition to one Name Field
  • when objects are inserted as Symbol Instances, the data fields have a one to many relationship (edit one data field will update all data fields of symbol instances with the same name)
  • best applied to items inserted from Symbol Libraries
  • may be applied to any object in the drawing, changes object (e.g. a line) into a named group
  • reporting feature can discriminate to report all symbols in drawing or only selected symbols
  • data does not print or export unless included as a table in the drawing

5) Replace Symbol:
This commands permits global replacement of symbols in a single drawing.

Tool Menu -> Replace Symbol...

Behavior / Qualities:

  • very easy to use
  • works across all layers, whether layer status is on,off, grayed or locked
  • remembers scale and automatically re-scales objects to correct % during replacement
  • works with symbols inserted as groups or instances (keys on group name)
  • very fast !


A template of up to 15 fields can be used to carry any type of data. The templates can be customized and allows carrying all 15 fields with a single object (eg a Snap Point).

Edit Menu -> Symbol Data -> Set Data / Search Data / Place Report / Update Report

Behavior / Qualities:

  • moderate to difficult to use
  • requires pre-planning to best use this feature
  • placed reports auto update for area, quantity and perimeter fields only
  • can be assigned to any object currently in the drawing, original object hierarchy is retained (not converted to a group, see Set Symbol Fields for a comparison)
  • data does not print or export unless reported and inserted into the drawing as a table
  • data templates can be shared with multiple users for consistent data entry
  • search feature finds objects with data tags in the drawing.
  • data can be exported using Save As Symbol Data Report command
  • may be used in conjunction with Symbol Libraries and Symbol Tool

7) Export Data External:
Exports the entire PowerCADD drawing database (or just selected objects). Every object on every layer can be exported , then imported into other database applications like FileMaker Pro. A variety of analysis and calculations can be carried out against the data such as extracting object sizes, locations or the specific contents of a text block.

File Menu -> Save As -> Export Data

Behavior / Qualities:

  • easy to use but requires moderate to expert specialty skills with other applications to best use this feature
  • consistent reporting model makes automated data filtering and calculations possible
  • very robust reporting permits extensive value added data analysis
  • creating templates in Database Applications (e.g. FileMaker) speeds up data filtering and analysis
  • exported and filtered data can be used to generate sophisticated reports , letters, etc.

Summary:
There are several components to database creation and management in PowerCADD. Each feature will have pros and cons depending on your particular needs. Remember, each feature fits a specific niche in the work flow and they can be used alone or in combination with other tools and commands to solve a variety of reporting needs. The learning curve is a bit steep in some respects but time and costs invested in self study and training in the short term pay off dividends in the long run.

We hope this comprehensive overview gives you some general understanding as to how these solutions might fit in your work flow. To arrange for additional help or arrange a consultation visit us at our web site or contact us by email at the address listed below.

We hope that helps
caddpower.com

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