Tips & Tools Weekly (Vol. 13, No. 10)17 Mar, 2008
This Week's Software Tips
"Also, using the <^ and the Stack button will create the less than symbol, and >^ and the Stack will create the greater than symbol."
NOTES FROM CADALYST TIP PATROL: This tip could come in handy, and it's an example of a way to "shrink" any text if the need arises. For more options in the Mtext Editor, place a forward slash (/) between two characters, highlight the three, right-click on them, and choose the Stack option. After the characters change to a fraction, repeat these steps and choose Stack Properties. The subsequent dialog box provides several more options.
Isolate and Unisolate Layers
"Layiso and Layuniso have been great time savers for me. When your drawings get full with a ton of information, sometimes it's nice to hide some of it and just work with a small chunk. Layiso and Layuniso allow you to do that."
Kyle reports that this tip also works for v2007 and later, but AutoCAD built this functionality into the toolbar Layers II, so now you can click a button rather than type if you want.
NOTES FROM CADALYST TIP PATROL: True, Layuniso was removed from the user interface, but it still exists via the Command line. It is now mirrored as the Layerp (Layer Previous) command that performs the same function. It's the last icon on the Layers toolbar.
Automated Drawing Cleanup
"I use some AutoCAD commands, some third-party software, and some custom commands that I have found through the years to work through this process. But there are so many things that need to be done that it is still rather cumbersome. So I finally put everything I want to do into one command I select from the menu that I called Do It All. Now I can simply open a drawing that I have received and select one item from the menu, and I am done. Here is a list of what it does for me:
"I am AutoLISP illiterate, so I used the Macro line in the CUI and created a menu command made up of all these other various commands. You can customize it to your needs. Here is what mine looks like:
"You could add any command you like. You could have it save the file when finished or zoom extents. I think it could also be written into a script or LISP file. It usually takes 10-30 seconds to complete, depending on the z coordinate process. I couldn't possibly do it that fast starting each command on its own. Creating one command by combining these ten other commands has saved me huge amounts of time!"
NOTES FROM CADALYST TIP PATROL: Although this custom command is uniquely suited to Steve's company, you could use the process to customize your own menu command in a similar manner. When you are the end-user of drawings, it helps to coordinate with your contractors and explain your company's requirements for the layout and structure of documents, at least for some of these drawings."
Tip Patrol volunteer Billy Wooten provided CLEANUP.LSP, a routine that performs the functions in Steve's macro, with the exception of elevation changes. For that, Billy included ZX.LSP (Change Elevation), a routine written by Scott Cook.
Change Space Command
"This is a great command, and I use it several times a day. I particularly love it when I am in a drawing in which a different user has set up the model space to an awkward user coordinate system (UCS) without saving a view. I grab the outside limits of the viewport and do a Chspace; I then have a box in model space that I can set my UCS to for replicating the original view."
NOTES FROM CADALYST TIP PATROL: Thanks, Josh. Sometimes we need to be reminded of these time-saving commands. The Change Space command has many uses. First introduced in AutoCAD 2004 as an Express Tool, it became a standard command in AutoCAD 2007.
Note: These follow-up tips have not been tested by the Cadalyst Tip Patrol.
Follow-Up: Linetype Scaler
Follow-Up: Block Count
Follow-Up: Printing Plot Styles without Lineweights
Follow-Up: Pare Down the GIS Data
Follow-Up: AutoLISP File Master Load
Also in response to Michael's tip, Richard Binning reminded us about AutoCAD's Autoload function for loading commands. AutoCAD's Help file says, "When you automatically load a command using the load or command functions, the command's definition takes up memory whether or not you actually use the command. The AutoLISP Autoload function makes a command available without loading the entire routine into memory."
Richard sent this modified syntax:
(autoload "filename" '("definedcommand1" "definedcommand2" "definedcommand#"))
He also remind us that "there is no need to include the file extension when calling an AutoLISP routine using Autoload. For example, if you were calling ADIM.LSP using Autoload, you would only call ADIM. For any function defined within the AutoLISP routine that is callable from the Command line (defun c:commandname), you can simply add it to the list created. The first time the callable function is typed at the Command line, the routine is loaded into memory and the function is run. For example, if ADIM.LSP had a Command line function called ADIM, then you could use Autoload to load it with
(autoload "ADIM" '("ADIM"))
There is also a similar autoloader for ARX commands."
Follow-Up: Sharing Drawings with Xrefs
MicroStation Tip: DWG Background Color
Answer: The background color for DWG files is not stored in the file itself, but is instead a program setting. This is true for both MicroStation and AutoCAD. You can change the background color of sheet and design models before opening the DWG files in MicroStation by clicking the DWG Options button in the MicroStation Manager dialog box and clicking on the colored square next to the Design Background Color and Sheet Background Color options.
Today's MicroStation tip courtesy of Axiom and MicroStationTips.com.
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Deals & Freebies
COMSOL Presentations and Proceedings
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Opportunities & Honors
Swiss VectorWorks Users Win National Award
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The Week's New CAD and Related Products
Visualization: AfterBurn v4
MCAD: Airframe Development Environments v2
MCAD: RayCAD for Inventor
MCAD: NGRAIN v4 Plug-in
CAE: IDX ToleranceCalc v5
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Mark Your Calendar
Using the Functionality of AutoCAD MEP
For a complete list of CAD meetings, conferences, training sessions, and more, check out our calendar of events on Cadalyst.com.
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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!