Xref – choosing our Path Type

We discussed What is Xref? Why should we use it? And learned First step of How to attach Xref? It is time to continue learning how to use Xrefs effortlessly.

Another important setting of External References is Path type. It is important to choose it wisely to minimize some confusion later on.

Now upon inserting an Xref we are presented with 3 options related to Path Type – No path, Full Path and Relative path.

  1. No path – When we attach an external reference with No path, AutoCAD will first look for the xrefs in the folder of the host drawing.
    For example: If we have all our drawings in one folder, including TITLE BLOCK drawing we will be Fine.

    If we move our TITLE BLOCK.dwg to folder “Xrefs” for example AutoCAD won’t find it.
  2. Full path – When we attach Xref with full path, Xref’s location is saved to host drawing. This is precise but not very versatile. If we move our project folder, AutoCAD won’t find any Xrefs that are attached with Full Path.
    Note: If references are in the same folder as host drawing AutoCAD will still be able to find them just like No path option!
    For example: We have our drawings in folder “drawings” and our TITLE BLOCK is in folder “..drawings/Xrefs” if we move folder “drawings” somewhere on the disk or on external drive AutoCAD won’t find our TITLE BLOCK external reference.
  3. Relative path – When we attach Xref with a relative path, Xref’s location will be relative to the host drawing. This is most versatile, if we move our project folder AutoCAD can find Xrefs attached with relative path, as long as their location relative to the host drawing has not changed.
    For example: If we have our drawings in folder “drawings” and our TITLE BLOCK is in folder “..drawings/Xrefs” we can move our “drawings” folder wherever we want and still have connection to our TITLE BLOCK.

Using Xref first step! How to attach Xref?

In the previous post about Xrefs we talked about the definition of external references and what are they used for. Here we will learn how to properly attach an Xref and what are the different options.

How to attach Xref?

Before we attach drawing we need to have it, so in this example we will use a drawing of walls, doors and windows of a house for our base.

Now, for example, we will make a new drawing called Furniture in which we will put some of the furniture of the house. There are two ways to attach DWG file:

  1. We go to Insert ribbon then click on Attach.
    A window will pop up here we find the drawing we want to attach and click Open.
    Note: Don’t forget to select File type at the bottom!
  2. The second method is preferred by me. Here we will type in command line “XR” and hit enter. Now a window will pop up, here we can see all the attached external references and we can work with them. Since we have no references attached we go to the upper left corner and click on the small arrow there we can see Attach DWG..  and click on it. New window will pop up here we select our drawing and hit Open.
    Note: As you can see we can attach not only DWG files but Images, DWF, DGN etc.

After clicking on Open an Attach External Reference window will pop up. Here we will go through all the options step by step

  1. Preview – Here we can see a preview of the drawing that is going to be attached
  2. Browse..- If we have missclicked we can go and browse for another drawing
  3. Reference type – We have two options Attachment and Overly you can find details in Xref Attach or Overly? What is the difference? , but long story short if we use Overly we don’t see nested drawings if we use Attachment we see all nested drawings.
  4. Show details – Nothing interesting here only the file path
  5. Scale – Here we can scale our reference drawing by X, Y, and Z or we can choose Specify On-Screen and specify the scale dynamically.  For our example, we won’t touch anything because we want the drawing to be the same size as the original.
  6. Insertion point – We can choose a specific insertion point by X, Y and Z or we can choose one On-screen. We will again leave it as it is.
  7. Path type – Here we have 3 options – No path, Full Path and Relative path. In post Xref – choosing our Path Type you can have a detailed explanation of all Path Types.
  8. Rotation – We are asked to choose rotation for our reference if we want one, we can also rotate it On-screen. For the example we will leave it to 0.
  9. Block unit – This shows us the scale factor of our xref. Since both of the drawings are set to feet scale factor is 1.

Now we click OK and we will have our main floor drawing attached to furniture dwg.
Don’t worry if you messed up with some of the options you can always correct them in the drawing!
We will have to type “zoom” command (or just “Z“) and then “Extents” to see our x ref attached and we can start adding some furniture.

What is Xref in AutoCAD! And How to use External References in AutoCAD!

Since I am using Xrefs in almost every project I think that Xrefs deserve special attention, so in the next few posts, I will try to explain everything you need to know about them.

What is Xref in AutoCAD?

In the first post, we are going to look at What exactly is a Xref in AutoCAD.

Xref or external reference is a drawing file that is inserted in the current drawing. It can be easily moved in the subject drawing as it behaves mostly like a Block.

With AutoCAD Xrefs, changes made in the referenced drawings are reflected in the current drawing.
Any changes will be displayed to the current drawing when it is reopened or if you reload the Xref. The attached drawings are linked to, but not actually inserted in the drawing, therefor our current drawing stays light without significantly increasing the drawing file size.

Why should we use Xrefs?

There are a lot of very important reasons why should we use external references in AutoCAD. We have made a list of the Xref Advantages:

  1. As mentioned before, Xrefs keeps the drawing files size at bay.
  2. AutoCAD External References allow many users to work on individual components of a project.
    For example: Architectural Floor plan can be easily used as Xref for a furniture plan, water and sewer plan, electrical plan, etc. If a correction to the said Floor Plan is made it will be automatically applied to all other drawings.
    Example 2: In big projects like building a Power plant, the road designer can attach the Land Survey, Architectural plans etc. as a reference while they are designing the roads. In the same time, the Landscape Architect would attach the pavement plan into his drawings while he is designing the landscape and so on.
  3. You can Xref drawings that they themselves reference other drawings – this is called nesting and is great for keeping an eye on multiple drawings at the same time. Learn about different attachment types.
  4. Xrefs can be added, unattached, updated, reloaded and clipped in the main drawing at any time – that way we have full control over them. Learn about Xref’s “Extras”
  5. We can control Xref’s layers in the current drawing without affecting the host drawing. Should I edit Xref in-place ?
  6. If someone makes a correction in a referenced drawing and forget to tell you, it will automatically appear in your drawing that way mistakes can be avoided. (Corrections will appear after reopening the drawing or reloading the Xref. Don’t worry you will be notified if you need to reload your current drawing)

Hope you find this information useful. You can check other AutoCAD Related posts!

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