ABD Sheet Borders and Title Block Fields with Drawing Composition Tools and Detailing Styles

ABD Sheet Borders and Title Block Fields with Drawing Composition Tools and Detailing Styles

Sheet borders and title blocks can be set up for utilization by the drawing composition tools. Fields can be used in the title block for automatic insertion of information pertaining to the whole project like project name, project number, etc. And cells containing fields can be placed on the sheet for automatic generation of the sheet specific information like sheet number, date saved, etc.

A “Field” is a text element whose content is derived from object properties: elements, models or files. In addition “Placeholder Fields” can be inserted into cells. “Placeholder Fields” are fields that are waiting for a target, when a target is provided it can re-evaluate and display its property values.

Drawing Composition Seeds

In AECOsim Building Designer drawing composition drawing and sheet seeds are located in dgnlib files. By default these files are located in the workspace in the dgnlib folder. A seed file is provided for each discipline, e.g., DrawingSeed_Architectural.dgnlib. Configuration variables point to the specific dgnlib file for each discipline, e.g., ATF_DRAWINGSEED_DGNLIBLIST points to the DrawingSeed_Architectural.dgnlib file.

In this example workflow, the dgnlib seed files have been copied to the project and renamed, e.g., “_MyDrawingSeed_Architectural.dgnlib”, and the configuration variables have been edited in the project configuration file to facilitate the use of these “project specific” seeds.

Detailing Symbols

Detailing symbols are used by the drawing composition tools to place drawing symbols such as drawing titles, section cuts, etc. The cells used by the tools are located in a dgnlib file. By default this file, DetailingSymbolStyles.dgnlib, is located in the workspace, in the dgnlib folder. The configuration variable MS_DETAILINGSYMBOLS_CELLLIST points to the dgnlib folder.

In this example workflow the drawing symbols dgnlib file has been copied to the project and renamed “_MyDetailingSymbolCells.dgnlib” and the configuration variables have been edited in the project configuration file to
facilitate the use of these “project specific” cells. This file also stores the detailing styles. Detailing styles set the symbol to be used and can be utilized to set symbol attributes, e.g., color, line style, line weight, etc.

Project Configuration Example

These are the corresponding configuration variables described above and how they are set in the project configuration file for this example workflow.

ATF_DRAWINGSEED_DGNLIBLIST = $(PROJ_DATASET)dgnlib/_MyDrawingSeed_Architectural.dgnlib

BBES_DRAWINGSEED_DGNLIBLIST = $(PROJ_DATASET)dgnlib/_MyDrawingSeed_Electrical.dgnlib

BMECH_DRAWINGSEED_DGNLIBLIST = $(PROJ_DATASET)dgnlib/_MyDrawingSeed_Mechanical.dgnlib

STF_DRAWINGSEED_DGNLIBLIST = $(PROJ_DATASET)dgnlib/_MyDrawingSeed_Structural.dgnlib

MS_DETAILINGSYMBOLS_CELLLIST = $(PROJ_DATASET)dgnlib/_MyDetailingSymbolCells.dgnlib

Setting up the Border Title Block

In this example we will set up the title block to utilize fields, we will set the project name and project number as fields using file properties. The result are shown here:


  1. Start AECOsim Building Designer, the user and project are set in the File Open dialog box and we open the project’s border file.
  2. In this example, the border is a 2D design file with one sheet model and the border graphics are drawn in it. Additionally a raster reference is attached for my company logo. When we attach this border file to our seed models we’ll make sure we have “attach raster references” turned on to get the logo nested with the border.
  3. Now we will enter values for file properties that will get utilized as fields. From the File pull-down menu select Properties. In the Properties dialog select the Summary tab.
  4. In the Summary tab we can enter Title, Subject, Client, Keywords, Comments and Manager. I’ll use these for things in my title block like Project Name, Project Number, Client Name, etc. Click OK when done.

  5. We select the Place Text tool, setting the tool settings as needed. In the Text Editor applying a right-click opens a pop-up menu where we can select Insert Field. From the Field Type list we select File Properties and select OK.

  6. Now we choose what File Property Field we want to utilize. We can see in the Fields Editor dialog box we have several to choose from (more properties to choose from than the ones we can edit from the File > Properties dialog).
  7. As we select the properties we will set the String Format Case to Upper. Click OK and the property values are in the Text Editor. The text is displayed in gray in the Text Editor, indicating it is utilizing a field.

  8. The example uses these file properties and values:
    • Client – My Project
    • Keywords – Low-Rise
    • Title - 987654321
    • Subject – Westworth Village, TX
    • Manager - Paul Wagner
  9. On the Title Block we are using these to populate this information:
    • Project Name – MY PROJECT (no label on the box in the border, large text with mistrial font)
    • Location – WESTWORTH VILLAGE, TX
    • Project Name – MY PROJECT (smaller box with label, arial font)
    • Project Number – 987654321
    • Drafter – PAUL WAGNER
  10. If and when the field values change we use the key-in: UPDATE FIELDS ALL to update the field values.
  11. If a Field value is blank then the text will display the # character.

We have now utilized fields using file properties to annotate our title block. We will use model properties to fill other information, e.g., Sheet Number, Drawing Title, etc. by creating a cell to place on the sheets. But first we will attach the border to the seed models used by the drawing composition tools.

Attaching our Border to the Seed Models

As we noted before the seeds used by the drawing composition are located in dgnlib files that our configuration points to. We need to open those dgnlib files and attach our border. We’ll set up the properties of the sheet models per our project standards for sheet size, etc.


  1. In this example project we’ll open the file _MyDrawingSeed_Architectural.dgnlib. This is located in our project support folder structure:
  2. Contained in the dgnlib seed files are drawing models and sheet models for each seed type: floor plans, sections, elevations, details, etc. We open each sheet model. From the Primary tool box select the Models tool.
  3. Double-click on the first sheet model listed, Arch-Floor Plan [Sheet]. And select the Properties icon. Set the sheet size accordingly. In our example the sheet size is Arch E1, 32x40.

  4. We then attach the border we created earlier using the Coincident Attachment Method and making sure to turn on Display Raster References in the reference file dialog to get our logo.

  5. Repeat the process with the other sheet models in the dgnlib file. Note you can leave the Models dialog box and Reference File dialog box open for quick navigation.
  6. Repeat this exercise for all the other discipline dgnlib files as needed.

OK, border file and sheet seeds are now set up. Next we create a cell that will contain field text to utilize the sheet model properties. We will place this cell on our sheets after we create them.

Creating a Cell for use on the Sheets

Our final preparation step is to create a cell with field text aligned with our border and title block to auto-populate more information like sheet number, date saved, etc. First we’ll create a cell library.


  1. From the Element pull-down menu we select cells. In the Cell Library dialog we select File > New.
  2. In our example we will locate the cell library in our project’s support folder structure: My Sample Project\support\dataset\cell\. And we name it Title_Block.cel
  3. Now open the cell library. In the cell library file we create a new 2d sheet model. Models dialog > New > Sheet 2d > Size Arch E1
  4. In order to align our text fields to the proper location on the border we reference in the border we created.
  5. Now we place text as in the earlier exercise utilizing fields using Model Properties. We select the Place Text tool, setting the text style and justification as needed.
  6. In the Text Editor a right-click opens a pop-up menu where we can select Insert Field. From the Field Type list we select Model Properties this time. Then select OK.
  7. Note we see different properties for populating our fields. In our example we use these: Sheet Name is the sheet number on the title block, Name is the Drawing Name on the title block.
  8. Additionally we can add a “stamp” onto our border to show the last plot date,  last saved date, etc.
  9. Again using the correct text settings right-click in the editor to utilize the file properties, note for date and time we have options on how to display he date time format. In our example we use: 
    • Last Saved By
    • Date Saved
    • Plot Date
  10. We add labels in the text editor itself to have the text appear like this:


 Creating Detailing Styles

As noted above Detailing Styles control the appearance of the symbols place with the drawing composition tools. Following the example we will work in the “_MyDetailingSymbolCells.dgnlib” file to create our detailing style.


  1. We’ll first open our detailing symbols dgnlib file. In our example this file is named “_MyDetailingSymbolCells.dgnlib”.
  2. The file contains models of the various cells used to create drawing symbols used by the drawing composition tools. In the example the cells have been renamed with “My_” in the front
  3. Open and edit the cells as needed. For example, in my example I have edited “My_SectionLineWing” to be a triangle shape instead of a rectangle and edited “My_DrawingTitleBubble” to have only the drawing number in the bubble.

  4. Now we will create a detailing style and edit the style to use our cells. From the Element pull-down menu select Detailing Symbol Styles, Element > Detailing Symbol Styles.
  5. In the Detailing Symbol Styles select the New icon and name the style. In our example the style is named "My Detail Style". Optionally you can delete any other styles not being used.
  6. In the Properties panels of the Detailing Symbol Styles dialog box edit each symbol’s properties as needed. In the example the cells have been directed to use the cells named “My_Title Text”, “My_SectionLineWing”, etc. Edit any of the other properties as needed also, such as Color, Style, Weight, etc.
  7. Save the detailing style by selecting the save icon in the Detailing Symbol Styles dialog box.

Now we have a detailing style set up to our standards. Next step is to set up our drawing composition seeds to utilize this style.

Adding the Detailing Style to the Drawing Composition Seed Files

The detailing style used by the drawing composition tools is determined by a property of the saved views within the drawing seeds. As we noted earlier the seeds are in dgnlib files. We will open the files and set the property for the various seed models to use our detailing style.


  1. Open one of the dgnlib files; in our example the files are named “_MyDrawingSeed_Architectural.dgnlib”, “_MyDrawingSeed_Structural.dgnlib”, etc.
  2. From the Primary tool box open the Saved View dialog box.
  3. Select the first saved view in the list, right-click and select Properties. The Element Information dialog box will open.
  4. In the Element Information dialog box, General group tab, set the Detailing Symbol Style to the newly created detailing symbol style. In our example it is “My Detailing Style”.

  5. Repeat the process for each saved view in each seed dgnlib file.

Now we’ll put it all together, using the drawing composition tools to generate our drawings and sheets, with our border already referenced and our detailing symbols used. We place our title block cell to populate items in our title block with the field properties.


Using the Drawing Composition Tools

The drawing composition tools are used to generate our drawings and sheets, linking them together. We wil use our seeds in order to have our border, with its fields in the title block, and our symbols from the detailing symbol style.


  1. Open the coordination master model for your discipline. This file references all pertinent discipline files. This master model file is where we will generate our plans, etc. from. In this example the file is named “My Project-A-Construction Master. To set up the floor plan we can turn off levels and reference files as needed to generate the plan.
  2. Initially we’ll create a plan with the Place Plan Callout tool. From the Drawing Composition task group click the Place Plan Callout tool. Note the Create Plan View(s) tool can be used to create multiple plans. In our example we are using the Place Plan Callout tool.
  3. In the Tool Settings dialog set the Drawing Seed to Arch – Floor Plan and turn on the Create Drawing toggle. Notice the Detailing Symbol Style is using the newly created style.
  4. Following the prompt we place a floor plan symbol in a front view orientation.
  5. Fill in the Create Drawing dialog box as appropriate. In our example we are creating a separate drawing model file and sheet model file.

  6. The drawing and sheet are created with the project border attached. Next we’ll add our title block cell.
  7. In the newly created sheet model file, go to the Element pull-down, Cells tool. In the Cell Library dialog box. Select File > Attach File and browse to where the cell library we created is and select it.
  8. Double click on the cell name and place it accordingly in the sheet.
  9. Finally we will assign the sheet number in the model properties. From the drawing composition task group select the Annotation Scale tool. This opens the model properties for the sheet.

  10. In the Sheet Name field type in the sheet’s number (it’s OK we are using this for our sheet numbers, A-101, S-202, M-103, etc.). In this example A-101.
  11. The title block updates with the new sheet number and the plot stamp is filled out with current information.

So we have set up our drawing composition dgnlib seed files with our project’s border, which is using fields to populate some of the title block information. Our standard symbols on the appropriate level and symbology is placed. And we place our additional title block cell for sheet specific data, again utilizing fields.