Autodesk Fabrication: Best Practice #4

Make sure ALL of your ITM content has a Database ID assigned to it.

A database ID is a unique identifier for content. There should be a single Database ID for any ITM that is NOT Product Listed. For Product Listed ITM’s, there should be Database ID for each entry in the product list.

For ITM’s that are not product listed (typically fabricated sheet metal fittings or other content where the ITM only represents one size, you can put the Database ID in the “Code” field of the ITM Properties as shown in the following image…

For ITM’s that are Product Listed, the Database ID should be in the ID column of the Product List. When you place an instance of a product listed ITM in your model, you select a size from the product list, When you select that size, the Database ID associated with that size it automatically entered into the Code field of the ITM Properties like shown earlier, The following image shows the Database ID column in a Product List…


Why Use A Database ID?

The Database ID is a useful component to managing an Autodesk Fabrication configuration. This Database ID can be referenced by other aspects of Autodesk Fabrication should you choose to use them. The Database ID is what can link your content to….

  • Price lists
  • Fabrication Labor
  • Installation Labor
  • Product Information (ProdInfo)

Even if you don’t use ESTmep for estimating  and don’t want to use the Price and/or Labor features of the database, Product Information is tied to the Database ID and is used to store additional meta data about your content like Manufacturer, Size, Description, etc. Even if you’re not using ProdInfo now, it’s still a good idea to use Database ID’s because adding them to the content is the most time consuming part. It’s easy to add them when building content, more cumbersome later after the fact. If all your content had Database ID’s assigned, it’s much easier to implement ProdInfo, Price and/or Labor later down the road.

The following Video shows how to access the Database ID of Product Listed and Non-Product Listed ITM’s. It also shows you 2 different sizes of a product listed ITM in a drawing and how Autodesk Fabrication automatically assigned the Database ID from the Product List for the corresponding size into the Code field of the ITM Properties.


Key Database ID Takeaways

Here’s a few pointers when working with Database ID’s:

  • Each Database ID should be unique and not assigned to other content or sizes.
  • Managing Database ID’s using a spreadsheet or other database makes managing them much easier.
  • Your database ID can be anything you want but should have some sort of naming standard associated with it.
  • Your Database ID Naming standard can be as simple as a prefix followed by incremental numbers to something complex with special codes and formatting to indicate other aspects of your content. (e.g. Valves, Pipe, Sheetmetal, etc)
  • You can use Autodesk or other Vendors ID’s if they already have them assigned and use your for anything you create or replace them all with your own company Database ID’s if you are particular about naming standards,
  • Don’t reuse ID’s if the content that once used them is now obsolete. Legacy/Archive drawings still reference these numbers. Simply flag them as being obsolete in the Spreadsheet you are managing them with.

Autodesk Fabrication: Best Practice #1

Don’t use Double Quotes ( ” )….Ever.

An Autodesk Fabrication Configuration contains a lot of information. One of the best tools for managing, sorting, filtering and maintaining lots of information is Microsoft Excel. There are some functions in Fabrication that export information into CSV format. Commands like SYSSCRREPORT in CADmep. You may even have some scripts or API code that exports data to a CSV.

When Double Quotes are used, this can and does often confuse Excel into thinking that it’s a separator between multiple pieces of Text and it can shift the data in some rows to different columns.

If you use feet-inch format/units and like the look of double quotes for inch marks, an easy workaround is to use 2 single quotes ( ” ) as opposed to a single double quote ( ” ). When using 2 Single Quotes, it’s hardly noticeable even when looking for it like in this text. Try selecting the text sand you’ll see they are indeed different.

While this rule should be adhered to anywhere in the fabrication database, there’s 4 primary areas where it’s most likely to cause you grief.


Database Entries – Materials, Specification, Connectors, Seams, Airturns, Ancillaries, etc.


Folder and ITM Names – While a perfectly valid character in Windows for files and folders, it’s not a good idea when using Autodesk Fabrication.


Product List Names – One of the most common areas to see the inch mark.


Product Information Editor – Another common location where you’re tempted to add double quotes. It’s common for people to maintain this data in Excel in the first place so it’ll be really easy to do a global search and replace to fix it.


In future posts, I’ll share some processes and scripts that can be affected by using Double Quotes. Until then, just trust that it’s a bad idea.