I'd like to enhance my use of AutoCAD at work and automate some of the repetitive tasks I currently do. I was looking for some help / product advice for setting up a template that could prompt me for a certain amount of input and / or directly grab info from an excel document?
First of all, I would like to automatically reference / import customer info (name, address, phone number, APN, etc.) from an excel document in the same folder as my CAD file.
From that same excel document, I'd like to reference design related parameters such as the type and quantity of equipment.
Currently, I have all that info in an excel documents, salesforce, and elsewhere, but am manually entering it into my CAD file double clicking various blocks and MTEXT fields.
I'd like to setup a cad template with links that pick up certain text and numerical data from specific excel fields.
Example: Let's say a project is going to use 24 Sharp 170 Solar Panels
So lets say I have an excel document that contains basic project information and looks like this.
D SHARP 170
D JANE DOE
E 1234 KESTREL STREET
F SAN JOSE, CA 95014
In my CAD file, I currently need to manually enter this information into various locations using mtext and within certain defined blocks
For instance, while the customer name and address are referenced onto every sheet from the title block (which is actually an xref to a separate title block DWG) I also have another block on the first page that contains the customer information name, address, phone, etc.
is it possible to setup a template so that every spot within the CAD file where the customer name (for example) should go could be filled from a cell in my excel document (D1 in my above example)?
The first three numbers in my example are:
A1 - number of panels
B1 - number of strings
C1 - number of panels per string
Similar to the customer info, I would like to plug this "2 strings of 12 sharp 170" project data into those places in my CAD file where I am currently entering it manually.
There are blocks in the cad file that I would want to populate from specific fields within the excel document. I'd also like to drop those numbers into an mtext project description on the first sheet.
Further automating my CAD environment, I'd like to be able to trigger a number of actions from either being prompted for user input, or "seeing" the trigger data in the excel document
For instance, based on D1, Sharp 170, I would like to be able to automatically pick a "sharp 170" block from my library and drop that into the model space. I would like to automatically turn on a "Sharp 170" layer in my template which would make visible my sharp 170 data sheets which are referenced jpegs on that layer..
I'm currently working with AutoCAD 2004, but management is considering an upgrade to AutoCAD 2008 LT. Is this a good or bad move considering my hopes of automating a lot of the data entry? I would consider built in autodesk functionality, an addon program, a plugin, or any other way of improving my productivity and minimizing the repetitive mindless double click / data entry. I was hired to be a "system designer" not a data entry clerk!
What options would you recommend I look into to setup this type of AutoCAD to excel linking and possibly help me build an interactive template that could prompt for input and set up some things I've mentioned based on my input? I saw dotsoft has xl2cad and autocell and CadTool makes Office2CAD but neither seems like it would do quite what I'm after here.
thanks in advance for any help you can offer..