Just a Few CAD Renovations (Hot Tip Harry AutoCAD Tutorial)

31 May, 2008 By: Bill Kramer

Harry shares some productivity tools, including this month's Top Tip -- a duplication drafting tool.

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Wearing a carpenter's tool belt along with his trademark fedora and trench coat, Harry looked a little out of sorts as he walked in quickly. "Doing some renovation work," he said. "Here are some great tips to help with those changes." Then he dropped off this month's tips, turned, and left. Oh well -- no time for small talk; let's dig in.

Tip 2292: Area of Closed Polylines
Area of Closed Polylines, sent in by Ronald Maneja, automatically computes and adds an area annotation for closed polylines. Load the LISP code and type AreaRon, supply a scaling factor, and then select polylines using the normal AutoCAD selection mechanism. Only closed polylines can be selected. The routine calculates the area of each object and displays the result as a text object at the averaged center point for the polyline. Area text is added to layer AreaRon for easy manipulation. This wonderful power tool is a well-programmed example of Visual LISP object access.

Tip 2293: Add Text Values
Brock Narum submitted Add Text Values, which adds the values found in text and attribute entity objects. Load the LISP code and type AddValues at the AutoCAD Command line. Next, select text and attribute entity objects that can be converted to numeric values. The text is extracted, converted to a real number, and added to the running total. When finished, the sum is output as a text entity at a location you select. The output text is sized based on the drawing scale, and you may need to adjust it to your application. This tip can be very useful when adding area values and much more.

Tip 2294: Draw Stair Plans and Section Views
Draw Stair Plans and Section Views from Kent Cooper draws a detail for stairs based on your input parameters. Architects will find this function to be quite handy when laying out stairs in a floor plan. It supports IBC and ABA standards through a series of default values and can be used for residential and commercial work. Load the LISP code and type StairPlan. A series of prompts will appear that let you define exactly what kind of stairs you want drawn. The LISP file also includes a routine for drawing stair sections; use the command StairSec. Harry says this very robust program is simple to use, if you know what you are designing.

Tip 2295: Draw Closet Detail
Mike Carter sent in Draw Closet Detail, another architectural plan detail tool. This tool draws shelves and rods with clothes hangers after you select the walls of a closet. An included document file describes how to use this marvelous LISP utility. Designer tools such as this one can greatly improve your productivity.

Tip 2296: Squares Made Simple
Noel Gemilga submitted Squares Made Simple, a tip with two short functions for drawing a square using two different approaches. Load the LISP code and type either SQ (to use the Rectang command) or SQQ (to use the Polygon command). This utility is a great learning example for those looking to speed up basic AutoCAD operations using Visual LISP.

Tip 2297: Time/Date Stamp with RText
Time/Date Stamp with RText essentially is a reminder from Jerry Frey that using RText is the easiest way to include a time/date stamp in your drawing. This tip includes a single DWG file that contains RText with Diesel code embedded. Just insert this drawing as a block and watch the magic unfold. RText isn't a normal AutoCAD command -- it was included as part of the Express Tools in earlier releases -- so don't expect to find any useful information in the Help or documentation. Instead, just open this drawing and take a look.

Tip 2298: Make More of the Same
Top Tip!Mosad H. Elewa sent in this month's Top Tip, Make More of the Same. This really neat drafting tool allows you to select an object in a drawing and make more objects of the same type and properties. This tool saves you the time and effort of looking up the properties of an object, setting them as current, and then running the command. Load the LISP code, type Setas at the Command prompt, and select an existing object in the drawing. If you select a basic graphic object, the routine extracts layer, color, and linetype information and makes them current, then initiates the command to draw more of the same. When you select a text object, the routine sets the text style as current and starts the default text location just below the selected text. This very handy utility was originally written for AutoCAD Release 13 and still useful today. Good programming survives multiple release updates, and that makes this piece of programming our month's top tip!

Automatic drawing utilities are really great. And so are tools that make your work easier, better, more consistent, and (most importantly) fun! If you have any tips you'd like to share, Harry could make it worth your while with a cool T-shirt and maybe even some cash or a trip. Send your tips to and until next month, keep on programmin'.

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About the Author: Bill Kramer

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