AutoCAD

AutoCAD 2016 Introduces Smarter Dimensioning Tools

1 Dec, 2015 By: Lynn Allen

Do you think of dimensioning as a dreary task? With these time-saving new tools, you might start looking forward to it.


It's not like any of us CAD users get excited about dimensioning, right? I know I certainly don't! And while dimensioning is a necessary part of documenting our designs, it has been tedious at best in AutoCAD, requiring a myriad of clicks and picks.

If you feel the same way, then I have good news for you — AutoCAD is now smart enough to recognize objects and display potential dimensions. Simply move your cursor over an object until the correct dimension displays, then click to acknowledge and place the dimension! Let's dive deeper into the details of how this works.

Set a Default Dimensioning Layer

No more forgetting to set your current layer for dimensioning — you can set it once and forget about it! Similar to the Hatch Override tool, you can use the new layer drop-down menu found on the Annotate tab of the ribbon to set a Dim Layer Override (figure 1). Whenever you use the new Dimension tool, your dimensions will land on this override layer, regardless of your current layer.

Figure 1. Use the Dim Layer Override tool to set a default layer for dimensioning.
Figure 1. Use the Dim Layer Override tool to set a default layer for dimensioning.

For those of you who prefer to type, there is a new DIMLAYER system variable that you can type in directly. This means you can also set this override in script files and AutoLISP routines. If you key in a layer that doesn't exist, DIMLAYER will create that layer for you, using the standard defaults.

Note: Dim Layer Override only applies to new dimensions using the new dimensioning tool. If you revert back to old habits and use the legacy dimensioning tools, the dimensions will not land on this default layer!

One-Stop Shop for Dimensioning

The new (and awesome) Dimension tool (figure 2) can be found on the Home and Annotate tabs of the ribbon. You can also access it by simply keying in DIM at the Command prompt. You AutoCAD veterans may remember the DIM command from the early AutoCAD years; well, it's back with a (very productive) vengeance. While in this updated DIM command, you can dimension continually; an extra press of the Enter or Escape key will get you out and back to the Command prompt.

Figure 2. The new Dimension tool can be found on the Home and Annotate tabs of the ribbon.
Figure 2. The new Dimension tool can be found on the Home and Annotate tabs of the ribbon.

With your object snaps off, you can hover over lines, polylines, arcs, circles, etc. and see immediate dimension previews. When the preview displays the dimension you desire, simply pick once to select, and then pick once more to place the dimension line in the desired location, no more questions asked!

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Lynn Allen

In her easy-to-follow, friendly style, long-time Cadalyst contributing editor and Autodesk Technical Evangelist Lynn Allen guides you through a new feature or time-saving trick in every episode of her popular AutoCAD video tips. Subscribe to the free Cadalyst Video Picks newsletter and we'll notify you every time a new video tip is published. All exclusively from Cadalyst!

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