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Working with external references

 

You can link entire drawings to the current drawing as external references. Unlike inserting a drawing as a block, in which you add all the entities from the separate drawing into the current drawing, external references attach a pointer to the external file. The entities in the external reference appear in the current drawing, but the entities themselves are not added to the drawing. Thus, attaching an external reference does not significantly increase the size of the current drawing file.

 

Understanding external references

 

External references provide additional capabilities not available when you insert a drawing as a block. When you insert a drawing as a block, the entities are stored in the drawing. Any changes you make to the original drawing are not reflected in the drawing in which you inserted it. When you attach an external reference, however, any changes you make to the original drawing file are reflected in the drawings that reference it. These changes appear automatically each time you open the drawing containing the external reference. If you know that the original drawing was modified, you can reload the external reference anytime you’re working on the drawing.

External references are useful for assembling master drawings from component drawings. Use external references to coordinate your work with others in a group. External references help reduce drawing file size and ensure that you are always working with the most recent version of a drawing. However, if you send or receive drawings that contain external references, it is important to include with the master drawing all of the external references attached to it. When you open a drawing that contains external references, the source external reference files must be accessible for the external references to display in the drawing.

 

The Xref Manager helps you easily attach and work with external references.

Attaching external references

 

Attaching a separate drawing to the current one creates an external reference. The external reference appears in the drawing as a block definition, but the drawing entities are linked rather than added to the current drawing. If you modify the linked drawing, the current drawing that contains the external reference is updated automatically when you open it, or you can reload the external reference manually, so it reflects the latest version of the external reference.

 

When you attach an external reference, its layers, linetypes, text styles, and other elements are not added to the current drawing. Rather, these elements are also linked from the referenced file.

 

There are two ways you can attach an external reference:

 

  • An attachment is an inserted drawing that contains a link to the original file. Attachments can themselves contain other, nested reference files. When you attach an external reference, any nested references contained in the file also appear in the current drawing.
  • An overlay is an inserted drawing that contains a link to the original file. Overlays allow you to lay a drawing on top of another drawing, similar to the way you work manually with transparencies. When a drawing that contains overlaid external references is itself attached or overlaid as an external reference in another drawing, the overlays do not appear as part of the external reference. Use overlaying when you want to see reference geometry in a drawing, but you do not need to include that geometry in drawings that will be used by others (nested external references).
  • You can attach as many copies of an external reference file as you want. Each copy can have a different position, scale, and rotation angle.

 

To attach an external reference

 

Do one of the following to choose Xref Manager

 

  • On the ribbon, choose Insert > Xref Manager (in Reference).
  • On the menu, choose Insert > Xref Manager.
  • On the Tools toolbar, click the Xref Manager tool.
  • Type xrm and then press Enter.

 

Click Attach.

 

Specify the drawing file to attach as an external reference, and then click Open.

 

In Reference Type, choose how you want to insert the drawing:

 

  • Attachment – inserts a copy of the drawing and includes any other drawings that are externally referenced within the referenced drawing.
  • Overlay – lays a copy of a drawing over your original drawing; it does not include any nested external references from the externally referenced drawing.

 

Make any additional selections.

 

Click OK.

 

If you marked Specify On-Screen for any items, follow the prompts to attach the external reference.

Viewing the list of external references

 

You can view a list of the external references that are linked to the current drawing two different ways using the Xref Manager:

 

  • List View displays the external references in a list, which allows you to sort the list of references by name, status, size, type, date, or saved path.
  • Tree View displays a hierarchical representation of the external references and the relationships between them. The tree view shows the level of nesting relationships of the attached external references.

 

To view a list of external references

 

Do one of the following to choose Xref Manager:

 

  • On the ribbon, choose Insert > Xref Manager (in Reference).
  • On the menu, choose Insert > Xref Manager.
  • On the Tools toolbar, click the Xref Manager tool.
  • Type xrm and then press Enter.

 

Click List View or Tree View.

 

Opening external references

 

From the Xref Manager you can quickly open the source drawing for any external reference. This is especially helpful if you are working with nested external references, which you cannot bind or detach. From the Xref Manager, open the source drawing, make changes, and then save and close the source drawing. When the Xref Manager displays again, simply reload the external reference.

 

To open an external reference

 

Do one of the following to choose Xref Manager:

 

  • On the ribbon, choose Insert > Xref Manager (in Reference).
  • On the menu, choose Insert > Xref Manager.
  • On the Tools toolbar, click the Xref Manager tool.
  • Type xrm and then press Enter.

 

Select the external reference to open.

 

Click Open.

 

Use a shortcut.

 

Type xopen to open an external reference without using the Xref Manager. To see any changes that you make to the external reference while it is open, reload it.

 

Removing external references

 

Removing external references from the current drawing is easy with the Xref Manager. You can unload an external reference, which keeps some information about the external reference in the current drawing for easy reloading later, or you can detach the external reference entirely.

When you unload an external reference, you remove it from the current drawing. However, its elements, such as layers and linetypes, remain in the drawing and it is still listed in the Xref Manager. By detaching an external reference, you can remove it and all of its elements from the current drawing, and it is no longer listed in the Xref Man-ager.

 

To unload an external reference

 

Do one of the following to choose Xref Manager:

 

  • On the ribbon, choose Insert > Xref Manager (in Reference).
  • On the menu, choose Insert > Xref Manager.
  • On the Tools toolbar, click the Xref Manager tool.
  • Type xrm and then press Enter.

 

Select the external reference to unload.

 

Click Unload.

 

To detach an external reference

 

Do one of the following to choose Xref Manager:

 

  • On the ribbon, choose Insert > Xref Manager (in Reference).
  • On the menu, choose Insert > Xref Manager.
  • On the Tools toolbar, click the Xref Manager tool.
  • Type xrm and then press Enter.

 

Select the external reference to detach.

 

Click Detach.

 

Nested external references cannot be detached.

 

Only the external references that are attached directly to the current drawing can be detached.

Reloading external references

 

When you open or print a drawing, any external references in the drawing are updated automatically. If a drawing is already open and a referenced drawing is modified, you can update the current drawing manually to display the latest version of the referenced drawing.

 

You may also want to reload an external reference that has been unloaded temporarily.

 

To reload an external reference

 

Do one of the following to choose Xref Manager:

 

  • On the ribbon, choose Insert > Xref Manager (in Reference).
  • On the menu, choose Insert > Xref Manager.
  • On the Tools toolbar, click the Xref Manager tool.
  • Type xrm and then press Enter.

 

Select the external reference to reload.

 

Click Reload.

 

Changing the path for external references

 

If the file associated with an external reference is moved to a different directory or renamed, the program displays a message indicating that it cannot load the external reference. You can re-establish the link to the file by doing any of the following:

 

  • Change the path for the external reference.
  • Specify additional directories for CAD.direct 2019 to search. This is especially helpful if you have several external references that have moved to a new directory.

 

To change the path for a single external reference

 

Do one of the following to choose Xref Manager:

 

  • On the ribbon, choose Insert > Xref Manager (in Reference).
  • On the menu, choose Insert > Xref Manager.
  • On the Tools toolbar, click the Xref Manager tool.
  • Type xrm and then press Enter.

 

Select the external reference whose path you want to change.

 

In Xref Path, do one of the following:

 

  • Enter a new filename or location.
  • Click Browse to locate and select the referenced drawing. CAD.direct 2019 reloads the specified external reference automatically.

 

External references cannot be recursive.

 

You cannot recursively reference a drawing from the same original drawing.

 

To change the search paths for all external references in the drawing

 

Do one of the following to choose Xref Manager:

 

  • On the ribbon, choose Insert > Xref Manager (in Reference).
  • On the menu, choose Insert > Xref Manager.
  • On the Tools toolbar, click the Xref Manager tool.
  • Type xrm and then press Enter.

 

In Additional Xref Search Paths, do one of the following:

 

  • Enter a new directory and its path. Separate multiple paths with a semicolon, for example, c:\My Drawings;d:\My Drawings\Backup.
  • Click Browse to locate and select a directory. CAD.direct 2019 searches the specified directories; any found external references are reloaded automatically.

 

Binding external references to drawings

 

External references are not part of the drawing. Rather, they are links to an externally referenced file. To provide a copy of a drawing containing external references to someone else, you must also provide all the external reference files. In addition, the person receiving the drawings must either re-create the same paths you used when linking the external references or change the paths for the external references.

 

To provide a copy of a drawing that contains external references, it is often easier to first bind the external references to the drawing. Binding the external references makes them a permanent part of the drawing, which is similar to inserting a separate drawing as a block.

 

You can bind external references that are attached directly to the current drawing; you cannot bind nested external references.

 

To bind an existing external reference to a drawing

 

Do one of the following to choose Xref Manager:

 

  • On the ribbon, choose Insert > Xref Manager (in Reference).
  • On the menu, choose Insert > Xref Manager.
  • On the Tools toolbar, click the Xref Manager tool.
  • Type xrm and then press Enter.

 

Select the external reference to bind.

 

Click Bind.

 

Choose one of the following:

 

  • Bind Binds the external reference and creates a unique name for each named entity, such as a layer or block, that is located in the external reference. For example, a layer named Electric in the external reference will be named Xref$0$Electric in the current drawing. If the current drawing already has a layer or block with the same name, the name is changed incrementally, for example, Xref$1$Electric.
  • Insert Binds the external reference, but does not change the names of any named entities in the external reference. For example, a layer named Electric in the external reference will have the same name, Electric, in the current drawing. If the current drawing has a layer or block with the same name, the named entity in the external reference takes on the properties of the named entity in the current drawing.

 

Click OK.

 

Clipping external references

 

When you attach a drawing as an external reference, all of the referenced drawing displays in the current drawing. However, after you attach an external reference, you can define a clipping boundary that determines which portion of the referenced drawing is visible or hidden.

You can edit, move, or copy clipped external references the same way you modify unclipped external references. The boundary moves with the reference. If an external reference contains nested clipped external references, they also appear clipped in the drawing.

In addition to clipping external references, you can also partially hide blocks using clipping boundaries.

Adding clipping boundaries

 

When you create a clipping boundary, it affects only the display of the referenced drawing; it does not affect the original referenced drawing or any referenced geometry. The portion of the external reference within the clipping boundary is visible and the remainder of the external reference becomes hidden.

 

To define a rectangular clipping boundary

 

Do one of the following:

 

  • On the ribbon, choose Insert > Clip Xref (in Reference).
  • On the menu, choose Modify > Xref Clip.
  • Type xclip and then press Enter.

 

Select the external references to clip. If desired, you can also select blocks.

 

Press Enter.

 

Press Enter to create a new clipping boundary.

 

If prompted, press Enter to delete any existing boundaries.

 

Choose Rectangular.

 

Define the first corner of the clipping rectangle.

 

Define the second corner of the clipping rectangle.

 

The selected external references are clipped by the rectangle.

 

Use the shortcut.

 

You can first select all external references, right-click the selection, and then select Xref Clip from the shortcut menu.

 

To define a clipping boundary using a polyline

 

Draw a polyline where you want to clip external references.

 

Do one of the following:

 

  • On the ribbon, choose Insert > Clip Xref (in Reference).
  • On the menu, choose Modify > Xref Clip.
  • Type xclip and then press Enter.

 

Select the external references to clip. If desired, you can also select blocks.

 

Press Enter.

 

Press Enter to create a new clipping boundary.

 

If prompted, press Enter to delete any existing boundaries.

 

Choose Select Polyline.

 

Select the polyline to use as clipping boundary.

 

Turning clipping boundaries on and off

 

You can turn xref clipping on or off. When a clipping boundary is turned off, the boundary does not display and the entire external reference is visible, provided that the geometry is on a layer that is on and thawed. When a clipping boundary is turned off, it still exists and can be turned on. However, deleting a clipping boundary is permanent.

 

To turn clipping boundaries on and off

 

Do one of the following:

 

  • On the ribbon, choose Insert > Clip Xref (in Reference).
  • On the menu, choose Modify > Xref Clip.
  • Type xclip and then press Enter.

 

Select the desired external references.

 

Press Enter.

 

To turn off clipping boundaries, choose Off. To turn on existing clipping boundaries, choose On.

 

Press Enter.

 

If you are turning off a clipping boundary, click the clipped portion of the external reference to view the previously hidden portion of the referenced drawing.

 

Use the XCLIPFRAME system variable.

 

When the XCLIPFRAME system variable is on (set to 1), you can select and print the clipping boundary frame.

 

Deleting clipping boundaries

 

If you no longer need a clipping boundary for an external reference, you can delete it.

 

To delete a clipping boundary

 

Do one of the following:

 

  • On the ribbon, choose Insert > Clip Xref (in Reference).
  • On the menu, choose Modify > Xref Clip.
  • Type xclip and then press Enter.

 

Select the desired external references.

 

Press Enter.

 

Choose Delete, and then press Enter.

 

Click the clipped portion of the external reference.

 

The previously hidden portion of the referenced drawing displays.

 

Editing external references in-place

 

After an external reference is inserted in a drawing, it can be edited directly in CAD.direct 2019, and the source drawing file is updated automatically. Editing in-place is an easy way to make changes to the source file without having to locate the file and load it.

 

To edit an external reference in-place

 

Do one of the following:

 

  • On the ribbon, choose Insert > Edit Reference in Place (in Reference)
  • On the menu, choose Tools > Edit Block or X-Ref In-Place > Edit In-Place.
  • Type refedit and then press Enter.

 

At the prompt, select the external reference you want to edit. The Reference Edit dialog box displays.

 

In Reference Name, select the external reference you want to edit.

 

Select the Settings tab and select from the following options:

 

  • Create Unique Layer, Style and Block Names Select to create unique names for layers, styles, and blocks that you change. A prefix is added to the original name of a changed layer, style, or block. Names of unchanged layers, styles, and blocks do not change.
  • Display Attribute Definitions for Editing Select to hide attributes and display attribute definitions while editing. After saving, changed attribute definitions affect new insertions only.

 

Click OK.

 

Make changes to the contents of the external reference. Any new entities created during edit in-place are automatically added when the external reference is closed and saved.

 

To add an existing entity from the drawing to the external reference, select the entity and do one of the following:

 

  • Choose Tools > Edit Block or X-Ref In-Place > Add to Working Set.
  • Type refset, press Enter, then choose Add.

 

To remove an entity from the external reference, select the entity and do one of the following:

 

  • Choose Tools > Edit Block or X-Ref In-Place > Remove from Working Set.
  • Type refset, press Enter, then choose Remove.

 

When you’re finished editing the external reference, do one of the following:

 

  • Choose Tools > Edit Block or X-Ref In-Place > Close Reference.
  • Type refclose and then press Enter.

 

Choose Save to save changes or Discard to cancel changes.

 

The external reference is updated and the current drawing displays the changes.

 

You can also type xopen to open an external reference directly.

 

To see any changes that you make to the external reference while it is open, reload it.

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