Monday, October 29, 2012

Sheet Set Manager Sheet Views in AutoCAD

AutoCAD’s Sheet Set Manager (SSM) can be used to just manage Sheets and their title blocks in a Sheet Set but there is also functionality to manage callouts and view labels.

A view on one sheet can refer to a view on another sheet. Hyperlinks of callouts makes it possible to quickly open the sheet that is referenced by the callout zooming into the view. There can be multiple callouts referring to one sheet view and when the sheet view is renamed and renumbered this will be reflected on all callouts.

Sheet Set Manager is now included also in AutoCAD LT since the 2012 version.


Here is what AutoCAD’s documentation says about Sheet Views:

A view on a sheet, called a sheet view, consists of several coincident entities:

  • an xref or geometry in model space
  • a layout viewport on a sheet
  • a named view in paper space

The Sheet Set Manager automates and enhances the process for adding views to a sheet.

  • The sheet view can display model space from a different drawing file. In this case, that drawing is attached as an xref in your current drawing. The layers of that drawing file are displayed only in the sheet view that you create.

    Note The xref is attached using a relative path. If you need to change the path to a fully specified (absolute) path, use the External References palette.

  • A layout viewport that displays the model space view is created on your current sheet.
  • A named view that encompasses the area of the layout viewport is created in paper space.

When you place a sheet view on a sheet, all the layers in the current drawing (including layer 0) are frozen in the new viewport created by the view. The layers are shown as frozen in the VP Freeze column of the Layer Properties Manager.

If you need to remove a sheet view from a sheet, you can delete the layout viewport to remove the view. However, to remove all unused items, you need to detach the xref and delete the named paper space view.

Note! The easiest method for removing a sheet view immediately after placing it is to use UNDO.


A prerequisite for creating Sheet Views is that there is at least one location added to Model Views tab in SSM.

Then the models need named modelspace views that can be created with the VIEW command. Only sheet views created in AutoCAD 2005 or later are listed on the Sheet Views tab. Then they will show up like this.

Right click on a Model View and select Place on Sheet or drag and drop it into a sheet that you have open. This will create a viewport based on the view boundaries on the layout of the sheet, attach the model as an xref taking layer visibility into account and add a view label with its insertion point at the lower left corner of the viewport.

Before the view is placed you have an option to select the view scale. Just move the mouse over the blank sheet and the preview of the view. Right-click and a list of scale options appears where you you can select a scale.

Having placed a Sheet View on a Sheet you can double click on the View found on the Sheet Views tab in SSM.

One problem with moving the viewport in AutoCAD is that the actual view often get distorted as seen below showing much more than needed.

The Sheet Views are named Layout Views views on steroids. They can be edited and deleted with the View command. Note that Viewport association is Yes. Viewport association displays whether the named view is associated with a viewport on a sheet in a sheet set. It is not possible to create a new view in View Manager to have a viewport association or to change an existing view if Viewport association is set to No as it is greyed out. A limitation is that changing the view on the master drawing after a view has been placed on a sheet will not either update the view as expected.

In SSM right click on the view and you get the options to Display, Rename & Renumber, Set category, Place Callout Block and Place View Label Block.

After using Rename & Renumber the Sheet View name can be different than the name of the view that shows up in View Manager and the other way around.

To delete a sheet view just erase the viewport and its view label block. This will leave the callouts not knowing what sheet view to point on. The xref to the model needs also to be detached manually if not needed longer.

A general warning is to never overwrite fields (text with gray background) like the one seen when double clicking on a sheet view label block. Doing that will break the smart link that the field holds.

What if you want to move the sheet view to another sheet? If you take CUTCLIP and PASTECLIP of the viewport and view label block you will notice that the xref to the model view is not included and the linked callouts will not know where to go and so on. Right now the way to do it is more or less manually recreating the sheet view and its callouts.

There is still a lot of room for improvements to the Sheet Set Manager within AutoCAD as you will notice if you try to use it to the full. But even with the existing functionalities it can help to ease your AutoCAD life.

JTB World’s SSMPropEditor can be a useful complement to the Sheet Set Manager. At this point there is no support for handling sheet views but if you have this need feel free to let me know and it might be added in a future version. We are also able to do other kind of Sheet Set Manager customizations based on user requests.

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