As Bob is my witness, I'll never be Plining Spaces Again!

Creating Spaces for Use with Autodesk FMDesktop

Alright, Scarlett O'Hara, I'm not... but, I do feel this is one of those moments in history that should be captured for posterity. I just 'p-lined' the entire floor of a building in less than 20 minutes.


What's got me so excited is that this isn't actually polylining. Any Space Manager can tell you how mind-numbingly dull that task is.

Well, at one (of many) of my fabulous classes at AU2006, Bob Fahlin was the instructor, there was discussion of how FMDesktop 7 can read ADT (ACA!) spaces and Revit rooms. So, on top of that wonderful news, there was the revelation of the AutoGenerate Spaces command in ADT/ABS (Acad MEP)!

So, instead of tediously polylining, or quasi-tediously click-dragging spaces, you can set up and automate the creation of spaces.

True, this isn't a 100% *perfect* tool, but, since no *perfect* tools exist, I will be happy with this one!

I took a floor plan, 9,500 sqare feet, just the basics, right.

First, I turned off the casework and plumbing and text layers, just leaving pretty much walls, doors and windows. This is also where good drafting practices can come into play... you need those happy little osnaps working so you don't have gaps at your walls and doors, etc. You *can* add in a 'fudge' factor to ignore gaps, but, really, isn't it just easier to do it right the first time and not have to worry about making the fudge too big and ending up with a mess?

Anyway, I ran the command and here's what I ended up with on my first pass through...
Not too shabby for less than two seconds worth of work.

I manually selected the three spaces near the top that weren't generated for whatever reason, and then I did go back through and drop in a couple of spaces that weren't generated because their openings were... erm, open. Then I quickly plined the two reception areas and three hallways that were left and generated the spaces. That, along with fixing the staircase and elevator spaces and deleting the space on the patio, took all of 20 minutes.

I know this isn't a very big floor, it is one floor of one building on my campus of over 30 buildings, but... it was so much faster than manually polylining that I will take it, and happily.

The only drawback is that, if we adopt this program at work, I'll be cross-grading from my current production software of Autodesk MAP3d (love the cleanup tools) to AutoCAD Architecture (ADT/ACA) and I'm afraid of contaminating my MEP engineers with architecture cooties. :-/ (sorry, Jason M said that earlier today and I couldn't help snickering over it)

This is just one step in setting up an FMDesktop project, but, one of the most important ones.


Anonymous said...

Not PLINE'ing spaces was the reason we moved to ADT 2.0 the day it was released in NZ :-)

Re, your current plans you can easily convert Plines to spaces. Right click on the space style tool then "Apply to" has options for Pline (has to be closed), existing space and some other "spacey" ACA objects (Slab etc)

Anonymous said...

Forgot to add, you don't need to Pline then convert, Select the space tool then put the Properties Palette "Create type" in "Polygon" mode and pick points like you're Plining. You can even flip segment between line/arc as you go. Don't worry about closing to finish, just hit enter once you've picked the last point and the space is created with the last line segment closing the shape.

Mistress of the Dorkness said...

Thanks for the tips, Robin!

Luckily, I've never actually had to pline myself, since I don't do Space Management, so this is a great time for me to learn this. I'll check out the Type options next time I pull this up.

Anonymous said...

Is this only a feature of FMDesktop or could this process also be used with other CAFM tools? Sounds like you're working with the features of ADT...

Mistress of the Dorkness said...

This post is only referring to ADT 2007 (ABS actually), I'm not actually in FMDesktop for any of the work shown.

FMDesktop can read the ADT space objects (and Revit Rooms).

I don't know if any other CAFM programs out there can do this, I've never used any others.

Anonymous said...

faciliCAD has been reading Spaces in ADT since it's first release. Not only does it read spaces, but it also syncs the Space Styles with Room Types in faciliCAD.

Mistress of the Dorkness said...


Thanks for the tip, it's nice to know other programs can take advantage of this feature as well.


Anonymous said...

I created a VBA routine that would change the visibility status of particular layers and then start AutoCad's "Boundary" command to create polylines. It works great as long as your drawings are "preped" to accept the boundary. It literaly shaved hours off the drawing time on large buildings! No more picking every point to create the polyline. Something to look into!

Mistress of the Dorkness said...

Anonymous, Wow, that sounds like a great solution for the vanilla acad users who don't want to move to ADT (erm, ACA) just for this SpaceAutoGenerate capability.

Is there a link or contact information where someone could find out more about obtaining your tool? It sounds very valuable.

Thanks for the comment and the knowledge that there are many options out there! :-)