AutoCad® Electrical for P&ID’s – part 2, Plus Extras

Well, it’s nearly June already and I’m just now getting back to looking at this whole subject.  I’m finally close to a working prototype system for doing my P&ID’s in Autocad® Electrical 2015.  And to make it more interesting I am incorporating a nested project concept that I picked up at Autodesk University 2014 in Las Vegas last December.

When I left off at the end of Part 1, I had just covered my method for adding AutoCad Electrical symbols to the tool palettes, in such a way that not only is the block inserted, but the Edit Component dialog is also called.  I also went into the fairly elaborate and convoluted method I rigged up (with paper clips and chewing gum) for inserting a P&ID line tag that has multiple, editable attributes in a single dynamic block.  In this installment I’ll show how I used the Symbol Builder to create blocks that contain multiple tags, but need only one tag number.  I’ll also talk about the nested project concept, and how I’ve got it set up for my company.  Hopefully some of this will be useful to you, so let’s dive into the blocks first.


Before I go into the blocks I’ve had to create, I want to just mention the wdtagalt attribute.  This attribute makes it possible to show the same physical device on multiple sheets while only counting it once.  For example, if I show a valve in my P&ID tagged NV-600, I can show the solenoid for that valve in my schematics tagged SV-600.  By linking them using wdtagalt, either one will update if the other is changed, but will still be seen across these documents as one device.

One of the first challenges I came up against in creating my valve library, was the fact that a lot of my symbols needed to have multiple tags on them, each carrying the same tag value, as in this image.



The solution to this one was actually quite simple, but not something you would think of without a little bit of digging.  In symbol builder, I tweaked my block so that the top value of each of the bubbles was a preset attribute, but not part of the tag.  That way if I ever need to have an exception to any of these values, I can change it in the Component Editor by selecting Show/Edit Miscellaneous.  The tag number value is set in the “NV” bubble with the regular “TAG1” attribute.  The other three bubbles get their value by putting an attribute in them called “copytag”.


In the above image, the nodes represent wire connection points.  Now, normally my component tagging settings are %F%N… which says that the tag will be the combination of the value of “Family” and “Tag1”.  I then set them to be sequential, with some starting value depending on the discipline of the P&ID.  In a case such as this, where I want the family to be preset by a different attribute, I simply make sure that the “family” attribute is blank.  That way when the symbol is placed, all I get is the number.

But…. how do I get these same bubbles to show up with Family in the top section and Number in the bottom section,… and have them together be the tag value?  As in:



Well, that one turned out to be fairly simple as well, but again, if you didn’t know what you were looking for you might never find it.  The trick is to make each piece of the tag an attribute, the top being named TAG_PART1, and the bottom TAG_PART2.  Then, when the symbol is placed, and the tag number created based on your project settings, it will break the tag into two parts and populate them as you see above.  How it knows exactly where to break the tag is based on those project settings.  i told you above that my tags are set to be %F%N.  %F represents the value of Family, %N the sequential number.  So AcadE knows to break the tag number between these two values.



The rest of my symbol creation is just going to be a matter of using the right combinations of these tricks, as well as knowing where to use parent versus child symbols.  So, from here out it’s just busy work.

Setting up my project structure was a bit trickier.  We have 3 disciplines we want to use AutoCad Electrical for.  Our electrical schematics, Instrument Loop Sheets, and P&ID’s.  Each of these has a distinct project suffix; -05,-06 & -01 respectively.  So, it really didn’t make sense to just put them all in one project.  We tried this at first, but then if I had 10 sheets in the schematics, and my first loop sheet was sheet 1 of 10, the title block showed it as sheet 11 of 20…. causing mass confusion in the ranks.  I needed to find a way to do these projects separately in order to get the numbering my field service techs were used to, and still be able to link items across disciplines.  Enter Autodesk University 2014….

A class I took at last years AU conference; MD6865 AutoCad Electrical – Advanced productivity, talked about a method for combining multiple projects into one master project, in effect nesting them.  So I took a look at how I could make this work for us.  I’m still working with this one a bit, so I may have to amend this post if I find things that don’t work, or work even better.  For the three disciplines I am organizing, here is what I’m doing:

First, I create a new project for each of the three disciplines, within the folder structure of the customer project.  We generally create a folder for each discipline within a customer job, as follows:

  • JOBNO-01 ~ P&ID’s
  • JOBNO-02 ~ Piping & Full Assembly
  • JOBNO-03 ~ Equipment Layouts (minus piping)
  • JOBNO-04 ~ Frame Prints
  • JOBNO-05 ~ Electrical & Panel Layout
  • JOBNO-06 ~ Instrument Loop Sheets

In these discipline specific projects, I have the .wdt and .wdl files arranged to populate the project descriptions and title blocks with values that will be specific to each set of drawings.  I then create a Master project, whose support files will populate the descriptions and title block with information that is universal to the whole project… such as customer information.  For those of you who don’t already know about setting up title blocks on AutoCad Electrical, here is a link to a tutorial that takes you through all of the steps.

Once all of these projects are created and the properties set, descriptions filled in etc., I create the sheets necessary for each subset.  Once the sheets are created (you can even do this before you finish the drawing itself), update the title blocks.  This can be done one sheet at a time, or for the entire project.  Remember that the title blocks will only be partially filled out at this point.  Now, activate the master project for this job.  Right click the project, and select Add Subfolder, then create a sub folder for each of the other three projects.  Right click on each sub folder and select Add Drawings.  Navigate to the drawing folder for that project, and select the drawings that you created earlier.  This will add the drawings from the sub project to the master project.  Once you have them all added to the various sub folders, you can do a project wide title block update, and the missing title block information will be filled in from the master project.

Head spinning yet? I’d be surprised if it wasn’t.  This is an image of the project manager from when I was messing with this.  The files are basically empty, and the names don’t follow any real convention, but I hope that it demonstrates the structure that we are after.


At the bottom are the two sub projects I created first, and one drawing each created with the project active.  The top is the master project containing folders for each of the sub projects, with the drawings added.  The drawing files themselves should be edited from the master projects, so that you can make any necessary links between symbols in the sub projects… like the wdtagalt relationship I discussed up top.  The trick really is in figuring out which properties need to be set at which level.  That will be different for every company working with this, so create a dummy folder with a dummy set of projects like I pictured above, you can mess around with them until you get the results you’re looking for, without messing anything else up.  the link I posted to the class also has the class handouts available for download, which should contain some more information on how to do this…. might even be better than what I’ve written… I don’t know.  My own head is spinning right now.  Merging projects like this will allow you to manage properties that need to be unique to each sub project, and then get all of your reports from the master, where everything is in one place.

Okay,… my hands are getting stiff from typing, so I think I’ll wrap this one up.  I hope I gave you some things to think about!


“Autodesk ® screen shots reprinted with the permission of Autodesk, Inc.  Autodesk ® , AutoCAD® , DWG, the DWG logo, Vault ®, Autocad Electrical ® and Inventor ® are registered trademarks or trademarks of Autodesk, Inc., and/or its subsidiaries and/or affiliates in the USA and other countries.”  Programs and programmers’ information used with permission.  Thanks guys!


CAD Department Supervisor at Powell Fabrication & Manufacturing, Inc. CAD Designer & Detailer specializing in Inventor Tube & Pipe, Frame Generator, Content Center, Vault Professional. Autodesk Expert Elite member. Blogger. Autodesk University Speaker 2014-2018. Husband and father. Photographer.

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2 comments on “AutoCad® Electrical for P&ID’s – part 2, Plus Extras
  1. Roman says:


    Very good material!

    Can you prepare next part about preparing loop drawings in AutoCAD Electrical ??

    Roman D.


    • cgbenner says:

      Hello, Roman.

      Thank you for your comment. Unfortunately we have abandoned the efforts to create P&ID’s with AutoCAD Electrical, and have moved on to AutoCAD P&ID. Our business needs have changed, and this product now makes more sense for us. I am in the process of setting this up as I type this, so there may be some blog posts coming on this topic. I just have to figure out how it all works first. 🙂


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