Follow the Leader (Circles and Lines AutoCAD Tutorial)

1 Oct, 2007 By: Lynn Allen

AutoCAD 2008's new Multileader command takes Leaders to the next level.

Nearly all applications use leaders at one time or another. We've managed to get by with the standard Leader command or even Qleader, but neither one was a delight to work with. They both fell short of what the perfect leader command should look like. Your fretting is over! Please welcome AutoCAD 2008's new Multileader command!

No, it's not exactly perfect, but then what is? It certainly is a leap in the right direction. You can easily align multileaders, add additional leader lines, add numbered balloons, collect those balloons horizontally -- all things we only dreamed of in the past. Let's take a look!

On the Dash
Multileaders have such a great PR agent that they have their own panel on the Dashboard. This panel is the route to go, if you ask me, as all the multileader options are at your fingertips. Open the Dashboard from the Tools menu / Palettes / Dashboard. Unfortunately, the Dashboard doesn't merit its own CTRL key combination (although for some scary reason DBCONNECT does). It's also missing from the default toolbars, such as Standard and Layers, so it's not the easiest to find. When all else fails, just type in Dashboard at the Command prompt.

Multileaders have their own panel in the Dashboard.

If you don't see the Multileader panel in the Dashboard, simply right-click on the Dashboard blue bar, select Control panels, and then Multileaders.

Be sure the Multileader control panel is turned on in your Dashboard.

Start by defining the type of multileader you want to use. This is done in the Multileader Style Manager (MLEADERSTYLE), found on the Dashboard or the Format pull-down menu. See below for the default multileader and the first page of the Multileader Style Manager.

The current multileader displays in the Multileader Style Manager.

Create a Multileader
This should seem familiar to you, as it acts much like the Dimension Style Manager (without the overrides). Let's start by creating a new style so we can see all the great options available in the Style Manager. I'm going to create a multileader called Balloon.

There are three option-packed tabs you can use to define your multileader -- Leader Format, Leader Structure, and Content -- and they contain many more options than we've had before. Leader Format, the first tab, contains the general information regarding the leader. Break size is a new option that takes effect only when you use the new Dimbreak command to break a multileader (which also is a fabulous command!).

The Leader Format tab contains the general information on the leader and the arrowhead.

The Leader Structure tab gives you more control over the leader line and landing. Here you can define the maximum number of leader points, the first and second segment angle for the leader, the length of the landing, and whether or not you even want to include a landing.

The Leader Structure tab is used to define specific angles and lengths for the leader and landing.

You can choose to create a multileader that uses the new annotative scaling or choose to control the scale factor in the same way you do with your dimensions. Scale Multileaders to Layout determines the scale factor based on the viewport (the same as setting DIMSCALE to 0). You also can indicate a specific scale factor to assign to your multileaders.

The best tab of all is the Content tab. Here you can choose between the usual Mtext as your content, along with all the obvious settings such as Text style, height, and angle. I love the ability to have the text angle set at Always right-reading. You can frame the text and indicate you want to always left justify it. Last, but not least, you can control the leader attachment and gap (between the landing and the text).

Use the Content tab to define the value assigned to the leader line.

Personally, I love the new block option that makes it easy to create balloons and callouts. The pre-existing blocks are populated with common shapes and attribute values. You don't need to create these blocks from scratch anymore! Plus, you aren't restricted to those blocks included in the Mleaderstyle command, so you can also use your own user-defined blocks as well.

The new multileaders come with prepopulated blocks for easy ballooning and callouts.

After setting up your multileader styles, you're ready to create your first multileader! Execute the Mleader command or select it from the Dashboard or menu.

Command: MLEADER
Specify leader arrowhead location or [leader Landing first/Content
first/Options] <Options>:
Specify leader landing location:

You can choose to specify the arrowhead, leader, or content location first. Selecting Options opens up all types of additional selections, all of which are also found when defining the original style. This is your opportunity to override one or more settings of the associated style as well.

If you selected a block with attributes, let me remind you of two very important system variables which will affect the performance of your multileaders:

ATTREQ. When ATTREQ is set to 0, you aren't prompted for an attribute value when inserting the associated block or Mleader. You then need to double-click on the Mleader to set the value. More than likely, you'll want ATTREQ set to 1 to save additional steps.

ATTDIA. When set to 1, the Attribute dialog box prompts you for a value. When set to 0, you are prompted at the Command line. This is really your personal preference (I prefer a value of 1).

The all-time crowd pleaser is the ability to easily add additional leader lines to an existing Mleader. Simply right-click on the multileader and select Add Leader from the shortcut menu.

It's easy to add or remove leader lines from the shortcut menu.

Multileader Pros
One of the advantages of using multileaders is the ability to easily align them with the new Mleaderalign command. No more guessing as you try to line all your leaders up (and admit it -- you really do guess).

You can also collect more than one multileader with blocks into the same leader line. Use the Mleadercollect command for this task.

Use the Mleadercollect command to collect more than one multileader with blocks together.

Abandon those leaders of the past and jump on the multileader bandwagon! You're going to love what's happening with this great new command.

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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