AutoCAD R14 Bonus Tools, Part 3

31 May, 1998 By: Lynn Allen

We’re about halfway through our exploration of the awesome Bonus tools included in AutoCAD R14. I hope you’ve spent some time trying them out for yourself. If you’re just joining us and don’t have the Bonus tools in your R14, you can install them without reinstalling AutoCAD. Please refer to the April issue to help you (“Circles and Lines," April 1998).

Remember the disclaimer I threw out last time? These routines haven’t been through the extensive testing that AutoCAD has been through (no comments please), so you’re apt to run into an occasional bug. Bugs are a drag, but there is a plus side to a bug—it does take away from the monotony of the drawing day!

Continuing on our path down the Bonus pulldown menus takes us to the Modify Cascading menu. Most of the commands in this menu can be found in the Standard Bonus Toolbar.

Extended Change Properties
(Randy Kintzley)

This command extends the DDCHPROP command to text and polyline objects. Text objects’ characteristics, such as the style and height, can be modified. This nice feature includes text, mtext and attribute definitions! The width and elevation of polylines can also be changed with the EXCHPROP command. This command works on the new lightweight polylines found in R14 as well as the traditional polylines of the past. Figure 1 shows the EXCHPROP dialog box.

Multiple Stretch
(Randy Kintzley)

The standard STRETCH command permits you to use one and only one crossing window or polygon to stretch objects. Though you are allowed to select many, only the final selected window will really apply. The MSTRETCH command can be used when you’d like to stretch many objects using more than one crossing window or crossing polygon (or combinations thereof).

It behaves a little differently than the STRETCH command. For one thing, the second pick point will show a solid pick rectangle no matter what direction you move—right or left of the first point. This mode contrasts the normal selection mode, where going to the left of the first point will define a crossing box and going to the right will define a window box. After the second pick point of each selection, rectangles with dashed lines indicate which vertices will be selected, as shown in Figure 2. I like the nice Remove Objects option that’s included so you can easily remove objects from the selection set.

Move Copy Rotate and Scale
(Jerry Coley)

You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to recognize the advantages of a command such as this one. If you’ve ever wanted to Move or Copy and Rotate or Scale the same objects, you understand the benefits of this command. I’m a grip-a-holic, so I tend to use grips for such activities. But I’m keenly aware that there are many of you who despise those cute, adorable blue boxes; you’ll be delighted with this bonus command. Incidentally, this routine is an ARX application (AutoCAD Runtime Extension). Draw an object on your screen and follow along with me:

Select objects: Use an object selection method to select the desired object(s).
Base point: Specify a base point just as you normally would.
Move/Copy/Rotate/Scale/Base pt/Undo/<eXit>: Specify the option you’d like to try.

I noticed a couple of interesting things about this command. A nice green indicator displays on the screen where the current base point is. It looks like a cross between an asterisk and a plus sign. You’ll also find that the base point seems to move with the copied object rather than the original object (unlike the standard COPY command). If you want to Rotate or Scale and Copy simultaneously, you’ll have to resort back to using Grips. The MOCORO command forces you to select the operations independently of each other. You’ll note in the options that you can change the base point at any time as well; however, there’s no way to change the active object.

For example, let’s say you have a square and you use the MOCORO command to make five copies of the square. The active object is now the last square you copied. If you’d like to rotate the third square created, you need to leave the MOCORO command and reenter selecting the third square as the active object. Make sense?

Cookie Cutter Trim
(Randy Kintzley)

Imagine trimming by selecting one object as the boundary edge and simply indicating which side of the object you’d like the crossing objects to trim, and you have the new EXTRIM function. Not only that, but the object you select as the boundary edge can be a polyline, line, circle, arc or an ellipse. WOW! No more of that tedious one-at-a-time selecting. Let’s give it a whirl. (Note: you’ll notice the command structure is a little odd in that it re-interjects the command prompt halfway through the command.)

Command: EXTRIM
Pick a polyline, line, circle, or arc for cutting edge...
Select objects: 1 found
Pick the side to trim on: select the side you want the objects trimmed from.

It’s that simple! I noticed a couple of idiosyncrasies with this function. When I selected inside of a text string or mtext as the side to be trimmed, it told me it couldn’t trim that object, then proceeded to do it anyway. I also liked seeing the text bounding box in the EXTRIM command—somthing that the standard TRIM command doesn’t have.

Clips Xrefs or Images Using Lines or Curves
(Randy Kintzley)

Standard clipping in R14 permits clipping of external references and raster images using a polygonal area. This Bonus routine takes clipping one step further. The CLIPIT command allows you to use polylines, circles or arcs as clipping boundaries. You can use the function on blocks, external references or raster images. Let’s look at the command sequence.

Pick a polyline, circle or arc for clipping edge...
Select objects: 1 foundCommand:
Pick an image, a wipeout, or an xref/block to clip...
Select objects: 1 found
Max allowable error distance for resolution of arc segments <0.0100>:
Specify clipping boundary:

It seems that this command needs a little more ironing out. I suspect the VIP bonus tools have cleaned this function up a little since it was first introduced. You’ll notice the interjection of the command prompt again. I also found that I could only pick one object to be trimmed. Hence, if I wanted to trim several external references, I would have to enter the command several times. It wouldn’t let me create a window, and keying in the word ALL didn’t get me anywhere when I was asked to select the objects to clip.

I loved the “Max allowable error distance for resolution of arc segments” prompt—just exactly what does that mean? Apparently, this function just approximates curves, and this question relates to the accuracy you want to force in the approximation segments. Supposedly, the higher the value, the faster AutoCAD will generate the result, but then you’ll suffer some loss in accuracy. I just leave this value alone, and I’m still able to lead a happy life.

Edits Multiple Polylines
(Jerry Coley)

We’ve all wanted to edit many noncontiguous polylines at once and found the standard PEDIT command to be deficient. I especially find this frustrating when I’d like to change the width of several separate polylines at once and have to reenter the PEDIT command over and over. This new command makes it easy to make changes to many different polylines in one simple command. It will even change plain old lines and arcs into polylines if you request.

Let’s take a look:

Command: MPEDIT
Select objects: Other corner: 3 found
Select objects:
Convert Lines and Arcs to polylines? <Yes>:
Open/Close/Width/Fit/Spline/ Decurve/Ltype gen/eXit <X>: w
Enter new width for all segments: 10
Open/Close/Width/Fit/Spline/ Decurve/Ltype gen/eXit <X>:

I found that even if I didn’t include any lines or arcs in my selection set, the command asked me anyway if I’d like to convert them to polylines. The options should be familiar to you since they’re the same options found in the PEDIT command (with the exception of the Edit Vertex option, which is not in MPEDIT).

Extended Explode

This AutoLISP routine was written years ago and still remains a valuable tool. When you explode a block, it insists on returning to the layer, color and linetypes it was initially saved with, which can be unfortunate when you’ve gone to the trouble of assigning it to the appropriate layer. Putting it back on the proper layer can be quite a chore as well. XPLODE to the rescue! With XPLODE, you have complete control over what goes where in your exploded blocks (dimensions, too!).

Command line: xplode
Select objects to Xplode.
Select objects:
All/Color/LAyer/LType/Inherit from parent block/<Explode>:

Choosing the default uses the standard EXPLODE command. Inherit from parent block will use the existing settings for the exploded block. If you pick several blocks to XPLODE, you can edit them individually or globally.

Copies Nested Objects
(Randy Kintzley)

This nifty tool is used to copy objects of a nested external reference or block. The AutoLISP routine behind this command has a completely different name: trexblk.lsp (should you care to take a look at the code). It’s pretty simple; you select the nested object you’re interested in copying, a base point and the destination point. You can also copy the nested object multiple times.

Command: NCOPY
Select nested objects to copy:
<Base point or displacement>/ Multiple:
Second point of displacement:

No surprises here.

Trimming and Extending with Blocks and External References
(Randy Kintzley)

The final two commands we’ll be addressing this month permit you to TRIM or EXTEND to a block or xref. The standard Extend and Trim commands don’t permit you to use these objects as cutting or boundary edges. Let’s look at the syntax:

Command: BTRIM
Select cutting edges:
<Select object to trim>/Project/ Edge/Undo:

This code is identical to the TRIM and EXTEND commands we’re familiar with. Note: neither of these commands works with MINSERTS (do any of you still use that command?).

Next month, I’ll look at the remaining bonus routines. Be adventurous and try a couple of these out for size—I’m sure you’ll find some bonus trinkets you won’t know how you survived without! Until next month.

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