Exploring Schedule Tables in ACA
Schedules are tables you can insert in drawings to list information about selected objects in your building model. Objects are made up of properties that contain data. Schedule tags provide an efficient tool for collecting the property data attached to the objects for display in a schedule table. You can create schedules with varying levels of detail by defining and attaching sets of properties to object styles or to individual objects and then extracting and displaying the data in a schedule table. You can produce basic schedule tables using the default tools provided with the software.
Before delving into schedule tables, it is important to understand some of the terminology associated with them. Here’s a brief overview of some important terms that apply to creating and managing schedule tables.
- Schedule Tags – You can use project-based or standard schedule tags in your drawings to graphically display the property data of an object. By linking the schedule tag to a property in a property set, you report property data of the object. When you anchor the tag to an object to which the property set is applied, the value of the property displays in the tag. The information in the tag is updated if the object or the property changes.
- Schedule Tools – AutoCAD® Architecture provides default tools for project-based and standard wall, door, and window schedules on the Scheduling tool palette and in the Content Browser. Selecting one of these tools that has a style and other properties predefined allows you to quickly place a schedule table in your drawing.
- Schedule Styles – A schedule table style specifies the properties that can be included in a table for a particular object type. The style also controls the table formatting such as text height and spacing, columns and headers. Display properties in the style control the visibility, layer, color, linetype, and linetype scale of table components.
- Property Sets – A property set is a user-definable group of related object properties. When you attach a property set to an object or a style, the property set becomes the container for the property data associated with the object. Property sets are specified using property set definitions.
- Property Set Definitions – A property set definition is a documentation object that specifies the characteristics of a group of properties that can be tracked with an object or style. Each property has a name, description, data type, data format, and default value.
- Property Data Formats – A property data format is specified for each property definition within a property set definition to control how the data for that property displays in a schedule table, in a schedule tag, or on the Property palette. Property set definitions and schedule table styles use property data formats to control the display format of values for each property.
Creating Schedule Table Styles
Schedule table styles are used to control the appearance and content of schedule tables. A schedule table style for the type of schedule table you want to create must be contained in the drawing. When a schedule table style is copied into a drawing, data formats and property set definitions specified in the style are also copied. Property data formats and property set definitions will be discussed shortly.
Like many entities of ACA, schedule table styles are created and edited in the Style Manager under the Manage tab of the ribbon. To create a new style, expand Documentation Objects, right-click on Schedule Table Styles, and click New. Enter a name for the new style and hit Enter.
Next, you will edit the options for the schedule table style. The eight tabs you have to choose from are as follows:
- General is where you add a description, if desired. You can also click on Notes and add a note and/or a reference document.
- Default Format allows you to specify the format you want for your new schedule table style. This includes text appearance, matrix symbol, and cell size.
- Applies To allows you to specify which objects you want the schedule table style to track. This could be as simple as a polyline or a door. This could also be several ACA objects, depending on what information you wish to include in your schedule table.
- Columns allow you to add columns to represent properties that are reported in the schedule table style. You can also add column headings, edit column data, and edit column placement in your style (see Figure 1).
- Sorting/Grouping allows you to specify the sort order of each row within the schedule table style. You can also group columns together with this feature and specify if you would like to display subtotals for the group.
- Layout allows you to specify the format of the table title, the column headings, and the matrix column headings.
- Classifications allows you to assign a group of named properties to various objects. They assist in controlling how objects are displayed and scheduled.
- Display Properties allows you to specify the visibility, line type, layer, and other display properties of the schedule table style you are creating.
Once your style has been created, you can drag and drop it on to your tool palette for quick access. You can also add the schedule table to the Annotation tab on the ribbon by using the CUI. I highly recommend doing this if you plan to use your new schedule table style frequently.
Figure 1: Schedule table style—Add Column
Property Data Formats and Property Set Definitions
Before you create a schedule table, you will need to attach the property sets that are referenced in the schedule table style to the objects and object styles. These attached property sets become the containers for the data that will appear in your schedule table. A schedule table extracts the data from objects and displays it in the table. Data is not saved in the table itself.
A property set definition is a group of related properties of the objects and object styles to be reported in the schedule. Once attached to an object or its style, a property set becomes the container for the property data associated with the object. Values for properties are obtained directly from the object or are entered manually for the object or the style. Property set definitions are created and edited in the Style Manager under the Manage tab of the ribbon.
To create a new property set definition, expand Documentation Objects, right-click Property Set Definitions, and click New. Enter a name for the new definition and click Enter. As with the Schedule Table Style, you will want to check which entities your new definition applies to. Now you will want to click on the Definition tab and add Property definitions as needed (see Figure 2). Click Apply and OK when you are finished. Property Set Definitions are added to objects through the Properties palette, Extended Data tab.
A property data format is applied to each definition within a property set definition. Property data formats are created and edited in the Style Manager under the Manage tab of the ribbon. To create a new property data format, expand Documentation Objects, right-click Property Data Formats, and click New. Enter a name for the new format and click Enter. Now, you will want to click on the Formatting tab. Here, you will need to specify how you want the formatting to appear. Fill in all information pertinent to the format you are creating. Click Apply and OK when you are finished.
Figure 2: Define a property data format
Inserting a Schedule Table
Begin by opening the Annotation tab of the ribbon or opening your tool palette (depending on where you placed your new schedule table style) and selecting the Schedule Table you created. Next, select the objects you wish to include in the schedule table or you can press Enter to schedule an external drawing. Objects selected that are not of the type specified for the schedule table will automatically be filtered out of the drawing. Next, you will need to specify in the drawing area the insertion point for the upper-left corner of the schedule table and then specify the lower-right corner of the table, or you can press Enter to scale the schedule table to the current drawing scale (see Figure 3).
If your schedule table contains question marks in any of the cells, the property set definition that contains that property is not attached to an object or object style. Empty cells or dashes within cells indicates that the property set definition is attached, but data is either not available or is not entered for that object or object style.
It is important to note that property data formats, property set definitions, and schedule table styles cannot be changed through RefEdit. Changes made through RefEdit seem to work, but the drawing will revert to the previous settings when saved back to the xref file. If you are using an xref file and need changes to be made to the schedule table, you will need to open the xref drawing directly and make changes there.
Figure 3: Annotation ribbon
Updating a Schedule Table
A schedule table will update changes automatically when the automatic update option is turned on. This option can be turned on by right-clicking on the schedule table style on the Tools palette, and selecting Properties. Under Selection you can choose to Add New Objects Automatically. If, however, the option is turned off, you can manually update a schedule table. To do this, select the schedule table, right-click, and click Update Schedule Table. Please note that when you select a schedule table in your drawing, the Schedule Table Tab appears in the ribbon. Updates and edits can be performed straight from the ribbon! (See Figure 4.)
You can also add objects to or remove objects from a schedule table after it has been inserted in the drawing. All you have to do is select the schedule table, right-click, and click Selection. Next click either Add or Remove, depending on which you want to do. You then select the objects in the drawing that you want to add to or remove from the table and press Enter.
You can even add hyperlinks, notes, and reference documents to the schedule table. Double-click on the schedule table and then on the Properties palette, click on the Extended Data tab, and expand Documentation. Now click on the icon next to hyperlink, notes or reference documents, depending on which one you wish to add.
Figure 4: Update schedule table
Creating a Schedule Table In A Project
Schedule tables can contain information from external references and block references, which typically must exist in the same drawing as the schedule table. Schedule tables now optionally specify an external drawing, which is scheduled as if it were an external reference in the same drawing as the table. The advantage to this is that the graphics of the external drawing do not need to be generated in order to fill out the data in the table.
To begin, open the sheet to contain the schedule table. Now, open the tool palette that you want to use and select a Schedule Table tool. On the Properties palette, expand Basic General. Select a style and instead of selecting objects in the drawing, press Enter. Specify the insertion point of the schedule table and specify the size of the schedule table. A schedule table with no rows is inserted into the drawing. Select the empty table, right-click, and select Properties. On the Properties palette, expand Advanced External Source. For Schedule External Drawing, select Yes. The External Drawing settings are displayed with a list containing all drawings in the Views directory of the current project. Each drawing should correspond to a view defined in the project. If no project is active, the list contains all drawings in the last directory browsed. Select the view you want to schedule. If the desired external view drawing is not displayed in the list, select Browse and find it.
Exporting a Schedule Table
You can export the contents of a schedule table to a separate file, such as Microsoft Excel spreadsheet (XLS), Comma-separated values (CSV), and tab-delimited text (TXT) files. In order to export to Microsoft Excel format, you must have Excel installed.
To begin, open the drawing file that includes the table you want to export. Select the schedule table and then click the Schedule Table tab, Modify panel, Export. The Export Schedule Table dialog box opens (see Figure 5). Select a file type to Save As. Enter a name for the file or click Browse to select a file and click OK. The Format dialog box opens if you selected an XLS file type for Save As Type. Now, convert the schedule values in the exported file by selecting Use Unformatted Decimal Value or Convert to Formatted Text. It is important to note that the format of values does not change in the drawing file. Selecting Convert to Formatted Text displays the architectural format (6'-0") in Microsoft Excel. Click OK to format columns one at a time or select Apply to All Columns and click OK.
Figure 5: Export schedule table