Don’t Forget that CADWorx P&ID Cfm.shx file

This issue comes up rather often when dealing with projects that use CADWorx. Some users use CADWorx and other people in the same project don’t. Perhaps they want to simply open a P&ID drawing (or other drawing that uses this file for linetypes) with just “vanilla” AutoCAD and upon opening the drawing they are greeted with the ever-annoying prompt that says: “One or more SHX files are missing. What do you want to do?”

Cfm shape file 1A

If you don’t have CADWorx installed on your machine, simply ignore this so that you don’t alter the drawing and how it is supposed to look/display. Then go find someone who does have CADWorx and ask if you can copy the “compiled shape file” (That is what an .shx file is…) and copy it to you your AutoCAD support path.

Most likely the culprit is the .shx file called “Cfm.shx” and it is located in the default CADWorx support path on your C: drive as shown below.

In the example below, I am using AutoCAD 2013 with CADWorx P&ID 2013. Your versions will vary but the file name of “Cfm.shx” remains the same. Also not that when you browse to your AutoCAD support path, it will not be the same as mine after the “Users” portion…

Cfm shape file 2

Shown below are some of the linetypes that use this .shx file that are unique and therefore, you can see why you wouldn’t want to simply replace the linetype upon opening…

Cfm shape file 1

Cfm Shape File 3


Posted in CADWorx, Customization, Linetypes, Manage | Leave a comment

Issues With Using DEFPOINTS for Viewports

It may seem like a great idea to use the layer “DEFPOINTS” as the layer for your viewports since it doesn’t plot by default. And you may have heard from various posts that you shouldn’t do so but may have not understood why…

Here’s why:

It has to do with both Layer 0 (zero) and Defpoints.

Note: I am using “Layer 0 (zero)” because I dont want the zero to be confused as the capital letter O.

Layer zero is reserved for objects like blocks so if they are set to layer zero and you insert them into a drawing, the current layer could be set to anything, and that block will now be on that layer. So CAD managers might have Layer 0 (zero) turned off or even frozen so that people don’t use this layer to draw objects that should be on a designated layer.

If layer 0 (zero) is not turned off or frozen, you can select everything as normal (shown below

1 All Layers Selectable

Let’s say that you Freeze Layer 0 (zero) [shown below]

2 Freeze Layer Zero

Now try to select the same layers that were select-able prior to Layer 0 (zero) being frozen. You will notice that you cant select the objects that are on the DEFPOINTS layer. It’s like some sort of force field has been applied to these objects…

3 Try to select Objects on Defpoints


So how will this cause issues?
If your viewports are on the DEFPOINTS layer, and you want to later come and change the scale of the viewport, you will not be able to select the viewport. However, you can still double click inside the viewport to adjust the scale but some people use DEFPOINTS for placing other objects that they don’t want to plot like text that serve as notes or whatever. If they later what to erase them or move them or edit them, they wont be able to do so.

4 Example of viewport on DEFPOINTS

Posted in BASICS, Layers, Layout, Manage, Paper Space, Trouble Shooting, Viewports | 6 Comments

BASE Command – BEWARE of XREFs & Blocks

A perplexing issue crept its way into a project recently that revolves around the AutoCAD command BASE [enter].

This command can be found on the “Home” tab > Block panel (drop down – lower portion) “Base

Base 1

It can also be found on the “Insert” tab > “Block Definition” panel (drop down – lower portion) > “Set Base Point” button

Base 1-2


Note the description of the command as it is hovered over in the tool tip. It sounds like a description but it should also be a WARNING.

When you run the BASE command in a drawing note that the coordinates should be o,o,o (zero,zero,zero) [shown below].

Base 2

If the BASE command is run and these coordinates have been changed, notice the warning that appears (shown below). It seems to be more concerned about the Z coordinate not being set to zero than anything, but at least it lets you know that this has been changed.

Base 3


Using the BASE command can be useful for when you have a series of blocks that are in a folder and each drawing is an individual blocks. If for some reason, a block needs to have its insertion point moved, it might be easier to open the drawing and run the BASE command and then simply snap to a point to define the new “BASE” point, then trying to select all of the objects that make up the block and then move them to the coordinates (0,0,0).

But if you have dynamic blocks or properties of a block that require it to be opened and edited in the “Block Editor,” you are out of luck. The below warning will appear telling you that the BASE command will not work in the Block Editor.



Now here is the important thing to remember or at least try if you have a problematic drawing/model. Here is the scenario – An Electrical designer had a 3d model referencing all of the other disciplines (Piping, Structural, Civil, & Mechanical) and when he had his drawing opened, everything looked correct. But when every other discipline opened their model, everything was fine EXCEPT the electrical model. This is because somewhere along the process, the BASE command was used and was snapped to some random object. And as the description says, this will be the “Origin” or Base Point that other drawings will process and use when this drawing is inserted as a block or XREFed into their drawings.

Luckily, if the BASE has been changed, you can later use the BASE command and it will show the new coordinates – meaning it will not show (0,0,0) allowing you to easily enter these values thus fixing the XREF issue.

Posted in Blocks, Manage, Modifying, XREFs | 1 Comment

Turn On CADWorx Ribbon Tabs and Menu Bar

If you have lost your CADWorx Ribbon tabs or Menus (from the menu bar) you can simply load them by using the following in the command line:


CADWorx ribbon tabs and menu

CADWorx 2013 and AutoCAD 2013 are shown in the above pic

For loading the CADWorx Equipment palette or toolbars see the following post:

A friend of mine also has a great blog post explaining how to load both the CADWorx Plant and Equipment modules in the same session found here:

Please keep the Streamlined Design blog in mind for some terrific advanced AutoCAD customization tips & techniques for CAD managers and CAD admins. There are also some .NET programming examples available


Posted in CADWorx, Manage | Leave a comment

AutoCAD List of Command Aliases and Shortcut Keys

Today’s tip is simply a link to an excellent AutoCAD alias and shortcut reference guide provided by Autodesk & The AutoCAD team.

The link is found here:

I highly recommend learning command aliases like using XR in the command line instead of XREF or W instead of WBLOCK.

Note: There are many other useful examples in the linked resource. So don’t get overwhelmed or try to memorize all of them. If I could make a suggestion, skim the list of aliases or hot keys for the commands or tools that you use the most in your daily drafting routines and make a note of a few of them and try to utilize a couple one day at a time.

One more thing to note is that these are the default (out of the box) shortcuts and command aliases. Once you are comfortable with some of these default shortcuts you might realize that there are some default aliases that since they are assigned to an existing command. Luckily you can easily create brand new aliases and assign them to a command or you can assign an unused alias to a command.

A couple of examples of custom aliases that I use are CC = COPY, RR = ROTATE, SS = SELECTSIMILAR.

These aliases can be edited in the “Alias Editor” which appends the acad.pgp file.

For more help in running the ALIASEDIT command, refer to this previous post:



Thank you to the AutoCAD team for making this list of shortcuts & aliases available in such an easy and thorough format.


Posted in Uncategorized | 11 Comments

Creating A Data Link With An Excel Table

Linking an Excel spread sheet to an AutoCAD drawing and displaying the excel table as an AutoCAD  “Table” is very helpful depending on how you “link” the Excel file to the AutoCAD table.

In this post, I describe how to make an AutoCAD “Data Link” first, and then inserting a table using this Data Link.

I have seen a few examples where using other methods have cause issues. So after testing various ways, I think that this method is a solid method.

In this scenario, we have engineers who need to update a drawing list that happens to be an excel file (.xlsx) and they would like to link this to AutoCAD so that when they make changes to the table, those changes are included in the AutoCAD file.


First we need to make a “Data Link”

Click the “Data Link” button on the “Linking & Extraction” panel of the “Insert” tab of the ribbon.

Data Link 1

  • When the “Data Link Manager” opens, click “Create a new Excel Data Link
  • Give the Data Link a unique name
  • Then click OK

Data Link 2


  • Now link the “Data Link” to an excel file by clicking the ellipsis button ( 3 dot button)
  • Navigate to the Excel file and select it
  • Then click “Open

Data Link 3


The dialog box called ” New Excel Data Link” will display and an additional preview is now shown in the bottom portion.

One very important thing to note about this Dialog Box is to expand it by clicking the right arrow. This allows for additional formatting options for the AutoCAD Table.

Data Link 4


Now you will insert an AutoCAD Table (shown below)

When the “Insert Table” dialog box displays, click “From a data link

Select the Data Link that you named earlier from the drop down list

Then click OK

Data Link 5


Place the table in the drawing

After the table has been placed, you should be good to go.

Lets say that an engineer updates the Excel spreadsheet. You will either get the below notification when the person has saved and checked in the file or the next time you open the drawing.

Data Link Update


The AutoCAD table will not update by itself, you will need to update it manually.

To do this:

  • Place the cursor in a cell of the table
  • Click the “Download from Source” button in the ribbon

Data Link 6


There are many other options available while placing a Data-Linked table so please look further in to this topic to meet your needs. This is a high-level look at adding a data link table to a drawing.



Posted in Tables, TIPS | 18 Comments

Changing A Block Insertion Point

You may come across blocks in a drawing where either the insertion point of the block doesn’t meet your needs. Hopefully this post will help you save some time editing your block and also there’s an added bonus, I will show you how to add extra insertion points to your block – Yes, you can have multiple…

In the picture below, the scenario is that I have multiple instances of a block that contains attributes and the insertion point for this block is located at an odd location.

Block Insertion Points 1


Without exploding the block and then recreating it, I suggest using the “Block Editor”

You can use the BEDIT command ( or command alias BE )and select the block from the list. Or an easier way is to:

  • Simply select an instance of the block that you would like to edit
  • Right click
  • Select “Block Editor”

Block Insertion Points 2


As you can see, the “Block Editor” option is greyed out which means that I am unable to use the block editor. And as shown below, when I use the BEDIT command, the command line says that the “Block Editor is disabled.”

Block Insertion Points 3


This okay, there is an AutoCAD system variable (setvar) that many CAD managers set that prevents users from editing blocks.

The AutoCAD system variable is BLOCKEDITLOCK (shown below) and has a very simple On & Off setting

Block Insertion Points 4


As shown below, simply enter BLOCKEDITLOCK in the command line and set it to 0 (zero) to allow the block editor to be used.

Block Insertion Points 5

  • You can now select your block and right click and select “Block Editor.”

Your block will now open in the magical world of the block editor.
Notice that the background color is different (grey) which is good so that you remember that you are in the block editor and not in a drawing space (model or paper).
Also note that the current ribbon tab is a “contextual tab” called “Block Editor” and the tools in this tab are helpful for editing blocks and that there is a palette called the “Block Authoring Palette”

One important thing to notice is that when you want to exit the block editor, the furthest right button on the tab labeled “Close Block Editor” is what you want to use.

Block Insertion Points 6


Selecting all of the objects in the block editor, I will now move them using the MOVE command to orient the desired “main” insertion point to 0,0 (shown below)

Block Insertion Points 7


If moving the insertion point is all that you need done to a block, you can now use the “Close Block Editor” button and click “Save changes…” so that the block will reflect the moved insertion point.

To add another (or multiple) insertion point(s) to the block:

  • Click on the “Parameters” tab of the palette
  • Click “Point” from the palette
  • Click to place the new point
  • Move the cursor away from the point you just picked, and place the “Parameter”
    (Note: usually when you place something from the “Parameters” tab, you need to also apply an action to that “parameter.” This is usually how you make a dynamic block. but placing these extra points alone, requires no other “actions” to be applied to make it “dynamic” for our purpose)

Block Insertion Points 8



  • Click “Close Block Editor
  • Click “Save the changes to (your block name)

Block Insertion Points 9Because our block has attributes, you might notice that the attributes didn’t move. This is because when the block was created, the “Lock Position” option was set to “Yes” when the Attribute was created.

Block Insertion Points 10


To fix this, Use the ATTSYNC command which can be found on the “Insert” tab of the ribbon > “Block Definition” panel drop down > Click on “Synchronize

  • Select the block that needs to be “synced”
  • Verify that you would like to sync the block by selecting Yes

Block Insertion Points 11


Now that the block is ready for use, you can make use of those extra insertion points by using the INSERT command (or command alias I )

  • Select the name of the block from the list to insert
  • Prior to placing the block, use the CTRL key to toggle through the various insertion points.

Block Insertion Points 12


Posted in Blocks, Manage, Modifying | 4 Comments