Tips & Tools Weekly (Vol. 12, No. 3)22 Jan, 2007
What's New at Cadalyst.com
Getting the Last Drop -- Squeeze the Most from Your CAD Software Budget
CAD Manager Column: What to Expect -- and Do -- in 2007
Get the Code!
Cadalyst's January Web Exclusives Now Live Online!
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.
"Framed text is not a well-known AutoCAD feature. We all see it in the Dimension Style Manager dialog box, but how do you use it?
"We often use framed text in drafting. It's common to use blocks with attributes or just text (Mtext) in a rectangle. Blocks with attributes work well until you have an extra long line of text so that the attribute doesn't fit in the rectangle, or you need to apply stacked formats to the attribute or when several lines of text must be enclosed in a rectangle. Also, editing attributes is not fast. Using text with rectangles doesn't work well because it's difficult to make perfect alignment of text inside a rectangle.
"Check the draw frame around text option and suppress extension and dimension lines in dimension style and you see framed text ready for use. We aren't supposed to use this style for dimensioning as there are many times when we need just framed text, such as with symbols and notes.
"To get you started quickly with this really nice feature, I prepared a dimension style and AutoLISP file. Download FX.LSP with this week's code and place in any AutoCAD supported folder the drawing FRAMEDTEXT.DWG that contains dimension style designed for using as framed text.
"The AutoLISP file (shortcut FX) inserts FRAMEDTEXT.DWG in your drawing as a block, explodes the block, changes the scale factor of framed text to current dimscale value and invokes the Edit Text command.
"To use this routine, add it to AutoCAD Startup suite (command Appload).
"You can also modify the dimstyle FramedText in the downloaded drawing. To do so:
"You can use framed text as a component of dimension or leader object either by creating a special style for this purpose or using the DIMGAP variable (which should be negative).
"Framed text can save you time and improve your drawings. If you edit the text, the frame is automatically updated. This is a very simple dynamically updated block for AutoCAD pre2006."
NOTES FROM CADALYST TIP PATROL: Overall, our Tip Patrol members report, this tip works well. One Patroller believes there might be a dynamic block out there that does the same thing. If you don't have that block, this could be your answer. In addition, he refers readers to another option found on the AUGI (AutoCAD User Group International) site: Create a Table with a single row and a single column and set the text to middle center and you get framed text. The only drawback with this is that the box doesn't automatically change size when the text string is longer than the box, so you have to pull the box bigger using grips.
Another Tip Patroller had some other thoughts. He finds that unless you customize your double-click option for Dimensions, you lose this quick Edit function, which is one of the major time-savers built into the later versions of AutoCAD. You must also be aware of any global dimension updating as well as the location of your defpoints. You could accidentally select entities by window or crossing and inadvertently pick up some of your defpoints, he warns. This moves your text with the rest of the selection set. This Patroller prefers to draw rectangles around text and keep dimensions as dimensions.
Add Another Material
NOTES FROM CADALYST TIP PATROL: The Tips Patrol gives a thumbs-up to Jennifer's worthy advice!
NOTES FROM CADALYST TIP PATROL: One of our Patrollers tried David's tip but couldn't see the effects. Another Patroller ran the tip successfully and added one note: "If you don't have the text style as mentioned, characters will show up as question marks, so you won't know what to change the text to." On the other hand, everyone agrees that the Find and Replace tool is very useful for all text, mtext, attributes and the like.
Dana shares, "The Solprof command projects any view of a 3D model you choose to a 2D plane. Simply choose the view you want inside the viewport of floating model space and set a new UCS to View. Execute Solprof and select the 3D model, follow the prompts for hidden lines on separate layer, profile lines onto a plane and delete tangential edges. I answer Yes to all three prompts.
"Now you have a flattened 2D isometric profile of the model in the same view with the visible and hidden lines in separate layers behind the original 3D model. I move the new 2D profiles, automatically created as blocks, to a new drawing file that I can easily render and edit. This also greatly reduces the size of the final drawing file."
NOTES FROM CADALYST TIP PATROL: This is a very useful command. One Patroller has used this quite a bit. "A few years ago, I had a short contract to do some pressure vessel drafting. The company in question didn't want any 3D in its drawings, but I wanted to be able to check that the internal piping actually worked properly, so I created the whole thing in 3D. When I was sure it would work, I used the Solprof command to generate the 2D for the final drawing. I've used it on and off for years."
Follow-Up: Deal with Dimension Lines
Finale (Really): Dimensions
Reader Rob Peterson wrote to express disagreement with Michael McGuire's comments in the January 15 edition, which stated that dimensions are only associative in model space. Rob says, "I do all of my drawings in model space and dimension in paper space. If I change an item in my model (such as stretch or move), the dimension changes right along with it. In order to have dimensions in paper space update when you change the model, you must set DIMASSOC to 2. In doing so, dimensions are coupled with association points on geometric objects, which means if the association point on the object changes, the dimension changes too. If DIMASSOC is set to 1, you have to select the definition point of the dimension line itself in order to have it update. Also, if you use hotgrips to change an object and DIMASSOC i s set to 1, the dimension doesn't update when the object is changed."
Robert Gardner of Australia was a devotee of dimensions and text in model space and just plotting in paper space. But, he says, he has since been converted and finds it so much easier to use one text size and dimension style for all viewports, even though they could be at different scales. He confirms that dimensioning is also much easier with the introduction of DIMASSOC to set the associativity between model and paper spaces, as noted previously.
Mike Lapointe reminds other readers that if paper space dimensions are associative, then stretching an object in model space is reflected by the paper space dimension. If a dimension is nonassociative or loses its association, then use the DimReassociate command to reassociate that dimension.
MicroStation Tip – Change of V8 Cell Origin
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
Special January Price for ProFab Lite
The Week's New CAD and Related Products
Hardware: NextDimension Evo and Evo HD
General Software: FileFixer for V8
General Software: Toolbox LT 2007
General Software: speak4 Voice-Recognition Software
General Software: TurboSketch Studio
General Software: RxAutoImage R8.1
Visualization: Autodesk Maya v8.5
MCAD: Component Design Suite and CODE VO
CAM: EZ-CAM v15.0
CAM: VX CAD/CAM v12
CAM: GibbsCAM MTM for Tornos Deco
Mark Your Calendar
Cadalyst's complete list of upcoming industry events is always available on our Web site.
Autodesk Civil 3D Styles and Autodesk Vault Workshops
Webinar: Collaborating in Multi-CAD Environments
Webinar: Nemetschek North America vLearning Series
FIATECH Annual Technology Conference and Showcase
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!