Circles and Lines: The CUI Saga Continues

14 Dec, 2005 By: Lynn Allen Cadalyst

Customizing your shortcut menus in a snap.

Continuing with our CUI (customization user interface) saga, let's move on to the powerful shortcut menus. The new CUI dialog box makes it easy to customize your right-click shortcut menus. You can remove the functions you don't use in the menus and add the ones you do. Done properly you can shave a fair amount of time off your designs.

Enter the CUI command and expand the Shortcuts section of the Customization Files listing in the upper left corner (figure 1).

Figure 1. Many shortcut menus are available for customizing.

You'll see a list of the existing shortcut menus. It's important to understand the role of each of the shortcut menus so you know what you're customizing. You will also see that often a combination of shortcut menus will create one final menu. Let's take a look at five key shortcut menus:

Command menu: This shortcut menu (figure 2) displays when you are in a command and you right-click. The options for the command are sandwiched in the middle of the menu (figure 3).

Figure 2. The Command menu displays when you right-click during a command.

Figure 3. The command options are inserted into the Command menu.

Default menu: This shortcut menu appears when you are not in a command and you have nothing selected.

Edit menu: This shortcut menu appears when one or more objects are selected. If there is a specific object type menu written that pertains to the selection set, the Edit menu will include it. For example, if you select one or more dimensions as your selection set, the Edit menu will include the Dimension shortcut menu (figure 4).

Figure 4. The Dimension shortcut menu is sandwiched into the Edit menu when dimensions are selected.

Grips Cursor menu: This menu displays when a hot grip is selected and you right-click.

Object Snap Cursor menu: This menu is displayed with a Shift+right-click on most input devices.

The rest of the menus are specific to individual entity types and are displayed in conjunction with the Edit menu.

Attribute Block Objects menu: This shortcut right-click menu displays when a single block with at least one attribute is selected (highlighted). It is displayed in conjunction with the Edit menu.

Block Reference Objects menu: This menu displays when a single block object is selected (in conjunction with the Edit menu).

Dimension Objects menu: This menu displays when one or more dimensions are selected.

Hatch Object menu: This menu displays when a hatch object is selected.

LWPline Object menu: This menu displays when a lightweight polyline is selected.

Mtext, Text, Pline and Spline Object menus: This menu is displayed when the corresponding object is selected for editing.

Unmaximized Viewport menu: This menu is sandwiched into the Edit menu when a viewport is selected (and it's not maximized).

Viewport Object menu: This menu is displayed when one viewport is selected.

Viewport Objects menu: This menu is displayed when multiple viewports are selected.

Xref Object menu: This menu is displayed when one external reference is selected.

Xref Objects menu: This menu is displayed when multiple external references are selected.

And this one last loner:

Maximized Viewport menu: This menu is sandwiched into the Default menu when a viewport is maximized.

Now looking at this overwhelming list of menus, you'll notice that if the word "objects" is in the title, it displays when more than one object of the same type are selected. "Object" indicates a single object is selected. This is true throughout the menu names accept for the two block menus -- those are named incorrectly and should just say "Object" since they only work when one block is selected.

So are you lost yet? What can you do with all this information? Once you understand the menus and which one goes where, you can start to add or delete your own functions to the shortcut menus.

Note to you menu programmers: I was unable to successfully add any new shortcut menus in the CUI. They appeared to insert but then didn't function. They also magically disappeared when I went back into the CUI, so there's a serious mystery there! I believe you'll still have to do them in a separate menu file (the old way). For example, if I wanted to add a shortcut menu for editing circles, I can't do it in the CUI. I was only able to work with the existing shortcut menus.

So let's say you'd like to have your favorite command at your fingertips. If it's an editing command, you might want to add it to the Edit menu. If you want it available at all times, I'd add it to the Grips menu because you can always get to it with a Shift+right-click. Or perhaps you are an end point or intersection object snap addict and you want them to be available anytime you are creating new objects. In that case you would want to add those object snaps to the Command menu -- get the idea? So now it's simply a matter of finding the command you want to add from the command list and dragging it up to the proper shortcut menu in the proper position. Let's say you want to add Mirror to the Edit menu right below the Rotate command.

From the Command List in the lower corner of the CUI, you will find the Mirror command. Key in the letter M to quickly jump to the commands that begin with M. Then simply drag the Mirror command into the proper place in the Edit menu (figure 5).

Figure 5. After selecting Mirror from the command list, drag it into place under Rotate in the Edit shortcut menu.

Select OK to exit the dialog box and then try your new shortcut addition! Pick some objects and right-click -- you should see the Mirror command is now quickly available.

It works the same way when you want to trim down the shortcut menus to include just those commands you find useful. A trimmed down shortcut menu is much more efficient to use without those other pesky unused commands getting in the way.

Though shortcut menus might look a little more confusing than some of the other CUI features we've discussed, once you get in and try them, you'll find they're actually quite easy to master. Go ahead, get creative and make some super powerful shortcut menus that will make the entire office envious!

Until next month -- Happy AutoCAD-ing!

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