AutoCAD

AutoCAD 2009: Fabulous Improvements to Everyday Commands (Circles and Lines AutoCAD Tutorial)

1 Apr, 2008 By: Lynn Allen

New capabilities for simple commands mean better productivity in this new Autodesk release.


AutoCAD 2009 is out, and everyone is writing about the big changes (Macro Recorder, the user interface, and more). I thought I'd start my AutoCAD 2009 tutorials by discussing some of the little features in the new release that I think add up to a whole lot. It's the improvements that affect our everyday commands that I always get excited about. If you can shave one step off of something you use all day long, well, that's a beautiful thing. And it always seems as though the small (yet mighty) features receive little or no attention, making it hard for you to find out about them. So let's fix that right now!

In-Place Spell Checking
The correct-as-you-go spell checking capability of Microsoft Word and Outlook is so familiar now that our good friend AutoCAD should offer up the same. But not so in years past, and you've been forced to use the good old Spell command to correct the text in drawings. Well the Spell command is going to get very lonely in AutoCAD 2009 because the Mtext command now has an in-place spell checker. Hoorah! Misspelled words are underlined with red. The right-click menu is happy to offer up some suitable replacements. For added entertainment, check out the More Suggestions option.

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In-place spelling correction will save you time (and embarrassment).

Find Command Works on Blocks and Xrefs
The Find command is the answer to search and replace in AutoCAD, and AutoCAD 2009 brings a few nice enhancements to this valuable command. Find now has the option to search blocks for text (and not just attribute values) as well as external references. Simply select the down arrow to expand the dialog box and reveal all of the various settings you can apply to Find.

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The Find command contains several valuable additional options for searching.

Although previous releases of AutoCAD did support using wild cards in the Find command, it certainly wasn't obvious to the user. Now you'll find a toggle to use wild cards in your searches. The ability to ignore hidden items was added as well. Hidden items include text that resides on layers that are off or frozen, invisible attributes, and text invisibility states within dynamic blocks.

My favorite addition to the Find command won't be obvious until you run it. Find zooms in on the objects found. (So it's no longer a guessing game!)

eTransmit Improvements
Finicky eTransmit has always wanted you to perform a Save before packing up your drawings, but you don't always want to do this. Sometimes you may alter the drawings specifically for the transmittal with the intent to undo the changes when you are finished. No problem anymore -- performing a Save is now optional. You'll also find a new Purge Drawings option in the Transmittal Setup (very cool).

Dynamically Update Clipped Xrefs
I love this feature. When you clip an xref, you can now move the frame around via grips and the clip will automatically update! Simply select a grip and stretch it to its new location. You can use the new invert arrow to invert the clip so the objects inside the boundary are clipped!

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Easily modify clipped xrefs using grips and invert arrows.

Array Supports Zoom and Pan During Preview
OK, so this is a little one. But it's so important if you use the Array command frequently. Now you can zoom and pan when previewing the results of your array.

Nonrectangular Viewport Support in Properties Palette
Before AutoCAD 2009, when you selected a nonrectangular viewport and then went to Properties, both the viewport and the polyline used to create the viewport were selected. You had to drop the Object List down and then select Viewport to get the properties you wanted. This extra step was irritating, and many people didn't even know how to do it. No worries anymore. Now when you select a nonrectangular viewport, the Properties palette knows exactly what you want and provides you with all the necessary information for your viewport.

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The new Hide Xref scales option will rid you of excess scale factors.
VP Scale Hides Xref Scales
If you've ever brought an xref into your drawing and found that all those pesky viewport scale factors came along with it, then you can appreciate the option to hide them in AutoCAD 2009. Now when you select an unlocked viewport and select VP Scale from the status bar, you'll find the nifty option of Hide Xref Scales at the bottom of the list. Incidentally this is the new default, which is fantastic!

Export Layouts to Model Space Drawing
This cool option started out as a tool posted on labs.autodesk.com (the land of free stuff). Now built into AutoCAD 2009, you can right-click on any viewport to export the layout to a model space drawing. Remember that this tool also exports objects that are outside the boundaries of the paper layout. You will also find this option in the new QuickView Layouts tool in AutoCAD 2009 (to be addressed in another column).

Freeze Columns in the Layer Manager
When you slide the Layer slider bar to the right, you often lose the Layer name column. This makes it really tricky to figure out which layer you are affecting, to say the least. AutoCAD 2009 provides the option to Freeze a column (like other products do), so that you can slide all the way to the right and yet the layer name is still visible. This new option should be mandatory for everyone. (How I wish it were the default!) Simply right-click on the title bar of the column you wish to freeze and select Freeze Column from the shortcut menu. You'll really love this new addition.

Well there you have some of the coolest new features that have arrived with AutoCAD 2009. Be sure you check them out and give them a try. You are going to love them!

Until next month, happy AutoCADing!


AutoCAD Tips!

Lynn Allen

Autodesk Technical Evangelist Lynn Allen guides you through a different AutoCAD feature in every edition of her popular "Circles and Lines" tutorial series. For even more AutoCAD how-to, check out Lynn's quick tips in the Cadalyst Video Gallery. Subscribe to Cadalyst's free Tips & Tools Weekly e-newsletter and we'll notify you every time a new video tip is published. All exclusively from Cadalyst!
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