Logging Daily Activities and Other Tips (Hot Tip Harry AutoCAD Tutorial)

31 Jan, 2008 By: Bill Kramer

This month's winning tip lets CAD managers automatically compile and organize work performed in AutoCAD.

Download code for this and all articles. Look for FEB08.EXE or FEB08.ZIP in Get the Code. Downloads are free and are provided "as is" without warranty or support.
Tips are tested using AutoCAD 2008, unless otherwise noted. By submitting code to Cadalyst, you grant Cadalyst the right to print and distribute your code in print, digitally and by other means. Cadalyst and individual authors retain all rights to the code, and it is not to be used for commercial purposes.
Important note: Be sure your submission contains all elements required for it to run independently in AutoCAD. Tips that are missing functions or other necessary elements will not be considered.
Join the Hot Tip Harry Hot Code Contest
Calling all tip writers! The Hot Tip Harry Hot Code Contest is under way for 2008.
Share your hot tips and tricks and you could win an official Cadalyst t-shirt, $100 monthly cash prize, and a chance to win a trip to Autodesk University 2008 in Las Vegas!
E-mail those tips and tricks to
For More AutoCAD Tips More Often: Check out Cadalyst's free Tips & Tools Weekly e-newsletter. View the archives and subscribe today!
Harry's Code Class Free E-Newsletter:
Learn from the master himself. "Hot Tip Harry" author Bill Kramer offers monthly lessons in customization programming for AutoCAD. View the archives and subscribe today!
A chilly wind blew in as Harry entered and shut the door behind him. It is winter; time to get some programming done. He was back from his most recent mission with a pile of tips straight from you power users! "Let's get at 'em," he said with a matter-of-fact tone in his voice.

Tip 2265: P&ID Linetypes Library
Jay Thomas sent in a library of complex piping and instrumentation diagram (P&ID) linetypes. This tip is a LIN file that can be placed in the AutoCAD search path. Once loaded with the Linetype command, Jay's linetypes can be used just as any other linetype in AutoCAD. The library was developed with the Romans font as the base text style, so you should make it the current text style. This linetype library incorporates numerous complex linetypes (characters and lines combined) that are used in P&ID style drawing work -- lines showing flow, logic, material, and so forth. Thanks, Jay; these are great!

Tip 2266: Cross Lock Hatch Pattern
Cross Lock is a hatch pattern from regular contibutor Watson Kilbourn for drawing pavement-type sections of locking cross shapes. Locate the PAT file in a folder AutoCAD knows about. Watson reduced this pattern to just a few lines using his uniquely genius approach. Once again, a tip of the hat from Harry to Watson for his brilliant patterns.

Tip 2267: Mtext Framing
Mtext Framing from Charles Hakari uses the masked border option of Mtext to construct a polyline frame around the text. To use this tip, create text with the Mtext command and enable the masked border options. This routine works best when the normal drawing background is used. Load the LISP code and type MTF to activate the command. You will be prompted to select an Mtext entity object. A polyline border with a width of 0 will be constructed around the Mtext. Nice job, Charles.

Tip 2268: Mass Drawing Clean-Up
Michael Kolomiyets submitted Mass Drawing Clean-Up, which consists of one LISP and one dialog box DCL file. This program will process drawings in a folder and remove the $ strings from table references (layers, blocks, etc) caused by external references. This example is very robust, but it requires some tinkering. (For example, if you are using AutoCAD 2008, adjust the .16 to .17 in the VLA interfaces request.) This tip is intended for advanced AutoCAD systems managers who want to manipulate quantities of drawings with Visual LISP. The best feature of this tip is that it shows how to open other drawings in Visual LISP while keeping them in the background. All Harry could say was, "Very cool."

Tip 2269: Xref Transfer
Ryan Wunderlich shares Xref Transfer, which collects all the external references in a current drawing and makes sure they are inserted on a layer of the same name as the external reference. Inserting the external references on a layer that is named to match the insert name is a drawing standard that Ryan uses in-house. This function also locks the layer, which further helps to block manipulations to the external reference. To use this tip, load the LISP code and type XFix. The rest is automatic. Of particular interest to LISP programmers is how the external references are located and manipulated in the drawing database. Thanks, Ryan!

Tip 2270: Freeze Layers Currently Not Visible
In an attempt to make drawings regenerate faster, Gordon Reichhardt developed Freeze Layers Currently Not Visible. Load the LISP code and type FrzAllButVis to freeze all layers that are not visible. Running this macro results in faster regeneration times. When not used, invisible layers are processed, which causes slower regeneration times. Harry reports that for very large drawings of the type Gordon manipulates, this tip can save a lot a time.

Top TipTip 2271: CAD Manager's Log
Harry's Top Tip of the month is CAD Manager's Log by Richard Grainer. CAD Manager's Log is a tool for recording your daily activities, whether for personal tracking purposes, client billing, or reporting to management. This program will create a CSV file based on your selection of the activities you want to record. It does not record elapsed time; instead it compiles and organizes your notes and comments so you can retrieve them later using a spreadsheet program. This tip is designed for the busy CAD manager who attends a lot of meetings and multitasks to the maximum -- in other words, your average CAD manager.

To use this tip, load the LISP code into AutoCAD's Visual LISP editor (VLIDE) and edit it to match your output preferences. Toward the end of the source code, you will find the full name and folder of the file this program creates. (Search for the string CSV to locate it quickly.) Change this name and save the program so you don't have to repeat this step. Now just load the code as a normal LISP program and type DLog to activate. The associated dialog box file (DCL) should reside in a folder searched by AutoCAD. After you get DLog running, you will want to use it over and over to record your activities for later review. Thanks, Richard -- you are the top tipster of the month!

Do you have a tip to share with everyone? Harry is collecting tips all the time at -- send in the source code so he can check your sources and then share it with the world. In return, Harry will see that you get a designer Cadalyst T-shirt that is sure to be the envy of every other CAD operator you know.

Until next month, keep on programmin'.

Join the Hot Tip Harry Challenge
Harry needs your tips! Do you have an original routine written in VBA, Visual LISP, or even ObjectARX for AutoCAD customization? Send it in, with all the source code, to Your tip may be needed by others now, so don't delay!

Subscribe to Harry's Code Class
Cadalyst's Hot Tip Harry helps programmers and programmer wannabes learn the ins and outs of AutoCAD customization in his monthly e-newsletter, Harry's Code Class. Subscribe to Harry's Code Class today and start building your programming expertise.

Hot Tip Harry Discussion Forums
Harry is standing by online to aid AutoCAD users and programmers. Cadalyst's Hot Tip Harry -- Help! Discussion Forum offers assistance with AutoCAD programming and customization problems. Hot Tip Harry -- Requests Discussion Forum can help you locate a specific LISP or VBA routine for AutoCAD. Participation in Cadalyst Discussion Forums requires registration, but it's free.

Get Your Weekly Fix of AutoCAD Tips
Cadalyst's Tips & Tools Weekly e-newsletter mails each Monday, delivering AutoCAD tips by readers for readers -- all reviewed by Cadalyst's volunteer Tip Patrol. Plus, you'll receive a rundown of new online CAD resources, deals and freebies, new CAD-related hardware and software products, and more. View the Cadalyst Tips & Tools Weekly archives and subscribe today!

AutoCAD Users: Check out Cadalyst Tips & Tricks Tuesdays
All it takes is a minute or two, and you could be off to more productive use of AutoCAD. Cadalyst announces Tips & Tricks Tuesdays with worldwide AutoCAD Technical Evangelist Lynn Allen. Each Tuesday, Lynn and Cadalyst bring a new, super-quick tip to the Cadalyst Video Gallery. Subscribe to Tips & Tricks Tuesdays and receive an e-mail notification every time a new tip goes live in the Cadalyst Video Gallery.

About the Author: Bill Kramer

More News and Resources from Cadalyst Partners

For Mold Designers! Cadalyst has an area of our site focused on technologies and resources specific to the mold design professional. Sponsored by Siemens NX.  Visit the Equipped Mold Designer here!

For Architects! Cadalyst has an area of our site focused on technologies and resources specific to the building design professional. Sponsored by HP.  Visit the Equipped Architect here!