AEC

First Look Review: Excelize Detail Manager

9 Aug, 2006 By: Patrick Davis

Useful tool helps architects easily manage, retrieve and reuse details from AutoCAD files.


Excelize Detail Manager
Pros: Fast; efficient tool for managing and retrieving details from AutoCAD architectural drawings.
Cons: Automatically renames detail files; user may need to modify folder structure.
Price: $350 single license; discounts for multiple licenses.

Excelize
510.818.0755
www.excelize.com

If you're like many architects, you have details that you reuse from project to project, but lack a system to organize and locate them. Excelize Detail Manager from Excelize offers a way for you to catalog and manage your entire library of AutoCAD drawings in a searchable database. It lets you centralize all your files in a single location and helps you to manage, search and retrieve the details. The interface lets you search files by file name, keyword and other parameters that have meaning to your organization.

For testing, I tasked Excelize Detail Manager with organizing and managing several hundred typical details from a structural engineering office. Version 2.0 offers a great deal more flexibility in how you can organize your details compared with previous versions. You can import your detail files from your existing folder structure and file-naming system. As shown below, within a few minutes I was able to import more than 800 files from 43 folders. The DTL-lib folder is the Master Directory and the Excelize Detail Manager organized the details by the folder names one level below the DTL_lib folder, which Excelize calls the Division name.

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The results of importing more than 800 files from 43 folders into Excelize Detail Manager.

To maximize the potential of Excelize Detail Manager, you might have to change your current folder structure. For example, rather than having all concrete details in a single folder, you should subdivide those details into multiple folders. When you use the search engine, you can locate your lintel details without having to sort through all your concrete details. It sounds time-consuming, but I actually restructured my original folders to maximize the potential of Excelize Detail Manager in about four hours.

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To take full advantage of the Excelize Detail Manager search engine, you might need to restructure your folders.

I encountered only two problems with the Excelize Detail Manager. First, the details that you want to make searchable in the Excelize Detail Manager must be located under a Master Directory, which may require you to create or adjust your current directory structure.

The second problem is that the program automatically renames your details. I had a division named Concrete Details, with four subfolders that Excelize Detail Manager refers to as Conditions. If I had 20 details in my Slab-on-Grade folder with various names, they automatically were renamed to "Concrete Details_Slab on Grade-##.dwg" where ## is the detail number. An Excelize representative told me that the main reason the program renames files when cataloging is to ensure consistency in the file naming. As long as you understand the renaming structure, you can still find your details.

The search capabilities are based on user-defined criteria, and you can preview multiple search results, compare details and navigate back and forth through the results. You are also able to view a larger image of a selected detail as well as zoom, rotate and print. After you locate your details, you can insert them as blocks or xrefs, or open the detail in AutoCAD.

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Search results in Excelize Detail Manager.

In the end, I am impressed with the efficiency and features of Excelize Detail Manager. The interface is very easy to use and provides extensive search capabilities. To locate lintel details, simply type lintel as the search criteria and those corresponding details are listed. You can then view, print and insert selected details directly into your AutoCAD drawing.

The Excelize Detail Manager supports AutoCAD 2000-2006 and AutoDesk Architectural Desktop 2005. It can operate as a standalone application running independently of AutoCAD on a PC with or without AutoCAD, or configured to automatically load with AutoCAD. A single license of Excelize Detail Manager costs $350, with discounts for multiple licenses.


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