Circles and Lines: Cool Improvements to Everyday Editing Commands in AutoCAD 2006

14 May, 2005 By: Lynn Allen Cadalyst

Upgrades to editing commands make changes faster and easier

I really dislike jumping on the upgrade horse with articles about the next release of AutoCAD until more readers have upgraded, but I thought it might be nice to discuss some of the low stress (but cool) improvements to commands you use every day. Even if you haven't upgraded yet, I think you'll find these new features easy to understand while providing a glimpse into your future when you do decide to upgrade. I will hold off on writing about the big changes until more of you are using AutoCAD 2006.

I am always delighted when I find Autodesk manages to remove one or more steps from a command I use all the time. We all know these time savings can add up -- not to mention eliminate some of the tedium. So let's get started!

Undo Everywhere!
We no longer have to exit the more popular editing commands to undo a mistake (which, of course, removes all of the edits done within that command). Now more of the editing commands have an Undo option added within the command, including Copy, Offset, Fillet, Chamfer, Trim and Extend.

Trim and Extend
Trim is a favorite editing command for everyone; so any changes here are always welcome. Many of you know about a top-secret way to select the cutting and boundary edges quickly with both the Trim and Extend commands -- the Select All option. For all of you, regardless of release, you can simply press at the first prompt in either command to select all visible objects as an edge. The objects don't highlight, so you just have to go with The Force and believe they are selected. Now that top-secret option is available for all in AutoCAD 2006.

Command: TRIM
Current settings: Projection=UCS, Edge=None
Select cutting edges ...
Select objects or <Select all>:
Select object to trim or shift-select to extend or (Fence/Crossing/Project/Edge/Erase/Undo)

Another top-secret option in Trim and Extend is the Fence option for selecting objects to trim or extend. Also available previously (so you all can use it), but now in AutoCAD 2006 you can see it. Sometimes when selecting the objects to trim or extend, it would just take too long to select them all individually. The Fence option lets you quickly draw a fence through the objects (figure 1).

Figure 1: Quickly draw a fence through objects with the Fence option.

You also can select an object with the Crossing command. The crossing window needs to clearly pass through the side of the object that's to be trimmed or extended.

Trim includes a bonus option -- Erase! How many times have you gone to trim something only to realize that a simple Erase command would do the trick? You don't need to exit Trim anymore to perform this simple task.

Do any of you use MLINES? I must admit they've never been one of my favorite objects in AutoCAD. For those of you who do have the patience to use them -- you'll be happy to know that Trim and Extend now work on MLINES as well.

The Offset command is another editing favorite, and AutoCAD 2006 includes three new options. When you offset an object, would you like the new object to land on the same layer as the original source object (default) or on the current layer? Now you get to choose. If you've ever wanted to erase the source object after performing an offset, that option is available to you as well.

Command: OFFSET
Current settings: Erase source=No Layer=Source OFFSETGAPTYPE=0
Specify offset distance or [Through/Erase/Layer] <Through>: L
Enter layer option for offset objects [Current/Source] <Source>: C
Specify offset distance or [Through/Erase/Layer] <Through>:
Select object to offset or [Exit/Undo] <Exit>:
Specify through point or [Exit/Multiple/Undo] <Exit>: M

You'll also find a new Multiple option that allows you to offset using the same distance over and over -- that should save some time!

Square Off Corners
Most of us use Fillet or Chamfer set to a value of 0 to square off corners. A new option in AutoCAD 2006 lets you do this quickly and easily without setting any values. While in the Fillet or Chamfer command, select the first object, then hold down the Shift key while selecting the second object. AutoCAD automatically squares off the corner without actually changing the radius or distances.

Command: FILLET
Current settings: Mode = TRIM, Radius = 0.0000
Select first object or [Undo/Polyline/Radius/Trim/Multiple]:
Select second object or shift-select to apply corner:

Very cool!

The popular Stretch command includes a couple of nice updates as well. We know we need to use a crossing window or a crossing polygon to select the objects to stretch. We could select multiple crossing windows, but only the last window of objects selected would actually be eligible to stretch. In AutoCAD 2006 you can select multiple selection sets, and they all will stretch. You can also select individual objects, and they will move with the selection set (not stretch).

Rotate and Scale
AutoCAD 2006 added a Copy option to both Rotate and Scale so you can rotate or scale a copy of the original (rather than the original). Both commands also remember the last value used for quick and easy access. If you've ever used the Reference option, you know that you have been restricted to the base point as one of the two points used to indicate a specific angle or scale factor -- now you can select those two points separately (great when working off of other existing objects in the drawing).

Command: ROTATE
Select objects: Specify opposite corner: 2 found
Specify base point:
Specify rotation angle or [Copy/Reference] <48>: C
Rotating a copy of the selected objects.
Specify rotation angle or [Copy/Reference] <48>: R
Specify the reference angle <0>: Specify second point:
Specify the new angle or [Points] <0>:

All of these little changes really add up when you're using them over and over. Let's face it -- we spend more time editing than drawing anyway! Send me an e-mail if you want me to cover the new features in AutoCAD 2006 or to focus on the basics. I aim to please! Until next month, Happy AutoCAD-ing!

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