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Sunday, February 24, 2013

Editing Tables Inserted into Autodesk Inventor Drawings

“We definitely have noticed more interest in table games.”
Todd Moyer

In last weeks blog post, I showed how to insert a table created in Microsoft Excel into an Autodesk Inventor Drawing.  

But with that table placed into the  drawing, there's an additional benefit I think makes this work flow worth considering.

When the Excel table is inserted onto the drawing, it maintains a link back to the Excel file, which make it what many like to refer to as "a single source of truth". 

In other words, the Excel table can be updated, and all files looking at that table update as well. 

Taking the example I used in my last blog post, I used Excel to create a chart that showed small tools and preferred vendors for a wood working project.  I used it as a quick way of inserting standard information without recreating the table.

The Excel table used in my previous blog.
I've taken this particular table, and inserted it onto two different drawings, which will be using the same information, one is the Saturday table I used in last weeks blog, the other, a blanket chest for a different project.

The Saturday Table

The Blanket Chest
 For this scenario, I'm going to say that Reed Wood Supply has been purchase by "Blue Sun" (who recognizes that movie reference?). 

I'm going to stick with them as a vendor, and just swap "Reed Wood Supply" with "Blue Sun".

To do that, I open up my Excel table, and make the changes.  I can do this in one of two ways.

The first is to just open the Excel table up by browsing to it from Excel, the other is to locate it's link in Inventor's browser, right click, and choose "Edit".

Browsing to the File in Excel

Right Click and Edit in Inventor's browser.

Either way, I can now modify the file and save it.

Changing to "Blue Sun"

Once saved, the tables will update to reflect the new changes in both drawings.

The updated table

 I've noticed that when I right click and choose edit from the browser, the table may not refresh right away.  If that happens, right click on the table, and choose, "Update" .   After that, all should be as it should be.

Updating the table manually.

There is one other capability of this method I find intriguing  If the table is edited like an Inventor Table, additional rows can be added to the table for a particular drawing.  However, these rows that are added don't propagate back to the Excel table.

I like the thought of this because if a particular project uses mostly the same "common" table items, but has a few that are unique, I can stick them onto the end of the table, and getting the best of both worlds.

To accomplish these steps, right click on the table and choose edit.

Next, right click on the edge of the border, and choose "Insert Row".

Now enter the desired values and repeat as needed.  In this example, a different finish is being used on the Saturday table, so I've added a finer grit sandpaper and spar varnish to the vendor list.  Since the table was edited in Inventor this time, only the drawing where I made the edits is changed. 

The rest remain the same, allowing me to keep common what I want to keep common, and add where I need to add. 

The two tables compared to their Excel source.  Notice the added items on the top table.

So that's it.  Utilizing the Excel table as a single reference, and making edits to accomplish different results.  I do like some of the things I see here, and I think I'll utilize this more in the future.

I hope you can to. 

And to wrap this up, check out the video on this work flow below!


  1. If you keep full control yourself this might be beneficial under some circumstances.. but imagine this with 20 people.. and new ones coming in.. and some of the info is written in excel.. and some in the idw.. One person updates in the excel file.. another one in the idw.. -> Total chaos. New user takes over and sees one text string in the excel sheet.. and another one in the excel sheet.. eeeh? which one is correct?? And so on.. We still use Inventor 2011 and I don't like the look of the pasted Excel table there either. Maybe I'm doing something wrong.. or it's just 2011.. but it looks horrible. Nothing like inventors built in table. Then what about copying? There's a risk not getting the excel sheet to copy with the idw.. and you end up editing an excel sheet belonging to another drawing by mistake.. I'm not really fond of independent documents outside Inventor based on my experience with lots of people working on the same things.. and it can get troublesome with just 2 people also sometimes. But of course, there's always a use for it.. I'm not saying there isn't. But I'm sceptical about using it to vividly.

    1. M96,

      Naturally, I wouldn't promote this workflow for everyone. It has benefits, and it has drawbacks, and each user (or users) would have to decide if the benefits outweigh the drawbacks for them.

      The Excel file could be set "read only" or even controlled by data management system that could control the accessibility to the master file, for example.

      Ultimately, it's the entity using the workflow who are the final arbiters of their particular environment.

      Thanks for your comments!

  2. Jonathan -
    This is a great idea. Thanks! I realize this is an older post but I have a question / idea related to this if that's ok? When dimensioning a part with many drilled or punched holes we can use the Hole table tool to create a neatly organized list of hole coordinates & sizes, leaving the drawing sheet looking clean and easy to read. What about radii? I have several plate style parts that have many waterjet cuts with radii fillets that really clutter up the sheet when the baseline dimensions are placed all over. Is there a way to list various radii coordinates & sizes in a neat, organized list?

    Thanks & regards - JD

    1. Radii is a interesting one, I took a few minutes to look, and I don't see a way to do it. One idea might be to use named parameters in general table, but that's a bit of a brainstorm I just had.

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