A Guide to Project Navigator

February 23, 2022 Heather Volk

Set Up:

Project Navigator:  

There are a couple ways to open the Project Navigator:

  • The easiest one is to hit CTRL and 5 at the same time.
  • Type in “Projectnavigatortoggle” and the browser will open.
  • You can also add it to your customized quick access toolbar by clicking on the drop-down arrow and checking Project Navigator.

To start a new project, you will click on the Project Browser button (A).

 

That will bring you to a new dialog box where you select New Project:

Fill in the information: Project number, Project Name, Description. If you have a template already set-up, make sure the box is checked and it is pathed correctly. Then click ok.

                                                 

To edit Project details, add levels and elevations, or add divisions, click the edit button for each item.

Levels represent the floors in a building. The construct drawings are assigned to a level of the building and the level height controls the elevation at which the drawings are inserted.

Divisions represents wings or plan areas within a building. The construct drawings are assigned to a division of the building as well as the level of that division. In a small project it is possible to have only one division.

Project Navigator Tabs:

Project Tab:

This is where you will set & get all the information about the project.

-Name                  -Job Number                      -Description

-Levels                 -Elevations                         -Divisions

**All of this should be set up before the job is started. ** 

 

Buttons in the lower left corner of the Project Tab:

  1. Project Browser: launches the project browser to create projects, edit project properties and select the currently active project.
  2. Close Current Project: Closes the current project and the Project Navigator.
  3. Content Browser: This launches the Content Browser to access tool catalogs. If the project has a tool catalog assigned, it will be displayed. You can assign a tool catalog library to a project in the project properties, which you can access by right clicking the project in the Project Browser.
  4. Refresh Project: This updates the Project Navigator to reflect the new, renamed, moved, and deleted files and folder categories.
  5. Synchronize Projects: This synchronizes the project with the project standard styles and display settings. It checks the style and display settings in the project drawings against the project standards. If they do not match, the project drawings can be updated or synchronized with the new standards.
  6. Configure Project standards: This launches the Project Standards setup to enable and configure the standards. You can specify project standard styles, display settings and synchronization settings for all the drawings in the project.

 

Constructs Tab:

 

This is where all the drawing files exist. In the constructs you will find everything divided by trade including all background drawings which can be labeled by trade or to match your company’s CAD Standards. Remember to keep the files names as short as possible.

To make a new category folder: You need to find the service folder it needs to be in, (example: Mech Pipe) right click and go to “new” and click on “construct.”

A window will pop up like the one to the right. You will need to put the name of the drawing where it says “New Construct”and add a description under the name. The most important step is to set the level. (The levels are set up on the project tab)

The constructs consist of .dwgs that all users will access and work in that have objects like walls and doors or use as overlays in the project.

Elements are similar to blocks and contain objects that are repeated inside the building. The elements are referenced by the constructs within a project. Example: A typical toilet room that is located in the same spot on all floors.

To add a construct as an xref there are two methods.

  1. Right click on the drawing (construct) and select “xref overlay”
  2. Drag and drop the drawing (construct) into the drawing. This will xref and stack the drawing at the right level.

Buttons in the lower left corner of the Constructs Tab:

Check-In History: This area shows the constructs history information.

  1. Add Category: This creates a new category in the tree above. Categories are folders within the project that help organize your project drawing files.
  2. Add Construct: This creates a new construct drawing. The constructs represent the specific built component base files of the building. One or more constructs are assigned to each level and contain the objects like walls, doors, windows etc for each level.
  3. Add Element: This creates a new element drawing. The elements are similar to blocks and contain objects that are repeated in a building. They are xref-attached to constructs within a project.
  4. Show External References: This displays, organizes and manages referenced drawings files. In a project, sheets reference views, views reference constructs, and constructs reference elements.
  5. Project Browser: This launches the project browser to create projects, edits project properties, and select the currently active project.
  6. Content Browser: This launches the Content Browser to access tool catalogs. If the project has a tool catalog assigned, it will be displayed. You can assign a tool catalog library to a project in the project properties, which you can access by right clicking the project in the Project Browser.
  7. Refresh Project: This updates the Project Navigator to reflect the new, renamed, moved, and deleted files and folder categories.
  8. Repath Xref: This updates the modified xref paths in the project drawings. Repathing may be necessary after moving or renaming a referenced file. Repath searches through all the project drawings and fixes/ updates the affected xref paths.

View Tab:

The views tab will be used to create Composite Trade Drawings which include notes, dimensions, tags and any other annotation necessary. To create one, right click on the views folder and select “New view dwg.” Then select what type of view drawing you want to create. The options are general, section/ elevation or detail. Pick the type of view you need and follow the next set of prompts.

Screen 1 of 3: Fill in the Name of the view and description. Hit Next.

Screen 2 of 3: Select the levels that will be in the drawing you are creating. You can pick multiple levels, but just be aware that this will make the file larger. Once all the floors are selected hit next.

Screen 3 of 3: The last screen is asking what drawings you want for the floors you selected on the previous screen. Go through all the constructs listed and check or uncheck the drawings shown. Once all the drawings needed are selected hit “Finish.” Once the drawing shows up in Project Navigator you can open it.

Buttons in the lower left corner of the View Tab:

  1. Add Category: This creates a new category in the tree above. Categories are folders within the project that help organize your project drawing files.
  2. Add View: This creates a view drawing. A view drawing may contain one or more model space views that represent plans, sections, elevations, schedules, or details.
  3. Regenerate View: This updates the automatic selection and referencing of constructs including in the view drawings. The constructs that meet the level/ division criteria are referenced and those that do not are removed. In views containing more than one level, the insertion elevation of the constructs is also updated to match the project levels.
  4. Show External References: This displays, organizes and manages referenced drawings files. In a project, sheets reference views, views reference constructs, and constructs reference elements.
  5. Project Browser: This launches the project browser to create projects, edits project properties, and select the currently active project.
  6. Content Browser: This launches the Content Browser to access tool catalogs. If the project has a tool catalog assigned, it will be displayed. You can assign a tool catalog library to a project in the project properties, which you can access by right clicking the project in the Project Browser.
  7. Refresh Project: This updates the Project Navigator to reflect the new, renamed, moved, and deleted files and folder categories.
  8. Repath Xref: This updates the modified xref paths in the project drawings. Repathing may be necessary after moving or renaming a referenced file. Repath searches through all the project drawings and fixes/ updates the affected xref paths.

 

Sheets Tab:

The Sheets Tab is where all the dimensioning and plotting is done. Each file that is created will become the layout sheets used to print. This keeps the main construct files clutter free and smaller in size. The sheets drawing files are typically split up by trade. Under each trade you will create a new sheet for each new drawing. (Example: 01-DW-INSTALL)

To create a new sheet, right click on the trade you will be working on and select new “Sheet…”

Subset is for a new main folder.

Fill in the sheet number and the sheet title, the File name fills in with the information you provide. Then hit ok. If your sheet template is not set up (like shown on the left) it will prompt you to pick a specific size or a template. 

Buttons in the lower left corner of the Sheets Tab:

  1. Publish: This publishes all the sheets using the current project sheet set publish options. You can access more publishing options from the Publish submenu in the sheet set, subset or sheet context menu.
  2. Add Sheet: This creates a new sheet in the selected sheet subset. The new sheet is a paper space layout contained in a new sheet. The new sheet and sheet drawing are created from the sheet creation template which is defined in the project sheet set properties.
  3. Project Browser: This launches the project browser to create projects, edits project properties, and select the currently active project.
  4. Content Browser: This launches the Content Browser to access tool catalogs. If the project has a tool catalog assigned, it will be displayed. You can assign a tool catalog library to a project in the project properties, which you can access by right clicking the project in the Project Browser.
  5. Refresh Project: This updates the Project Navigator to reflect the new, renamed, moved, and deleted files and folder categories.

Note:

The project files and categories that are created in Project Navigator show up as files and folders in Windows explorer. This does not mean you can move, copy, delete or rename them from there. All changes should be made in Project Navigator, otherwise corruption and inconsistent data could affect the project. Also, any changes made in Project Navigator including deleting, renaming, or changing the file’s properties can not be undone using the “Undo” command.

Conclusion:

The Management system of Project Navigator will help maximize your functionality and efficiency in creating your “BIM” model using multiple versions of the AutoCAD Architectural and MEP software. 

About the Author

Heather Volk

Sr. Technical Support Specialist, Building Solutions<br><br>Heather is responsible for responding to customer requests and helping them address technical challenges in a timely manner. She is an experienced Computer Aided Design Manager with a demonstrated history of working in the construction industry. She has strong arts and design professional skills in AutoCAD, plumbing, computer aided design (CAD), project estimation, and facility management, and a history of providing training and technical support.

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