Fabrication “Edit Configuration” Utility Documentation

I’ve added documentation for thee Autodesk Fabrication Edit Configuration utility to the site. You can find it here or in the Fabrication menu.

This utility is fairly misleading. Because it prompts for a Database Configuration, most people think the settings apply to the selected configuration. While some of the settings are saved in the MAP.INI and therefor specific to a database configuration, not all are. Many are saved in the Windows Registry.

How Settings Work

Settings stored in the registry need to be made for each program, program version and user. That is, if you make changes to settings stored in the registry using CADmep, they only apply for CADmep. If you’re using ESTmep, you need to make the changes there too. Additionally, if you use the utility that ships with the 2020 version of CADmep, they won’t apply in the 2021 version of CADmep without making the changes there too. Lastly, the only apply for the user who is currently logged in. Log in as another user and all those settings needs to be changed again.

This is the reason I typically make the changes directly using registry edits or automation that imports the registry changes. This allows me to ensure I’ve not missed anything and that they get set no matter the user.

Edit Configuration Utility Tricks

The Edit Configuration utility itself is confusing. The utility ships with each Fabrication Program (CADmep, ESTmep, CAMduct, CAMduct Components, Remote Entry and Tracker). The same utility will present slightly different options depending which folder it is run from. And to add to the confusion, the shortcuts are all named identically.

To make it easier, I go to the folder with the shortcuts and rename them. From “Edit Configuration” to “Edit Config (CAD21)” and similar. This helps me know which program I’m calling the utility for.

Even if you don’t edit the MAP.INI file or Windows Registry directly and instead use the utility the documentation is helpful for letting you know where the settings are stored. This helps you know how to edit them to your needs.

Updated From Prior Documentation

If you’ve attended any of my prior Autodesk University or MEP Force conference presentation, you may already have a copy of this documentation. However, I’d encourage you to use the version I’ve posted no this site. Not only did I add information for the CAMduct Components, Remote Entry, Tracker and Fab Review applications, I’ve also fixed some errors and typos in the prior existing data.

Stratus Dashboard Header Trick

Quick little Stratus tip. This on for headers on your Dashboards. A normal dashboard doesn’t have the ability to customize the header. However, being Stratus is a web based application, you can inject some simple HTML tags to perform some limited modifications.

Take a look at the following headers….

These headers are a result of inserting some very simple HTML tags. Here’s a look at the Report configuration for these header modifications…

Here’s an explanation of these HTML Tags…

HTML Tag(s)DescriptionUsage
<br>Break Line / Carriage ReturnPlace between text to create a
new line
<i> </i>Italics Text placed between these tags will be italic
<u> </u>UnderlineText placed between these tags will be underlined

A few things to note…

  • You can nest <i>Italics</i> and <u>underline</u> to transform text to <i><u>both</u></i>.
  • More complex HTML tags don’t work, there’s just too many special characters.
  • HTML tags may (will) show in other places like in the output of CSV files and/or other types of reports.

The usage of HTML tags in your Dashboard headers is likely not supported. If you find any errors within Stratus on pages that you’ve used these, you may want to remove them to verify the special characters aren’t the cause of your issues.

Autodesk Prior Version Access – A Bad Good Idea

Autodesk recently made a policy change to its prior version usage policy. Previously Autodesk’s policy was to allow customers current on subscription or maintenance to run the current release and the prior 3 versions. However this policy recently changed on November 2, 2020 to allow 5 prior versions.

You can read about that policy here.

One important thing to note however, is this change does NOT affect support. Autodesk Support will only help you with the 3 prior versions.

Because it was likely what customers wanted, it sounds like a good change . But it’s really bad news for the industry. The intent was to help customers who were not able to upgrade for some reason. But this change wasn’t needed to serve that purpose. Autodesk would (and did) grant exceptions from the “3 prior version” terms on an as-need basis. Whenever you needed an exception, just ask your reseller. They could then request an exception from your regional Autodesk rep.

Unintended Consequences

This change is bad because it’s one more reason customers can use to not upgrade. That’s not the purpose of the policy but it will be the result. Because most customers are now on subscription, the policy really doesn’t affect Autodesk’s revenue. As such, it was really not hard for them to do. You still have to be on a subscription plan.

When customer’s don’t upgrade, they don’t benefit from new features and functionality. In the case of MEP, Fabrication Parts are still relatively new to Revit. This means there are significant functionality improvements in newer versions. But because there’s not as many improvements for Architects, they may not upgrade. And because they lead on the project, MEP has no choice but to use the version the project team is on. This easily leads to a significant lost productivity and added cost for MEP contractors.

Policy Summary

VersionOld PolicyNew Policy
2021 (Current Version)Allowed / SupportedAllowed / Supported
2020 (1 Prior Version)Allowed / SupportedAllowed / Supported
2019 (2 Prior Version)Allowed / SupportedAllowed / Supported
2018 (3 Prior Versions)Allowed / SupportedAllowed / Supported
2017 (4 Prior Versions)Prohibited / No SupportAllowed / No Support
2016 (5 Prior Versions)Prohibited / No SupportAllowed / No Support
2015 (6 Prior Versions)Prohibited / No SupportProhibited / No Support

Renumber Revit Fab Parts – No Purchase or Coding Required

Most MEP contractors moving to Revit with Fabrication Parts at some point wrestle with renumbering parts. You can purchase tools or add-ins to make this easier or even write your own with Dynamo or C#.

But most contractors aren’t coders. And buying more software can also be a challenge. The good news is that those are not your only options, There’s some well written FREE Revit Add-Ins that make this a breeze.

Required Tools

Head over to DiRoot’s web site (https://diroots.com/) and download the OneFilter Add-In found here and the ReOrdering Add-In found here.

Once installed, you’ll find the tools in the DiRoots Ribbon in Revit along with any of their other tools you may have installed.

Getting Started

The following image shows 2 runs of Rectangular and 2 runs of Round duct work drawn in Revit using Fabrication Parts. One is drawn in a +2in WG service and the other -2in WG service. All duct has a tag configured to display the Fabrication Part’s Item Number property.

First Up – DiRoots OneFilter

Using the DiRoot’s OneFilter Add-In, you can easily select not just Fabrication Parts, but also select them based on their properties.

Once selected, you can see Revit selects the specified items in your model.

Next – DiRoots ReOrdering

Now that your desired parts are selected, you can use the DiRoots ReOrdering Add-In to renumber those parts.

After applying your renumbering parameters, you can see how Revit then displayed the updated Item Numbers for the Fabrication Parts.

Wrapup

As you can see, with a couple free (well written) utilities you can quickly and easily select and renumber your fabrication parts in Revit.

There’s a lot of other reasons beyond renumbering to use some of these Add-Ins. They’re very functional for a lot of workflows. Those uses are beyond the scope of this post but feel free to explore these Add-Ins or some of the other DiRoots tools when you get a chance. They’re some of the highest quality free Add-Ins for Revit than you’ll find anywhere.

SPOOL.INI Explained

Most (but not all) of the settings in SPOOL.INI relate to the SPOOLDWG command dialog. The following image maps those fields in the dialog with those found in the SPOOL.INI file.

Values and description are listed in the below table along with some additional notes as well as settings related to spooling but not part of the SPOOLDWG dialog.

Ref.SettingValueDescriptionNote
1SpoolNameAlpha/NumericName of Spool
3TemplatePath/Template NameName or Path & Name of AutoCAD Template for Spool Drawing.
9Status0 = Unchecked
1 = Checked
Set Status toggle in Spool Dialog.
8View0 = Plan
1 = SW Isometric
2 = SE Isometric
3 = NE Isometric
4 = NW Isometric
5 = None
Sets Spool drawing view type/orientation.
10StatusTypeStatus Index NumberIndex Number of the Status as defined in your database.
19Tags0 = Unchecked
1 = Checked
Set Display toggle in the Spool Dialog.
20Prompt0 = Unchecked
1 = Checked
Set Prompt for Position toggle in the Spool Dialog.
22Reorder0 = Unchecked
1 = Checked
Set Renumber toggle in the Spool Dialog.
4Set Colour0 = Unchecked
1 = Checked
Set Change Colour toggle in the Spool Dialog.
5Spool ColourRGB ValueRGB (Red Green Blue) color value of the last spool.

RGB Values are expressed as 3 integers, each between 0 and 255.

Use AutoCAD DDCOLOR command to determine color numbers & corresponding RGB values.
Note 1
11Report0 = Unchecked
1 = Checked
Set Report toggle in the Spool Dialog.
12ReportIndexIntegerZero based index as listed in the drop down list in the Spool Dialog.

e.g. 0 = 1st Report, 1 = second report, etc.
7ColourRangeComma separated Integer ListList of Integers separated by commas.

Represent the AutoCAD Color Index numbers (ACI) of the colors to cycle through for spool colors.

Use AutoCAD DDCOLOR command to determine color numbers.
Note 1
6Colour PosIntegerZero based index of color range for the last color used on a spool.
2SpoolPathFile PathFolder where created spool drawings are located.
n/aAuto Save0 = No
1 = Yes
If Spooling to separate DWG's instead of Layouts should spool drawings should be saved after they are created.
24Layout Tab0 = Unchecked
1 = Checked
Set Create in Layout Tab toggle in the Spool Dialog.
n/aMove Model0 = No
1 = Yes
Sets if the spool be moved to 0,0,0 when creating the spool DWG's.
26Create0 = Unchecked
1 = Checked
Set Create Spool on OK toggle in the Spool Dialog.
13Title Report0 = Unchecked
1 = Checked
Set Update Title with Report toggle in the Spool Dialog.
14TitleIndexIntegerZero based index as listed in the drop down list in the Spool Dialog.

e.g. 0 = 1st Report, 1 = second report, etc.
n/aIgnoreIDsComma separated Integer ListList of Integers separated by commas. Integers represent the Service Type Index.

Items with these Service Type Indices will not be renumbered or have their item number displayed in the Spool. (Exception: See RenumberIgnoreIds setting)
Note 2
25Select All0 = Unchecked
1 = Checked
Set Select All toggle in the Spool Dialog.
n/aRemove Section Level0 = No
1 = Yes
Controls moving the Spool to 0,0 (X,Y) if 1/Yes or 0,0,0 (X,Y,Z) if 0/No when the Move Modelsetting is set set to 1.
23SameNumber0 = Unchecked
1 = Checked
Set Same Number for Identical Parts toggle in the Spool Dialog.
21LockLeader0 = Unchecked
1 = Checked
Set Lock Leader toggle in the Spool Dialog.
n/aPrompt If Exists0 = No
1 = Yes
Prompts to overwrite existing Spool DWG if it already exists.
15Script0 = Unchecked
1 = Checked
Set Execute Script File toggle in the Spool Dialog.
16ScriptNameCOD Script File NameName of COD Script File to execute on the spool.

Script name should be the file name only and NOT include the ".COD" extension.

Script file must exist in the folder specified by SCRIPTS section of MAP.INI.
Note 3
17DataExport0 = Unchecked
1 = Checked
Set Export Item Data toggle in the Spool Dialog.
18DataExportNameIEX Report File NameName of IEX Data Export Report to run on the spool.

Report name should be the file name only and NOT include the ".IEX" extension.

Reports must exist in the proper product specific sub-folder under the reports folder specified by REPORTS section of MAP.INI.
Note 4
n/aUpdateJobNamewithSpoolName0 = No
1 = Yes
Updates the MAJ Job Name (Job Info) with the spool name prior to running any exports or reports.
n/aAddCOGMarker0 = No
1 = Yes
Calculates the Center of Gravity (COG) and inserts the COG Block (with attribute(s)) for the spool.
n/aShow3DText0 = No
1 = Yes
If showing annotations and the view is a 3d view, ensures that the database option is enabled to display in 3d. Note 5
n/aSpoolDimSnapsIntegerEnumeration (Bitwise) value for which OBject Snap Modes are set when using the SPOOLDWG command. Note 6
n/aRenumberIgnoreIds0 = No
1 = Yes
Renumbers the list of Ignored parts specified in the IgnoreIDs setting and stores the setting in the Alias field.

If the Alias already contains a value, the number will be appended to the value as a suffix.
n/aCloseDWG0 = No
1 = Yes
When spooling to separate DWG's instead of Layouts, will close the DWG after creation.
n/aRenumberMaster0 = No
1 = Yes
If renumbering, apply the new numbers to the Master DWG.

Note 1:

The DDCOLOR Command in AutoCAD can be used to determine ACI (AutoCAD Color Index) and/or RGB (Red Green Blue) values.


Note 2

Service Types can be found in the database editor. Use the Index Numbers in the Spool.ini settings.


Note 3

COD Scripts must be located in the folder specified by the MAP.INI file.

Type the command APPINFO in CADmep to display a dialog which will show where the Scripts should be located.


Note 4

IEX Data Export reports must be located in the software specific folder specified by the MAP.INI file. MAP.INI specifies the root folder for reports which are then found in a subfolder named based on the product using the reports. This makes knowing the exact reports folder a little difficult when looking in the MAP.INI file.

Tp more easily find the exact report folder, type the command APPINFO in CADmep to display a dialog which will show where the Scripts should be located.


Note 5

The database setting this option controls can be found in the database editor under Takeoff -> CAD Settings -> Annotation.


Note 6

To understand how bitcoded values work for the Snap modes, look up the OSMODE system variable in AutoCAD’s Help system.

COD Script Updates – 2020.07.08

I’ve made a couple updates to the Autodesk Fabrication script libraries. If you use them, you can download updated versions from here.

Scripts have been updated to include the Connector Material property found on CID/Patterns 522, 1522 & 2512 as shown below…

This property is intended to be used by a connector to specify a alternate material the connector can connect to. This allows a coupling to connect to alternate materials such as with transition couplings.

Credit for discovering the COD function to extract this property goes to Liz Fong at MacDonald Miller Facility Solutions in Seattle, WA.

Note: This property has also been added to the list of COD Item Properties located here.

Scripts Updated

  • Debug Scripts
    • Debug ITEM Connectors.cod
  • Job Item Scripts
    • WriteAllConnectors (Job).cod
    • WriteAll_Props (Job).cod
  • Library Item Scripts
    • WriteAllConnectors (Library).cod
    • WriteAll_Props (Library).cod

Move Your AutoCAD Workflow to BIM360

If you’d like to move you AutoCAD workflow to BIM360, you can now easily accomplish this. It’s really quite simple and requires a couple things….

First, you nee to install the Autodesk Desktop Connector. This adds a BIM360 Drive” to your computer much like OneDrive, Google Drive, Dropbox, etc. This BIM360 drive provides access to your BIM360 Projects that you’ve been granted access to from your BIM360 Administrator.

Once the Autodesk Desktop Connector is installed, you can access your BIM360 projects from this drive. You may need to login first to see your projects. You can do this by right-clicking on icon in the System Tray.

You can get the Autodesk Desktop Connector using this link.

Second, there’s a new utility called File Locking for Autodesk BIM360. This utility allows AutoCAD to “lock” the drawings you open on BIM360 so that no others can edit them at the same time.

You can download and install the File Locking for Autodesk BIM360 from the Autodesk App Store using this link.

When you now open a DWG from the BIM360 drive, BIM360 will lock the DWG and prevent others from editing it at the same time.

A final word….Once the File Locking utility is loaded, you can use the CloudCollabModifiedOption system variable to control how file locking is handled when you close the DWG in AutoCAD. Details here…

Autodesk Fabrication: Best Practice #13

Use “Match by Name only” in Database Settings

Do you have issues with duplicate entries in your Fabrication Database? These could be proxy entries…those followed by text enclosed within {brackets}. Or they could be identical..if someone made the proxy item permanent,

This can be caused by using the Strict matching setting in your database setting. It’s recommended to use Match by Name only.

When you use Strict naming, when you open drawings or MAJ files, the database settings within those files are compared to those in your configuration. If the data is deemed relevant and it varies, even something as small as a number 3 decimals vs. 4 decimals can add another entry into your configuration.

When using Match by Name only, as long as the name (and group) matches, the entry is considered the same and you don’t end up with duplicate entries.

MEP Fabrication Online Training

Not sure why Autodesk has this stuffed away under “Civil Engineering” but they’ve released 3 introduction online training sessions for Autodesk Fabrication. If you’re new to Autodesk Fabrication content creation, these will get you up and running with some of the basics.

Courses are…

  • Patterns and the Image
  • Create Product Lists
  • Connectors

You can access these them here…

https://customersuccess.autodesk.com/disciplines/civil/challenges/item-creation-for-fabrication

Fabrication Reference Data Updated for 2021 Versions

Autodesk Fabrication reference data has been updated to include 2021 versions of Autodesk Fabrication software.

Updated references include…

The only change I’ve found in from 2020 to 2021 versions is the CADmep command DWNLDC Command (DOWNLOADCONTENT Alias) is no longer present. This use to download ITM content from Autodesk’s www.Building3DContent.com site. This site is no longer active and Autodesk has included all the content within the default Imperial and Metric configurations that ship with Autodesk Fabrication Content.

User’s of Trimble’s Managed ITM Content (building-data.net) use to use this command as well. It was just redirected to the Building Data site. It’s unclear how this change will affect them as the core DLL’s used for this process appear to have been removed in 2021 versions of Autodesk Fabrication.

If you’re a user of Trimble’s Building-Data, I’d suggest contacting them for support if you have issues.