Understanding AutoCAD Electrical’s Project Manager

Posted on November 15, 2017 by Synergis’ Application Consultant, Todd Schmoock

Understanding AutoCAD Electrical’s Project Manager can make the difference in how successful you are when working in AutoCAD Electrical.  In standard AutoCAD each drawing is a stand-alone file, but in AutoCAD Electrical they are grouped together in a project.  The project knows how many drawings it has linked to it, and the drawings can be linked to each other.  These links can be through wires or symbols.  The project manager is used to keep track of the projects, and the drawing inside them.

Project Manager Basics:

You can have several projects listed in the project manager, but only one project is active at a time.  The project at the top of the list is the active project.  All the projects below the active project are listed alphabetically.  If you need to activate one of the other projects shown in the project manager you should right-click on the project, and select Activate.  This will move the project to the top of the list.  You can create new projects, activate existing projects, and close projects when you are finished with them.  When revisions are required you can open an existing project to make it active.  Besides the active project being at the top it is also displayed in bold characters to make it stand out.  It’s important to remember that only one project can be active at a time because when you run project-wide updates it will be done on the active project.  So, if you open a drawing from a non-active project and decide to run an update you could be running the update on the wrong project.  The project manager is there to help you keep track of the projects you are working on, and which one is active so always pay close attention to it.

Working with the drawings listed in the project manager:

AutoCAD Electrical is a multi-drawing interface which means you can have drawings open that are not from the active project.  If you are working on a drawing the active drawing will be bold in the list to help you remember which one you are working on.  Just like project-wide updates there are drawing-wide updates so keeping track of what drawing you are working on, and that it is in the active project is a good way to work.  It’s not a good practice to have too many drawings open in standard AutoCAD, and it’s even more important not to have too many drawings open in AutoCAD Electrical.

To add existing drawings to a project you right-click on the project and select Add Drawings…, or Add Active Drawing.  The Add Drawings… option allows you to add more than one drawing to the project at the same time.  Also, there is a tool called New Drawing that will add the drawing to the project automatically.

You can add subfolders to the project list by right-clicking on the project and selecting Add Subfolder.  This adds a folder to the project manager list, but does not create it in the Windows folder.  This option is just to help you organize the drawings in the project manager.

To reorder drawings simple drag them to the correct location.  AutoCAD Electrical starts at the top of the list and reads down so the first drawing is sheet one, second is sheet two, and so forth.  Once they are in the correct location you can run the Project-Wide Update/Retag tool to update the drawing number property.

Project and Drawing Options in the Project Manager:

By right-clicking on the project you will get a list of options/tools to use.  Right-clicking on a drawing gives a list of options/tools to use.  The project and drawing both have a properties option to choose.  These properties allow you to setup how you want a drawing to update when using the project-wide and drawing-wide tools.  The drawing properties will take precedence over the project properties.  When possible keep the project and drawing properties the same, but if a drawing needs to look different from the others you can change those properties as required.

Managing your projects and the drawings inside them is one of the most important aspects of AutoCAD Electrical so getting a good working knowledge of the project manager could be the most important part of learning AutoCAD Electrical.  Take the time to create new projects and drawings from scratch.  Experiment with the project and drawing properties.  Organize the drawings in the project the way you want them, and create subfolders with drawings in them.  Keep practicing until you feel you have a good understanding of how the project manager works.  You can learn the tools later, but if you can’t manage your projects and the drawings inside them you will be constantly struggling with AutoCAD Electrical until you do.

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