Each new release of AutoCAD brings with it a number of significant enhancements. For instance the 2020 version introduces incredible tools such as Design Feed and Live Maps from Bing. As useful as these are, I oftentimes find the smaller, less celebrated features to be among my favorites. One such enhancement in AutoCAD 2020 is the new external reference (xref) tools we find in this release
Since xref’s are the way I typically assemble projects, I find these new, less celebrated, tools incredibly handy. Specifically, AutoCAD 2020 provides us with the ability to change both the xref type (attach/overlay), and the xref path type (full, relative, no path) for xref’s already in your drawing.
Changing Xref Attachment Types
Based on the way I assemble my plans, I prefer using the Overlay path type when setting up xref’s for my projects (this helps me avoid the dreaded circular xref’s). Regardless of which side of the fence you fall on, you’ve undoubtedly run into an instance where an xref in your drawing was opposite from your preferences. In my case, I have a drawing that’s been attached to my drawing:
Prior to AutoCAD 2020, fixing this typically meant detaching the xref, and then reattaching it – losing any custom settings like layer states in the process. With AutoCAD 2020 there’s no need to apply such a cumbersome process, as the type cell in the Details panel of the External References Manager is now a dropdown list. All you need to do is click on this dropdown list, and choose your preferred path type:
Changing Path Types
I have been a strong advocate for Relative Path xref’s ever since their introduction many years ago. Unfortunately, even the most diligent project setup was easily destroyed by fixing a broken xref path by browsing to it (as this converted the path to a Full path xref). Thanks to AutoCAD 2020, these all-too-common changes do not have to destroy your project setup any longer. Provided AutoCAD can find the reference file, you can now change the Path Type of any reference by right-clicking its name in the External References Manager. In the example below, I want to change from the current Full path to a Relative path xref:
While this integration into the External References Manager is great, it’s also important to point out the Path Type function has also been added to the -XREF (command line version) command. Starting the command-line version of the command now gives you the option to select a PATHTYPE function.
Even if you don’t typically type your commands, this is an important inclusion as it allows you to write a script to manage xref path types in your drawing.