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Exporting Bill of Materials from Autocad to Excel

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Dear List members,

We are working on a Steel Detaling job with about 60
All the drawings are almost ready.
The Bill of materials  has been entered in the
drawings by our draughtsmen. We use Acad 14.

The client has suddenly asked for a tabulated summary
of all sections with the same length for the entire
set of 60 drgs for this project.

For example he wants the following information:

W 8x13              10'   long       15 numbers
W 8x13             12' 6" long       20 numbers
L4x3 1/2 x 1/4         8" long       40 numbers
etc. etc.

The simple but laborious way to do it is to enter the
data from the drawing into a spread sheet and sort it
and process it using spread sheet techniques.

However, I am not too keen on using this method (it
will be my last resort if smarter ways are not
available by Monday evening ). We may make mistakes
while transferring the data to the spreadsheet. 
Besides I may have to do this again and again in
future also. I am looking for a better solution. 

I tried copying the text of the  bill of materials in
the drg to the clipboard and using Paste Special in
Excel. It pasted the contents as a picture. I could
not parse the entries into separate columns nor could
I arrange each line in a separate row which is
necessary to process the data in Excel.

The entries in the Bill of materials are on a separate
layer in the drawing.

If there is a direct way to select the entire bill of
materials and convert each line of the Bill of
materials in the drawing to plain ascii text, and save
it in a file,  I can do the rest. My Excel skills are
above average. I have only a nodding familiarity with
Autocad 14 / 2000 commands. I was confident with using
Acad 10 for Dos 10 years ago. I haven't kept pace with
the developments since then.

While we are working on this I would welcome any
helpful suggestions on how to do this the "quick and
smart" way. 

I have done the reverse of this problem without any
difficulty before. We made the bill of materials in a
spread sheet and pasted it into the Acad drawing.

In this project , entries in the bill of materials
have already been made by the draftsmen as text.

Writing  a lisp routine for this will be considered
later. (Any available already ?)  We have some young
Autolisp Gurus here who will be eager to work on this
problem after the drawings are shipped.  But I need to
get these drgs out  in the beginning of next week so
there is no time to attempt AutoLisp programming now.
Besides the people who can do the job are pre-occupied
with finalising the drawings.

I have (from previous experience) realised that the
young and the smart jump on to the Autolisp bandwagon
too early when problems like this arise. That's
because they love this work. 

But sometimes it pays to wait  and see if Autocad
already has a facility, which is hidden away several
levels deep in some obscure and rarely used menu item,
which makes Autolisp programming unnecessary. 

The drafting team uses  Acad 14. But I have one copy
of Acad 2000 on my system which can also be used for
this purpose. I am hoping that  with so many
improvements in Autocad since Rel 10, there must be a
way to do this in Autocad itself with a few deft
clicks of the mouse.

Any ad hoc ideas or suggestions are welcome. 

I normally post questions like this related to steel
detailing on another list of which I am a menber. I
have done it already. I am hoping some of the members
on this list will also be able to suggest something

Have a happy weekend. (Not for us. We work tomorrow,
like we do on all Saturdays)

G Vishwanath

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