External References (xrefs) are an important part of working with AutoCAD and its vertical packages. I consider xrefs a critical and key feature of AutoCAD in the AEC industry and encourage you to look into them if you are not currently utilizing them on your projects. There are many aspects of good utilization of xrefs, but I thought I would list a few tips in this article.
This article utilizes AutoCAD Architecture 2013, but some of the tips apply to generic AutoCAD as well and work the same in previous releases of AutoCAD Architecture.
Clip the Inside Portion of an Xref
Many times it is desirable to make a blank area or hole inside the displayed xref, and you can use the clip command to do this. Highlight the desired xref to clip, right-click, and select Clip Xref from the context menu. At the “Enter clipping option:” prompt, select New. At the “Specify clipping boundary or select invert option:” prompt, type “I” for the Invert option. At the “Specify clipping boundary or select invert option:”, choose your desired method of specifying the boundary.
No Xref Layers in Layer Dropdown List
When working with drawings with a lot of xref layers, the host drawing layer you desire to use may be difficult to locate in the layer dropdown box. You can make your layer dropdown box display only layers that exist in the host drawing. Open the Layer Manager and in the left Filters pane expand the All filter, then select the filter named Xref. Place a checkmark next to the Invert Filter option at the bottom of the Layer Manager and pick the Settings… button. In the Layer Settings dialog box, go toward the bottom and place a checkmark next to the “Apply layer filter to layer toolbar”.
Control Layers Separately for Multiple Copies of Same Xref in Host Drawing
When working with a host drawing that has multiple copies of the same xref (such as a hotel or apartment building), it is sometimes desirable to be able to control the layer visibility of individual instances of xrefs. This can be done by xreferencing the file into the host multiple times and giving each instance its own name in the Reference Name box at the box of the External References palette. The Reference Name must be changed after xreferencing it in and before the next drawing is xreferenced.
Xref Display Configuration Different than Host in AutoCAD Architecture
Sometimes it is beneficial to have the Display Configuration of an xref be different than the Display Configuration that is set in the host drawing. Highlight the xref, right-click, and select Edit Object Display from the context menu. Go to the Xref Display tab and place a check next to the “Override the display configuration set in the host drawing” option. Select the desired Display Configuration from the list.
Wall Cleanup Between Xrefs in AutoCAD Architecture
Walls can clean up together when they are in different drawing files and xreferenced together. In each drawing, go to the Manage tab and select Style Manager. Expand the Architectural Objects in the left pane, then select Wall Cleanup Group Definitions. In the right pane, double-click on a cleanup group to edit it and go to the Design Rules tab. Place a checkmark next to the “Allow cleanup between host and xref drawings” option.