I’m not a rapid writer, but this article has taken longer than most. It started nearly a decade ago!
My proof is a 2003 DWF for an AutoCAD Architecture (ACA), then Architectural Desktop, feature suggestion which appeared in the 2013 release. Who says they don’t listen?!
AutoCAD Architecture Schedules, Property Sets and Object Properties
ACA has always offered sophisticated object properties and scheduling. It differs from the traditional AutoCAD Attribute data model, only using them to display ACA Property values in Tag graphics.
The data presented in Schedules/Tags is gathered from Property Sets. These Property Set Definitions are user defined collections of Properties assigned to AutoCAD/AEC Objects and AEC Styles. Style based Property Sets apply to all items of that style, Object Property Sets to each instance. For example Door Width would be style based (all that width) but Door Finish could be an object property unique to each instance. You can also use Object Properties to schedule many “vanilla’ AutoCAD Entities.
Both types use the same Style Manager Node & Editor, with Object or Styles/Definition type specified on the “Applies To” Tab. OOTB convention is to add the suffix “Styles” or “Object” to the Property Set Name to identify them in Style Manager: e.g. SpaceStyles or SpaceObjects.
Property Data Formats control how numbers, measurements and notation are displayed in Properties Palette, Schedules & Tags. For example number display precision, text case, symbol conventions for currency, length, area and volume can be defined once for use in multiple properties/property sets.
Managing Document Properties
Property Sets, Property Data Formats and Schedule Table Styles are accessed, created and edited in the Manage Tab>Style & Display>Style Manager dialog.
Each property definition has name, description, Type, Source, format, default value, visibility and display order (overriding default). Properties can be manual or derived from Object/Style/Project Properties, Location (in AEC Polygon or Space), Classification, Material, Anchor (object), Graphic (Block) or a Formula.
Formula Properties are user defined equations leveraging any other property and VBScript commands. While they can get complex ACA has a nice editor to help define and evaluate them. Some good examples are found in the default SpaceObjects_BOMA Property Set added with use of the Annotate Tab>Scheduling>Room Schedule>Space Schedule BOMA Schedule.
Schedule Tables and Pre-2013 Limitations
Schedule Tables are created by selecting Properties from Property Sets to specify columns or matrix. ACA can schedule ANY property from objects in the current file, linked external files (Xrefs) or ACA Project allowing project wide reporting. Columns can generate Totals and a special Quantity column allowed identical items to be grouped, counted and displayed in a single row. However the Help highlights a major limitation in this function:
If you include a quantity column, the objects in the table with the same values in every column are displayed in one row, with the number of objects displayed in the Quantity column.
If any value varied, even a text note, the Item generated a separate schedule line with its own Quantity. This made it impossible to summarise values, say areas for a type of space, within a schedule unless all instances were identical.
This example is a space schedule but the same principles apply to any schedule. Two Type A 3500 x 5000 rooms are identical and grouped in the Quantity column whereas two Type B 3500 x 3500 rooms are not due to different ceiling heights . Even if you remove all the differing columns from the table (below right) like objects don’t group.
Grouping to the Rescue: 2013 Schedule Styles
In ACA 2013 the Sort Tab in Schedule Styles has changed to Sorting/Grouping. This allows multiple Sorting/Grouping Properties to be displayed & subtotalled in a Schedule Style. It also adds controls for the layout and appearance of Groups and Subtotals.
Adding a Group
Caution: If updating pre-2013 Schedule Styles to use Groups remove any existing Quantity Column. They still report Quantity counts correctly but interfere with the calculation of group subtotals/totals giving false results.
Open the Schedule Style from Style Manager or the schedule by Right Click > Edit Schedule Table Style. On the Sorting/Grouping Tab Click Add and select a Property.
Tick the Group box to create a group for each unique value in the selected property column.
Row or Colum Group Orientation
The default orientation for groups is “Column”. You can change this to “Row” orientation, add a repeat footer row, indent and a blank separation line with the Group Controls
Adding a Group Sub-Total
Ticking “Display Subtotals For Group” primes the Schedule to generate subtotals but may not display any. A red warning statement on the dialog indicates the cause:
“Note: To enable subtotals modify at least one column on the columns tab to include a total”
To remedy this on the Columns tab where you require sub-totals/totals; (1) Select the column, (2) Modify and (3) tick Total.
The resulting per Style area & volume summary with Grand Total
Display Control for Grouping and Sub-Totals
Group & Subtotal Format overrides allow different text styles and colours to be assigned. Text Format is controlled by AutoCAD Text Styles (see Home Tab>Annotation>Text Style) assigned in the Sorting/Grouping Tab. Unfortunately the dialog just indicates “Style” (override), not the actual style name.
Colour can be assigned to three group levels in the Display Properties tab. By default Group elements are BYBLOCK displaying the schedule layer/object colour. In the final schedule below I’ve assigned different colours for each group. This is useful while you create the schedule style even if the final version will be reverted to BYBLOCK. Tick Style override to specify your Schedule Style display preferences otherwise you will be editing the default settings for the current drawing, not the style.
The final schedule in all its techno-colour glory. The addition Groups to the existing schedule features makes AutoCAD Architecture far more powerful and flexible documentation tool.
You can access default schedule related definitions in: C:\ProgramData\Autodesk\ACA 2013\enu\Styles\<Imperial or Metric>\Schedule Tables<Units>.dwg.
Robin Capper writes about CAD & related technology at RobiNZ CAD Blog – http://rcd.typepad.com/rcd. Robin is a Retail Designer for The Warehouse Ltd, New Zealand’s largest general merchandise retailer, primarily using the Autodesk Building Design Suite products. Robin is also an active member, currently Treasurer, of the Revit User Group Auckland – http://www.meetup.com/rugakl/. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org