AutoCAD

Logging Daily Activities and Other Tips (Hot Tip Harry AutoCAD Tutorial)

1 Feb, 2008 By: Bill Kramer

This month's winning tip lets CAD managers automatically compile and organize work performed in AutoCAD.


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A chilly wind blew in as Harry entered and shut the door behind him. It is winter; time to get some programming done. He was back from his most recent mission with a pile of tips straight from you power users! "Let's get at 'em," he said with a matter-of-fact tone in his voice.

Tip 2265: P&ID Linetypes Library
Jay Thomas sent in a library of complex piping and instrumentation diagram (P&ID) linetypes. This tip is a LIN file that can be placed in the AutoCAD search path. Once loaded with the Linetype command, Jay's linetypes can be used just as any other linetype in AutoCAD. The library was developed with the Romans font as the base text style, so you should make it the current text style. This linetype library incorporates numerous complex linetypes (characters and lines combined) that are used in P&ID style drawing work -- lines showing flow, logic, material, and so forth. Thanks, Jay; these are great!

Tip 2266: Cross Lock Hatch Pattern
Cross Lock is a hatch pattern from regular contibutor Watson Kilbourn for drawing pavement-type sections of locking cross shapes. Locate the PAT file in a folder AutoCAD knows about. Watson reduced this pattern to just a few lines using his uniquely genius approach. Once again, a tip of the hat from Harry to Watson for his brilliant patterns.

Tip 2267: Mtext Framing
Mtext Framing from Charles Hakari uses the masked border option of Mtext to construct a polyline frame around the text. To use this tip, create text with the Mtext command and enable the masked border options. This routine works best when the normal drawing background is used. Load the LISP code and type MTF to activate the command. You will be prompted to select an Mtext entity object. A polyline border with a width of 0 will be constructed around the Mtext. Nice job, Charles.

Tip 2268: Mass Drawing Clean-Up
Michael Kolomiyets submitted Mass Drawing Clean-Up, which consists of one LISP and one dialog box DCL file. This program will process drawings in a folder and remove the $ strings from table references (layers, blocks, etc) caused by external references. This example is very robust, but it requires some tinkering. (For example, if you are using AutoCAD 2008, adjust the .16 to .17 in the VLA interfaces request.) This tip is intended for advanced AutoCAD systems managers who want to manipulate quantities of drawings with Visual LISP. The best feature of this tip is that it shows how to open other drawings in Visual LISP while keeping them in the background. All Harry could say was, "Very cool."

Tip 2269: Xref Transfer
Ryan Wunderlich shares Xref Transfer, which collects all the external references in a current drawing and makes sure they are inserted on a layer of the same name as the external reference. Inserting the external references on a layer that is named to match the insert name is a drawing standard that Ryan uses in-house. This function also locks the layer, which further helps to block manipulations to the external reference. To use this tip, load the LISP code and type XFix. The rest is automatic. Of particular interest to LISP programmers is how the external references are located and manipulated in the drawing database. Thanks, Ryan!

Tip 2270: Freeze Layers Currently Not Visible
In an attempt to make drawings regenerate faster, Gordon Reichhardt developed Freeze Layers Currently Not Visible. Load the LISP code and type FrzAllButVis to freeze all layers that are not visible. Running this macro results in faster regeneration times. When not used, invisible layers are processed, which causes slower regeneration times. Harry reports that for very large drawings of the type Gordon manipulates, this tip can save a lot a time.

Top Tip Tip 2271: CAD Manager's Log
Harry's Top Tip of the month is CAD Manager's Log by Richard Grainer. CAD Manager's Log is a tool for recording your daily activities, whether for personal tracking purposes, client billing, or reporting to management. This program will create a CSV file based on your selection of the activities you want to record. It does not record elapsed time; instead it compiles and organizes your notes and comments so you can retrieve them later using a spreadsheet program. This tip is designed for the busy CAD manager who attends a lot of meetings and multitasks to the maximum -- in other words, your average CAD manager.

To use this tip, load the LISP code into AutoCAD's Visual LISP editor (VLIDE) and edit it to match your output preferences. Toward the end of the source code, you will find the full name and folder of the file this program creates. (Search for the string CSV to locate it quickly.) Change this name and save the program so you don't have to repeat this step. Now just load the code as a normal LISP program and type DLog to activate. The associated dialog box file (DCL) should reside in a folder searched by AutoCAD. After you get DLog running, you will want to use it over and over to record your activities for later review. Thanks, Richard -- you are the top tipster of the month!

Do you have a tip to share with everyone? Harry is collecting tips all the time at harry@cadalyst.com -- send in the source code so he can check your sources and then share it with the world. In return, Harry will see that you get a designer Cadalyst T-shirt that is sure to be the envy of every other CAD operator you know.

Until next month, keep on programmin'.


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About the Author: Bill Kramer


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