Circles and Lines: Cool Timesavers in AutoCAD 2006

14 Jun, 2005 By: Lynn Allen Cadalyst

From joins to filters to wildcard finds, some of AutoCAD 2006 best new commands

The AutoCAD 2006 madness is off and running! I've had a great time traveling around the world doing presentations on the new features -- it's great to see everyone's reaction to AutoCAD's latest release. Many of you have jumped in with both feet and upgraded, so let's cover some more timesavers that will make your everyday drawing life a little bit better. Even if you haven't climbed on the AutoCAD 2006 bandwagon yet, I think you'll enjoy the education on what lies ahead.

New Join Command
Some of you might remember the popular Glue command from the old Softdesk days. Happily, a version of Glue made its way into AutoCAD 2006 with the new Join command. It works just as you would expect -- making it easy to join one or more objects together into one final object. The Join command has many possible outcomes depending on the type of objects you are working with. The Source object (that which you will join to) can be a line, polyline, arc, elliptical arc or spline. Let's discuss the realm of possibilities.

Line: If you select the line as the source object, you can join one or more collinear lines to it (even if there is a gap between them).

Pline: More options are available when you select a polyline as your source object. You can add an existing line, polyline or arc to the selected polyline, but you can't have a gap between them (all need to be contiguous).The Join option in the Pedit command would work better in this situation because the fuzz factor permits gaps and is consequently more flexible.

Arc: You can join more than one arc together, even if there is a gap between them, as long as the selected arcs lie in the same imaginary circle. Starting with the source object, the arcs will be joined in a counterclockwise fashion. You'll also find a Close option that converts the selected source arc into a circle (nice feature!).

Elliptical Arc: I'm not sure how many of you draw elliptical arcs, but you can now join more than one elliptical arc together into one final elliptical arc. This option follows the same rules as the standard Arc option, including the Close option that turns an elliptical arc into an ellipse.

Spline: You can join one or more splines together into one spline, but the same rules apply as for polylines. They must be contiguous (and lie in the same plane).

You'll find the Join command can save you a little time here and there.

ScaleListEdit Command
Let's address the new ScaleListEdit command (quite a mouthful).

If you've ever wanted to modify the drop-down list of scale factors that you can assign to paper space viewports, page setups and plotting, you'll love the new ScaleListEdit command. This simple dialog box (figure 1) lets you easily add or remove scale factors to the existing list. If you never work in metric, feel free to delete them from the list (or vice versa). You can always add them back later.

Figure 1. Customize your scale list with the new ScaleListEdit command.

Have you ever felt plagued by too many Named Layer Filters? This problem usually occurs when you insert someone else's drawing file into your own and they felt the need to have a layer filter party. If anything can slow down your drawing time, too many layer filters is a very good candidate! AutoCAD 2006 has a couple of cool tools to help you avoid such a situation.

First and foremost the new Filters command (not to be confused with the old Filter command without an "s" at the end) makes it easy to delete unwanted filters with an easy-to-use dialog box (figure 2). This command also happens to be top-secret as no mention is made of it in the Help file. And we know that undocumented commands are always extra cool!

Figure 2. The new Filters command makes it easy to clean up unwanted layer filters.

AutoCAD 2006 also has a new system variable to help monitor your layer filters. The new LAYERFILTERALERT system variable (another mouthful) helps you track pesky layer filters. LAYERFILTERALERT kicks in when you have more than 100 layer filters, or if you have more filters than layers (also bad). The value that you set this variable to is crucial, however. Let's review the four settings:

0 -- the Layer Filter Alert is turned off.
1 -- when too many layer filters occur. AutoCAD automatically deletes them all (too violent for me!)
2 -- when too many layer filters occur. AutoCAD gives you the option to delete them all (also not my cup of tea).
3 -- when too many layer filters occur, the Filters dialog box pops up, and you get to select the layers to remove (my favorite option).

I recommend the final setting because it provides the maximum amount of flexibility, but it's your call!

Wildcard Finds
If you are a fan of the Find command, you can now use wildcards in your searches. This new option will definitely make the Find command more powerful (and help you with speedy searches). This is one of those features that if someone doesn't tell you about it, you're unlikely to stumble across it yourself.

Another favorite addition is the new setting for the system variable IMAGEFRAME. If you use images in your drawing files, you undoubtedly become frustrated by the kludge means of working with them. If you want to move or edit the images, you have to set IMAGEFRAME to 1 so you can select them. Then when you want to print out the images you have to turn IMAGEFRAME to 0 so the frame doesn't display -- right? Argh! The new setting of 2 will make your image dreams come true! Setting IMAGEFRAME to 2 displays the frame for editing, but promises not to print the frame. Hoorah!

Let's face it; anything that shaves time off of your final design time is a beautiful thing. I think you'll find these new features will help you get your drawings done faster, leaving you a little more time for more important things!

Until next month, Happy AutoCAD-ing!

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