CAD Drawings (DWG files) and Land F/X Projects
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CAD Drawings (DWG files) and Land F/X Projects

To understand how our plugins work with CAD (AutoCAD, F/X CAD, etc.), you'll need to know the difference between a CAD drawing (DWG or .dwg file) and a Land F/X project. If you're having trouble determining the difference between these two entities and understanding how they work together, don't worry. Even experienced CAD users can become bogged down by the terminology.


To learn how to work with Land F/X projects, see our documentation on:

CAD Drawing vs. Land F/X Project Overview

CAD drawing vs Land F/X project, overview


CAD Drawing (DWG file)

If you've used CAD, you most likely know what a DWG file is. When you save a CAD drawing, you're saving it to a file known as a DWG, or .dwg file (the filename will always end with .dwg). When you open this file, you are opening your CAD drawing.


In order to use any of our tools within CAD, you'll create or open a project with your drawing file open. The project you create or select will then be associated with that drawing.


Land F/X Project

When you install any of our plugins (Planting F/X, Design F/X, or Irrigstion F/X) to use with a CAD program (AutoCAD, F/X CAD, etc.), you are essentially adding our tools to your AutoCAD installation and making them usable. Much of the functionality of our software is based on data that we store on our server. This data includes plants, plant symbols, irrigation equipment, site amenities, and other items that are known as "Land F/X Objects."


When you open a project, you are creating the ability to access, and specify, these objects from our database. In fact, think of eachproject you create as your own database of plants, irrigation components, site amenities, and other objects that you plan to use in your site design (that is, in your drawing). So a project IS NOT A FILE – it's a list of data that your CAD drawing will "read." You can use this database in creating one drawing, or in creating many.


When you want to use a Land F/X object (a plant, a tree, a bench, a sprinkler head, etc.) in your site design, you will add that object to the project you've associated with the drawing. (We'll get to that in a minute.) You'll then place that object in your drawing.




It's important to note that each of your projects is a separate collections of data – not a DWG. When you look at the project list in the Land F/X Projects dialog box, you're looking at a database rather than a collection of files. Clicking Open does not open a file.


If you click Open with a project selected from the list, you're assigning that project data to whichever DWG is currently open in CAD. Think of Open in this case as actually meaning Assign instead. That's why you need to take care to avoid assigning a project to a DWG that is not meant to be associated with that project.


Clicking New creates a new folder of data to collect everything from plant palettes to hardscape materials, site amenities, and irrigation equipment for each new design you do, keeping it clean and separate.


If you click Open and assign an old project to a new design, you will almost certainly start mixing palettes and, as a result, accidentally disrupt the data for each project.

Opening a Land F/X project

It's extremely important that you create a new project for each new job. Different plan types in the same job that might be in different .dwg files (concept, planting, irrigation, site, details, etc) can and should use the same project, but a new job needs a new project. Creating a new project for each new job ensures that changes you make to the items to that project will not affect your other existing previous jobs.


We offer some handy ways to reuse your existing plant palettes and site amenity inventories by populating a new project with the plants and other data you've already added to an existing project:


Setting Your Standards Using Preference Sets


Our six Preferences screens allow you to customize several elements within your drawings to meet your office standards.



Once you've configured your Preferences, you can save them in what's known as a Preference Set. To apply one of your Preference Sets to one of your jobs, just make sure you have the correct project open when you're working on that job, and that the correct Preference Set is active. See our Preference Sets documentation for information and instructions on creating and saving a Preference Set.

You're also free to use one of our default Preference Sets. (They're called Imperial and Metric – one for each measurement system – and are included in your installation.)

Preference Set options

The purpose of a Preference Set is to keep all projects and drawings standard by using the same style and setup for any project you create.


You can also set multiple sets of standards by creating different Preference Sets for different purposes. In fact, we encourage you to do so if needed. For example, you can create a Preference Set for each client or each job type (commercial, residential, etc.). If you need to conform to the standards of different consultants, you also can create a Preference Set for each consultant your firm works with. That way, each drawing you create for those different purposes will conform to the same set of standards. It's all up to you!


Note also that any change you make to an existing Preference Set will affect any project that is already using that same Preference Set. So the fonts, schedules, callouts, irrigation symbols, etc., will change if adjusted in the middle of a job. Be careful!

Adding an Object to a Project

When you add a Land F/X object to a project, you are essentially adding it to a list of items that you may or may not physically place in your drawing. For example, when you add plants to a project, you are creating your plant palette for your site design. You may end up using all of these plants, or you may only use some of them. Our plant database contains pretty much any plant genus and species you can imagine. So adding a finite number of plants to a project gives you an abbreviated menu consisting only of the plants you think you'll actually use right now.


Think of it this way: You wouldn't load an aircraft carrier full of every plant imaginable and then bring it to your site in order to select the plants. You would instead load a truck with only the plants you know you're going to use. When you want to put a given plant in a specific location, you can then easily find it in the truck and plant it there – instead of scouring through every plant species in the world in order to find that one plant.


Our software uses a number of Managers to list the objects you've added to a project. Each Manager is just a dialog box listing objects of a certain type that are contained in your project. Here's an example of the Planting Manager for a project named Tutorial 1. The Plant Manager lists all plants that have been added to that project.


Plant Manager


A number of plants have been added to this project, and they are listed in the Plant Manager.

Note that plants are divided into four types: Trees, Shrubs, Shrub Areas, and Ground Covers.



Our software includes several Managers for different types of Land F/X items. All Managers behave like the Plant Manager – that is, they're all lists of that type of item that you've added to the project, and most are divided into distinct types. To learn more, visit our documentation sections on the:

Don't be intimidated by all these Managers. They're just a way to divide the items you've added to your project into separate lists – like databases within the larger database that is your project.

Placing an Object in a Drawing

After you've added Land F/X objects to your project, you can then place them in your drawing. Think of placing a plant, for example, as walking to the truck described above (your project) and carrying the plant to the place where you want to plant it. Of course, with our software, you can accomplish this with a few clicks of the mouse. You'll select the plant from your project and then put it in the location where you want it in your site design – that is, in your CAD drawing.


Your project is really just a list of items you created for AutoCAD to read. Adding an object to the project means adding it to this list. Placing an object in the drawing means telling CAD which object to select, and then literally placing it in your drawing.


You'll also use the Managers (Planting, Irrigation, Details, etc.) to place items in your drawing. Each Manager has a Place button that you simply click when you have an item selected. You can then place that item in your drawing. 

Disassociating a Drawing from a Project

In some cases, a drawing may become locked into a project, so to speak. To address this issue, follow our steps to disassociate a drawing from a project.

Related Webinars

  • Land F/X Admin & Setup: This webinar will show you what you need to know about Land F/X admin processes and project setup. (1 hr 1 min)

Related Webinars

  • All About Templates: The word "template" can refer to several components in the AutoCAD and Land F/X systems. We break down the different types of templates available to you, including drawing templates (DWTs) and Land F/X project templates, and provide some helpful tips on using them to your advantage. (1 hr 4 min)
Last modified on Tuesday, 29 March 2022 08:42
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