Tips & Tools Weekly (Vol. 13, No. 6)11 Feb, 2008
This Week's Software Tips
Congratulations January Winner!
Change Draw Order in ADT
NOTES FROM CADALYST TIP PATROL: The nice thing about this script is that it is automatic. Note that the block's name must match the name in the script. It would work best if you use a standard name that is in every file where this is needed and it was placed in the print routine somehow as stated in the tip. If the code is placed in the ACAD.LSP file, it will load only when the user turns on AutoCAD unless you change certain default settings.
NOTES FROM CADALYST TIP PATROL: This is a nice standardizing routine. It works on dtext but not on multiline text. If you use notes that don't change (or don't change very often), give this tip a try. The code is very simple and could be added to a tool palette. Customize each note in the code as required.
Check an Entity's Properties
Type Fent, select the object, and you'll get the associated list of that entity. You can view any sorted list from it, such as entity type, entity name, entity in which layer, color, insertion point, and more.
NOTES FROM CADALYST TIP PATROL: If AutoCAD's List command doesn't provide you with the needed data, then try this tip. It displays a lot of information right there on the Command line.
"These are Diesel language shortcut key macros, not LISP. They can be used in full AutoCAD and AutoCAD LT. Any user can add them via the CUI.
"The macros specifically toggle the Dimension Suppress Extension line number-1 (DIMSE1) and Dimension Suppress Extension line number-2 (DIMSE2). Users should note that because these macros utilize the transparent setvar call ('setvar), they can be toggled within a dimension command -- you could turn on or off the extension line suppression when you are already in the Horizontal or Vertical command, for example. The user may, of course, input these into whichever key suits them, via the AutoCAD CUI." (Consult the CUI section of AutoCAD Help for details.)
"One last comment: Am I the only one who thinks that the DIMSE1 and DIMSE2 settings are counterintuitive? Yes, I know that the actual command description is Dimension Suppress Extension line (Yes = On, No = Off). Most people I know always conceptualized this as: I want to turn the extension line OFF (or ON). AutoCAD's command would have you turn the Suppression On or Off."
Note: These follow-up tips have not been tested by the Cadalyst Tip Patrol.
Follow-Up: Easy Access to Linetype Files
"The same approach works for all AutoCAD File dialog boxes and saves me tremendous amounts of time when working on multiple projects or when processing backgrounds from a client to meet our standards. I switch back and forth between the folder with the original files from the client and the folder containing the processed backgrounds."
Follow-Up: Print Multiple Drawings
"If you are using any ADT products, you should not use the AutoCAD Publish command for multiple plotting. Instead, use the Publish command through the Project Navigator Palette / Sheet Tab / Sheet Set View. As you may know, in ADT the Project Navigator keeps track of all the drawing files and the established paths. When you use the Publish command from the File pull-down menu or the standard toolbar icon, there is no project management intelligence attached to the command because you are using the AutoCAD function and not the ADT function. Therefore, when you attempt to batch plot (as it saves the drawing to go to the next drawing), it unloads the xrefs referenced in that file.
"The solution for ADT product users is to use CUI customization to delete or nullify the functionality of the AutoCAD Publish command and force users to batch plot through the Sheet tab in the Project Navigator. It is a mess when you have to go through and relink all your sheet files."
Follow-Up: File-Sharing Best Practices
Stephen Erway shared his approach: "At our company, we insert blocks and xrefs on a layer we create, called -Insert. We use the hyphen in the layer name, which causes the layer name to be listed above the 0 layer, so the -Insert layer can quickly be located.
"We also create a layer name called -Draw. Again, the hyphen in the layer name locates it above the 0 layer. We use this layer for drawing new objects during projects. On the -Draw layer, use a color that is not used on any other layer -- we use color 42 -- and line weight is set for default. Design drawings can quickly be done without the distraction of changing layers all the time, and this method also distinguishes new objects added within previously drawn work. When your detail or revision is finished, select object lines drawn on the -Draw layer and place them on their proper layers (i.e., Wall, Pipe, etc)."
James Donaldson commented, "I liked Michael Cailao's best practices list except one: 'Do not draw or insert blocks and xref files on layer 0.'
"This is fine for xrefs but it ignores a basic AutoCAD capability: Simple blocks should be created on layer 0 and inserted on the layer required. This allows a block, and especially a symbol, to take on the characteristics of the layer it is inserted on, like color and linetype, allowing a single block to do multiple work. ( I always believe in keeping things as simple as possible.)
Finally, Charles A. Graham wrote, "Having best practices is better than nothing, but the best way to handle file-sharing issues is to comply with the U.S. National CAD Standard. Originally geared toward architects, the revision process has opened the standards to other disciplines [in the building design and construction industry] as well. Remember, when a client says, 'We have a couple of standards we work with,' he has no standard at all."
Follow-Up: Offset Object to Current Layer
MicroStation Tip: Metric-Imperial Dimensions
You can choose the Settings button to set the units below the dimension line to what you need them to be. Once this is set, you will have two dimension values showing when you dimension.
Today's MicroStation tip courtesy of Axiom and MicroStationTips.com.
"Grandpa, Where Did You Get That Awesome T-Shirt?"
"I have many, maybe too many, CAD T-shirts -- black ones, gray ones, and even a turquoise one for a tip sent to Cadence magazine back in 1996. I think my favorite is this black one, with a large C on the back and the words, Cadalyst Magazine Highly Recommended."
CAD manager Jon McFarland told us, "I have two prized Cadalyst T-Shirts. I won the first at a local AutoCAD User Group meeting when I was the first one to admit that I was geeky enough to know what the "_" and "-" before a command entered at the AutoCAD Command line was for. The second was a prize for being able to recreate a drawing, in AutoCAD r10, using the keyboard only and without a monitor attached to the computer."
Cadalyst Tip Patrol member and frequent tipster Brian Benton wrote, "I am not certain how many Cadalyst T-shirts I own -- at least 12. I keep several of them neatly piled on a shelf in my cubicle for all to see. Every time I receive a new one I make sure to put it on and parade around the office like a proud peacock. "Most of my shirts are the "old-school" black design with CADALYST in large red lettering on the back and the slogan "CAD the Way You Want It." I also have one of the new "snappy dresser" designs. I picked that one because I have had the same CAD cartoon hanging on the wall of my cubicle for over a year. "I love my shirt collection, and it is the envy of all of my coworkers. They don't say it out loud, but I can see it in their eyes. When I wear those Cadalyst T-shirts, they all wish they were as cool as I am. All I need now are some Cadalyst boxer shorts to bring my geekdom to a new level."
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Opportunities & Honors
LightWorks Image Competition
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Books & Training
Book Addresses Sustainable Urban Growth
The Week's New CAD and Related Products
Hardware: CopySmart v1.3H2
Hardware: Rocket Scanner Controller
Hardware: LaCie 324 Monitor
General Software: CopySmart v1.3H2
GIS: Leica Cyclone II TOPO
AEC: DesignEst Pro
MCAD: Altium Innovation Station
CAE: Leica Absolute Tracker
Training: Commercial Site Design A to Z for Civil 3D 2008Advanced Graphics Technology offers the newest release in the company's self-paced learning series. Read more
Mark Your Calendar
MAXON Power Integration Tour 2008
Using Revit Architecture to Facilitate Energy Code Compliance Calculations
For a complete list of CAD meetings, conferences, training sessions, and more, check out our calendar of events on Cadalyst.com.
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!