Tips & Tools Weekly (Vol. 12, No. 2)15 Jan, 2007
What's New at Cadalyst.com
Calling All Product Designers
Cadalyst Daily Update
A Few Things You Might Not Know About ADT: Two notable companies offer software, training that take Autodesk's Architectural Desktop to a whole new level.
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UGS Publishes JT Data Format
This Week's Software Tips
Send us your tip, code or shortcut for your favorite CAD software. If we publish it, we'll send you a "Cadalyst: CAD the Way You Want It" T-shirt, and each month Cadalyst editors will randomly select one published tip and send $100 to its author. Please submit only code and other tips that are your original work, or provide the original source so we can include proper credit. By submitting code to Cadalyst, you grant Cadalyst the right to print and distribute your code in print, digitally and by other means. Cadalyst and individual authors retain all rights to the code; published code is not to be used for commercial purposes.
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New Cadalyst e-Newsletter from Hot Tip Harry
Mini-Tutorial: Ye Olde Tyme AutoCAD
“My studio handles a lot of commercial real estate clients, and we regularly receive old CAD files, sometimes old enough that they were created with ‘Ye Olde Tyme AutoCAD.’
“Recently, one of my co-workers discovered while working on a file that she couldn’t hatch anything. The Hatch command worked, but no hatch displayed. Yes, she had her active layer on and the like. After checking things out, I remembered the old (setvar) Fillmode and checked to see if it was on or off -- naturally, it was set to 0 (Objects are not filled). This is just one of several 'Ye Olde Tyme AutoCAD' commands and setvars that do rear their heads now and again."
Mitchell explains, "The general lack of user awareness of these old features means that when many of them encounter unfamiliar settings in setvars such as Fillmode, Lweight, etc., they become confused. The only thing you know is that AutoCAD doesn’t seem to be working correctly."
AutoCAD is a Good News/Bad News Application. "The good news is that AutoCAD gives you six ways to do something. The bad news is that AutoCAD gives you six ways to do something. And then consider upgrades. The good news is that AutoCAD (almost) never removes a command or setting. The bad news is that AutoCAD (almost) never removes a command or setting.
"Most of the settings we’re talking about date back to the old 286/386/486 DOS operating systems. Most were designed to speed up display and screen regeneration times. Even today, items on frozen layers are not regenerated, while items on off layers are. In the (bad) old days, regen times could be very, very long, especially drawings with large amounts of text or hatching. Setting the Fillmode so that (completed) hatches didn’t display, or setting the Qtextmode so that text appeared as little white floating boxes were simply ways to improve regen time -- and to give the user another option other than Freeze and Off.
"The later introduction of TrueType fonts came with the option of turning off the font fill (Textfill setvar) for much the same reason."
Marching on. While technology marches on, those old CAD files that have been archived for a decade or so have not. So, one day, when AutoCAD isn’t working correctly, use Mitchell's approach and look for these clues to the problem:
NOTES FROM CADALYST TIP PATROL: Our Patrollers second Mitchell's motion. To add more tools, one Patroller includes STARTUP.LSP that automatically produces basic settings each time you open a drawing. Place the routine in your ACAD200?.LSP file. You may choose to modify it to your specific needs.
Another Patroller refers readers to the HyperPics Web site if you want to learn more about when certain AutoCAD system variables and commands were introduced, changed or met the guillotine.
View an Outline of Your Viewport
“Now you have an exact outline of the visible area for that viewport. Anything drawn outside that polyline does not show up in the viewport. I usually place this on a nonplotting layer that I lock, such as layer Viewport_limit. As an alternate method, you can wblock the polyline and use a known point in the drawing as your block insertion point (such as the corner of a building or the center of a circle). Then, insert it using the known insertion point. If you use this method, you have to use the appropriate insertion scale.
“Once in a while, the Chspace command doesn’t work. If that happens, close and reopen the drawing, and it should work.”
NOTES FROM CADALYST TIP PATROL: Both Tip Patrollers who reviewed this tip loved it. One even offers up an AutoLISP routine (VBORD.LSP), originally written by ZOTO Industries in 1998, that does this automatically. It creates the viewport outline on the Defpoints Layer. Just click inside the desired viewport and execute the routine.
The other Patroller also uses this procedure for key maps for civil engineering construction plots. Using this shortcut, he no longer must produce the “Matchline: See Sheet No. nn” at each edge of the viewports in his construction plan sheet set. This saves significant time when an additional sheet is thrown into the mix. He sets his sheets, then goes back to the layouts and inserts the key map viewport. Once the sheets in the construction plans are near the edge of the key maps that show in this viewport, he unlocks the viewport and repositions it to show an area further along the construction plan area. The sheet numbers can then go wherever convenient.
Deal with Dimension Lines
“You also have the option of not changing all the attributes in the drawing. By selecting N (No) at the prompt, AutoCAD lets you single out just the block that you want to change.” The process is similar, but not identical, to using the Rename command.
NOTES FROM CADALYST TIP PATROL: This is a very handy tip if your drawings have multiple layouts and title blocks.
Follow-Up: Dimensions, Take 2
Follow-Up: Land Desktop Tip
“We try to have one model space per set, details and dimensions are not seen in the main viewport but are on different layers built as part of the model space and frozen per viewport as necessary.”
Francis D. Gamotis adds, “I work for a municipality doing streetlight design drafting. We draw our designs in State Plane Coordinates, so I always need to rotate the view to align it with the paper space viewport. I enter model space from paper space, zoom in close, do a VTwist, set the scale and then pan to the proper location.”
“When necessary I set a UCS based on the street center/Mon line so that I can do a Station and Offset just by selecting the block or identifying a point if the origin is set to 0+00 on the Mon Line.”
"The code below is similar to the routine sent by Thomas Barger in last week’s edition. Select two points and the program performs a Dview Twist based on your picks. You must be in World UCS or your results will be off. You could save the current UCS, change to World, perform the twist and reset the UCS.
“This program does not zoom to extents but just rotates about the center of the viewport, so if your scale is already set, it isn't altered (if you copy a viewport and then pan to the next street section around the curve).”
Francis says his version of the code doesn't specify its author.
MicroStation Tip: Using AccuDraw to Modify Elements
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
CoCreate Introduces Free 3D Modeling Software
Opportunities & Honors
CoCreate Announces Worldwide Design Competition
Books and Training
Sheet Metal Guy Announces January 2007 Specials
Wire Structures CAD Book
The Week's New CAD and Related Products
Hardware: Dell UltraSharp 2707WFP
Hardware: DualHead2Go Digital Edition
General Software: Google SketchUp 6
Visualization: Walkinside 4.5
AEC: LandARCH 2007
AEC: Bentley OnSite
MCAD: form.Z 6.1 for Macintosh
MCAD: Maple 11
CAM: DELMIA V5
Training: Animations with AutoCAD Book
Mark Your Calendar
Cadalyst'scomplete list of upcoming industry events is always available on our Web site.
ESRI California Regional Office User Group Meetings
MAP 3D 2007 Essentials Training Class
SolidWorks World 2007 International User Conference and Exposition
Design Master User Conference 2007
In her easy-to-follow, friendly style, long-time Cadalyst contributing editor and Autodesk Technical Evangelist Lynn Allen guides you through a new feature or time-saving trick in every episode of her popular AutoCAD video tips. Subscribe to the free Cadalyst Video Picks newsletter and we'll notify you every time a new video tip is published. All exclusively from Cadalyst!