IFA Essentials - Getting started

Last modified by Linus Karlsson on 2023/08/23 15:44

This short tutorial will introduce you to how drawings and elements are made as well how to generate a production-ready shop drawing.

Configure AutoCAD settings

Make sure that your AutoCAD options are set up as described in this article

Make a new floor plan

You create floor plans in the Project Manager application, often abbreviated PM. Right-click in the browser tree on the node 'Floor Plans' and select new. Of course, before this is possible you must either open or create a new project. You can find instructions on how to do that by going to the Project Manager section of this wiki.


You can specify many parameters when creating (any) new drawing, such as whom the designer is, drawing scale, panel type etc. The dialogue looks like this and is quite logical. These values are saved in the database and you can change them later.


Since this is a floor plan, a second dialogue will appear with floor plan specific data.


It's a very meaningful dialogue. It requires you to choose a building, floor and phase. The elevation measurements are set up in a different dialogue called Buildings and Floors. You can access it by right-clicking on the model node in the project browser. It looks like this (so you can see where the elevation values are coming from).



When you click 'Ok' in the floor plan dialogue, a few things will happen:

  • PM copies a master file to the floor plan folder specific to your project. The master file is set up by administrators.
  • PM renames that file to the floor plan drawing name you entered before.
  • PM attach data to the file, such as the drawing type ( Floor Plan ), building ( 1 ), floor ( 1 ), etc. This data is written to the file. It allows IFA to recognize the file as a floor plan when you open it in AutoCAD later. Again, you cannot see this data visually as it's woven into the file.
  • PM tells the database that a new drawing, with the name x and type y, have been created by user z at time 123, etc.

Double click on the floor plan node to view your floor plans. Right-click and choose 'open' to open a drawing.


IFA will do a check if the drawing you opened is an IMPACT drawing. It is, and IFA will check which type of drawing. IFA will also recognise that it is a new drawing, and take the following automatic actions:

  • IFA adds a drawing sheet ( you can specify which, look at the 1st dialogue window in the upper right ). This is the frame of the drawing.
  • IFA adds a drawing panel ( you can specify which, look at the 1st dialogue window in the upper right ). This is the panel, usually located in the bottom right, containing general drawing information.

This is the result:


You actually choose, in the new drawing dialogue, which block IFA shall use for the sheet and the panel.


These blocks are created by an administrator and defined in a program called Standard Admin. Abbreviated SA, Standard Admin is a control panel for administrators. The blocks are stored as files. Standard admin has a table of all drawing sheets and which block file they use. The X and Y values are insertion points. IFA use these values when placing blocks in drawings.


The block files are located in the standard folder. Your company have one of these somewhere. Here you can add or change them to your heart's desire. Some file names can be chosen by you, others cannot. This is usually a place for administrators. The reason for telling this is so that you understand where things are coming from.


Drawing panels are also defined in SA, just like drawing sheets. Panel block files must contain attributes (ask a colleague if you do not know what block attributes are). When IFA inserts the panel block, it will open the block, look for attributes and enter the relevant information. Ex, if there is an attribute called STATUS, IFA will write the current drawing status in its place. You can choose which attributes to include in a block file. If IFA doesn't find an attribute, it simply skips it.


IFA automatically insert drawing panels and drawing frames into new drawings. These are user created block files set up by administrators in a program called Standard Admin. Data is automatically written into block attributes that IFA recognizes.

Create element definitions

You can add building elements to your floor plan. Open the wall definition window. If you do not have the wall module, you can open the definition window for any other element. The icon for element definitions is always a picture of the element with a brick in the upper right. Here is a picture of it.


This is the wall definition window.


  1. Element definitions (or any IMPACT definition) exists on one of either 3 levels. The three levels are Common, Local and Project. If a definition exists on the project level, then it's not accessible from other projects.
  2. Type. Since this dialogue is for Wall definitions, you can switch between the current three wall types Wall, Insulated Wall and Sandwich Wall.
  3. Text boxes that allow you to filter the list. In large projects, you're going to have many definitions. It makes it easy to find what you need.
  4. The list of definitions. Right now empty, as this project doesn't contain any definitions yet.

This dialogue box is shared between modules. If you open the column definitions window, you'll see that it looks exactly the same. To create a new wall definition, choose new.


Enter a logical name and description for your wall that you are about to create. You can change these values later. There are probably naming policies within your organisation that dictates the naming of different walls.


You can now define a wall definition, such as the walls material and panel width. It says inner panel, which might be confusing. If you choose sandwich wall as type in the definition dialogue you would have seen more options, such as width outer panel. All wall types share this dialogue, but with more or fewer options shown.

Choose a reinforcement template if there is one, else leave it as none. A reinforcement template is used to create automatic reinforcement suggestions for your wall element. Consider it a set of rules the goes "if this, do that". The production line is another set of rules, set up by your administrator. Ask them what settings they have chosen here. The production line is useful when exporting machine data, such as Unitechnick. Go to the Lift and bracing tab. Leave it at none for now.


Here you can set up rules for automatic placement of lifts and bracings. Since this is a beginner example, we won't go into detail how this part of the dialogue work as it is described in detail elsewhere. Leave it blank. This will consequently result in no lifts or bracings. Go to the third tab, naming.


You enter data relevant to your naming conventions. Also, if there is such an option. You can choose a relevant drawing type and drawing template. These will be the default drawing templates used when you generate shop drawings. You can leave it blank for now. Click ok to return to the wall definition window.


Now, before clicking ok (which will save your changes) click on the Import/Export button (make sure your current selection is set to the name of your project).


This dialogue allows you to copy definitions between the different definition levels. To the left is your current selection that you had selected in the wall definition window. You can see that the example company already have three wall definitions, WP20, 30 and 42. I can copy these to my project if I want to, or the project definition WALL_1 to the common pool of definitions. Generally, this operation is done by administrators but it varies between organisations. Click Cancel to exit the Import/Export dialogue. Click ok in the definition dialogue to save your new definition.


Definition windows are accessible via the definition icon, usually a picture of the element with a brick in the corner. The definition window looks the same for all elements and most other things. Clicking new takes you to the element specific definition dialogue where you can choose measurements, materials etc. Definitions exist on three different levels and it's possible to copy definitions between these and projects.

Draw, edit and save elements

We will now show you how to draw elements on your floor plan. When using IFA, you will not "draw" the elements. IFA does this for you. You specify where elements are drawn, at which length etc. Click on the draw wall icon. This icon looks similar to other element types as well. 


At the command prompt, you'll be asked to choose element type. Choose wall. Next, you'll choose an insertion point. Click anywhere inside the drawing frame. You should now see these options in the prompt:


Choose properties. In the geometry section, choose the wall you created in the definition drop-down the list.


As you can see, many values are already selected, such as width, height etc. The width parameter comes directly from the definition you created in step 2. The height is the default wall height, defined in the buildings and floors definition window described before. Take a look at the other tabs. We will not change anything, click ok and choose the 2nd insertion point. The result should look something like this from an angle:


Notice the unmarked text. It means that this element is not saved.


Click on the save icon, choose 'selection' in the prompt and click on the element.


Choose a logical element mark name, e.g. WP01. The result should look something like this:


The element is now saved to the database. Take note, you saved it using an IMPACT command, not by saving the drawing itself. All data to recreate it is saved in the database. Click on the element and press delete. You should see this:


Choose No, we do not want to delete the element from the database, just from the drawing. The element disappeared, but if you head over to the Project Manager and go to the Model tab, you'll see that its there (if you don't, do a refresh and click on the house icon in the viewport). It should look something like this:


This is because you only removed the element from the drawing, not the model (since we answered no to the question to remove it from the database before). Go back to your floor plan and click on the generate plan button. This button is in located in the plan panel. 


This dialogue allows you to generate (draw) elements onto your floor plan if they are not already there. Choose Element mark and write the name of the element mark you gave the wall before, in this example 'WP01' like this: 


Click ok. The wall should now appear where you placed it before. If you haven't done so already. Save the drawing ( normal AutoCAD save ).


You now know how to draw and save elements. Here is how you edit an element. Click on the edit element button, then on the wall, and hit enter.


You are now given options. Clock on properties and change the height of the wall to 4000. Click ok. You now return to the same state as before. To execute your changes, you must click on exitIf you press escape, changes are lost. A typical beginner mistake.

The result should look something like this:


Notice the star * next to the element mark. It means that changes are made to the element which is not saved in the database. You can verify this by looking at the element in the model view in Project Manager (even do a refresh to get the latest model data). That wall is shorter. We have changed the height of the wall in the drawing, but not saved it to the database. Use the same save command that you used before on the wall.


You may see this message. It means, "Do you want to overwrite the previous WP01 information in the database?". Answer yes, as we do in fact wish to overwrite the old data. If you answered no, you'll be asked to enter a new element mark. The process is exactly the same as if you save over overwrite a file on disk.

Elements are drawn on the floor plan via either the draw or generate command. It's possible to edit elements after they are drawn. Elements that are UNMARKED or have a star * in their name needs to be saved.

Bonus knowledge:  The model viewer in the Project Manager application will always show the latest information that is saved in the database after a refresh. Note: The 3D modelling in the model may not show all details if the detail level is set to simple.

Generate shop drawings

The best part of IMPACT is that IFA can generate a shop drawing of your element. Click on the generate shop drawing icon and select the element.

The generate drawing dialogue opens. It looks like this.

It's possible to change the drawing name and drawing template. To change the name, click on the name and type in a different name. Avoid using special characters, but common characters such '-' and '_' works fine. Don't end a drawing name with special character. Such as DW101_ or DW101#. The preselected drawing template is the one selected in the element definition dialouge. Click Ok.

Find the open drawing button, click it and then your element.

Voila! There's your shop drawing. Depending on the template, your's may be quite different from the one below. There is a separate tutorial on how to create, modify and use templates to get a result like this. As the wall is very simple, they're not a lot to show or dimension.

Drawings can be quite more complicated. Here's an example of a wall with two openings, a recess and some construction goods.

Separate drawings for reinforcement is also possible.

This is the end of the tutorial.