Collaborating in AutoCAD with Specialized Toolsets

by Tanya Paz on June 05, 2019

Collaboration among team members is critical to the success of any project. From avoiding conflicts between building systems, to sharing finish specifications, effective communication and coordination is a requisite for all teams. AutoCAD now includes industry specific toolsets to support the needs of specialized workflows. For Architects, the toolset streamlines design and documentation through a variety of features. Scroll down to learn how the Architecture Toolset supports the following topics: 


  1. Compiling and managing drawings received from different stakeholders and consultants.
  2. Reviewing drawings and models with integrated graphic features.
  3. Overlaying, comparing, and annotating drawings. 
  4. Setting-up an efficient workflow with dedicated views and sheets for coordination.
  5. Communicating with internal and external team members.




Layer Key Style Dialogue Box


Topic #1: Compiling and managing drawings received from different stakeholders and consultants

Architects continually synthesize information received from different stakeholders. The AutoCAD Architecture toolset supports organizing and viewing external references both in CAD and rasterized (image) formats. Establishing standards for handling external data early in the project will streamline workflows and support model stability. Use the Architecture toolset to:  


Load, re-load, and control External Reference Visibility without removing references.


Manage External References through Layers

Layers can be used to organize external references and data within drawings. The layer manager however can also help clean up drawings by filtering content from multiple authors. Consider the following uses for these additional layer manager tools:


Control large External References using Demand Loading.

Large, poorly formatted references can slow down a model. Control the performance of your file with Architecture toolset features to keep your model running smoothly. For instance, use Demand Loading and turn on and off external references with the External References Palette. This is especially helpful if using a computer or mobile device with limited memory.


Importing Image Data:

For Rasterized Data (often image files, such as jpegs), consider downloading the Raster Design toolset available here.




Learn more about using the Architecture toolset Display themes to change object graphics


Topic #2: Reviewing drawings and models with integrated graphic features

Did you know you can make all your plumbing consultants content blue, and all your rated walls red? Color code references and objects using different filters and criteria. When collaborating during a project, using the graphic features of the AutoCAD Architecture toolset can streamline the review and updating of drawings as well as help represent information not visible in the drawing set.  


Color code different files, parameters, or objects using project specific filters and criteria. 

  • Layer Filters allow for the adjustment of the original file’s colors by author, specialty, or object type.
  • The External Reference Override command (XRefoveride) allows for the control of a reference’s layer properties, even when the drawing’s owner has not set up all their objects to color by layer. Often there are many external references and components in a project and having them be coded by color simplifies the process of understanding which drawing/consultant owns the content.
  • Use Display Themes and Spaces to highlight a property or piece of data which is generally not visible. (For instance, if an entire floor needs to be 1-hr rated, these walls can be designated through a theme to be one color and oversites can be quickly visually identified.)


Automate repetitive processes: 

Explore the Action Recorder to easily automate repetitive tasks in your work flow, especially the process for using layers to prepare and organize new references in your file.


Remove unnecessary parts of external references:

Use a Clipping Boundary to crop out unnecessary data. Clipping an X-Ref will help you organize drawings on a sheet more efficiently by hiding unnecessary parts and details.





Learn more about using the DWG compare feature


Topic #3: Reviewing, overlaying, comparing, and annotating drawings 

The Architecture toolset can facilitate and deepen the process of synthesizing and reviewing AutoCAD content. Through the use of intelligent objects which can be inventoried and filtered, users can graphically represent previously unseen information. Use these tools to evaluate and coordinate data from multiple sources ensuring no conflicts exist between consultants.


Use Toolset features for overlaying and comparing drawings. 

  • Compare two drawing files using the Compare Drawings tool to highlight differences.
  • AEC Dimension strings automatically adjust as your design changes. Their relationship is to each object, resulting in associative dimensions.


The Architecture toolset enables the use of objects rather than linework. 

Intelligent 3D objects have additional data and parameters assigned to them. Utilizing objects rather than line work allows for the following intelligent tools to be used when evaluating and coordinating data:

  • Sections in AutoCAD Architecture allow for the creation of section views instantaneously through all 3D objects, those in your model and external drawings. For instance, one can quickly review a ceiling cavity and understand any potential conflicts between MEP Consultants.
  • Similarly, Elevations in AutoCAD Architecture allow for the creation of elevation views instantaneously through 3D objects.
  • Use smart Tags to help identify objects in internal or external drawings.  
  • Instantly create a Schedule for any type of object in your file. Easily confirm quantities, types, and more.




Learn more about viewport freeze


Topic #4: Setting-up an efficient workflow with dedicated views and sheets for coordination 

Coordination often involves receiving updated content multiple times throughout a project. Communicate conflicts and update data with integrated Toolset features while using dedicated sheets to streamline workflow. 

  • Place external content on dedicated layers using the Layer Manager.
  • Control layer visibility using LAYFRZ and freeze layers in the current viewport only, instead of the entire drawing. Alternatively, go to the desired layout tab and from within the viewport select the desired layer and turn on/off using VP Freeze.
  • Consider placing these coordination viewports on dedicated sheets to simplify printing of views with external references visible.  
  • The Architecture toolset’s Project Navigator helps easily organize these views and sheets and toggle between them.




Learn more about shared views


Topic 5: Communicating with internal and external team members

Effective communication with stakeholders of all kinds can be facilitated through the AutoCAD Architecture Toolset’s mark-up and sharing features. Integrated tools replace the need to publish files and then email files, or purchase third party markup tools. Use integrated tools to facilitate the following project exchanges:

  • Use Revision Clouds to mark-up drawings and alert team members to updated content.
  • Shared views work directly through AutoCAD without publishing or releasing original drawing files. When using this feature, views and content are extracted from your drawing and shared via a link to be viewed in a browser or from any web enabled device. While the view expires after 30 days, you can always terminate or extend the functionality of the link.
  • The Content Browser stores and can share AutoCAD objects, tools, and palettes. Consider sharing blocks or other drawing standards directly through the program.  
  • Import named objects, such as such as blocks, dimension styles, layers, linetypes, and text styles from external references into your current drawing using the Toolset. The Design Center and Content Explorer facilitate importing named entities from another drawing file or resource. Through the Xbind command you can merge named objects such as blocks, dimension styles, layers, linetypes, and text styles into your current drawing from an attached external reference.

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