Merging Autodesk Fabrication Databases (Method 2 of 4)

Warning: This is Part 2 of a 4 part series on merging Autodesk Fabrication Databases. Autodesk Fabrication software is extremely powerful and flexible but that also makes it very fragile. Use the below guidance with caution. I highly recommend backing up your configuration before attempting anything I’ve recommended. It never hurts to have a firm grasp of how Autodesk Fabrication functions from an administrative perspective. Consider yourself warned!

Method 2: ITM’s as Proxy

Another method of transferring data from one database to another is by using ITM’s. Simpy take an existing ITM or make a new one and set some of it’s properties to those you want to transfer. After you’ve completed this, copy the ITM to your desired database.

In your desired database, right-click on the newly copied ITM from the Folders view and select Edit or Properties as shown below.

Once the Edit Item or Item Properties dialogs are displayed, you can simply close them. The only purpose in calling them up was to force Fabrication to read all of their settings which in turn causes them to be created as Proxy entries in your database if they don’t already exist.

Once the database entries are in your new database, you’ll want to navigate to those database entries and make the proxy items permanent as shown below.

Pros:
> Every property an ITM uses is supported.
> Dependent database entries supported (e.g. Fixings on a Support)
Cons:
> Can bring in more properties than you want which need to be cleaned.
> Time consuming for large property sets as multiple ITM’s required.
> Proxy items must be manually made permanent afterward

Stay tuned for Method 3 of 4 in my next post.

Merging Autodesk Fabrication Databases (Method 1 of 4)

Warning: This is Part 1 of a 4 part series on merging Autodesk Fabrication Databases. Autodesk Fabrication software is extremely powerful and flexible but that also makes it very fragile. Use the below guidance with caution. I highly recommend backing up your configuration before attempting anything I’ve recommended. It never hurts to have a firm grasp of how Autodesk Fabrication functions from an administrative perspective. Consider yourself warned!

Preface

You shouldn’t find yourself merging parts of different Fabrication databases very often. If you do, you may want to revisit your database management workflow and practices.

However there are a number of legitimate reasons you may do it. Most common is the database you’re using now isn’t the one you used a few years ago because you started over. It’s common for a Fabrication database to be a mess. They’re hard to learn and understand and while you learn, you do a little damage unknowingly. Maybe it’s turnover of the staff managing your configuration. Each new person will say they know how to manage Fabrication and what you’re doing is wrong. So they fix it. In the end, you end up with a mix of database management “Styles”.

And last but not least, it’s because trades men and women manage your data. Don’t get me wrong. Your trade staff are hands down the most qualified to manage an Autodesk Fabrication configuration. This is why the task gets assigned to them. But ultimately, what do companies “want” them to do? Detailing and modeling….run piping, plumbing, sheet metal, electrical, etc. Management more often than not pushes them to get back to modeling because management really doesn’t understand the importance of a good database. This leads to shortcuts and mismanagement through no fault of those doing the work. They’re doing the best they can given the constraints their under.

Whatever the reason, if you need to merge parts of different Fabrication Database configurations together, I’ll explain four different methods in the coming posts.

Method 1: Importing / Exporting Database Items

Export/Import Database is the most commonly used method. It’s also the most widely know. In 2014 and earlier versions, many of these were separate commands for each part of the database. In the 2015 version, they were wrapped up in a single command. This process allows you to export and import the following items…

AirturnsInsulation SpecificationsSplitters
Ancillaries (except Kits)Installation TimesStiffeners
ConnectorsSeamsSupplier Costs
DampersSectionsSupports
Fabrication TimesSpecifications

To initiate the Export process, type DBEXPORT at the command line in CADmep. In CAMduct or ESTmep, select File -> Export -> Database Export from the menu as shown below…

Once you start the command the Database Export dialog is displayed. You can switch tabs and select various database entries to export.

Once you’ve selected the items you wish to export, click OK and save the export file.

This *.IOX file contains everything you selected for export. You can then use this file to import those settings into another database configuration. The process for importing is very similar. Type DBIMPORT at the command line in CADmep or pick File -> Import -> Database Import in ESTmep or CAMduct from the menu shown below…

Upon initiating the command, you’re prompted to select an *.IOX file for import. Select the file you wish to import and click OK.

After selecting the file, you are presented with a dialog just like the Export dialog. In this one, you can navigate the various tabs and select what you would like to import.

There is no good way to see what’s available for import without checking all of the tabs. Only items included for export will be displayed. You can pick and choose to import some or all of the items that were in the export file.

If an item you are importing already exists, you can choose to Skip, Duplicate or Overwrite the item. A word of caution, if your configuration has not been managed well, be very careful selecting the Apply to All button. There are times when the items Fabrication thinks are duplicate are indeed different items. This can be due to database corruption or misaligned indexes or any number of other reasons. If you’re concerned, select Apply for each item one at a time to verify the duplicates aren’t unexpected.

Pros:
> Easy to use
> Most common items supported
> Dependent items (e.g. Ancillaries attached to a Support) are included even though they are not displayed.
Cons:
> Not all database areas supported (e.g. Materials, Ancillary Kits, Notches, etc.)

Stay tuned for Method 2 in my next post.

COD Script Updates – 2019.11.10

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

Scripts Updated

  • Job Items
    • All Scripts updated to now include the Item Number which makes it easier to track back report entries to ITM’s in your job.
    • Fix a couple syntax issues in a few scripts which caused errors.
  • Revit Support Report
    • Added Reporting on Revit 2020 status
    • Changed CID/Pattern # 1175 from NO to YES.

Known Issues

End Location properties appear to be crashing 2020.1 Versions of Fabrication. Other versions may/may not crash as well.

COD Script Updates – Part 2

I didn’t plan up updating scripts again so soon but I found a couple more undocumented properties. I thought I’d post them sooner rather than later.

The two ITM properties I found are “BOX” and “E-Tag“.

BOX is only visible from CAMduct. It’s intended purpose appears to be for specifying a “Box” for the ITM in question for shipping purposes but you could use it or anything. Despite it being visible only in CAMduct, using COD Scripts, you can read and write it from ESTmep or CADmep too.

E-TAG is visible from any of the Fabrication products. It’s used for Equipment Tags. You can see both properties from here if in CAMduct or only E-Tag is ESTmep or CADmep.

Scripts Updated

  • All Debug Scripts – Nothing major, just formatting in the comments section.
  • WriteAll_Props (Job).cod – Updated to support BOX & E-TAG properties.
  • WriteAll_Props (Library).cod – Updated to support BOX & E-TAG properties.

Scripts Added

  • Debug ITEM Box.cod
  • Debug ITEM E-Tag.cod
  • WriteAllBox (Job).cod
  • WriteAllETag (Job).cod
  • WriteAllBox (Library).cod
  • WriteAllETag (Library).cod

You can download the *current* versions here.

Scripting property reference has also been updated here.

COD Script Updates

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

Scripts Updated

  • Debug
    • Debug ITEM Library.cod
    • Debug ITEM Sealant.cod
  • Job Items
    • WriteAllLibrary (Job).cod
    • WriteAllSealant (Job).cod
    • WriteAll_Props (Job).cod
  • Library Items
    • WriteAllLibraries (Library).cod
    • WriteAllSealant (Library).cod
    • WriteAll_Props (Library).cod

Issues Corrected

Issue 1: Scripts accessing the “Library” property were failing on CID/Pattern 2199. Scripts have been updated to watch for this and report it as an ‘Unknown‘ Library.

Issue 2: Some CID/Patterns can be configured to be pipework or duct work depending on the “Pipework” option’s “Yes/No” status. Scripts were updated to properly report or ignore this property depending on the Sealant value being present.

If the option is set to “Yes“, the pattern is a pipework item. If set to “No”, the pattern is a sheet metal item. Sheet metal items contain the “Sealant” property where as Pipework items do not.

This condition is present in the following CID/Patterns…

149838 902110112381239
12401241124212471248

Special thanks to Kyle Speropoulos of MMC Contractors in Kansas City for alerting me to this issue.

VDC CAD – Beta CADmep Addin

Steven Micaletti recently started an Autodesk Fabrication Development related blog…https://miclogic.home.blog/.

One of the things recently posted are Beta versions on his CADmep tools for CADmep 2019 and 2020. You can get them here…https://miclogic.home.blog/2019/05/05/vdc-cad-beta/

There’s a nice Item Property Palette…

There’s also several other tools that look very intuitive to use in a Ribbon Panel…

They include tools for…

  • Item Properties
  • Number Items
  • Selection Tools
  • Packaging Tools
  • Tag Tools
  • Hanger Tools
  • Item Colors
  • Settings
  • Touch Screen Cancel

Download them and kick the tires. I’m sure he’d love to get your feedback.

Fabrication 2020 Resources Updated

Resource information for Autodesk Fabrication has been updated. They now include information on the 2020 version of CADmep, ESTmep and CAMduct. In short, nothing has changed.

The FabViewer Command Reference did have one new command added. However, this was not new to the 2020 version. The CADmep 2019.1 update added a command which was missed previously.

Pages that were updated are the following…

Autodesk Fabrication 2020 Installer Issues

If you use network licenses or create network deployments of CADmep, CAMduct or ESTmep you may encounter errors. Autodesk incorrectly pathed the Network License Manager files in the SETUP.INI files.

Even if you are using Stand Alone or User Based Subscription licenses but build Network Deployments, if you configure the deployment to include all components in the deployment (recommended if you plan on modifying the deployment later) you can encounter errors.

To correct the errors, you can replace the SETUP.INI files that are part of the installation with the ones provided in the following ZIP file…

Before you overwrite your installation’s SETUP.INI file, it’s a good idea to backup the original. The root of my installation folder looks like this…

At some point, I would expect Autodesk will update their download data and provide the proper files. Because of this, I would highly recommend NOT replacing the SETUP.INI files unless you encounter issues.

What’s Different?

If you’re curious what’s different between the two, you can open the INI files in Notepad or other text editor and view them there.

The original file contains this at the end of one of the entries…

Third-Party Component Open Source EULAs:x64\en-US\Tools\NLM.msi

The new SETUP.INI files have updated it to this…

Third-Party Component Open Source EULAs:x86\AdskLicensing\NLM\x64\NLM.msi

Disabled Material & Specification in Revit Fabrication Parts

Fabrication Parts in Revit don’t always allow editing of their Material or Specification properties. Look at the below side by side images. Revit’s properties can be seen grayed out on the left but those on the right are not.

Material & Specification Properties – Left Read Only, Right = Read/Write

Revit can obscure the reason for this because you have no access to edit your Fabrication Database within the Revit environment. The answer however is quite simple.

Fabrication Parts with the “BoughtOut” property set do not allow editing of Material or Specification. After all, a bought item is typically static and can’t be easily changed. Non-BoughtOut items do allow editing of the Material and Specification properties.

The following is another side by side image of Fabrication Part properties. The properties on the left have the BoughtOut property set. The properties on the right do not have the BoughtOut flag set. While not accessible from Revit, any of the other Autodesk Fabrication products can display and edit the BoughtOut property.

BoughtOut Property / Left = Set, Right = Not Set