Layouts and How To Modify Them


Choose a starting layout and adjust it to suit your needs.

Introduction to Layouts

SpoolFab uses a layout file to define the general framework of the drawing, including the location of the bill of material and the weld list, plus most of the lines and text. The layout is normally selected during setup of a new job. If you try to draw in a job for which no layout has been selected, you will be prompted to select one. The available layouts can be found under Data/Layouts. In most cases, the Data folder will be directly under the clients folder. If there is a Data folder under the current client, it will normally be used instead of the one directly under SFClients. (The exception is if you are using barcode tracking, see article K0010.)

Content of a Typical Layout File

One example of a layout file is 11x17-Inspect-4 Col.ASL. This is a good all-purpose layout designed for fabrication drawings with four columns of NDE data. This layout file consists of five parts as follows:

Part 1 of this particular layout file consists of lines 1 to 230.

Line 2 shows the page size for which the layout was originally designed. Because of improvements in printer resolution since the layout was named, a layout designed for 11x17 can normally be used with 8.5x11 paper.

Lines 3-59 set parameters that tell SpoolFab where to start printing the bill of materials and the weld list, the number of lines of each that will fit on page 1, the location of barcodes, the north arrow location etc. The number of lines is subject to variation.

Lines 60-230 define which parameters are to be printed on the drawing, and where.

The first group of items, Job Information Entry, is fixed for the entire job.

The next five groups, Non Destructive Exam, Inspection Headers, Welding Procedures, Stress-Relieve Procedures, and Specification Notes, are fixed by the spec and can vary from one spec to another.

The next three groups, Extra Drawing Entry, Every Drawing Entry, and Auto Drawing Entry, include parameters that can vary from one drawing to another. Extra Drawing Entry contains only two parameters, Paint and Insulation. It is designed to allow the end user to add more parameters, up to a maximum of 20. The values for these parameters are entered by the user when the drawing is saved. You can also arrange to have some or all of them written to the status table.

Every drawing entry covers parameters like Ref. Drawing that essentially any drawing will require and is not designed to be modified.

Auto drawing entry includes parameters like weight, diameter inches, and surface area, which are generated automatically by SpoolFab based on the content of the drawing.

The next four groups are for placing revision information on the drawing.

When you select a layout, the entire layout file is copied to Template.asl in the job’s fabrication folder or installation folder, as appropriate.

Part 2 of this particular layout is from line 231 to 389:

Part 2 draws lines that are common to page 1 of all drawings in the job. These lines frame the drawing, delineate the bill of materials, weld list, title block and so on. When you select a layout, the file Border.plt that appears in the job is simply a copy of part 2 of the layout.

Part 3 of this particular layout is from line 390 to 558:

SpoolFab places pipe, fittings, standard details, draw-your-own details, notes and images on page 1 of the drawing only. The bill of materials and the weld list can spill over on to page 2, using multiple columns if necessary. So the layout lines associated with page 2 must provide for those additional columns. This part of the layout file is written to Border2.plt when the layout is selected.

Part 4 of this layout is from line 559 to 647:

The pricing layout differs from the regular drawing in that it replaces inspection columns with pricing. The BOM may have been moved left or right to make everything fit. The pricing version of the drawing is displayed when you select View, Pricing. This part of the layout is written to Price1.plt when the layout is selected.

Part 5 of this layout is from line 648 to the end of the file.

Page 2 of the pricing layout is different from page 1 because it allows for multiple columns. This part of the layout is written to Price2.plt when the layout is selected.


When you select a layout, the layout file is copied to the current job, to the installation folder or fabrication folder as appropriate. During copying, as detailed above, the layout file is split into five parts as follows:


The bill of materials and/or the weld list can overflow on to a second page, where they can occupy multiple columns. Drawn items, details, images, notes, and draw-your-own details appear only on page 1. Page 2 uses the files BorderP2.plt and Price2.plt.

The coordinate system starts from the origin at the lower left. Lines and text are defined using a small subset of HPGL/2 commands that includes the following:

SL: character slant – in this case, the slant is zero
DI; text direction – in this case, it defaults to text from left to right
SI.5,.5; set the character size to .5 wide by .5 tall
PA; plot absolute (as opposed to plot relative)
PD4210,40; pen down – draw a line to 4210,40
PU100,475; pen up – move to 100,475 without drawing
LBPROJECT* label - print the word PROJECT. Note the label text is terminated by the non-printable ASCII character 3, represented here by *. A simple way to enter this character in NotePad is to copy it from an existing label command. (It won’t look like a star.)

While the coordinates were originally intended to represent 0.1 mm per unit, the exact dimensions represented by the coordinates vary depending on the layout chosen and the paper size. It is quite common to use a layout designed for 11x17 inch paper to print on legal size, for example. But if taken to extremes, this can lead to text that is too small to read. The SI command units were originally in cm.

You could create your own layout from scratch but in practice few users do this because it is a lot of work, especially if you plan to retain the page 2 and pricing functionality. Most users adopt one of the existing layouts and simply insert their own logo in the space provided. Please contact tech support if you need help with inserting your logo.

If you modify a layout:

If you decide to modify a layout, the following chart may help you remember what goes where:


Suppose the space allocated for the spool number is too small to accommodate it at its current font size; you can fix this by making the change shown below.

Edit a Copy of the Layout, not the Original

Make your changes to a copy of the existing layout and leave the original so that you can revert to it if necessary. After modifying a layout, you will need to reselect it in order to see the effect of your changes.  If using version 8-889 or later, once you have selected the layout once, you can reselect it again very quickly by selecting Tools2, Refresh Layout or by pressing Ctrl-F4. Then press F4 twice for a full refresh of the drawing. This REALLY speeds up layout development.

Example of How to Expand the Spec Notes Section

The number, position and appearance of spec notes iscontrolled by the following lines in the layout file:

Using the above settings, suppose you edit the spec notes as shown below.

The resulting appearance of the notes on the drawing is shown below.

Adding a Extra Line of Spec Notes

If you wanted to allow for one additional line of spec notes and to extend the line length to 60, you could do so by editing the layout to the following:

Be sure to save your edits and reselect the spec, otherwise the edits will have no effect.
Enter the extra line in the spec as shown below:

Resulting Appearance on the Drawing

Any drawing using this particular spec will have the text appear in the lower left corner, as shown below.

New Features that Speed Layout Editing

In SpoolFab 8-890, the following features were added to helpyou with editing layouts.

Help with Coordinates

By selecting Tools2, Show Layout Coordinates once, you annotate the current layout with the X coordinate of vertical lines and the Y coordinate of horizontal lines. Each line is annotated at its midpoint and at one end, as shown below.

Selecting Tools2, Show Layout Coordinates a second time removes the line coordinate annotations and replaces all text strings with the location coordinates of that text, as shown below. 

Both types of annotation work whether a drawing is displayed or not. These annotations also appear on printouts including PDFs.

To stop displaying annotations, select Tools2, Show Layout Coordinates a third time.

Instant Layout Reselection

Editing layouts often involves reselecting the layout many times, in order to see the effects of changes. In version 8-890, when you select a layout, its path and filename are written to RecentLayout.txt, located in the Fabrication folder or the Installation folder.

Once this file has been created, reselecting the layout is just a matter of selecting Tools2, Refresh Layout, or pressing Ctrl-F4. Remember you must select the layout at least once via Job/Spec setup using version 8-890 in order to create RecentLayout.txt.