Tips & Tools Weekly (Vol. 11, No. 32)11 Sep, 2006
What's New at Cadalyst.com
Exclusives Now Live Online!
Cadalyst Daily Update
Free Software, Design Resources to Students
Mechanical Design Blog
Sheet Metal Guy
Adds User Forum, AutoCAD Resources
Sheet Metal Guy also launched a new section of its Web site dedicated to AutoCAD users. Updated daily, new resources include AutoCAD tips and information for modeling sheet metal parts, along with the latest news and information relative to AutoCAD and the sheet metal industry.
This Week's Software Tips
Do you have a favorite tip or shortcut that you use every day in your CAD software? One that saves you time? Makes life easier? Share it with other readers and, if we publish it, we'll send you a “ Cadalyst: CAD the Way You Want It” t-shirt.
Follow-Up to Layer
“For example, my lighting blocks contain layers called -Reflected, -Lights and -Lighting_Text. Their use helps create lighting layouts or coordinated reflected ceiling plans, when combined with similar blocks for ventilation grilles, smoke detection or other ceiling-mounted devices. Often the entire mechanical services layouts (heating or ventilation) are xreferenced into my drawing. The state of various xreferenced layers, On/Off, Frozen/Thawed, Plot/No plot, colors, linetypes, Thawed/Frozen in current viewports and the like, would be lost to a drawing if an xref were detached from the drawing. This is unacceptable because several hundred layer states would again have to be reestablished. Saving the layer states through LMan or similar can’t account for future additional layers contained in the xrefs but, maintaining a path to an xref, even an unloaded one is preferable to detaching the xref because its presence momentarily inconveniences you.”
“The advice to place all xrefs on layer 0 doesn’t allow control over the visibility of multiple concurrently placed (such as overlapping) xrefs in the same viewport. Placing each xref on a separate layer lets you freeze the entire xref out of a viewport by freezing just the layer on which the Xref is placed. This saves having to freeze all an xref's layers in the viewport, just to make it invisible. Conversely, this makes it easier to make an xref, once more, visible in the same viewport. Freezing layers speeds up regeneration of the drawing and quickens the pick response, less entities to consider when several are frozen -- I believe this is why Freeze/Thaw was introduced originally to the layer properties.”
Follow Up to Copy
“Rather than have the new entities created on the xref path prefixed layer, why not create them on a layer of the same name (if it exists) without the prefix? If it doesn’t exist, have the new entity created on the current layer. The way it is at the moment, the new entities are created on a layer that mimics the xref path/layer, which is not very friendly, especially if the donor xref is detached. If you want to use your newly created entities you’ll want them on your own named layers where you can control them within your CAD standards.”
“Once you look at the code, NOB.LSP, you’ll see how it can be further tweaked to suit your own situation and procedures.”
Correction to Notes
from the Clipboard
Follow Up to Toolbars
Follow Up to LISP
for AutoCAD Map
He states, “I’ve never owned a third-party book on AutoLISP and have learned most of what I know about AutoLISP from the AutoCAD Help files (and their equivalent hard-copy versions back in Releases 12-14). I can certainly understand that the preceding tip generated the comment, but telling people that Autodesk's documentation is ‘not the place to learn AutoLISP’ isn't exactly fair.”
Open an AutoCAD Model
Thanks to Tip Patrol member R.K. McSwain, Paul was able to insert the following code in his C:\Program Files\Autodesk\MDT 2006\Support\acad2006doc.lsp file — he usually uses AutoCAD 2006 instead of Mechanical Desktop. He typed in the Screensize command to find out approximately what size to use for the vla-put-width and vla-put-height and then tweaked the numbers to fit the monitors. This file reactivates every time you open a new drawing:.
This should work with regular AutoCAD 2006 (as well as other versions) and copy it to your \ACADDOC.LSP file — always save the original file before making any changes. Although you can modify ACAD2006DOC.LSP, it's not good practice because a service pack, reinstall or the like may overwrite this file. It's best to create and modify the user file ACADDOC.LSP. Also, *ACAD-DOC* is a global variable and should be released if it’s not going to be called again like this:
Load and Unload Xrefs
“I like to work dynamically with my xrefs, constantly
loading and unloading not only my own xrefs but third-party ones as well.
As part of our procedures, all our xrefs are prefixed with
XU: This allows me to select the xref I want to unload on screen. I may want to unload the survey xref but leave the architectural.
XL: This reloads the xref unloaded by XU.
UX: This unloads all xrefs in my drawing, which is useful when selecting by window for cutting and pasting without picking up anything else.
RX: Now you’ll see why I prefix my different discipline xrefs. Typing RX followed by Z reloads all xrefs with the Z prefix or Y for the Y prefix and so on or I can type RX followed by Enter to reload ALL xrefs."
“As these routines are fairly short, I keep them in my ACADDOC.LSP along with many more labor-saving shortcuts."
“I know not everyone is a great fan of keyboard shortcuts, but in my opinion they are the most efficient method to improve productivity, and no other method of command input comes close. Couple this with a comprehensive list of hot keys and I fly through my work. It keeps my memory tuned, too! However, it’s easy enough to pop these onto some tool buttons.”
Editing Text Objects
"When editing many separate text objects, Ddedit is your friend. Use the alias DE to invoke the Ddedit command. It's handy for text because it works like the Multiple option of some other commands, leaving you in the Edit command between objects. What's more, it works on several different types of text: dtext, mtext, block attributes and even dimension text (but not tables, unfortunately). Of course, I know Cadalyst readers would never override a dimension, they'd only edit dimension text to add a note such as before folding or between centers.
"While we are on the subject of text. If you're like me, sometimes you have to copy old drawings into a new drawing. AutoCAD's Find and Replace function, on the Edit pull-down menu, is a great way to globally change every instance of a job number on the drawing."
NOTES FROM CADALYST TIP PATROL: ED is the default alias, unless the user has customized the ACAD.PGP file via the following pull-down menu: Express/Tools/Command Alias Editor. It’s also possible to double-click on single-line text, multiline text and attributes to edit the contents. If you double-click on Dimensions, it opens the Properties palette.
MicroStation Tip – Automatically
Export Cells From a MicroStation Cell Library to AutoCAD Block Files
Tips & Tools Weekly software tips for AutoCAD are reviewed by Cadalyst staff and the Cadalyst Tip Patrol before publication. Use tips at your own discretion, please, and watch later editions of this newsletter for updates and corrections. Many thanks to our volunteer Cadalyst Tip Patrol members: Don Boyer, Mitchell Hirschklau, R.K. McSwain, Don Reichle, Kevin Sawyer, Ivanhoe Tejeda, Billy Wooten and Ben Young.
Deals & Freebies
UGS Releases Free
Solid Edge 2D Drafting
Geomagic Joins Creaform
to Offer Educational Discounts
Strata Releases Trial
Version of Strata Foto 3D
Opens New E-Commerce Online Store
Opportunities & Honors
2007 ESRI User
Conference Call for Papers
Books & Training
Instructional Videos for Autodesk Revit
Degree Offered in Visual Computing
Releases Update Training 2007 For SolidWorks
The Week's New CAD and Related Products
Hardware: HP xw9400
DesignCAD 3D Max v17
imageSynth for Adobe Photoshop
AEC: BSD SpecLink
AEC: Autodesk Revit
GIS: WaterGEMS V8
MCAD: PLM Portfolio
MCAD: Solid Edge
MCAD: ICE-flow Library
CAM: ESPRIT 2007
CAM: CimatronE v8
CAM: GibbsCAM Machine
Mark Your Calendar
Cadalyst's complete list of upcoming industry events is always available on our Web site.
Photoshop and Lightroom" Education Road Show
UGS Digital Manufacturing
Webinar: Adobe and
ESRI ArcGIS User
Group Meetings: California and Nevada
Fourth Annual SolidWorks
Midwest User Group Conference
AUGI CAD Camp
Integration Using VBA-API
Active RFID Summit
Council Annual Meeting
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 Tips & Tricks Tuesdays free e-newsletter and we'll notify you every time a new video tip is available. All exclusively from Cadalyst!