Data Extraction: Exploring the Features and Benefits of AutoCAD


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Simply, data extraction is the ability to extract data from objects in your drawing or multiple drawings. Data extraction in AutoCAD enables you to streamline the process of “counting stuff” by reducing the manual counting and entering of table data. The extracted data can then be linked to a table in your drawing, or external files. AutoCAD provides a Data Extraction Wizard that controls the extraction of that data. In addition to the ability to extract drawing data, the Wizard also enables you to combine drawing data with external data such as information from an Excel spreadsheet.

Extracting and linking data enables different branches within your organization to work from a single data source, diminishing the chance for errors and guaranteeing that the information displayed is current.


Schedule Tables Using Extracted Data From Drawing Objects

Extracting Drawing Data

The Data Extraction Wizard is where you extract data from your drawing. It’s a very easy and intuitive feature that steps you through the extraction process. It’s designed to take you step-by-step through selecting the data you want to extract. You will most likely use the Data Extraction Wizard to create a table from blocks that contain attribute data you’d use to create things like bills of materials, schedules, or tabulations of quantities. However, the Data Extraction Wizard can be used for any kind of AutoCAD data (including lines, polylines, etc.). For example, you could use the Data Extraction Wizard to measure the total length of walls from specific objects on a specific layer.


Data Extraction Wizard With Blocks


Data Extraction Wizard With Lines and Polylines

Using External Data With the Data Extraction Wizard

One of the steps of the Wizard allows you to link external data (such as a spreadsheet) and incorporate it into your table. The only stipulation is that you have a data matching column in the external file to match a column from your drawing data. Notice in the image below you can also add a formula column that will calculate your totals for you, and a sum footer that will add the totals for you (talk about time saving!).


External Linked Data Incorporated

Outputting Extracted Data

Once you have extracted the data, it is simply a matter of outputting it. The two options available are a linked table in your drawing, or an external file such as a spreadsheet or text file. The great thing about placing the table in your drawing is that if any changes are made to the data in the drawing or the data in the external file, you’ll be notified of the update, and your table will now update to reflect the changes.

Data Extraction Output Options

Summary of Data Extraction in AutoCAD

Let’s take a step back and think about what the data extraction functionality is doing for us. Without it, to create the necessary tables you would have to do the following:
1. Manually count the items you want to tabulate (and write them on a piece of paper)
2. Manually look up each of the attributes of each item (and write them on a piece of paper)
3. Manually open up the external file and make note of the data you need to link your drawing data with (and, yep, that’s right, write it on a piece of paper)
4. Manually create a table and enter each item into each table cell
5. Moreover, if your design changes, you need to manually change the table

So, as you can plainly see, data extraction is not only a HUGE time saver, but a great automation tool.

More on Data Extraction



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