13 More Express Tools

29 Feb, 2004 By: Lynn Allen

Handy tools ease layout, dimension, and selection tasks.

THIS MONTH, WE continue down the yellow brick road to higher productivity with AutoCAD Express Tools. As a quick review, more than 100 Express Tools come with AutoCAD 2004. Those of you on AutoCAD 2001-2002 can purchase them at We're picking up with the Layout Tools as they display in the Express Tools pull-down menu. See January's column for the previous batch.

Change Space (Chspace)

If you've ever wanted to push one or more objects from model space to paper space (or vice versa), you'll love the Chspace Express Tool. Perhaps your dimensions were made in model space, but you prefer them in paper space. Perhaps you created some text in paper space that's better suited to model space. Whatever the case may be, Chspace makes the switch for you while maintaining the object's original appearance.

Align Space (Alignspace)

A misplaced pan or zoom within a viewport can sometimes disrupt the alignment of objects in model space relative to paper space (dimensions come to mind). You can use Alignspace to reestablish the pan and zoom factor by matching up points in model space with points in paper space. Even the UCS is rotated where needed. You can select one or two points in model space, followed by one or two corresponding points in paper space.

Top-secret tip. To use only one reference point, press <Enter> when prompted for the second point-even though this doesn't display as an acceptable response.

Synchronize Viewports (Vpsync)

This Express Tool is somewhat outdated. You can use it to synchronize the scale factor of one or more viewports to the selected master viewport. In AutoCAD 2004, Matchprop permits the matching of viewports.

Viewport Scale Factor (Vpscale)

A quick command displays the scale factor for the selected viewport. The answer is displayed relative to your current units setting.

Merge Layout (Layoutmerge)

Saving a drawing back to AutoCAD Release 14 (before multiple layouts were a reality) saves only the current or most recently used viewport in the process. Layoutmerge merges all selected layouts into one and creates individual named views for each of the layouts. It even places a rectangle and a text identifier on the Defpoints layer to help you decipher the results! Try this great command when you work with clients who refuse to leave the Release 14 Stone Age.

Dimension Tools

Attach Leader to Annotation (Qlattach)

This Express Tool combines an existing leader line and an existing mtext, tolerance, or block reference into one object. The leader line moves to meet the annotation. If the angle is appropriate, a hook line is also added. Both objects must be in the same plane.

Detach Leader from Annotation (Qldetachset)

Essentially the opposite of Qlattach, this command breaks up the leaders from the annotation object. The only visual change may be the deletion of the hook line.

Global Attach Leader to Annotation (Qlattachset)

Back in the AutoCAD Release 13 days (oh, the horror!), leader lines were not attached to the annotation. If you find yourself cleaning up an old Release 13 drawing, you might find this Express Tool handy. Simply window all the leaders and AutoCAD does its best to combine the leaders and annotations. A simple report is returned with the results.

Dimstyle Export (Dimex)

This is a quick way to export existing dimension styles to a file (figure 1) with the goal of importing them later on. AutoCAD 2000 brought Design Center into the picture, which also makes it easy to import existing dimension styles, so you may not find much value here. The advantage of Dimex and Dimim is speed-you don't have to leaf through folders and files to find the dimension styles. You also gain the option to export the dimension style name only (without settings).

Figure 1. Dimex exports dimension styles you use frequently.

Dimstyle Import (Dimim)

Use this Express Tool to import the dimension style file created with Dimex.

Reset Dim Text Value (Dimreassoc)

This all-time favorite is a definite crowd pleaser! Say that you're working with a client who hands you a drawing with dimensions on it. You foolishly believe that the dimension text is a reflection of the actual measurements on the drawing. It all looks fine. As you continue to work with the drawing, you find out that you were seriously mistaken-the operator overrode the dimension value to put in the correct one (meaning the drawing is inaccurate). You can't tell me that you can't relate to this scenario in one way or another! It's so frustrating to try and figure out any other measurements when you're not sure of the integrity of the drawing.

Enter Dimreassoc.

Dimreassoc is a great way to check a drawing for inaccuracies. You simply select the dimensions in question, and AutoCAD highlights the offenders! An additional <Enter> converts the overridden dimension values to their true values. Then you can have a little chat with the CAD operator. Dimreassoc is a priceless command that can save you from submitting incorrect information.

Selection Tools

Get Selection Set (Getsel)

A quick and easy alternative to grabbing objects, Getsel let's you visually select the layer(s) and the type of objects you want to include in the selection set. Let's take a detailed look:

Command: Getsel

Select an object on the Source layer <*>: Select object(s) on the desired layer(s)

Select an object of the Type you want <*>: Select the object type(s)

Collecting all Mtext objects on layer Furniture...

Two objects have been placed in the active selection set.

Start the editing command you need and use the Previous option to grab the selection set created by Getsel.

Fast Select (Fastselect)

This is a clever Express Tool. You select one object, and Fastselect grabs all those objects that touch the selected object. You can even set it up to grab all the objects that touch the objects that touch the selected object (ouch!). Think of it as a chain. Fastselect works with a partner command called Fsmode. When Fsmode is off, only those immediate objects that touch the selected object are highlighted (figure 2). When Fsmode is on, it creates a chain of selected objects (figure 3). Key in FS to access this cool command.

Figure 2. When Fsmode is off, Fastselect selects only objects that touch the selected object.

Figure 3. When Fsmode is on, Fastselect selects the entire chain of objects.

Tools Make Us Happy

Hopefully you've found a nugget or two that will help you get your job done a little bit faster. I look forward to sharing more AutoCAD tips and tricks with you throughout the year! Until next month-Happy AutoCAD-ing!

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