Nicholas Thompson explains how to use AutoCAD Express tools to populate attributes in blocks easily.
"I use Express Tools for extracting information from attributes, editing it in Excel, and reimporting it. This can be done for any attributed block, but I tend to use it to place bills of material (BOM) on the drawing. I can extract the BOM from our ERP system into an Excel sheet. I populate the drawing with the blocks needed, from my tool palette. These blocks contain attributes with no values. The data are then extracted to a TXT file using the express tool AttOut. I open this file in Excel. I then populate the extracted attribute data with the data from the ERP system, save the TXT file, and then use the Express tool AttIn to populate the table. If you use the default folder to save the TXT file (the same folder as the drawing), the import requires just two clicks.
"There are two issues to be aware of with this process. First, the blocks are always extracted in the reverse order from which I need them for the BOM, so I have to flip them. Second, if the text contains any non-alphanumeric characters such as a comma or a quotation mark, the text will appear in AutoCAD with quotes around it.
"This is quick and accurate, but does not support updates the same way as embedding Excel spreadsheets. These are AutoCAD entities and are, therefore, easily editable in AutoCAD by anyone with an understanding of attributed blocks."
Notes from Cadalyst Tip Reviewer Brian Benton: Getting your information in and out of your drawing can be difficult. These two tools can be a big help in this process. Blocks can have text added to them in the form of attributes. These are text objects that can be embedded and added to blocks. They can be used for many different reasons. One is in title blocks. Another use is in blocks that represent, well, anything — such as room numbers, panel information, valve data, sewer mains, etc. You can add the data into each block one block at a time, or you can use other tools in a less cumbersome way, as described here.