AutoCAD

Exposing Hidden Gems in AutoCAD 2013

19 Jul, 2012 By: Lynn Allen

Circles and Lines Tutorial: Eleven little productivity enhancements add up to big time savings.


Another release of AutoCAD is here — and as usual, I prefer to write about the unsung heroes in the product, those smaller features that will no doubt improve your everyday drawing life. In many cases, if someone doesn't mention them, you just might miss them — and we certainly wouldn't want that! Following are eleven of my favorite new features.

Strikethrough Text

Mtext (along with tables, mleaders, and dimensions) now supports the common text feature of strikethrough text.

Figure 1. Use the new Strikethrough text tool to draw a line through your text.
Use the new Strikethrough text tool to draw a line through your text.


In-Canvas Property Preview

Before AutoCAD 2013, most property modifications (such as layer, color, and linetype) didn't appear until after they were changed. Now, the new In-Canvas Property Preview lets you see the changes before you finalize them. For example, as you scroll down the Layer pull-down list with objects highlighted, you can see the object properties change for each layer as you move your cursor. This new feature should help you make more accurate property selections.

Edit Multiple Hatch Objects at Once

Autodesk moved the Hatch Editor to a contextual tab on the ribbon a couple of releases ago. There was a problem, however: You could only edit one hatch at a time. Well, that limitation is gone now. Feel free to select as many hatch objects as you want!

Quick View Drawings Update

Do you use Quick View Drawings to move from one open drawing to another? Well, you should! Quick View Drawings (found on the status bar) helps you easily move to another open drawing, as well as a specific layout tab of that drawing. AutoCAD 2013 displays the current drawing more clearly with bold text and a nice green border. Now you don't have an excuse not to use this nifty command!

Figure 2. It's easier to identify the current drawing and layout in Quick View Drawings.
It's easier to identify the current drawing and layout in Quick View Drawings.

Longer Font List Window

I'm sure that in the early days of AutoCAD, a short font window in the Text Style dialog box wasn't a problem; after all, there were fewer than half a dozen fonts! Over time, that list grew substantially — but the teeny, tiny window for the font list did not. At last, the font list window has been lengthened, so you won't have to do as much scrolling. Consequently, you will burn fewer calories with AutoCAD 2013.

Leader Improvements

Now, it's easy to put your leaders in front of other objects with the new Leader option in the TextToFront tool. The Mleader text box also includes a margin between the text and the frame now, as well as a minimum width for the text to prevent text overflow.

Figure 3. Easily move leaders to the front of the display with the new Leader option in TextToFront.
Easily move leaders to the front of the display with the new Leader option in TextToFront.


Display, but Don't Plot Wipeout Frames

To edit a wipeout, the frame must display, but often we don't want that frame to plot. No more turning wipeout frames on and off! Just set the new WIPEOUTFRAME system variable to 2, and the frame displays but won't plot. Note that you can also find this new option in the Wipeout command.

Finally, an Offset Preview

Wouldn't it be nice if you could see a preview of an offset before a final selection? Wish granted in AutoCAD 2013.

Xref Changes

In AutoCAD 2013, you can edit the saved path directly in the External References palette, and the found path is now read-only (as opposed to the other way around, as it was in previous releases). This should mean fewer lost xrefs!

Figure 4. Edit Saved Path in AutoCAD 2013 rather than the Found path.
Edit Saved Path in AutoCAD 2013 rather than the Found path.

Reverse Polylines with Widths

The new system variable PLINEREVERSEWIDTHS controls what happens when you execute the Reverse command on polylines with varying widths. When you set PLINEREVERSEWIDTHS to 0, varying widths are not affected. When it's set to 1, on the other hand, the widths of the segments are reversed and applied to the vertices starting in the opposite direction.

PressPull Enhancements

One very nice 3D improvement is with the popular PressPull command. The new Multiple option lets you PressPull multiple objects at one time. You also are no longer limited to selecting inside a closed boundary. Open 2D and 3D curves are now fair game!

One of the coolest additions to the PressPull tool is the ability to extrude a tapered solid while continuing the taper. Simply use the Ctrl key when selecting the face and the extrusion follows the existing taper — I love that! Tip: You can also use the Shift key to select multiple boundaries in PressPull.

xFigure 5. Use the Ctrl key in PressPull to extrude a taper.x
  Use the Ctrl key in PressPull to extrude a taper.

Aside from the big features in AutoCAD 2013, you'll find these little productivity enhancements add up to some big time savings — and who doesn't appreciate that? Until next time, Happy AutoCAD-ing!


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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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