AutoCAD 2008 Tables- Dynamic with Excel

I love AutoCAD tables.  They can have formulas… They can have fields that reference objects… I use them when I do Map Data attribute extraction (see my Stormwater Class from AU for more ideas there).

The only missing piece was a dynamic link back to excel.  Sure I could use an OLE object, but then I couldn’t use the great AutoCAD table features.

I was pretty excited when I heard about the AutoCAD 2008 tables, so when Lynn Allen showed it yesterday at the Possibilities Tour, I paid attention.

In it’s simplest form:

(Note: the example I am using here is a Storm Sewer Calc Sheet.  It was just a spreadsheet I had handy.  This sheet is NOT linked dynamically to any Civil 3D pipenetwork, although I do have some ideas about simple ways to get your data over into a similar sheet in a manual, but easy, way.  More on that later)

You have a sheet in Excel.  Copyclip the cells you want in your dwg.

Choose Paste Special in your AutoCAD (Civil 3D) Edit Pull down.

Make sure you Paste Link, and choose AutoCAD entities to get an AutoCAD table.

Pastes in nicely- even remembered my colors!

Change a slope back in Excel (and save the file)

Update the table…

AutoCAD responds.

When you do this, it doesn’t paste the formulas into the AutoCAD sheet- it seems to depend on the Excel sheet for the calculations. 

Lynn said something during her talk about being able to change the permissions so that a change in a cell over in AutoCAD would write back to Excel, but I couldn’t find it quickly. 

**After Press Time, Donnie, over at The CAD Geek (my new best friend) posted this on creating data links from excel sheets.  I will be integrating this into my AUGI Stormwater Tasks class for sure**** 

Taking it to the next level:

I have only begun to play with this, but I plan on having at least a simple example hammered out for my AUGI presentation next month.  Data Extraction (Attribute Extraction) appears to be quite enhanced in AutoCAD 2008.  The wizard is more user friendly and intuitive and there are far more options and tools.  I only went into it for about 5 minutes to see if I could link up my Subcatchment data with an external excel sheet.

I can’t quite get my head around how my data extraction table in AutoCAD is linked (if at all) with the excel export that the wizard did for me.  But I know I can figure out a way to get everything tied together somehow.  Maybe I start in excel then add a few columns of data extraction once it is in AutoCAD or something like that.  We’ll see.

It appears that I could also use an existing excel sheet to “feed” my data extraction table.  I have to explore that a little bit further.  I see much potential here.

Next post in my “Everything I Know About AutoCAD 2008 I stole from Lynn Allen’s Presentation” series- Annotative Objects (text, hatch, etc) and how they fit in with Civil 3D objects and labels (if at all).


  1. Hugh Bisco says:

    >>”Lynn said something during her talk about being able to change the permissions so that a change in a cell over in AutoCAD would write back to Excel, but I couldn’t find it quickly.”

    I don’t have 08 installed yet, but you right-click on the data-link pretzel icon in the status bar. There is an option in there I believe to allow the writing to the excel file.

    Now can anybody come up with a way to bring in the excel file without the true type fonts overriding the text styles in the table style? My usual work around is to save the excel file as a csv, but that will cause you to lose the data link with the excel file.

  2. MAnderson says:

    Hmmm…I hope UPS or Fedex delivers early next week! I have a 200 lot subdivision to do this on…

  3. Hugh – I don’t know if it helps, but there is a “Cell Formatting” option when setting up a data link. The tables I have inserted have inherited the fonts defined in the table style.