Jump to content
steven-g

Sheet sets are they really this bad ?

Recommended Posts

steven-g

I took the plunge and I am trying to use sheet sets. I started with just 2 base xref drawings and created 27 sheets set layouts, the idea looks great, but then I tried plotting, I selected 10 of the sheets and sent them to the plotter, it took nearly 20 minutes and in that time Autocad was unavailable to use. Is this really how it works, if so I'm going back to the old way of multiple layouts and using the publish command. Or am I just doing it wrong !

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
BIGAL

I had a quick look at sheet sets on my 88 layouts dwg and walked away in a big hurry. Like you maybe I was doing something wrong.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
RobDraw

I have not taken the plunge yet, but am watching this thread to see if you get it sorted. I've heard lots of good things and plan on trying them out when I get an AutoCAD project that is worth investing the time into learning and trouble shooting.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
steven-g

Maybe nobody uses them ! I tried using plot to PDF, to see if it was using a network printer that slowed it down, but that made no real difference. It actually works very well, the problem is that plotting takes over Autocad and you can't carry on drawing whilst plotting from the sheet set manager, I think because for each sheet (using one layout per DWG) it has to reopen the same xref everytime. I also tried opening another instance of Autocad but for each sheet the plotting process makes itself the active window again. Maybe there is a way to make it work in the background (OK I only thought of that whilst writing this-so I just tested it) there is an option to background plot and it helps, it means you can carry on working in another drawing, but it does appear that even this method has problems I can only imagine that it is whilst the sheets are being processed, but focus keeps getting lost in any active program, I had to keep clicking the mouse to finish this reply. Wierd

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
RobDraw

There are people using them but very few from what I've seen. Maybe try posting to another forum, like the Swamp, for a broader audience.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
rkmcswain

We've been using sheet sets for all of our projects almost since they were introduced, with no problems to speak of.

 

A typical set might be about 30 pages and it publishes in say 15 minutes.

Of course that all depends on the complexity of the drawings.

 

We have had a few sheet sets with as many as 300+ sheets in them, and some as small as 2 sheets.

I personally have not used the PLOT or PUBLISH command in years. I print everything from the SSM.

Edited by rkmcswain
correct spelling

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
BlackBox

I use Sheet Set Manager (SSM) extensively for all projects, and may be able to help clarify some of SSM's strengths and weaknesses.

 

The first mistake I see others often make, is two fold....

 

First, that they attempt to implement SSM in the middle of a project - which can be done, but doesn't make it any easier - when implementing a well working SSM setup is a task in and of itself.

 

Second, that they assume SSM just works, when by definition SSM is a tool to manage your sheet set (aka plan set) - only the single, perhaps most diverse aspect of working with CAD from company to company, or country to country.

 

 

 

That said, using SSM successfully implicitly requires prior planning. Period.

 

You need to identify and prepare your attributed title blocks by mapping each-and-every-single attribute you want to be able to modify with Fields pointing to SSM, and setup a corresponding (Custom?) Sheet, and (Custom?) Sheet Set Properties within your SSM .DST file. What this allows you to do, is to edit a given drawing's title block without opening a given drawing in the Editor - and yes, that means you can add/edit a revision note that is only shown on a single sheet, or perhaps change the client name once in SSM, and it automagically applies to all sheets in your sheet set, etc.

 

Also, don't forget to include a Property naming convention within SSM, as properties are sorted by Sheet, or Sheet Set level.

 

 

 

Let's talk about the SSM Palette itself, as it too is not without its trade-offs.

 

I use one tab, and one tab only within SSM (because it's the only one I need), and that's the Sheet List tab... I setup a Subset structure that mirrors my project's directory structure, and I add all Exhibit, Model (DREF/XREF-only drawings), and Sheet drawings that are associated with a given project.

 

Important to note that when using SSM to open a Layout associated with the Sheet List tab, AutoCAD automagically sets that Layout (if multiple Layouts) or the Layout (if single Layout) current... And that goes for your Model drawings too... Unless you use a file, or folder naming convention in your projects that allows a small snippet such as this to be useful (there's that prior planning again); simply add to AcadDoc.lsp:

 

;;; Activate model tab when opening models from ssm
(if (and
     (wcmatch (strcase (strcat (getvar 'dwgprefix) (getvar 'dwgname)))
       "[color="red"]YourWcmatchStringHere[/color]"
     )
     (/= 1 (getvar 'tilemode))
   )
 (setvar 'tilemode 1)
)

 

 

 

Now for printing....

 

While I do modify the Subset Properties for my Model Subset, setting the 'Publish Sheets in Sheet Set' Property to 'Do Not Publish Sheets' (which adds a distinctive red slash through a printer icon for each node), I actually do not use SSM to print... I used to use PUBLISH as well, and no longer require that... At least not since 2009 implemented the AUTOPUBLISH mechanism which I now use exclusively.

 

I know loads of mentors that I've worked with that swear by using SSM to print, and that's fine... It's just not my cup of tea, when the AUTOPUBLISH mechanism does it for me.

 

Essentially, I've configured AUTOPUBLISH to produce an electronic document (in my case that's PDF), to a relative path folder within my project's directory structure whenever I invoke a SAVE* Command... Now, this working properly requires that you assign the correct plot settings to each-and-every-single Layout in your Sheet Set regardless of using single, or multi-Layout drawings.

 

I use named Page Setups within my drawing template, but often work with others' drawings, either from external, or just those that pre-date my employment here, so I often import said named Page Setups... But that doesn't apply them as active, and I really dislike having to call full Commands unless absolutely essential... So I wrote a custom .NET LispFunction Method to add a new vla-SetActivePageSetup Function to the LISP API.

 

Now, applying a named Page Setup to each-and-every-single Layout in a given drawing is as simple as:

 

(foreach layoutname (layoutlist)
 ([color="blue"]vla-SetActivePageSetup[/color] layoutname “[color="red"]YourPageSetupName[/color]”)
)

 

One of the trade-offs for using the AUTOPUBLISH mechanism, is that it fails to distinguish what is an Exhibit, or Sheet that you want to print, and what is a Model (DREF/XREF-only drawing) that you do not want to print... Which is why I also wrote this custom .NET app, which allows me to simply add a per-Profile, persistently stored WCMATCH String, which is used to determine if the AUTOPUBLISH mechanism is allowed to continue (as a match has been found), otherwise the AUTOPUBLISH Command is Veto()-ed, and reported to Command line.

 

 

 

In conclusion, and even without my custom additions, I think there's a lot of productivity to be gained from using a well implemented SSM setup, particularly when paired with the AUTOPUBLISH mechanism... I'd strongly urge you to give it another go, and let us know where you have problems, as we've either already found a way to mitigate similar issues, or can help you to do so more quickly than trying to figure it out for yourself.

 

Cheers

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
BlackBox

... So I wrote a custom .NET LispFunction Method to add a new vla-SetActivePageSetup Function to the LISP API.

 

Please note that the Autoloader .bundle attached at the bottom of that post is from 2013-03-21, and does not currently support 2015.

 

Should anyone be interested in using that custom LispFunction Method, and cannot recompile the C# source code included in the linked post themselves, please let me know.

 

Cheers

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
steven-g

BlackBox, thanks for the lengthy reply, the use of fields is something I am wanting to implement, but I was just starting out, can I just point out that I use LT so some of the things you have mentioned are out of reach, but I will look into autopublish.

My concern at the moment is the way that plotting a group of drawings makes the computer disfunctional for the period that the command is active, but as I mentioned before that could just be down to my approach or a setting that needs altering.

Here is a brief description of how I started - my work doesn't involve large multiuser projects, and I have started a new project that involves an appartment block of 7 appartments with a total of about 50 doors, I need to have a drawing for each door and for each appartment, so that is simply stated 2 drawings. Normallt that would be one drawing with 7 layouts for the floor plans, and a second drawing with 50 layouts for the doors (possibly split if the drawing becomes sluggish).

 

And this is where I fear the problem lies, I took both drawings and stripped them of all but one layout, then for the floor plan drawing I started a fresh drawing and manually inserted an xref of the live floor plan drawing and had one layout set up with title page and viewport setup as I normally would for a floor plan. I saved that drawing to a seperate folder and then edited it 6 more times to change the layout only for each appartment, so now I have 7 drawings each having one layout and in model space all there is is an xref to the main drawing. I did the same for the door drawing and created about a dozen of the layouts.

 

From there I started to create a new sheet set from that one folder and created sub sets in the sheet set manager for each appartment. It all works as hoped up to here. It was my intention just to get this far to see how easy it is to work in a project using the sheet set manager for opening drawings and printing off drawings as they are needed per appartment. And then later to start looking at expanding the process to include fields etc.

 

My problem is the way at the moment publishing drawings from the sheet set manager just takes over the computer. My old method of work meant opening a drawing and picking the needed layouts and publishing them in groups but from a couple of drawings, but that only takes a couple of minutes, But selecting just 3 sheets from the plan drawing and using the option to publish those from the sheet set manager using the right click menu, is ridiculous 3 drawings took 7 minutes, I didn't need to open each one individually admitted, I was free to do other tasks, so it's a great time saver, and being able to name groups of sheets for selction is nice. But with the time I am saving I can't actually do anything because the computer is tied up for those 7 minutes, and thats my problem, is it down to how I created the sheets, should I actually be doing that from within the manager, would that work better.

 

Once I get this sorted out then I can take a look at adding in the fields.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
BlackBox

It has been many years since I worked with LT, so please take those areas I've tried to incorporate useful additions as demonstration that even with full AutoCAD, SSM is still lacking... If memory serves, it (SSM) has not be enhanced since +/- 2006 version... Much older than that, and we're before my time using AutoCAD.

 

I've admittedly never dug into the plotting mechanism that SSM employs, as I've never used it - even back when I was first introduced to SSM by one of the Senior Designers at my old firm, I remember seeing just how much was involved with Page Setup overrides, etc., that I just didn't see the value there (in printing via SSM). Once I adopted AUTOPUBLISH with 2009, I even gave up PUBLISH functionality personally, and saw significant gains over my own coworkers.

 

For your situation (using LT), I think your best combination would be SSM for project information (SSM Properties when you get to Fields)/organization/navigation, and either traditional PUBLISH, or AUTOPUBLISH to handle your plotting requirements (not sure if the latter is available for LT?).

 

Also, since LISP is a no-go for LT, you may be relegated to using the Model Views tab (not sure).

 

 

 

May I also just add that you should be mindful to document the production gains (once up and running, and efficient at this workflow of course), as the only thing an employer loves more than making profit on any given project, is making more profit by doing more work in the same amount of time... I think it admirable that you're putting so much thought into your workflow. :thumbsup:

 

Cheers

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
steven-g

Cheers,

I'll hang back a bit on the publish side and take a look at autopublish, I have other thoughts on that as well. I like this idea of one layout per drawing and being able to easily navigate to the required drawings, as well as adding in the field functionality of sheet sets to make the organisation of those easier.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
BlackBox
Cheers,

I'll hang back a bit on the publish side and take a look at autopublish, I have other thoughts on that as well. I like this idea of one layout per drawing and being able to easily navigate to the required drawings, as well as adding in the field functionality of sheet sets to make the organisation of those easier.

 

Cheers, mate. :beer:

 

When SSM is used well, the issue of single, or multi-Layout drawings becomes moot in terms of organization, and navigation for plans production... When paired with AUTOPUBLISH, you preclude the need to use PUBLISH unless you need to print something which is not to be saved (rare at best?). This methodology effectively leaves one with an 'active' plan set in PDF/DWF format at all times; simply combine the sheets you need for a given email, or submittal and save elsewhere within your project as an appropriate milestone. Pretty simple, and far less time consuming than the alternatives, IMHO.

 

Just be aware also, that AUTOPUBLISH will plot all Layouts at SAVE* (continuing my own example), so that may in deed take more time for multi-Layout drawings... As I use single Layout drawings, this is a non-issue... Just wanted to point that out, as I know many prefer multi-Layout drawings, and it's the only down-side to AUTOPUBLISH that I haven't already discussed here.

 

Cheers

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
adrath

For what it's worth, I've never had the SSM publish tie up AutoCAD. I almost always use either the "Publish to PDF" command, or the "Publish with page set up overrides". Both work perfectly for me and I am able to continue using AutoCAD while publishing.

 

 

There may be some sort of "plot or publish in background" system variable or SSM setting that needs to be turned on. It's possible that this setting isn't available in LT. Also, it's a good idea to right click on the sheet set name in the manager palette and "Resave all Sheets" before publishing the entire set, as this will update all xref's etc. I've found that this helps make plotting a little faster.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
steven-g

I did find the publish in background button, but it still kept stealing the focus from any other program I was using even whilst testing I tried using windows notepad and had to regularly click with the mouse to get focus back when the SSM moved onto the next sheet. I think to be honest it might be because I created the dwg's myself and each drawing contains the imported xref, maybe SSM treats xrefs slightly differently if it controls there use itself, so I will try it again but let the SSM create the sheets rather than importing them just to make sure.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
adrath

That could be the problem then. My typical workflow is to set up sheet templates for each project with a title block and all base files already attached. I will then use the SSM to cut my sheets from that template and go from there. I've found this to be a really effective method for sheet creation and it's a lot cleaner and faster than copy/pasting a sheet template drawing manually.

 

 

Hope that helps. Cheers! :beer:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
BlackBox

I did find the publish in background button, but it still kept stealing the focus from any other program I was using even whilst testing I tried using windows notepad and had to regularly click with the mouse to get focus back when the SSM moved onto the next sheet.

 

I too suffered this plight when using Civil 3D 2012, but no longer have that issue in 2014, 2015 (didn't have it in 2009, or 2011 either).

 

 

I think to be honest it might be because I created the dwg's myself and each drawing contains the imported xref, maybe SSM treats xrefs slightly differently if it controls there use itself, so I will try it again but let the SSM create the sheets rather than importing them just to make sure.

 

How a sheet is added to SSM is immaterial, with regard to how the editor handles external references.

 

 

 

That could be the problem then. My typical workflow is to set up sheet templates for each project with a title block and all base files already attached. I will then use the SSM to cut my sheets from that template and go from there. I've found this to be a really effective method for sheet creation and it's a lot cleaner and faster than copy/pasting a sheet template drawing manually.

 

Rather than copy/pasting into QNEW, one could also simply employ the always useful SAVEAS Command... Even without the use of Civil 3D's Plan Production tools (which can produce an entire plan set with sufficient criteria met, and automagically adds the resultant Layouts to SSM for said project). :thumbsup:

 

Cheers

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
steven-g

I used the saves to create the layouts, started my first drawing with inserting the xref, set the layout viewport up, most of the title info is actually in the xref, thats how I normally work anyway. Then just change the viewport content and saveas, so it is a quick way to set it up. But before I found the backgound publish button You could see the progress bar as each drawing opened and then the xref loaded slowly before a sheet was printed then onto the next. Using the traditional way at least you only had to find the correct drawing and the xref only needed to load once before you printed off the various layouts. My problem is with SSM tying up the whole computer when it is busy. Using multiple layouts might be a solution to the problem, but actually I was looking forward to some of the other advantages that single layout drawings might offer. Anyway 2 steps forward 3 steps back as they say.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
BlackBox

My problem is with SSM tying up the whole computer when it is busy. Using multiple layouts might be a solution to the problem, but actually I was looking forward to some of the other advantages that single layout drawings might offer. Anyway 2 steps forward 3 steps back as they say.

 

I've never experienced that issue personally... If your employer has only provided you with LT, what are your workstation specifications?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
steven-g

Windows 7 professional

SP1

HP Z210 workstation

Intel® Core™ i7-2600 CPU @ 3.40GHz

4GB RAM

64 Bit

Monitor EIZO Flexscan SX2262W

Quadro 600 video card

 

I think the system is fairly good, it's certainly the best I've ever used. I have now setup Autopublish to save to PDF for each drawing as it closes so at least there will always be an upto date PDF on the system, I was hoping to get a command script to run various named publish files inside a daily computer shutdown file, but PUBLISH can't be run from a script as you can't bypass the dialogue, so I think it is going to be a combination of Autopublish to keep PDF's updated, and a command script that will run various PDF merge combinations with a nice PDF utility I found, and then shut down the computer when it is done.

I have tried a variety of things today but any method of plotting or publishing in the background always ties up the computer whilst it is running. So now I can start looking at the other ways of using SSM to it's full potential.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
BlackBox

Your RAM seem low to my mind, but then again, I use Civil 3D, etc. which is an entirely different beast... Otherwise your workstation seems fine... Good news RAM is cheap! :beer:

 

If you do upgrade your RAM, I'd opt for 8 GB minimum, and consider more (I have 32 GB in my workstation here, and still have some C3D lag from time to time).

 

I am perplexed by how, particularly with your workstation configuration, you're being 'tied up' whilst publishing in background.

 

As for Scripting, consider the -PUBLISH Command instead, if you've already prepared the dependent .DSD file... I do not recall if Core Console is available for LT usage or not; as I understand it, much of the aptly described 'core' of AutoCAD was moved to Core Console (a separate .DLL) from Acad.exe back in 2013. Being that LT is precluded from using LISP, etc. I'd find it to be a pleasant surprise if this was available, but if it is, you can also use Core Console to process printing / publishing jobs in a separate processor thread (as AutoCAD is single-threaded to-date). This one of the first advances towards AutoCAD-based products supporting a multi-threaded environment, as it currently wastes the additional three (for your Quad-Core i7 processor), or 5 in my case (as I use a Hex-Core Xeon in my workstation).

 

If you're producing multi-Layout drawings, you may want to set Autopublish Settings dialog, General DWF/PDF options, Type == 'Multiple-Sheet file'.

 

Cheers

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


×
×
  • Create New...