How to create a customised alternative device tag

pre-connectCAD 2015

Sometimes the standard device tag symbol doesn’t fit in with the way you want things to look. Naturally there’s a solution. connectCAD isn’t at all bothered by how the symbol looks provided it has a device record attached. In fact we use this technique to give a different look to DA’s, jackfields and externals. Here’s how it’s done.

Find the standard device tag in the Vectorworks Resource Browser


It’s called ‘dev_label_generic’ and it’s located in the ‘system_symbols’ folder. In this example we’ve opened a new draing from the connectCAD 2014 template.

Right-click on the symbol and select Duplicate


A classic example of the duplicate-modify workflow. What we’re going to do here is create a copy of the standard symbol with a new name, and then edit this copy to the new look we want. Let’s do that now. Give the new symbol the name ‘dev_label_custom’.

Now let’s edit the new symbol


Again right-click on ‘dev_label_custom’, (not the standard one) and select Edit from the menu. We’ll be editing the 2D component of course – there is no 3D component.

How device tag symbols work


Before we start editing let’s quickly review how this works. connectCAD device labels use the Linked Text feature of Vectorworks to drive Text items within the symbol from the data record ‘dev_rec’ which is attached to the symbol definition. We’ll see how that’s done in a minute. Now I’ll make some changes to the symbol.

a modified symbol


I’ve changed some fonts and text styles, and duplicated the Description text so we can link these to the ‘make’ and ‘model’ fields. And I’ve selected all the items in the symbol so you can see everything.

Take note of the empty text items at the bottom. These are used to display the device location data. They are empty now because the symbol default data is empty. That’s deliberate, so nothing gets shown when the device doesn’t yet have a physical location.

Linking text to data records


We’re going to link this text item to the ‘dev_rec.make’ field. So each time a device is made with this label the Make will be displayed on the schematic. Here’s how that is done:

  1. Select the text item to link
  2. Go to the Modify menu and pick Link Text to Record.
  3. Select the record format ( ‘dev_rec’ in this case )
  4. Select the field whose data will be displayed
  5. Click OK to make the change

Once the link is made the text item will show the symbol default data value – in this case blank because the dev_rec.mkae field is empty until a Make is defined.

Now you try linking the other text item below to the dev_rec.model field.

You should have something like this


Now click Exit Symbol and let’s see how we can put this to use.

Using a custom device tag


I’ve made a quick device here to test my new symbol. Let’s double-click it now to edit the device graphics.

Select the device tag symbol and click Replace


When you select the device tag symbol, the Object Info Palette shows you all its details. It’s in a class called Sys-Device_Tag which is worth keeping in mind if you need to restyle colouring.

The important thing is the Replace button – this lets you pick another symbol to replace it.

Symbol replacementHere_s_the_result

So here we’ve picked out our ‘dev_label_custom’ symbol, and we’ll click OK.

Here’s the result

Here_s_the_resultNow you’ll see that the original record data has been replaced by the symbol default data. I don’t think that’s smart – but that’s the way Vectorworks does it. So bearing that in mind, it’s a good idea to do this kind of customisation before you start entering lots of device info.

Anyway, let’s click on Exit Group and use the Edit tool to finish off.

And here it is…


A nice looking device with a label styled exactly how I want it.

This technique lets me have multiple label styles on the same drawing. So if you have a few devices where the standard label really doesn’t look good, then this is way to go. Thanks for listening and enjoy connectCAD.

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