Missing AutoCAD XRefs?

Do you receive drawing packages with missing External References (Xrefs)?

While DWG is the proprietary native file format for AutoCAD, DWG will persist as a standard, with the support of several editing applications such as BricsCAD, ZWCAD, DraftSight, NanoCAD, and more. Additionally, generic document products, such as Dropbox, view the DWG format. So, if we acknowledge that DWG represents the most common ongoing format for 2D engineering documentation, many engineering organisations and asset owners have a massive investment and an ongoing interest in the value of DWG as a knowledge store and, also, as a means of communication.

In a previous blog we explored the value of title block integration to ensure that metadata in your engineering document management system accurately reflects title block information contained within the DWG format. In this update, we explore the compounding value of adding integration for external references (Xrefs) on top of title block integration.

Should you care if the drawings you receive are missing external references (Xrefs)? Xrefs are a great feature during the design phase, where multiple drawings will update to reflect the changes in a common reference drawing. On drawing handover, this dependency between drawings may become a liability. If your organisation has an investment stake in the DWG format, the documentation handover represents a risk. Referenced drawings may not be identified directly in transmittals, which may lead to these linked dependencies (missing Xrefs) avoiding detection on handover.

To check this in AutoCAD, use the Xref command to display the dialog and check for the ‘Found At’ path on external references. Where the ’Saved Path’ is included and the Found Path is empty, you have a missing reference. This can be a raster image or a drawing, but missing Xrefs leave gaps in your data.

AutoCAD XRefs

Your EDMS (engineering document management system) should validate incoming packages of drawings to check for missing Xrefs. Without this feature, drawings are received and booked in to the EDMS, where the absence of linked dependencies may go unnoticed until the drawings are required for operations and maintenance.

We work with the Lunr and Meridian EDM systems and both solutions provide validation of Xrefs on upload. Meridian provides this in the Meridian Portal. Lunr interrogates Change Requests on upload to validate drawings and identify missing Xrefs.

AutoCAD XRefs

If your current EDMS is not validating Xrefs on submission, it’s a difficult thing to catch up after project closure. You need this information at the time of submission and, ideally, should provide this feedback to the external party to allow them to validate, amend, and resubmit the drawing package without your intervention. In this way, you’re ensuring the ongoing integrity of your EDMS and maintaining its value to users of the system.