MAGNET Modeler for Autodesk: How to use MAGNET Modeler in AutoCAD

A quick user interface introduction on how to use MAGNET Modeler in AutoCAD.

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MAGNET Modeler for Autodesk: How to use MAGNET Modeler in AutoCAD

After the software has been installed, the MAGNET Modeler tab is available in AutoCAD.

Click the Rules icon to start MAGNET Modeler.

The main element of the user interface is the Model Builder floating dialog box.

The configuration tree display is in the center of the dialog box. The configuration tree shows all the 3D object types and their modeling parameters. The tree can be expanded by clicking + and collapsed by clicking -. Right-clicking a rule opens a context menu which is used to create, delete, modify, draw, and arrange the items.


Right-clicking on Materials displays a drop-down menu with functions like making a material from a texture file, selecting a material, etc.

A new feature, Material from texture…, makes it faster to create materials. This feature first asks for a texture file and then shows the material dialog box. The color of the material is automatically set to the average color from texture. The material name is taken from texture. This feature is intended to speed up the process of texturing building facades (together with other new improvements) and defining traffic sign materials (just choose traffic sign texture and enter sign dimensions in material).

Facade textures

There is a tool for assigning textures to a selected facade. Right-click on building polyline to activate the building facade attachment tool. If the building has texture materials attached, it will display each facade texture in a dialog box next to the facade. By clicking on facade segment of building polyline, users can attach a facade texture onto any of the polyline segments. Facade textures are saved into a new building model parameter, facade_textures, with the number of polyline segments.

Model Builder menu


  • Set Model Name: Specify the virtual model (*.VM) file to be generated. The default value is the name of the current drawing file.
  • Generate Model: Generates the model from the *.DWG file using the active configuration from the *.INI file. Saves the model to the *.VM files.
  • View Model: Launches the MAGNET Explorer button with the current virtual model (*.VMPX file). The current AutoCAD viewpoint will be used as the starting viewpoint in MAGNET Explorer.
  • Generate and View Model: Both generates the model and launches MAGNET Explorer with the model.
  • Batch Generate: Generates multiple models.
  • Load Configuration: Loads a configuration file (*.INI). The configuration file contains all of the model generation parameters that are not saved into the drawing file (like CAD object specific parameters).
  • Merge Configuration: Loads a configuration file (*.INI) so that the user can select which parts of the file are loaded and merged to the current configuration.
  • Save Configuration: Saves a configuration file (*.INI). The configuration file contains all of the model generation parameters that are not saved into the drawing file (like CAD object specific parameters).
  • Exit: Closes the dialog box.


  • Undo: Reverses the most recent action.
  • Redo: Reverses the effects of the previous undo action.
  • Insert Item: Affects the current configuration. Insert a new item under the currently selected headline (e.g., buildings or single elements).
  • Duplicate Item: Affects the current configuration. Duplicates the currently selected configuration item and opens the edit dialog box for the item.
  • Remove Item: Affects the current configuration. Removes the currently selected configuration item.
  • Item Properties: Affects the current configuration. Opens the edit dialog box for the currently selected item.


  • Draw Mode (toggle): Activates or deactivates Draw Mode.
  • Draw Item: Affects the active AutoCAD drawing. Creates the AutoCAD layer for the currently selected configuration tree item and starts the respective drawing function (PLINE, POINT, or INSERT).
  • Create Layer: Affects the active AutoCAD drawing. Creates the AutoCAD layer for the currently selected configuration tree item.
  • Layer Properties: Opens the AutoCAD Layer Properties Manager for the currently selected configuration tree item.
  • CAD Object Parameters: Displays a new dialog box in which it is possible to attach parameters to single map elements. Select the desired object type and then the AutoCAD object, and you will get a dialog box for changing the object parameters. This is the same parameter dialog box used in the configuration tree. The difference is that in the tree, you define parameters for layers, and with this dialog box, you define parameters for single CAD elements. Layer parameters are general parameters for all elements in that layer. Single element parameters override layer parameters.


  • Gray Non-Existing Items (toggle): If enabled, shows gray icons in non-used materials and object parameters referring to an empty or a non-existing layer. In a big drawing, only the existence of elements is checked. In small drawings, the program also checks whether the objects on a layer are suitable to be modeled. (For example, if there would be a layer for buildings which contains only dots, the item would be in a grayed state.)
  • Show CAD Tooltips (toggle): If enabled, shows tooltip information (parameters of the object) whenever you move the mouse on top of a MAGNET object in the AutoCAD drawing. You can also access the object parameters (both per layer and per object) via a context menu by right-clicking an object. 
  • Show Configuration Tooltips (toggle): If enabled, shows the tooltips for configuration tree items.
  • Allow Multiple Viewers (toggle): If enabled, each View Model command opens up a new MAGNET Explorer window. If disabled, the previous MAGNET Explorer window is closed prior to opening a new one.
  • Preserve Viewer Viewpoint (toggle): If enabled, MAGNET Explorer stores its last viewpoint so that the new MAGNET Explorer starts up in the same view points.
  • Close All Viewers: Closes all MAGNET Explorer windows.


  • Groups: With the groups function, the user can turn on and off additional design elements and switch between design alternatives. For more information, read MAGNET Modeler for Autodesk: Groups.
  • Configuration Summary: Opens up the Per Layer Configuration summary window, which shows the list of layers and the Modeler definitions.
  • Include xrefs: When this is enabled, MAGNET Modeler will bind and explode all xref files attached to this drawing before model generation and restore back to the original state after the model is generated. With this option, it is possible to divide the model into multiple files.
    • This lets team members work together where different domain experts can cross reference other domain models into their own model. For example, a landscape designer references road and terrain models from a road designer, and vice versa, a road designer references a landscape design model. If the road designer updates road models, the landscape designer sees the change immediately after model generation. This way, all domain models are up to date, and change management becomes very easy. For example, collisions are detected immediately if a road model doesn’t fit into a bridge model or landscaping blocks a sign's visibility.
    • NOTE: Models using xref files need a bit more memory to generate than if all data were in one single file. Xref files need to be binded and exploded before model generation, and that requires extra memory. Typically this is not a problem, but if the models are too big, it is advisable to go through all xref files and remove unnecessary data like unused blocks (using purge command) and optimize the model input data. If optimization doesn’t help, the user needs to bind and explode the xref files manually or contact support for special instructions for handling large xref models.
    • NOTE: Xref model generation can be made faster by disabling draw order using the command DRAWORDERCTL and setting the value to 0.
  • Autosave Config: The program saves a backup file (*.INI) automatically to the folder vdc-modeler.ini bak.
  • Log Window: Opens up a log window, which shows information about the model generation, model statistics, and possible configuration problems when a new configuration is loaded.


  • Generate Default Surface: When this is on, also creates a default surface, for example, when generating a model using an *.IFC file.
  • Purge Configuration Items: Affects the configuration tree. Removes non-used materials and/or object parameters referring to empty or non-existent layers. Additionally, a purge can be used to sort materials by name and/or to sort objects by layer name.
  • Create All Configuration Layers: Affects the AutoCAD drawing. Based on the active configuration, creates all layers to the drawing.
  • Texture Paths: Opens up a dialog box for editing the texture paths.


  • Help: Starts the help system.
  • Licensing: Opens up the license type selection dialog box.
  • About: Shows the release and copyright information of the product.