CADmep, ESTmep and CAMduct all use the concept of an Attacher. This is what tells Fabrication which way to route elbows and branches.
Most people know how to place and rotate the Attacher. There are a few other tricks to working with the Attacher that you may not know about.
Up or Down, How to Get Around
Depending on your view orientation, you may notice part of the Attacher turns from Red to Blue or Green. As you rotate the Attacher it’s color will change to indicate the direction the arrow is pointing.
Green = Grass (Attacher is pointing away from you)
Blue = Sky (Attacher is pointing toward you)
Depending oh which program you’re in (CADmep, ESTmep or CAMduct) and the keys you press, the Attacher rotates differently. Here’s a chart explaining those nuances.
Here’s another simple Attacher tip for Fabrication products. If you hold down the Shift key while clicking on the Attacher arrow in CADmep, ESTmep or CAMduct,. the arrow rotates the opposite direction.
Sometimes the best tips are the simplest. They can often be forgotten about or never learned because of that. Here’s a reminder for those that may not know or have forgotten…
In CADmep, or the 3d viewer of ESTmep or CAMduct, you can hold the Control key while clicking the attacher arrow to rotate the arrow 180 degrees. The below screen recordings are both done from CAMduct but ESTmep or CADmep work just the same.
Over the years, I’ve written a number of scripts helpful for managing an Autodesk Fabrication configuration. I’ve given them away in my Autodesk University session I’ve taught so they’ve circulated around a bit.
I’ve rewritten most, streamlined them, made enhancements, added others, etc, etc. Because I’m always updating and changing them, I thought I’d host them here too. I can then just post when I update them.
There’s are 2 sets of scripts covering the following topics…
Debugging Properties Scripts
Job Item Scripts
Library Item Scripts
One set is for use in 2019.0 and earlier versions (but work in any version), the others are designed for 2019.1 and later when Autodesk added support for the Pattern Number property.
You can get to the scripts from the menu or click here. The scripts are free to use for all except employees of ENGworks or anyone working on the behalf of ENGworks. (contractors, consultants, etc.) who are prohibited from use.
When you build content, it’s often desirable to have certain dimensions or options locked. This even applies to connectors, seams and dampers but to a lesser degree.
If you have a lot of Dimensions and/or Options to Lock or Unlock, you don’t have to individually pick each one. You can lock or unlock many very quickly provided they’re in a row.
The trick is simple….pick the button to lock/unlock the first field you want to change, and then while still holding the pick button drag your mouse up or down. This is a fast an efficient way to lock large groups of properties without picking each one.
The following recording shows this process. We’re using Pattern Number (CID) 910 as our example.
It’s sometimes easy to miss new things. This is why I want to point out something that was added in 2015. CADmep now has an APPHELP command. You can typeÂ APPHELPÂ at the command prompt to bring up CADmep’s help system.
If you’re online, the help is pulled from Autodesk’s web site from the following URLs…
Only One Concurrent Database Administrator at a Time.
If you use a shared database (such as on a network location), you’ll want to lock down who can edit the database and restrict that to a single concurrent user. Many areas of the Autodesk Fabrication database are large tables. If two or more users have the ability to edit those tables at the same time, you’re asking for problems. That is, the last user to edit the database wins and the other looses their changes.
Here’s how that happens….
User A logs in with full administrative permissions. User B then logs in with full administrative permissions.
At this point, both users are on the same page because they both loaded the database into the computer’s memory.
Now lets say, User A creates some new materials and connectors for some content they are building. At the same time, User B creates a new service and exits.
User B now has their new service written to the database on the server. That’s good. But User A doesn’t have those changes, they opened the database before those changes were made. When User A exits the database, what’s in memory on their computer gets written back. This is their new connectors and materials, but also the original list of Services without User B’s changes.
For this reason, it’s a good idea to create a separate user account used only for Database Administration work and limit it to a single concurrent user. To do this, use the “Configure Users” program that comes with all of the Fabrication products. The following image shows the setting that allows a single concurrent user and all the settings this account could (should) have.
Now if you look closely, you may notice I typically have a couple other Admin accounts in there. Once users are setup, you typically don’t need to mess with them again so I create a separate account only for this purpose but you wouldn’t have to, it could be combined with the “DatabaseAdmin” account.. This is the “UserAdmin” account shown in the image. I also restrict this to a single concurrent user and guard it’s password to only a few select people who really understand how the Fabrication Database works.
For every rule, there’s an exception and you’ll also see a “ReportAdmin” account. This account is NOT restricted to a single concurrent users and here’s why…
When you edit most database settings, you’re editing a large database table with lots of entries. When you edit a report, you’re editing a single file for that report only. The chances that two or more people will edit the same report at the same time is very small. This means multiple users can create multiple reports at the same time and each will save to their own file.
Much like Reports, content (ITM files) are separate file based and will most likely not have more than one person editing the same ITM at the same time. This means you could also create a separate “ContentAdmin” account that lets you setup and delete folders only (no other permissions). Alternatively, you could combine both of the Report and Content accounts into a single “PowerUser” account that does both like in the following image…
Using a less restricted account like this allows more people to create Reports or Content without creating a bottleneck in your workflow. Those creating ITM’s won’t be able to create new connectors or materials or other settings, but they can make new ITM’s that point to existing database entries. This will help you scale your content building activities when you get a last minute request for a large library of pipe fittings. Your primary database admin will use the restricted “DatabaseAdmin” account to create the needed materials and connectors, and you can then have a large number of users making ITM’s using the “PowerUser” account in a safe manner,
Based on a lot of years experience, I’ve been told many times by people that they are careful to not have two or more people go in at the same time and don’t need to restrict their accounts. But I can also tell you, the more I make sure it can’t happen with these restrictions instead of letting them assure me it doesn’t happen because they’re “careful”, the less “unexplained” problems and corruption I see.
This warrants a little explanation. Many companies have multiple locations and need to sync Fabrication configurations between those sites. Other companies have their Fabrication configuration copied locally to the users system from a central network location.
To keep from having to manually keep different sites or local computers up to date, it’s natural to look so some of the many technology solutions like Microsoft’s One Drive, Box.net, Dropbox, Google Drive, DFS Replication etc.
Here’s the problem….most of these solutions sync files in their own order and time frame. You often can’t control when they sync. When using CADmep, ESTmep or CAMduct, just using the software can cause the program to read back from the database files. Many of the database files reference each other using indexes. Take for example, the Specifications and Materials….both of those database areas refer to each other.
When changes are made, what happens is the files get updated where you make the changes, but the two files that get changed, may sync somewhere else at different times. As you’re using the software, if it happens to reread some of the database files when some are sync’d and others aren’t, this can cause unspecified problems.
One of the more common issues is when a system you’ve drawn changes to a completely different system. Have you ever had a Cast Iron No-Hub waste line all of the sudden day it’s Supply Air 2″ Positing Water Gauge? This is our of sync syncing issues is often the result.
How do you work around this? Try to find sync solutions that allow more control, like after hours sync. I personally like an old batch file running RoboCopy as it allows a lot of control and I can have it fire up when the user logs on. They can also manually run it during the day if I push our a critical update otherwise the get the update tomorrow when they log in. When syncing servers from different sites, I schedule it to run after hours.
This issue is most common w/CADmep, ESTmep and CAMduct. Because Revit loads and stores your services, it doesn’t read back to the database unless you explicitly tell it to reload the services so it’s risk is greatly reduced to the point where I wouldn’t worry about it.
Now, there are people that are doing local Sync’s in real time. My prior firm, we had some…let say…”creative folks” who would take liberties with the database if they knew it was local. As such, I used Windows OffLine Files to sync a local copy but make it look like it’s still on line. This is a Sync’d local copy and goes against what I recommend above. However, we forced it to rescan frequently so when there were changes, they were small, just a few files and they’d sync quickly about the same time. Larger changes involving a lot of files can open up your risk window to having issues.
If you’re going to use life syncing utilities, proceed carefully and watch for unexplained issues. Making large changes after hours and smaller changing during working hours can help.
And if you’re considering using Window’s Offline Files, prepare for a long learning curve and experiment with yourself first. Offline Files have little control from the User Interface and is best managed with Group Policy.
If you’re an AutoLISP programmer and use Autodesk Fabrication CADmep, you most likely know that there’s a COD Scripting language in Autodesk Fabrication that provides read and/or write access to CADmep properties. The problem with COD Scripts, is that sometimes they’re not powerful enough to do all of the other things you’d like to do and you may want to use AutoLISP.
What you may not know is that you can access the vast majority of CADmep properties from AutoLISP. To so this, you need to configure CADmep’s List Setup dialog which will provide a light weight but similar interface to what you see when you build reports in Autodesk Fabrication.
To access List Setup, right-click in an open area or the drawing editor and then select “CADmep” -> “Setup” -> “List Setup” from the menu.
Configuring List Setup will provide access to the configured properties via DXF codes which are one of the most common ways of accessing object properties in AutoLISP. (You can also access these same DXF based properties via VBA, ARX or .Net)
The following image shows the List Setup dialog before (left) and after (right) being configured. Simply add the properties you want to extract in the order you want them.
Once you’ve configured the properties you want, a simple call to the (ENTGET) function in AutoLISP will return the data you’re looking for. You can see in the following image, that we’ve saved the DXF data to two different variables in the VisualLISP editor. The listsetup-blank variable (left) was done before configuration and the listsetup-config variable (right) was done after the configuration of List Setup.
The code used to extract the data is the following….
Because the VisualLISP editor does not word wrap it’s results, you can use the Inspect
Now, there are a few things to know about this method….
All CADmep properties show up in DXF Group Code 300. If you are returning multiple properties, you’ll have multiple 300 codes to parse through.
The order the properties are configured in List Setup is the order the properties will appear when returned in AutoLISP. There really is no other foolproof way of knowing which codes are which properties (unless obvious by their value) without knowing the order List Setup was configured.
If you later change the properties or their order, you’ll likely break your existing code. Think carefully about what you may want later and add it from the start even if you don’t want it at this time. If you need to add properties later, simply add them to the end of the list.
This method works well for reading Fabrication properties. It doesn’t allow you to set them using functions like “(ENTMOD)” or “(ENTUPD)“