Before we examine these products in depth, let's examine some of the features you should look for in a block manager (see Table 1 for details). A key factor in deciding whether to use a block manager is the amount of effort it requires to categorize your existing blocks. You'll also want to know how easy it is to add new blocks to the database.
Most of the time, you'll be searching for blocks or viewing them. Look for a block manager that allows you to view more than one block at a time (so that you can compare and choose), offers DWG and/or SLD viewing, and has an interface that's easy to learn and use.
One warning: the better your block manager, the more blocks you're likely to use or create. That's great: the more blocks you have, the less time you have to spend drawing out details and duplicating efforts. On the other hand, the more blocks you have, the more trouble you'll have organizing them and the more likely they are to get lost or duplicated.
The initial layout shows each of these quadrant boxes as numbers. You can change these to symbols that represent the page; for example, fasteners might have a bolt-head symbol. You can zoom in on each quadrant to see the finer details of an icon. The menu commands allow you to navigate to different books, indicate what page you are on, define a new block, replace an old block, select a block by its attributes, or edit a blocks attributes. Inserting a block is as easy as picking the icon. Finding the block is accomplished by paging through your books or by attribute selection.
Selecting a block by attributes is accomplished by means of an external database, which contains fields for block number, description, manufacturer, part number, and last date updated. You can edit all fields except for the last update field, and all of them can be included in your block as invisible and constant attributes. This process is accomplished by using a separate utility, bl.exe, while outside of AutoCAD to include the database information into the block.
While Block Librarian's interface does not use any of Release 12's dialogue boxes, it still provides very fast access to a large number of blocks and can work with earlier version of AutoCAD. Block Librarian is available for AutoCAD Releases 9 through 12 for DOS.
Company SoftSource Advanced Cadd Productions Product Block Librarian BlockBase Platform/Price Release 9 to 12 Release 12 for DOS/$395 for DOS and Release Release 12 for Windows/$495 12 for Windows/$495 Max. # libraries 50 500 Blocks per library 10,000 500 Total # of blocks 500,000 250,000 Keyword Searches yes yes Store database info with each block yes yes View multiple blocks simultaneously yes yes Maximum number 100 12 Share the block database over a yes yes network Symbol libraries yes yes Define blocks parametrically no yesCADENCE REVIEW October 1993