CADDtools Data Exchange Program by Howard Goding

A Cut List Pic

This is an introduction to new and improved CADDtools Data Exchange. I will utilize a program in AutoCAD allowing me to import and export data from AutoCAD to Excel. My purpose for this program was to manipulate the AutoCAD data with Excel and create tag information; I then export the tag information back into AutoCAD. I will use the MetalOpt optimization/cut list program to achieve the tag data transfer. Please note the MetalOpt program has its own import/export feature and can export tag information directly to AutoCAD. To reiterate, the information below is about the CADDtools Data Exchange program. For more information about purchasing the MetalOpt program go to

Some information on my background and the sample project you will see in this video series. I work in the Architectural aluminum and glazing field, I use these programs to create fabrication cut lists automatically from my approved shop drawings. This demonstration will show how to create a curtain wall elevation and insert data into the AutoCAD.

There are three distinct procedures to follow for an efficient work flow. I start with creating the data in AutoCAD; see the “Create AutoCAD Data Video”. Next I will extract the data in AutoCAD and export it to a new Excel spread sheet, see the “Extract AutoCAD Data Video”. Finally I will use the MetalOpt material optimizer to create fabrication (Fab) sheets them manipulate the data by adding Tag information then exporting the Tag information back into AutoCAD, see “MetalOpt Input Output Video”.

1st Create AutoCAD Data

Four videos approximately 49 minutes

The first four videos pertain to adding attribute data in AutoCAD. It may be helpful to download the sample curtain wall shop drawing I used for the CADDtools and MetalOpt demonstration. I tried to make the program a universal extraction program. Although these videos will focus on extracting specifically formatted attributes, the program should extract any data that is put on the target filtered layer “CADDtools”.

To download the Sample shop drawing and CADDtools Data Exchange program perform the two steps below.

1st select the items you want to download.

Sample Shop Drawing Elevation w/TAGs
Sample Shop Drawing Elev. w/imported TAGs
CADDtools Data Exchange program for AutoCAD 2013 through 2018
CADDtools Data Exchange program for AutoCAD 2012
The Data Exchange program allows data extraction from AutoCAD to be imported into MetalOpt for further manipulation.
(All downloads include the MetalOpt optimizer Excel spreadsheet demo.)

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2nd enter the reCAPTICHA characters then select Download Zip file button.

Create Curtain Wall material and glazing data in AutoCAD. Less than 13 minutes.

Create multiple Curtain Wall elevations with included material and glazing data. 13 minutes.

Review multi-span Curtain Wall material and create glazing data in AutoCAD. 16 minutes.

Analyze AutoCAD attribute makeup for CADDtools data extraction. 7 minutes.

2nd Extract AutoCAD Data

Approximately 6 minutes

Now that the data is created I will extract or export the data from AutoCAD to Microsoft Excel using the CADDtools_Data_Exchange program. Once the attribute data is exported to Excel I can manipulate the data there or you can use the data in your favorite material optimizer M E T A L O P T. After that you can import TAG data back into AutoCAD. I do not show the import feature on the video since I will be using that feature from MetalOpt. The CADDtools_Data_Exchange program extracts a unique AutoCAD tag handle to help distinguish the individual pieces of data. See below for the reason I do not use AutoCAD’s data extraction wizard.

Key items to note when exporting data from AutoCAD to Excel:

  • Use the NETLOAD command to load the CADDtools.dll program in AutoCAD
  • You can leave the Elevation Number and Quantity blank.
  • Attribute data or blocks are filtered by layer “CADDtools” or “CADDtoolsGL”
  • Tag Handles have an apostrophe added to the beginning of the data. This is to suppress the scientific notation formatting in excel.
  • Key items to note when importing data from excel to AutoCAD:

  • Excel must be running with one workbook open.
  • The Import feature works from the last current excel workbook and worksheet.
  • This Import feature is dedicated to importing “TAG” information only.
  • The selected AutoCAD blocks are filtered by layer “CADDtools” and “CADDtoolsGL”

  • Curtain Wall data extraction utilizing the CADDtools data exchange. 8 minutes.

    CADDtools data exchange load errors explained. 3.5 minutes.

    3rd Import material data into MetalOpt export Tags to AutoCAD

    Approximately 12 minutes

    Finally I will use MetalOpt to manipulate the Excel data by creating fabrication (Fab) sheets and adding individual Tags’ then I will export the TAG information back into AutoCAD. For more information about purchasing MetalOpt go to

    Optimize the Curtain wall material data in MetalOpt

    Approximately 19 minutes

    This is a demonstration using the MetalOpt material cut list program. This video will show the functions one can use to optimize the curtain wall extrusions from the sample project. Some of the key features will be creating new sheets and optimizing multiple extrusions at one time. For more information about purchasing MetalOpt go to

    Some history about the CADDtools data exchange program

    The CADDtools data exchange program was first developed in 2010 using the Visual Basic programing language. Since Autodesk is phasing out the Visual Basic module I worked on converting the program to the programing language. Using there is no need to install the Visual Basic module. The unfortunate thing is the .net framework changes from time to time. Which is why the CADDtools data exchange program has two versions one covers AutoCAD 2012 and the other covers AutoCAD 2013 and newer. AutoCAD versions 2011 and older will have to use the original Visual Basic version if you can get the VB module from Autodesk. Refer to the archive page where you can download the older version. CADDtools archive page

    The reason I do not use AutoCAD's data extraction wizard

    I originally tried to use the AutoCAD data extraction wizard, and it works well for extracting the main data "Extrusion", "Length" and "TAG", but I need it to distinguish between individual attributes that have the same data in them. That is where the AutoCAD tag handle comes in, which is a unique number generated by AutoCAD for each attribute. I never could get the wizard to include the "tag handles", although I assume AutoCAD may include that data in future versions of AutoCAD.

    Please take a look at the material optimizer.