Tips & Tools Weekly (Vol. 13, No. 21)

9 Jun, 2008

This Week's Software Tips

Windows Temp Directory Clean-Up
Frequent tip contributor Lloyd Beachy wrote to tell us, "Clearing out your Windows temp directory is an important housekeeping task. The directory can grow quite large, especially if you install lots of programs and/or updates. Each extra file makes the hard drive more likely to get fragmented. It also makes programs like AutoCAD search harder when they access the directory during normal operations. The performance gains will be minimal with today's newer hard drives, but it is still worth the effort to keep it clean.

"Invariably," Lloyd added, "when you perform this task manually, you will come across a number of files in the temp directory that cannot be deleted because they are in use -- at which point you have to try deleting the files again (minus the ones that are in use)." He wrote EMPTY_TEMP.LSP, a short routine that automatically empties the Windows temporary directory. "It will delete everything it can, while leaving the rest of the files alone. It looks at both the TMP and TEMP environment variables to determine which directory to empty."

NOTES FROM CADALYST TIP PATROL: Thanks, Lloyd. It removed many of the files in our Windows temp directory.

Mtext Editor in AutoCAD 2009
Robert Somppi wrote to share his latest discovery about the Mtext Editor in AutoCAD 2009: "If you edit a lot of mtext objects without doing any formatting, turn off the toolbar and ruler. Now there is nothing between you and your drawing. See your edits live and pan and zoom without leaving the text editor. Anytime you need the toolbar, right-click and select it from the menu."

NOTES FROM CADALYST TIP PATROL: This tip works in earlier versions of AutoCAD as well. If these objects take up space that you can otherwise use, go ahead and turn them off. Just right-click inside the text area after starting the Text Editor. A menu will open up. Click the Editor Settings option and turn on/off whatever you want.

Palette and Command Toggles
Our own Tip Patrol member Mitchell Hirschklau shared his techniques for toggling AutoCAD command or palettes on/off. He's previously shared his toggle for the Properties palette:


Plus, here's his toggle for the Layer Manager palette:


Now, he says, "I've recently looked for a way to toggle the ExternalReferences (xref) palette. Here, courtesy of the AutoCAD Discussion Groups, is a toggle:


"Users can just add these, via the CUI, to the shortcut key of their choice. This format can be amenable to other commands or palettes users might want to toggle."

Mitchell prefers to make these command macros into shortcut keys, essentially replacing a standard AutoCAD Menu toolbar button with a keyboard key or key combination. This can be done in the following way:

  1. Back up your original, unmodified CUI.
  2. Drag (i.e., copy) the item from the CUI command list into the All Customization Files/Keyboard Shortcuts/Shortcut Keys pane.
  3. Rename the (new) shortcut key as desired.
  4. Click on the newly created shortcut key and then, in the Properties pane, click on the Access/Key(s) portion.
  5. Assign the key or key combination of your choice.
  6. Don't forget to select Apply or nothing will actually be applied to the CUI.

Mitchell also offered these reminders:

  • These toggles are not AutoCAD full or LT specific, and they are backward compatible with earlier versions (at least versions that have the requisite setvars and commands).
  • These toggles operate, essentially, by reading the setvar's setting (On or Off, 1 or 0) and running the appropriate command to turn itself off if it is on, or on if it is off.
  • These toggles rely on setvars that are (somewhat) hidden. For example, if you type the old setvar ? at the Command line, neither OPMSTATE nor ERSTATE will be listed! Mitchell's on the case to find out why.

Note: These follow-up tips have not been tested by the Cadalyst Tip Patrol.

Follow-Up: Move Objects Using Grips
Our June 2 tip about moving objects with grips won praises from many users. Mark T. Kenyon, Mike Parr, Mitch King, and Nataya W. Scherry all wrote to share the fact that the first time you select a grip and hit the space bar, it defaults to Move. However, if you continue to hit the space bar, it functions through the additional options as well, making this tip even more dynamic. Hit the spacebar once for Move, twice for Rotate, three times for Scale, four times for Mirror, five times for Stretch, and six times to go back to Move.

Bob Seigworth also wrote to share that he discovered after you select the grip and start moving it, you can hold down the Shift key, and it will invoke the Ortho mode. It works only after you start moving the grip.

Francis Gamotis pointed out that "holding the Shift key and selecting the grips you want to edit works fine if you don't have TIFF images loaded and active. If you do and you try to select multiple grips to edit, you get the following box, and it does not let you select the grips."


Finally, James Appleby wrote, "I find that picking an object, then picking it again and dragging it will basically perform the Move command without the extra step of typing M or picking the Move button. I'm not sure what the command is called, as nothing is listed on the Command line, but when I undo, it says Dropgeom is the command it undid. I find this especially handy when I need to move a line, multiple lines, or multiple entities. It works on hatches and blocks just as well. It won't let you use osnaps or point filters once an object is selected, but it's still a handy little shortcut if you need to move something quickly."

Follow-Up: Custom Spell Check Shortcut
Also in response to our June 2 issue, Leon Brumin sent his VBA code for instant spell check:

  • Create a new VBA project.
  • Place the following code in the ThisDrawing module of VBA.
  • Save it as SPELLCHECK.DVB.
  • Add this file into the startup suite of Load Application (command Appload).

Private Sub AcadDocument_EndCommand(ByVal CommandName As String)
Dim obj As AcadObject
Dim ObjName As String
Select Case CommandName
Case "MTEXT", "TEXT"
  ThisDrawing.SendCommand "_SPELL (entlast) "
  Set ss = ThisDrawing.ActiveSelectionSet
  Set obj = ss(0)
  ObjName = obj.ObjectName
  If InStr(1, ObjName, "Dim", vbTextCompare) = 0 Then
    ThisDrawing.SendCommand "_SPELL (SSGET ""p"") "
  End If
End Select
End Sub

MicroStation Tip: Placing Blocks at Intervals
The AutoCAD Divide and Measure commands enable one to place a block at a specific interval along a polyline, either a given length along the line or at equal intervals. Is there an analogous procedure in MicroStation?
Read the answer.

Axiom offers many MicroStation Tips on its Web site.

Submit Your Tip button

Submit Your Tip for your favorite CAD software. If we publish your tip, we'll send you a Cadalyst T-shirt, and each month Cadalyst editors will randomly select one published tip and send a $100 gift card 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) and tell us which software version you use. By submitting code, 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.

Tips & Tools Weekly software tips for AutoCAD are reviewed by Cadalyst staff and the Tip Patrol before publication. Use all tips at your own discretion, please, and watch later editions of this newsletter for updates and corrections. We're sorry, but editors and Tip Patrol members cannot provide assistance with technical problems; please refer to Cadalyst's Hot Tip Harry-Help discussion forum.

Sincere thanks to our volunteer Tip Patrol members: Brian Benton, Don Boyer, Mitchell Hirschklau, R.K. McSwain, Kevin Sawyer, and Billy Wooten.

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Online PARTsolutions Catalog
Pacific Bearing has launched an online product configurator in partnership with PARTsolutions, a provider of digital parts catalog technology and services, to provide a digital 2D and 3D CAD library and configurator of Pacific Bearing engineered products. PARTsolutions will also provide Pacific Bearing products digitally in various online marketplaces. Read more

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Deals & Freebies

Revit Integrated VE-Ware Ready for Download
IES VE-Ware is a new, free building energy and carbon assessment software tool that reportedly can make a real difference in the green credentials of a building, as well as benchmarking it against the Architecture 2030 Challenge. It is suitable for all building types across worldwide locations. Users of Revit Architecture and MEP 2009 can download VE-Ware now.

ALGOR DesignCheck Now Available
ALGOR DesignCheck is free, time-limited finite element analysis (FEA) software that allows engineers and designers to perform linear static stress analysis of single-part CAD models. With ALGOR DesignCheck, Pro/ENGINEER users can virtually test the behavior of product designs. Read more

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Opportunities & Honors

Advanced Solutions honored with ATC Award
Advanced Solutions, a full-service Autodesk Authorized Value Added Reseller, was presented with the North American Award for Distinguished Performance in AutoCAD Civil 3D Software Training. The North American awards were presented at the ATC Regional Meeting held on April 14, 2008. The Distinguished Performance awards are based on the collection of customers' feedback through an online evaluation system.

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The Week's New CAD and Related Products

Hardware: Nextimage
Contex multifunction software for wide-format scanners reportedly corrects scans intelligently for contrast, balance, and detail. Read more

Hardware: SD Scanners
Contex and VIDAR released the 44" scanners that are suitable for customers who primarily scan technical documents and maps. Read more

General Software: IDX Variable Constraint System
IMSI/Design's plug-in provides variational sketching functionality within AutoCAD and enables geometric or dimensional constraints that control relationships between drawn objects. Read more

AEC: DProfiler with RSMeans
Macro BIM application from Beck Technology facilitates simple 3D modeling, real-time cost estimation, integrated energy analysis, and export to other BIM programs. Read more

AEC: Tekla Structures v14
BIM software reportedly features a more task-oriented user interface and menus and a more flexible and environmentally friendly licensing system. Read more

AEC: Prolog 2008
Meridian Systems' construction project management system features a refreshed user interface and the ability to drag and drop RFI file attachments. Read more

MCAD: EnSuite v2
CCE's multi-CAD viewing, translation, and productivity software now provides support for Pro/E Wildfire 4, Unigraphics NX5, and Parasolid 19 files. Read more

CAE: SimManager R3
Scalable solution from MSC.Software reportedly provides out-of-the-box simulation content management in a fraction of the time and cost of using legacy PDM solutions. Read more

PLM: ProductView v9.1
PTC's Windchill visual collaboration software reportedly gives manufacturers accelerated ability to gain product insight to improve decision-making and reduce time-to-market. Read more

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Mark Your Calendar

Webcast: What's New in Adept 8
June 11, 2008, 2 p.m. EDT
June 12, 2008, 11 a.m. EDT
This live Webcast will demonstrate the new features and capabilities in Adept 8 and how they can make you and your organization more efficient and productive. Sponsored by Synergis. Read more

For a complete list of CAD meetings, conferences, training sessions, and more, check out our calendar of events on

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Lynn Allen

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