Packaging Tool

Last updated April 28, 2017 by Steel Extensions

Software version: 
Not environment-specific

Packaging Tool


Purpose and description
System Requirements
Installing Packaging Tool
Using Packaging Tool
Additional information

Purpose and description

Packaging Tool automates the process of creating, sending and tracking responses to packages of drawings, NC files, reports, and other model outputrepresentation of information included in a model exported into the desired format

In Tekla Structures, for example, drawings, reports, lists, and NC files are model output.

Some common output formats of Tekla Structures are, for example, IFC, DWG, DGN, CIS/2, and SDNF.

files. The tool’s main features are as follows:

  • Wizard-based user interface leads through the package creation process step-by-step.
  • Automatically selects drawings for packaging based on a selection filterfilter used for defining which object types can be selected

    Selection filter chooses model objects or objects in drawings according to object properties.

    Selection filters can be standard or user-defined.

    For example, selection filters can be used to select parts for drawings or analysis.

    , or allows manual selection of drawings from a Drawing Listlist of drawings that provides information about the drawings in a particular model and that is used for searching, managing, and printing the drawings

    In the drawing list, the user can, for example, search, open, update, freeze, lock, and delete drawings. The drawing list can also be used to display the associations between the drawings and the parts in the model.

    Drawing list is used in Tekla Structures until version 2018. See document manager.

    -style gridmodeling aid that represents a three-dimensional complex of intersecting grid planes or intersecting grid planes and curved grid surfaces

    The grid is defined by coordinates in 3D space. It is shown two-dimensionally on the view plane by dash-and-dot lines. A grid can be rectangular or radial.

    It is possible to have more than one grid in a model. For example, a large-scale grid for the entire structure, and smaller grids for some detailed sections.

    It is also possible to show grids and grid line labels in drawings, and to modify how they are shown in the drawings.

  • Automatically converts the selected drawings to a portable format, suitable for packaging (PDF, DXF or DWG).
  • Automatically generates and packages NC files for the selected drawings or for the parts selected in the model.
  • Automatically generates and packages reports for the selected objects or all objects.
  • Allows any additional files to be manually added to the package (e.g. MIS lists).
  • Automatically creates a coversheet for the package, detailing the purpose and optionally the contents of the package.
  • Automatically emails the package and coversheet to recipients selected from the tool’s built-in contacts database, or allows the package to be sent manually later.
  • Manages sent packages, maintains the transmittal history, and tracks the response status of each package (response not required / awaiting / overdue / received).
  • Creates revised packages, automatically identifying the previously packaged files, and the files modified or deleted since previously packaged.
  • Maintains the revision history and manages old versions of packages.

System requirements

  • Tekla Structures

Installing Packaging Tool

The extension is now available in two formats; Tekla Structures version (and x86/64bit) specific *.msi installers that support Tekla versions up to and including 21.1 and from Tekla Structures 2016 on, a *.tsep (Tekla Structures extension package) format.

To install the *.msi based extensions to Tekla Structures 21.0 or earlier:

  1. Close Tekla Structures.
  2. Install the applicationpart of Tekla Structures functionality that is developed in order to extend the capability of Tekla Structures but that is not included in the Tekla Structures installation

    using the appropriate 32bit (x86) or 64bit installation package.

To install the *.tsep based extensions to Tekla Structures (available in Tekla Structures 2016 and later) from Tekla Warehouse:

  1. Download the extension from Tekla Warehouseservice for collaboration and for storing and sharing Tekla Structures content

    In Tekla Warehouse the content items are stored in collections. Tekla Warehouse includes the Tekla Warehouse Service and the Tekla Warehouse web site.

    Tekla Warehouse is one of the Tekla Online services.

  2. According to which browser you are using, when the file has been downloaded either the Tekla Structures extension manager will open automatically or you may need to right click on the downloaded file and choose the 'open' option.
  3. The Tekla Structures extension manager dialog will be displayed and will show a list of installed Tekla Structures versions compatible with the extension. Choose the versions you wish to install to by selecting the check boxes next to each version's name, then click 'Import'. You may be asked to accept the License.
  4. The extensions will now be queued for installation to the selected versions. The installation will happen the next time that version is started.

To install a saved *.tsep extension package to additional Tekla Structures installations:

Having downloaded a *.tsep based extension, that file may be saved and installed on multiple Tekla Structures installations:

  1. To import from a running Tekla Structures:
    1. Open the Applications & Components menu and from its 'Access advanced features' button menu select 'Extension manager...' which will open the manager dialog.
    2. Click on the 'Import...' button and browse to the extension you wish to install.
    3. The chosen extension will be added to the import queue for the running version and installed when Tekla Structures is next restarted.
  2. To install from the file manager menu:
    1. Browse to the saved file, right click on the file and select 'Open', the Tekla Structures extension manager dialog will be displayed.
    2. Choose the version(s) to install to and click on 'Import'.
    3. The chosen extension will be added to the import queue for the version(s) selected and installed when Tekla Structures is next restarted.

User toolbar (applicable to Tekla Structures 21.0 and earlier versions only)

Some extension installers may create a user toolbar in Tekla Structures. However, it is user (that is, Windows user account) specific; which means, the user installing the extension would get the user toolbar in Tekla Structures and another user would not.

To manually add an extension to a user toolbar in Tekla Structures:

  1. Click Tools > Customize to open the Customize dialog box.
  2. On the Toolbars tab, click “New....”, a new toolbar with the name “User Toolbar 1” appears in the toolbar tree. You can enter a new name for the toolbar.
  3. Search for the extension on the list on the left, click on it and then click the right arrow to add it to the toolbar. Some extensions are started from a macrosaved series of actions that includes instructions for a program

    Macros are located in the applications and components catalog. They are recorded or created manually and stored as .cs file in a folder defined with the advanced option XS_MACRO_DIRECTORY.

    Macros can, for example, be used for creating drawings or reports.

    Macros are sometimes used to run an application.

    , entering “macro:” in the “Filter” input box will list those extensions.
  4. Repeat step 3 if you would like to add more extensions to the toolbar.
  5. Click Close.

Applications and components menu

From Tekla Structures version 21.1 the user toolbar will not be created and instead the extension is accessed from the Applications & components menu. The installer creates a group called 'Packaging Tool' in the root folder with an icon for the extension component. If you wish to customise the menu, the Packaging Tool component may be added to any new or existing groups in the normal way. To remove the automatically created Packaging Tool group it is necessary to locate the file catalog filefile that defines catalog information used by Tekla Structures

Catalog files can have different file name extensions, for example, .bin, .db, or .inp.

installed as part of this extension and remove it (this will also remove the descriptions of the components so you will need to provide your own). That file is located in the Environments\common\extensions\PackagingTool folder and is called Packaging Note that renaming the .ac.xml part of the name will cause it to be ignored too.

Using Packaging Tool

Packaging Tool works in conjunction with the matching version of Tekla Structures. Before starting Packaging Tool, you need to start the matching version of Tekla Structures and open the model you want to create packages for. Once Tekla Structures is running and you have a model open, you can start Packaging Tool by double-clicking its desktop shortcut. While Packaging Tool is in use, Tekla Structures must be left running with the relevant model open. Tekla Structures must not be minimized during drawing conversion as drawings are automatically opened and closed by Packaging Tool during the conversion process.

The Main Window

Packaging Tool’s main window consists of a grid, showing all the packages for the current modelmodel that is active in Tekla Structures

The current model can be a single-user model, a shared model or a working model.

, and a toolbar for creating, sending, viewing and deleting packages, managing contacts, etc.  The packages grid is initially empty, as shown in the example below.

Creating a package

To create a package, click the Create New Package button. Package Creation Wizard is launched.


On the first page of the wizard, enter a package title and an optional package description and then click Next.

Choosing a Selection Filter

Before you begin to create your new package, you can choose a selection filter that is applied to the model.

The filtered parts can then be used in drawing selection and NC filefile that contains information gathered from a model and exported to computer numerical controlled fabrication machinery

Tekla Structures produces NC files in several formats, for example, DSTV.

generation. You can also select <No Filter>, which then gives you the option of manually selecting parts in Tekla Structures, or simply selecting drawings manually using the Drawing Selection page of the wizard. If in future you create a new version of your package, the filter you select will be automatically re-selected as the default filter for the package. This is useful in identifying changes that have occurred since the original package was created.

Selecting the Drawings

The Drawing Selection page allows you to select the drawings that you want to include in your package. It automatically converts the selected drawings to a portable format, suitable for packaging (PDF, DXF or DWG).

The grid shows all the drawings available for packaging in the current model. You can sort any column in the grid by clicking its header. In the example above the drawings are sorted by their Name. You can select drawings manually by selecting the check box in the Select column. Drawings will be dimmed and they cannot be selected if they are locked or out-of-date.  If you need to update certain drawings before continuing, exit the wizard by clicking the Cancel button, perform the required updates in Tekla Structures, and then restart the wizard to refresh the drawings grid. The wizard can also automatically select drawings for the parts you have selected in the model.

Auto-Selecting Drawings

The Auto-Select Drawings button allows you to automatically select the drawings for the parts currently selected in the model.

In the example above, the columns have been selected in the model using the Columns selection filter, and the assembly and single-part drawings for the columns have been automatically selected in the grid. If necessary, you can also manually select a few extra drawings, like the GA drawingdrawing that is created from one or more model views and that shows information needed to understand the general arrangement of structural elements on a project

General arrangement drawings show how parts, assemblies, cast units, or pour objects are located in a building.

shown in the example above. When you have selected all the drawings you want to package, choose the format you want to convert them to, by default PDF, and click Next.

Converting the Drawings

As your drawings are converted to PDF (or DXF/DWG) format, you can monitor the conversion process on the Drawing Conversion page. In Tekla Structures, you will see each drawing being briefly opened, exported in the relevant format and then closed again.

Note that no PDF printer driver needs to be installed. Packaging Tool has built-in PDF creation functionality. The Embedbuilding object that represents an object that is to be cast into a concrete structure and that is used to connect structures or as an aid when constructing a structure

For example, a cast-in socket is an embed that is placed in concrete structures to allow parts to be fastened together on site. In Tekla Structures, embeds are typically steel parts and they are added to cast units as sub-assemblies.

fonts as vectors in PDFs
option at the bottom of the Drawing Selection page allows you to embed drawing font information within the PDF files themselves. Embedding fonts increases file size somewhat, but means that the fonts do not have to be present on the recipient’s computer in order to view the PDFs accurately. If your drawings only use common Windows fonts, like Arial or Times New Roman, you can reduce your overall package size by switching off the Embed fonts as vectors in PDFs option. The file names of the converted drawings are in the following format: Mark-Name-Type-Revision.pdf, for example, C.1-COLUMN-A-1.pdf

Packaging NC Files

The NC File Generation page allows you to automatically generate NC files for the package.

The grid shows all the NC file settings configured for the current model. Project, firm or system settings are also included. You can select the settings you want to use by selecting the check boxes in the Select column. If necessary, you can edit the output folder for any of the selected settings by double-clicking in the Package Folder column. You then have the option to generate NC files for the drawings packaged in the previous step, or for the parts you currently have selected in the model. If you select to generate NC files for your drawings, you can then further specify whether to use the single-part drawings, the assembly drawings, or both of them and whether to use the secondary parts in assembly drawings as well as the main part(1) part that exists in a building object and that determines the position number for the assembly or cast unit and the direction of assembly or cast unit drawings

(1) Main part can be an assembly main part or a cast unit main part.

(2) input part that the user selects first when creating a component

(2) Connections and details always have a component main part.


Generating NC Files

You can monitor the NC file generation process in the progress window.


Packaging Reports

The Report Generation page allows you to automatically generate reports for the package.

All the available reports in the model, project, firm or system folders are shown in the list. Select the reports you want to generate by selecting the check boxes next to the required reports in the list. Click the Select All or Deselect All buttons to automatically select or deselect all reports. Some reports have user-defined titles. You can enter the title text for these reports in the three Title boxes.You then have the option to generate reports for the objects currently selected in the model (Selected Objects), or for All Objects. The Selected Objects option uses the objects selected by your selection filter if you chose to apply a selection filter earlier on the Selection Filter page.

Generating Reports

You can monitor the report generation process in a progress window.

The output files have the same names as their respective reports. Output files for reports which do not have an extension are given a default extension of .xsr. For example, the Material_Fittings report produces an output file named Material_Fittings.xsr.

Selecting Additional Files

Once you have packaged all your drawings, NC files and reports, the Select Additional Files page allows you to select any other files you might want to include in your package.

Adding MIS Lists to the Package

For example, if you want to add some MIS lists to the package, first create a separate folder for them by clicking the Create New Folder button.

Enter a name for the new folder, e.g. MIS, and then click the Add Files to the Selected Folder button.

When the Select Files dialog box opens, select the MIS lists you want to add to the package. The selected files are added to the package and they immediately appear in the packaging list at the bottom of the page. Note that you can remove any unwanted files from the packaging list by selecting them and pressing the Delete key.

Entering Transmittal Details

The Enter Transmittal Details page allows you to enter information about the package’s recipients, its purpose, if and when a response is required, etc.


Selecting Recipients

In the Recipients box, you can manually enter e-mail addresses separated by a semi-colon (;) or you can click the browse button (...) to select addresses from the Packaging Tool’s contacts database. Select the required contacts and click OK.

If necessary, you can create new contacts using the buttons at the top of the Contacts dialog box. You can create both individual contacts and distribution lists. Another way to create new contacts is to manually enter new e-mail addresses directly into the Recipients box. These will be automatically added to the contacts database and they appear in the Contacts dialog box next time you create a package.

Wizard Input Form History

As packages are created, certain fields in the wizard input forms automatically build up a history of the values you entered for previous packages. These previously entered values can be instantly retrieved using the drop-down lists. The input form history can be cleared on the Packaging Tools Settings dialog box.

Requesting a Response

You can let your recipients know if or when a response is required by selecting the Response Required check box and selecting a Response Required By Date.
Packaging Tool’s main window allows you to track the Response Status of your packages.

Reviewing the Coversheet

Packaging Tool automatically creates a coversheet containing all the details about your package and its contents.

The coversheet is a PDF file, which accompanies your package, and tells your recipients all they need to know about the package, its purpose, its contents, and if and when a response is required. For multi-page coversheets, use the Next Page and Previous Page buttons to display the next and previous pages of the coversheet.
Note that you can set the Sender Address for the coversheet on the Packaging Tool Settings dialog.

Reviewing the Package Contents

The Generate Contents Table and Generate Drawings Table options at the bottom of the Transmittal Details page allow you to add a full table of contents and/or a table of drawing details to the coversheet.

When you have finished reviewing the coversheet, click Next to create the package.

New Package Created

The wizard’s final page reports that your package has been created, gives the package size, and provides the option to send the package using your e-mail application.

The Tekla Structures Package (TSP) file is a zip file with a file name in the following format: ModelName-Date-Time.tsp
Select the check box if you want to send the package immediately, using your default email application (e.g. Microsoft Outlook). You can always send the package later if you prefer, using the Send/Resend Package dialog box. A permanent copy of the package will be stored in the Packages folder of your model as shown in the Package File and Package Folder fields. This means you have the option to copy it manually to a DVD, memory stick, shared folder, etc. Click Finish to close the Package Creation Wizard.

Sending the Package

If you want to send the package using your default e-mail application, the Packaging Tool automatically creates a new e-mail message, addressed to your selected recipients, and with both the package and coversheet attached. The example below shows a message created in Microsoft Outlook.

The Package Title appears in the subject line, and the Package Description appears in the body of the message. You can add any additional comments before sending it in the normal way. As noted at the foot of the message, Tekla Structures Package (.tsp) files are in standard zip format and can be opened by your recipients with any third-party zip file tool.

Tracking Responses

Once you have finished creating your package, it will appear in the packages grid, in the Packaging Tool’s main window. From here, you can use the last three columns of the grid to track the responses to this and other packages. Sorting by the Response Status column for example, you can instantly see which packages are awaiting responses, which responses are overdue, and which responses have been received. For a new package, the Response Status column will initially be set to Awaiting and the Response Received column is not selected.

If no response is received by the Response Required By date, the Response Status will change to Overdue and be highlighted in bold.

If you receive a response, click the Response Received check box to change the Response Status to Received.

Viewing a Package

To view the contents of a package, select it in the packages grid, and click the View Selected Package button. The View Package dialog box opens.

On the left is a list of all the packaged files. Selecting one of the files on the left displays a preview of it on the right. A preview of a PDF file (a GA drawing) is shown. Note that PDF previewing requires Adobe Reader.

Text files or files in HTML format can also be previewed in the View Package dialog box, e.g. reports, NC files, etc. A preview of a material assembly report is shown.

You can also double-click a file to open it in the application associated with its file type. Double-clicking a .xls file, for example, typically opens it in Microsoft Excel.

You can display additional information about the drawings in your package by selecting the Show drawing details in grid option.

As well as viewing the packaged files, the View Package dialog box also allows you to view the package’s header details and coversheet by clicking the View Header Details and View Coversheet buttons respectively. Note that PDF previewing requires Adobe Reader.

Viewing an External Package

Packaging Tool also allows you to view external packages, i.e. packages outside the current model, which do not currently appear in the packages grid, for example, a package that has been e-mailed to you by another Packaging Tool user. To view an external package, click the View External Package button on the main toolbar. The Open External Package dialog box opens.

Browse to the package file you want to view, and click Open. The View Package dialog box opens, displaying the contents of the external package, just as it did the contents of the internal package described earlier.

Creating a Revised Package

The real power of the Packaging Tool starts to be seen in its ability to take an existing package, analyze the changes that have occurred in the model since the package was created, then create a revised package containing the required mix of old files, new files, and modified/updated files. To create a revised package, select an existing package in the packages grid, and click the Create Revised Package button. The Package Creation Wizard opens, but this time it will be pre-populated with the contents of the previous package.

On the first page of the wizard, you can use the same package title and description as before, or you can edit them as required, and click Next.

Previously Packaged Drawings

On the Drawing Selection page, three new columns appear in the grid. The Previously Packaged column indicates whether a drawing was included in the previous package, the Modified Since Previously Packaged and Deleted Since Previously Packaged columns indicate whether the drawing has been modified or deleted since the previous package was created.

In this example, the Previously Packaged column is selected for all five drawings that were present in the original package. One of the drawings has been selected in the Modified Since Previously Packaged column, indicating that it has been changed since it was originally packaged. Note that because Tekla Structures drawings only have a modified date, not a date and time, it is not possible to detect more than one modification per day. One of the drawings has been selected in the Deleted Since Previously Packaged column, indicating that it has been deleted since it was originally packaged. The deleted drawing has also been given a grey background to help it stand out. All the previously packaged drawings, with the exception of the deleted one, have been automatically pre-selected for the new package, and have been selected in the Select column.

Changing the Default Selections

You may decide to accept the drawings pre-selected by the wizard, and repackage updated versions of all the drawings that were previously packaged, with the exception of any deleted ones, or you can add and remove drawings from the selection set by selecting and clearing the check boxes in the Select column.

In this example, two previously packaged column drawings have been removed from the selection set and one new rafter assembly drawingdrawing that shows fabrication information for a basic or a nested assembly, including bolts and welds, and that is generally used at the workshop

Assembly drawings show how parts are located in an assembly. They contain the parts of the assembly presented in one or more views.

has been added. The dimmed, deleted drawing, which was unselected by default, has now been selected to force its inclusion in the package. If you decide to include drawings which have been deleted from the model, a copy of the deleted drawing will be taken as-is from the source package.

Repackaging NC Files and Reports

The NC File Generation and Report Generation pages are automatically initialized with all the settings and selections that were previously used for the source package. You can select to accept these default settings and selections, and regenerate updated versions of all the previously packaged files, or you can edit the NC generation settings and add or remove reports in whatever way.


Additional Previously Packaged Files

The Select Additional Files page will be pre-populated with all the files from the source package, and again the three Previously Packaged columns will appear in the grid.

In this example, one of the MIS lists has been modified since it was previously packaged. You can select to simply accept the wizard’s default selections, and repackage updated versions of all the previously packaged files, or you can add and remove files from the packaging list as required.

Updating the Transmittal Details

On the Enter Transmittal Details page, you can keep the details the same as the original package, or you can modify them in any way you require. In the example, two new recipients have been added, and a new response date has been entered.


Reviewing the Updated Coversheet

All the new transmittal details appear at the top of the coversheet, and because the package was created from another package, the source package name will appear in the coversheet’s Source Package field.


Packaging Status Information

The coversheet’s Status column indicates the differences between the new package and the original source package.

Identical – the file is identical to the version in the previous package.
Modified – the file has been modified since it was previously packaged.
New – the file is new to this package, it was not in the previous package.
Deleted – the file was in the previous package, but it has been removed from the current package.
Repackaged – an NC file or report which was in the previous package, and has been regenerated for inclusion in the current package.

Identifying Related Packages

In the Packaging Tool’s main window, related packages can be grouped and identified in a number of ways.

Related packages all have the same package ID, so they can be grouped together in the grid by sorting on ID. The package ID is a unique identifier (GUID), generated automatically when a package is created by Packaging Tool. If you select a package in the grid, all related packages will be highlighted in purple, and the name of the actual source package will be highlighted in bold. In this example Package 1b is selected and therefore the name of the source package (Package 1a) is highlighted in bold, and all related packages (Package 1a and Package 1) are highlighted in purple.

Sending and Resending Packages

When you create a package, you have the option to send it immediately by selecting the check box on the last page of the Package Creation Wizard, or you can send it later using the Send Package dialog box. The Send Package dialog box can also be used to resend a previously sent package, to the same or different recipients. To send or resend a package, select it in the packages grid, and click the Send/Resend Selected Package button on the main toolbar.

Edit any of the transmittal details as required, then click the Send button to send the package using your default e-mail application, e.g. Microsoft Outlook.

If you prefer to send your package manually rather than using the Package Creation Wizard or the Send Package dialog box, or if you want to copy your package to a DVD, memory stick or shared folder, you can use the Explore Packages Folder option on the main toolbar.

Select your package in the packages grid, and click the Explore Packages Folder button. The Packages folder is opened in Windows Explorer, with the relevant package file (.tsp file) already selected, and ready for copying, emailing, etc.

Deleting Packages

To delete a package, select it in the packages grid, then click the Delete Selected Package button on the main toolbar. The Delete Package dialog box opens.

Three options are available:
• Select the first option if you just want to delete the selected package and nothing else.
• Select the second option if you want to delete the selected package, plus any earlier versions of the package.
• Select the third option if you want to delete all versions of the selected package, i.e. all packages with the same ID as the selected package.

Editing Contacts

Click the Edit Contacts button on the main toolbar to open the Contacts dialog box.


Creating Individual Contacts and Distribution Lists

To create an individual contact, click the Create New Contact button, then enter the required contact name, company and e-mail address into the grid.

To create a distribution list, first select the individual contacts you want to include in the list, then click the Create Distribution List From Selected button, and enter a name and description for the new distribution list in the grid.

Existing contact details can also be edited by double-clicking the relevant cells in the grid, and unwanted contacts can be deleted by selecting them in the grid and pressing the Delete key.

Editing Settings

Click the Edit Settings button on the main toolbar to open the Packaging Tool Settings dialog box.

In the Address For Coversheet section of the dialog box, enter the company name and address details you want to appear in the Sender Address section of your coversheets.
As packages are created, certain fields in the wizard input forms automatically build up a history of the values you entered for previous packages. This input form history can be cleared by clicking the Clear button.

Additional information

When drawings are converted for packaging to PDF, DXF or DWG format, each drawing will be opened, exported in the relevant format, and closed again. You will see the drawings flickering in and out of view, as they rapidly open and close in succession. For this reason, if you have a drawing open, it is important to close it before starting to create a new package. It is also important that Tekla Structures must not be minimized during the conversion process, as toolbar layouts can be disrupted if the Packaging Tool attempts to open drawings while Tekla Structures is minimized.

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