Eleven Efficiency Boosters for AutoCAD

23 Jan, 2014 By: Lynn Allen

Circles and Lines: High-profile features are nice, but these subtle improvements will really enhance your productivity.

Figure 1. The Layer list on the ribbon now extends the full height of the user's screen.
Figure 1. The Layer list on the ribbon now extends the full height of the user's screen.

The big, shiny new AutoCAD 2014 features may get all the attention, but you and I know that it's often the more subtle enhancements that turn out to be the most valuable. Remove just one step from a process you do all the time, and you'll notice an instant bump in productivity. In this edition of "Circles and Lines," I'll cover some of the less flashy, but still valuable new features inside AutoCAD 2014.

   1. Draw arcs clockwise. For as long as I can remember, AutoCAD has preferred to draw arcs counterclockwise. That was the way of the world — and we all just dealt with it! In AutoCAD 2014, changing the direction of an arc is as easy as holding down the Control key.

   2. Fillet an open polyline. Have you ever tried to fillet an open polyline to itself? It was impossible — until now! AutoCAD 2014 is more than happy to let you do this, the end result being a single closed polyline.

   3. Nicely numbered layers. AutoCAD has also learned to count! You'll find that numbered layer names are now listed in their natural order, such as 1, 2, 4, 5, 10, 21, and 25, as opposed to listing them as 1, 10, 2, 21, 25, 4, and 5. And if you're wondering whether there is a system variable to control this feature (for those of you who've already succumbed to AutoCAD's inability to count), I'm afraid not. Maybe that will come in the next release.

   4. Longer Layer drop-down list. Are you tired of scrolling through a long list of layers when you use the Layer drop-down list on the ribbon? You'll find that AutoCAD 2014 has expanded the Layer drop-down to fill the entire height of your screen (figure 1). This change provides you with easier access — but sadly, you won't burn as many calories.

   5. Merged Layer Merge. Layer Merge was a popular Express Tool that grew up to become a full-fledged AutoCAD command a few releases ago. Now you'll find that Layer Merge is fully incorporated into the Layer Properties Manager (figure 2). If you aren't familiar with LayMrg, it's used to merge one or more layers onto a destination layer. The layers that were merged are then deleted. It's an awesome time-saving tool!

Figure 2. Layer Merge can now be found in the Layer Properties Manager.
Figure 2. Layer Merge can now be found in the Layer Properties Manager.



   6. Xref linetypes and layers redo. Do you use xrefs? A couple of tweaks have been made to the display of xref linetypes and layers that won't really affect your productivity but might cause mild confusion if you aren't aware of what happened. You'll find that xref linetypes are no longer displayed in the Linetype drop-down list on the ribbon or in the Properties palette. No loss there, as you couldn't modify them anyway — and if you can't edit them, why display them? Xref layers are still displayed on the ribbon (so you can easily control their visibility), but you'll find they are no longer displayed in the Properties palette.

   7. Easy xref-to-overlay changes. You're going to love the new, simple double-click in the Type column of the Xref Manager that changes attached xrefs to overlays (and vice versa). And how would you know that if someone didn't point it out? (You're welcome!) Have you been frustrated when you couldn't select multiple xrefs to change at one time in the Xref Manager? Now you can do this via the right-click menu.

   8. Dtext gains a memory. We all still use single-line text (dtext) from time to time. Have you ever noticed that regardless of how you set the justification, it always returns to "starting point" the next time you use it? That's no longer the case; AutoCAD 2014 remembers the last setting and uses it as the default for the next use of the Dtext command.

   9. Sheet set date fix. Are you a sheet set user? If not, you probably should be. And if you are, you may have noticed that whenever you create a new sheet, AutoCAD uses the creation date from the template file instead of the new sheet. That minor (but annoying) detail has been corrected.

   10. ATTDIA change. When inserting a block with attributes, the default method of displaying attribute prompts is on the Command line. The new method displays the attributes in a friendly dialog box; ATTDIA is now set to 1 by default (figure 3).

Figure 3. Attributes now display in a dialog box by default.
Figure 3. Attributes now display in a dialog box by default.

   11. New system variable. I'll end with one of my favorite additions to AutoCAD 2014. If you've ever added a baseline or continued dimension to your drawing, only to realize that you forgot to change the dimension style to that of the base dimension, you're going to love this new system variable. Set DIMCONTINUEMODE to 1, and baseline and continued dimensions will always reflect the same dimension style as the base dimension! You will also find that this is the new default behavior, so you don't have to remember the name of yet one more system variable.

Now you know some new tips for AutoCAD 2014; be sure to give them a try. I think you'll find that these minor, everyday features in AutoCAD add up to a major improvement in productivity. Happy AutoCAD-ing!

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Re: Eleven Efficiency Boosters for AutoCAD
by: aaronsilver
January 30, 2014 - 1:26am
I must say it has an excellent features. This AutoCAD 2014 enhance productivity with the improvement and great features. Seems like this post will help me in my designing.
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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