AutoCAD 2010 Makes Everyday Drawing Easier (Circles and Lines AutoCAD Tutorial)

16 Apr, 2009 By: Lynn Allen

Updates to layer colors, hatching, line conversions, purge, and more will help speed up common tasks.

Yes, AutoCAD 2010 has some big-time new features such as parametrics and 3D meshes, but time and again I see that the real crowd-pleasers seem to be those features that affect our everyday drawing lives. Any feature that removes one extra step from something we do all day long is a beautiful thing! In this installment of "Circles and Lines," I will focus on some of the lesser-known features that have landed in AutoCAD 2010.

Layer Colors
Many of us rely heavily on the Layer drop-down list. This handy tool makes it easy for us to change layers, quickly freeze or turn off layers, and do other assorted tasks. But if you've ever wanted to change the color of a layer from the Layer drop-down list, you've no doubt become very disappointed! You can only do that modification through the full-fledged Layer Manager.

AutoCAD 2010 allows you to simply select the color swatch from the Layer drop-down list to launch into the Select Color dialog box. In this dialog box, you will also find that it's easier to discern which color you are selecting because of the new black border and arrow that follow you through the dialog box as the figure below shows.

The Select Color dialog box has been updated to let you easily discern color selection.

If you've found yourself frustrated when trying to edit the boundary of a nonassociative hatch pattern, then you're really going to appreciate the improvements in hatching. In the past, most cases of nonassociative hatch editing ended up with users deleting the hatch and starting all over! Now it's simply a matter of modifying the grips on the nonassociative hatch pattern to get the desired boundary result, as the figure below shows.

Editing grips now appear on nonassociative hatch patterns.

You'll also find that AutoCAD works harder when trying to hatch a boundary that isn't closed. No longer do you need to play the zoom game to locate the gap in a boundary -- AutoCAD will find it for you and delineate it with obvious red circles (see figure below).

Hatching is less frustrating now that AutoCAD shows you any boundary gaps.

Converting Splines into Polylines
AutoCAD 2010 has the handy new ability to convert your splines into polylines. A new Convert to Polyline option (see figure below) in the SplinEdit command makes conversion a cinch.

SplinEdit now has a handy Convert to Polyline option.

You will be prompted to input a precision value between 0 and 99 (with 99 being the highest precision). The higher the value, the closer the pline will fit to the original spline, but be aware you may run into performance issues if you set the value too high.

A new system variable called PlineConvertMode controls whether the spline is converted to straight-line segments or arc segments (set to 1 for polyarcs).

You'll also find that you can now select a spline in the PEdit command to convert it. You still will be asked for a precision value.

If your drawings have been plagued with zero-length objects -- or empty text -- then you'll be happy to see the powerful new option for purging these evil beasts from your drawings (see figure below). Those of you who import MicroStation drawings will definitely appreciate this new feature.

It's easy to purge zero-length geometry and empty-text options in AutoCAD 2010.

Rotating Viewports
When we rotate a viewport, we often expect the view to rotate along with it -- right? A new system variable in AutoCAD 2010 controls this behavior when you rotate a viewport. When VPRotateAssoc is set to 1, the view will rotate along with the viewport. When it is set to 0, it will not.

Miscellaneous Updates
You can now fade external references in AutoCAD 2010 just as you can fade attached PDF underlays. And if you've ever wanted to ETransmit a drawing file with unloaded references in the past, you've found that you had to load those references first before transmitting. A new Include Unloaded File References option added to the Modify Transmittal Setup dialog box lets you send unloaded references (and they will stay unloaded!) as seen below.

ETransmit lets you send unload file references and keep them unloaded.

All of these little feature changes inside AutoCAD 2010 add up to big changes overall. Give them all a try, and you might just find yourself getting your drawings done a little bit faster. Until next time … Happy AutoCAD-ing!