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Understanding some of the various support files used by AutoCAD Electrical®

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Understanding some of the various support files used by AutoCAD Electrical®️

AutoCAD Electrical®️ obtains some of its functional rules from simple text files called support files. Most of the files are discussed in detail in the Help system built into AutoCAD Electrical®️. The fact is that some files can be located in more than one location, depending upon the user. For example, the main parts catalog is the default_cat.mdb file, located by default at My Documents\AcadE 2008\Catalogs. You could copy this file to a specific project folder and rename it to _cat.mdb, then make modifications as necessary for the specific project. For example, let's say you want to delete all but the preferred suppliers for each type of component.

You could take a similar approach with the default.wdw file, normally located at C:\Documents and Settings\Doug McAlexander\Application Data\Autodesk\AutoCAD Electrical 2008\R17.1\enu\Support\User. Move this file to a specific project folder and modify as necessary to force the naming convention for wire color/gauge labels.

Another file in the User folder that might be modified for use with a specific project is the default_wdtitle.wdl file. This file controls the project line label prompts that you see when you right-click on a project name and select Descriptions. The one that installs by default will most likely need to be modified to meet your needs. If you use different title blocks, perhaps customer-specific, you may need to place a _wdtitle.wdl file in the specific project folder so the project line label prompts coincide with the title block for that project.

If you choose to use the User Defined Attributes functionality AutoCAD Electrical®️ will create a .wda file in the folder of the active project. The WDA file stores a list of custom attributes you may have added to some blocks and that you wish to make available for reports.

The bottom line is that AutoCAD Electrical®️ looks first inside the project folder for these files before it will use a default file from the User folder. During a project copy you will see a list of support files that AutoCAD Electrical®️ will search for. If any are found they are checked by default, assuming that you will want to copy them as well. You can uncheck if you wish not to copy the project specific support files.


There is one particular support file that I find particularly useful. You create this one yourself. It is a simple text file that you create and name wd_fam.dat. This file, if found in the project folder, will cause AutoCAD Electrical®️ to ignore the standard component tag designation found in the default field of the TAG1 attribute of a component symbol file. Instead it will use an alternate tag designation, as listed in the wd_fam.dat file. For example, if you are using JIC symbols but wish to have switches tagged with their IEC-61346 equivalent, you might have entries in the wd_fam.dat file like this:

SS,S
PB,S
LS,S
TS,S


In the case above selector switches (SS), push-buttons (PB), limit switches (LS), and thermal switches (TS), will all be tagged as S , in complaince with IEC-61346.

Note: The wd_fam.dat file is functional during component insertion and during retag operations.
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