AutoCAD Architecture: Organize with Sheet Set Manager

September 21st, 2012

Sheet Sets are an excellent CAD management tool in AutoCAD® Architecture 2013.  A sheet set is an organized collection of sheets from several drawing files.  A sheet is basically a selected layout from a drawing file.  Sets of drawings, the primary deliverable for most design groups, communicate the overall design intent of a project and provide the documentation and specifications for the project. 

Managing sets of drawings manually can be complicated and time consuming.  With the Sheet Set Manager, you can manage drawings as sheet sets.  A sheet set is an organized and named collection of sheets from several drawing files.   You can import a layout from any drawing into a sheet set as a numbered sheet.

A sheet set can be created with the Create a Sheet Set wizard.  With this wizard, you can either create a sheet set from scratch based on existing drawings or use an example sheet set as a template.  Layouts from specified drawing files are imported into the sheet set.  The associations and information that define a sheet set are stored in a sheet set data (DST) file.  When you create a new sheet set using the Create Sheet Set wizard, a new folder is created as the default sheet set storage location.  This new folder, which is named AutoCAD Sheet Sets, is located in the My Documents folder. 

It is important to note that the DST file should be stored in a network location that is accessible to all sheet set users on the network and mapped using the same logical drive.  It is strongly recommended that you store the DST and the sheet drawings in the same folder.  If an entire sheet set needs to be moved, or a server or folder name changes, the DST file will still be able to locate the sheets using relative path information

Overview

Before you begin creating a sheet set, several steps should be completed.  First, drawing files need to be consolidated.  Move the drawing files to be used in the sheet set into a small number of folders in order to simplify sheet set administration. 

Second, eliminate multiple layout tabs.  Each drawing you plan to use in the sheet set should have only one layout to be used as a sheet in the sheet set.  This is important for access to sheets by multiple users, as only one sheet in each drawing can be open at a time. 

Third, create a sheet creation template.  Create a drawing template (DWT) file to be used by the sheet set for creating new sheets. You specify this template file in the Sheet Set Properties dialog box or the Subset Properties dialog box. 

Fourth, create a page setup overrides file.  Create a DWT file to store page setups for plotting and publishing. This file can be used to apply a single page setup to all sheets in a sheet set, overriding the individual page setups stored in each drawing.  Although it is possible to use several layouts from the same drawing file as separate sheets in a sheet set, it is not recommended because it makes concurrent access to each layout by multiple users impossible.  This practice can also reduce your management options and can complicate the organization of your sheet sets. 

In the Create Sheet Set wizard, when you choose to create a sheet set from an example (see Figure 1), the example sheet set provides the organizational structure and default settings for the new sheet set.  You can also specify that folders are created corresponding to the subset storage paths of the sheet set.  After you create an empty sheet set with this option, you can import layouts or create sheets individually.

Figure 1: Create a new sheet set.

In the Create Sheet Set wizard, when you choose to create a sheet set from existing drawing files (Figure 1), you specify one or more folders that contain drawing files.  With this option, you can specify that the subset organization for the sheet set duplicates the folder structure of the drawing files.  The layouts from these drawings can be imported into the sheet set automatically.  You can easily add more folders containing drawings by clicking the Browse button for each additional folder.

Import a Layout into a Sheet Set

After you create a sheet set, you can import one or more layouts from existing drawings.  You can initialize a layout by clicking on its tab to activate the previously unused layout.  A layout does not contain any plot settings before initialization.  Once initialized, layouts can be drawn upon, published, and added to sheet sets as sheets after the drawing has been saved.  This is a fast method for creating multiple sheets from layouts in several drawings.  In the current drawing, you can drag a layout tab directly onto the Sheets area of the Sheet List tab in the Sheet Set Manager.

To import a layout into a sheet set, begin by clicking the View tab on the Palettes panel and select Sheet Set Manager.  In the Sheet Set Manager, Sheet List tab, right-click the sheet set node, a subset node or a sheet node and then click Import Layout as Sheet (see Figure 2).  In the Import Layouts as Sheets dialog box, click Browse for Drawings and then navigate to the drawing you want to use.  If you wish to select several drawings, use SHIFT or CTRL when you click on the drawing files.  Next, click the check boxes of the layouts to be imported as sheets in the current sheet set and click Import Checked.

Figure 2: Import a layout into a sheet set.

Create a New Sheet in a Sheet Set

As an alternative to importing existing layouts, you can create a new sheet.  When you place views in this sheet, the drawing files associated with the views are attached as xrefs to the sheet drawing.  To create a new sheet in a sheet set, begin by clicking the View tab on the Palettes panel and select Sheet Set Manager.  In the Sheet Set Manager, Sheet List tab, right-click on the sheet set node and then click New Sheet.  You can now select a drawing template and layout and then select OK.

Create a New Subset

Sheet subsets are often associated with a discipline such as architectural, electrical, and so on.  For example, in architecture, you might use a subset named Structural, and in electrical, you might use a subset called Lighting.  In some cases, you might also find it useful to create subsets associated with a review or completion status.  Subsets can be nested into other subsets as needed.  After you create or import sheets or subsets, you can reorder them by dragging them in the tree view.

To create a new subset, begin by clicking the View tab on the Palettes panel and select Sheet Set Manager.  In the Sheet Set Manager, Sheet List tab, right-click the sheet set node or an existing subset, and click New Subset.  In the Subset Properties dialog box under Subset Name, enter the name of the new subset and click OK (see Figure 3).  You can drag the new subset anywhere on the sheet list, even under other subsets.  If you want to create a subset under an existing subset, you can right-click the existing subset.  On the shortcut menu, click New Subset.

Figure 3: Create a new subset.

Re-associate a Sheet in a Sheet Set

If you move a sheet to a different folder, you should re-associate the sheet to the sheet set with the Sheet Properties dialog box to correct the path.  For any relocated sheet drawing, the paths for Expected Layout and Found Layout are displayed in the Sheet Properties dialog box. 

To re-associate the sheet, click the path in Expected Layout and then click to navigate to the new location of the sheet.  You can quickly confirm whether a sheet is in the expected folder by looking at Details at the bottom of the Sheet List tab.  If the selected sheet is not in the expected location, path information for both Expected Location and Found Location is displayed in Details.

To re-associate a sheet in a sheet set, begin by clicking the View tab on the Palettes panel and select the Sheet Set Manager.  In the Sheet Set Manager, open a sheet set.  Now on the Sheet List tab, open the sheet that you want to re-associate.  Next, in the Sheet Set Manager, right-click the sheet you wish to remove and then click Remove Sheet.  Save the drawing.  In the Sheet Set Manager, right-click the Sheet Set and click Import Layout as Sheet.  In the Import Layout as Sheet dialog box, click Browse for Drawings and navigate to the drawing you wish to use.  Click the check box of the layout to be re-associated as a sheet in the current sheet set and click Import Checked (see Figure 4).

Figure 4: Re-associate a sheet in a sheet set.

Add a View To a Sheet

From the Model Views tab, you can easily add a view to a sheet by placing a named model space view or the entire drawing onto the current sheet.  After creating a named model space view, you must save the drawing to add the view to the Model Views tab.  Click Refresh on the Model Views tab to update the Sheet Set Manager tree view.

To add a view to a sheet, begin by clicking the View tab on the Palettes panel and select Sheet Set Manager.  In the Sheet Set Manager, open a sheet set.  On the Sheet List tab, you can either double-click on a sheet to open it, or create a new sheet and open it.  On the Model Views tab, click the plus sign next to a folder to list the drawings in the folder.

From the list of drawing files, do one of the following:

  • To add a model space view to a sheet, click the plus sign next to a drawing file to list its named model space views and then right-click a model space view.
  • To add an entire drawing as a view in a sheet, right-click a drawing file.

Click Place on Sheet.  An alternative method is to drag a model space view or a drawing from the Model Views tab to a sheet.

Now, right-click on the sheet and then click the scale you wish to use for the sheet view.  Specify the insertion point for the sheet view.  The specified view is now added to the sheet.  If a view label block is defined in the sheet set properties, a view label that displays view-specific information is automatically placed on the sheet.

Add a Sheet List Table

The first sheet in a sheet set will usually be a title sheet that includes a description of the sheet set and a table that lists all the sheets in the sheet set.  You can create this table, called a sheet list table, on an open sheet.  The table automatically includes all the sheets in the sheet set.  Once a sheet list table is created, you also have options to edit, update, or delete the cell content of the table.

To add a sheet list table, begin by clicking the View tab of the Palettes panel and select Sheet Set Manager.  In the Sheet Set Manager, open a sheet set.  Right-click a sheet set name, subset, or multiple sheet set names and subsets and then click Insert Sheet List Table.  In the Insert Sheet List Table dialog box, set the Table Style in the Table Style Settings group.  Next, on the Table Data tab, specify Title Text for the table and add, remove, or change the order of the column entries.  On the Subsets and Sheets tab, select the subsets and sheets to be included in the sheet list table.  Please note that if you add a sheet to a subset later on, you will be automatically prompted to update the sheet list table.  Click OK.

Publish a Sheet Set

From the Sheet Set Manager, you can easily publish an entire sheet set, a subset of a sheet set, or a single sheet.  It is quicker to publish a sheet set in the Sheet Set Manager rather than using the Publish dialog box.  When you publish from the Sheet Set Manager, you can publish an electronic sheet set by publishing to a DWF, DWFx or PDF file, or you can publish a paper set by publishing to the plotter named in the page setup that is associated with each drawing sheet.  You can also publish your sheets using a page setup that is saved in the page setup overrides DWT file associated with the sheet set.  This page setup overrides the current page setup settings for the individual publish job.

When you open the Publish dialog box from the Sheet Set Manager, the dialog box automatically lists the sheets you selected in the sheet set.  You can then modify the sheet set for publishing.  You can specify that sheets are sent to the plotter in reverse order. This option is available from the Publish dialog box and from the Sheet Set Manager.

Figure 5: Publish a sheet set.

To Conclude

The Sheet Set Manager in AutoCAD Architecture is a powerful tool for CAD management.  Keeping uniformity throughout all drawings for all users can be a big challenge, but the Sheet Set Manager is just the tool to keep everything in line!

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About the Authors

Melinda Heavrin

Melinda Heavrin

Melinda Heavrin is a CAD Coordinator & Facility Planner for Norton Healthcare in Louisville, Kentucky.  She has been using AutoCAD Architecture since release 2000.  Melinda can be reached for comments and questions at melinda.heavrin@nortonhealthcare.org.

 

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