AutoCAD 2000: A Paper Space Odyssey

29 Feb, 2000 By: Lynn Allen

I'll be the first to admit that Paper Space is one of the most valuable features in AutoCAD, but it's also the most underused. It's never been easy to learn, with so many rules and confusing system variables to follow. Those who have conquered the complex world of Paper Space become true believers, vowing never to go back to living solely in Model Space. By far my most popular Circles & Lines columns were, "Lost in Paper Space (Part 1)" and "Lost in Paper Space (The Sequel)". To this day, I still get frequent requests for them. At Autodesk University you'll also find the Paper Space classes packed to the gills with anxious users trying to fully grasp all the concepts involved.

AutoCAD 2000 has come a long way in making Paper Space more palatable. There are several new enhancements that will make it easy for even the novice user to jump from Model Space to Paper Space. This month, I'm going to peruse many of these new features to ensure you're not missing out on the goodies. I am going to assume a base knowledge of Paper Space in this column; see the two columns above. Although the columns are old, the general concepts ring true today.

How Easy It Gets

Figure 1.
First out the gate you'll find that it's a heck of a lot easier to enter the world of Paper Space. No more setting Tilemode to 0 (I'm sure you'll miss that!). Now it's a simple pick of the tabs in the lower-left hand corner of the drawing editor, as shown in Figure 1. The Layout tabs are used to change over to Paper Space. In AutoCAD 2000, you can have as many Paper Space Layouts as you want (unlike previous releases). You can also add, delete and rename the layout tabs by right clicking on them, as shown in Figure 2. In fact, let's quickly look at those options:

New Layout lets you add additional Paper Space layouts to your drawing.

Figure 2.

From template... allows you to copy layouts from existing template files (DWT or DWG). The Layout geometry (Paper Space objects) and viewports will be inserted into the new layout. No Model Space objects from the template drawing are imported.

Delete allows you to delete one or more layout tabs.

Rename allows you to change the name of an existing layout tab.

Move or Copy causes an additional dialog to display-as shown in Figure 3-that allows you to copy or move the selected layout. This dialog is a little tricky to negotiate, just realize that the tab you right click on is the tab that is going to be doing the moving. To move the selected tab to the end just

Figure 3.
pick the move-to-end option in the dialog. If you choose the copy option, you'll probably also need to Rename it to get the desired result.

Select All Layouts highlights all of the Layout tabs. When you reenter the shortcut menu, you'll find that you can copy all the layouts, delete all the layouts and so forth (perhaps not the most useful option).

If you add too many layouts or use really long names, you'll find that you need to negotiate through the tabs by using the arrows to the left of the Model Space tab. Note that you'll soon discover that selecting any of the tabs forces a regeneration (Doh!).

Figure 4.

You'll also find that you can create new layouts from the pulldown menus by using Insert=>Layout. In this menu you'll find the new Layout Wizard, as shown in Figure 4. The Layout Wizard takes you step by step through creating a new layout, and it offers complete plotter information as well as instructions on how to insert a title block, define viewports and so on. New users may find this route easier to take. I have found that veteran users often don't have the patience to use AutoCAD wizards (email me if you disagree).

When I first launched AutoCAD 2000, I was surprised to find myself faced with the Page Setup dialog for plotting when I selected a layout tab. You may choose to answer the Page Setup dialog to set up your page size, orientation, plot scale, and so on right up front. Or, you can dismiss the dialog and set it up manually-whichever you prefer. You'll also find that by default one viewport appears in all new layouts. This really makes it easy on new users since they can pick a layout tab and automatically see the model through the viewport.

Figure 5.
You don't intuitively know that you need to use the MVIEW command to insert Paper Space viewports to see your model, but now it happens automatically. You veteran users will probably prefer to turn this feature off and construct your own viewports. The Display tab in the Options dialog has devoted the lower left-hand corner of the dialog to setting up your layout environment, as shown in Figure 5, which shows the settings I prefer.

Non-Rectangular Viewports
One of the top wishlist items for several years has been the ability to create non-rectangular viewports. Over the years, users discovered all kinds of inventive ways to hook many viewports together, such as using wipeouts and so on to create the various shaped viewports needed. However, now you have two new options in the MVIEW command that make creating viewports of any shape a breeze.

When you take a look at the MVIEW command, you'll see the two new options: Polygonal and Object. Let's review each option:

Polygonal is used to manually draw a viewport comprised of straight

Figure 6.
and/or arc segments. Figure 6 shows a simple polygonal viewport made up of straight segments. Note that assigning a non-continuous linetype to a non-rectangular viewport could result in the irregular clipping of Model Space geometry inside the viewport, or, even worse, it may cause AutoCAD to become unstable (so don't do that!).

Let's take a look at the MVIEW command sequence:

Specify corner of viewport or
[ON/OFF/Fit/Hideplot/Lock/ Object/Polygonal/Restore/ 2/3/4] <Fit>: p

Specify start point:
Specify next point or [Arc/Close/Length/Undo]: a
Enter an arc boundary option
[Angle/CEnter/CLose/ Direction/Line/Radius/Second pt/Undo/Endpoint of arc]

This looks much like the PLINE command except that you'll need a minimum of three segments to make your viewport.

Object allows you to select an existing closed object, and AutoCAD will clip the viewport to the object. You can even make a self-intersecting viewport by using a polyline.

So what if you already have a viewport from Release 14 that you'd like to clip to a non-rectangular object? It's simple! Draw your new shape, highlight the original viewport, right click on it and you'll see an option called Viewport

Figure 7.
Clip. Simply select the new shape, and, Presto, the existing viewport will take on the new shape.

You'll also notice in the shortcut menu one of my favorite additions to AutoCAD 2000-the ability to lock the display within the viewports. How many times have you gone to the trouble to set your scale factor only to mess it up by zooming? Setting the Display Locking to ON will lock the current zoom factor into place. Figure 7 shows the shortcut menu with these two new additions.

I'm not a big toolbar fan, but I am a big fan of the new Viewports toolbar. As much as I'm sure you all love setting the viewport scale factor by going into the ZOOM command and setting the XP factor (1/4" = 1' would be 1/48X),

Figure 8.
you'll be happy to know there's a much easier method. Figure 8 shows the wonderful drop-down list that makes it simple to set your scale factor.

Awesome Express Tools
There are a couple of awesome Express Tools you'll want to try out as well. Change Space (CHSPACE) makes it easy to transfer Paper Space objects into Model Space and vice versa. Now it's easy to transfer those Paper Space dimensions back into Model Space where they belong! (in my opinion).

ALIGNSPACE allows you to align objects in Paper Space up with objects in Model Space-a feat that is nearly impossible without this Express Tool. Neither one of these tools is part of the sampling that comes with AutoCAD 2000. You'll need to download them from the Web at (they're free!).

So what happens if you save back to Release 14? What happens to your extra layouts (since R14 only supports one) and those nonrectangular viewports? Well, here's the scoop. When saving back to R14, AutoCAD will save Model Space and the current layout. If the drawing was in Model Space when you executed the SAVEAS, the last accessed layout will be saved. This could mean that you'd need to make multiple saves to multiple files to save all of your viewports.

For those of you in the VIP program, you're fortunate to have an Express Tool called LAYERMERGE. This tool will save all the layouts back to Release 14, assigning each layout to it's own view. It's a lifesaver routine to have around. Those of you who are not in the VIP program should keep a close watch on the Express tool Web site as I'm sure it will eventually be available for download (I'm crossing my fingers).

What is going to happen to your Non-rectangular viewports? They'll be transformed back to rectangular viewports along with the boundary objects used to create

Figure 9.
them initially. Figure 9 shows you the result of saving back the non-rectangular viewports in Figure 8. When you bring the drawing back to AutoCAD 2000, you will get all of your layouts as well as your non-rectangular viewports back. So, they aren't gone for good, and they do a good job of making the round trip.

Well, that's a quick tour through many of the new additions to Paper Space in AutoCAD 2000. For those of you who are still floundering with the whole Paper Space concept (you're not alone!), enough emails might prompt me to rewrite my Lost in Paper Space columns and update them.

Until next month...

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