Friday, October 24, 2014

Including a Sheet File Name and Path

Ever since we started using computers to generate architectural and engineering drawings we've been inclined to provide a place on a title block to help people find the file. Sometimes it is just the file name and other times it is necessary to have both the file name and path to the folder it is in.

The path is useful to the team working on the files but if those files are passed along to someone else it may be meaningless to them, or confusing at the very least. The file name is useful to anyone who happens to be looking at the drawings as long as they are in a position to access the digital version of the file too.

In a Revit model, which usually contains all the sheets for a project, the file name doesn't have the same usefulness when compared to a file based system like AutoCAD. That's true unless you are printing multiple layouts from a single DWG file, then it's not all that different than Revit. When someone is looking at a printed sheet and sees the file name and path it doesn't help them find the digital version, like a PDF file for Sheet A100 for example, because the file name is the Revit model, not the resulting PDF export.

As such Revit misses the mark in helping us carrying on that tradition. Since there are a number of ways our sheets can end up as individual files it is hard for Revit to anticipate or provide a suitable way to plug in a unique value until the data is exported outside of Revit. I'm sure there are some things that they could do to help us with this but it hasn't happened yet.

Revit's API could be used to capture the sheet information and store a contrived file name in a parameter for each sheet. When we print or export we might end up with the correct file names matching the resulting files or bearing a slight difference. I don't recall an existing application that deals with this specifically but one might exist, like Xrev Tools for example.

If we forget limitations within Revit for the moment, since the output format of a set of documents is where the appropriate file data is really needed it might make sense to consider focusing on how we handle the output files instead, at least for now. For example, the company Bluebeam offers software to process, review, and markup PDF documents. It includes the ability to add custom headers and footers, which can be the file name (among other things). It can also Batch Process files to include the file name. The file path is another available choice to put in a header or footer so we can combine them if we want to include both.

If it is necessary to provide the specific file name (and path) for exports to DWG it is probably best to add it those files after exporting, this way they'll point to an actual file instead of the Revit project file. Again some customization could add the necessary fields pretty effectively.

It seems like post processing this information is probably as effective as trying to come up with a way to deal with it internally in Revit.

1 comment:

MaciejW said...

Hi Steve,

You can always add a document watermark to your PDF printer's settings. I'm using BioPDF for this, but I'm sure that it's possible in Adobe or any other decent PDF printer.
The advantage of this method is that it's not limited to Revit and gives a consistent output from any CAD/BIM software.