Perfect Paper Space, Part 2

16 May, 2004 By: Lynn Allen

How to conquer viewports.

LAST MONTH WE DIPPED our toes into paper space. This month let's wade deeper into this tricky subject. AutoCAD 2005 relies heavily on paper space layouts to maximize the Sheet Set Manager capabilities, so you'll want to be an expert in this topic.

If you didn't get a chance to read last month's column, click here. It's a nice refresher on some of the basics that will prepare you for this month's column. If you're already a paper space pro, I hope you'll find a tip or two to add to your repertoire.

Quick Overview
First, there are two different worlds in AutoCAD: the model world (model tab selected), and the paper space (layout) world (any of the layout tabs selected). When you're in the model world you can't see any paper space objects. You see only those objects created in the model world. There is only one model world (only one model tab), but you can create as many layouts as you like. Each layout represents a separate sheet of paper. You can view your model geometry while in a paper space layout, so technically two spaces can (and will) coexist within one layout. You can easily switch between the worlds by selecting the model and layout tabs located in the lower left corner of the drawing editor. In AutoCAD 2004 and AutoCAD 2005, you can also do this by using the and key combinations.

The model world uses a black background by default, and paper space layouts have a white background (think piece of paper). In the model world you draw everything 1 to 1, full scale. If you choose to pass on paper space and work only in model space, you need to scale down and up for your drawing to fit on the intended paper size. You also have to scale your title block and any annotations such as dimensions and text. In most cases, everything is supersized.

In paper space layouts, you scale the views of your model space geometry inside your viewports up or down to fit on the selected paper size. Here you place most of your annotations at their real size (no multiplication).

When in a paper space layout you can edit geometry created in the layout or in the model. In fact, you must be careful that the geometry you create lands in the correct space. Double-clicking inside a viewport lets you edit or create model space geometry, and double-clicking outside a viewport puts you back into paper space. To add to your confusion, some commands are available only in certain spaces.

Tip. When your crosshairs are set to 100, it's easy to tell whether you're in a model space viewport or in paper space.

Some of you still prefer the old MS and PS commands to jump inside a viewport. MS puts you in the last active viewport, and PS returns you to paper space. You can get the same result by selecting the model and paper button on the status bar. Did I lose you yet? Even my head is spinning. Now you're ready to tackle the next big subject: viewports.

Tip. Do you have difficulty getting inside a viewport that's embedded within another viewport? -R makes it easy to toggle through all of your viewports one at a time. This used to be assigned to -V, a more logical combination, but Windows snatched that for Paste.

Basic Mview Tools
You use the Mview command (make view, model view, meta view-take your pick) to create a viewport to display your model space geometry. These are our windows into the model space world. You can place viewports in a variety of positions-for example, next to each other, inside each other, and overlapping each other. Viewports can be just about any closed shape, as long as the edges don't intersect or cross each other.

There are two defaults in the Mview command. Pick two opposing corners to create a rectangular viewport, and press to create a viewport that extends to the edge of the paper margins (otherwise know as the Fit option). The latter creates a mighty big viewport that you usually must resize to accommodate a border and a title block. Let's take a look at the other options in detail.

In-depth Mview
When you start the Mview command you can specify a corner of a viewport or select On/Off, Fit, Shadeplot, Lock, Object, Polygonal, Restore, or 2/3/4.

When you choose On/Off and turn a viewport off, the contents become invisible but the boundary remains. If you notice a performance hit from too many viewports, turn a few off. You can't make a viewport active when it's off. The MAXACTVP system variable controls the maximum number of viewports you can have on at any given time, though you'll likely never need to change its default value of 64. For the record, MAXACTVP doesn't affect the number of viewports you can plot, but if a viewport is turned off, it won't be plotted.

Shade Plot
Shade plot (formerly Hideplot) provides several suboptions to help you with plotting viewports and a variety of other things. As Displayed means the viewport plots the way it's displayed. Wireframe means it will be plotted in wire frame regardless of its current display. Hidden removes hidden lines during plotting. With Rendered, the viewport is rendered during plotting.

Lock is a great way to prevent yourself from accidentally changing the scale factor with a misplaced pan or zoom. It locks the viewport. This option is also available from the right-click menu when you have a viewport selected.

Use Object to change a closed object, such as a circle, into a viewport.

Polygonal is an easy way to create an odd-shaped viewport. Just pretend you're in the Pline command and draw away. You can even switch over to arc segments to add some curves.

If you've saved a great viewport configuration in model world that you want to bring over to your layout, use Restore. Insert the name of the saved viewport and select the area you'd like the viewports to fill.

Choose 2/3/4 to set up multiple viewports at one time. The viewports display tiled, and AutoCAD asks you to select horizontal or vertical and where you want the odd-numbered viewport to be displayed.

The Maximize Viewport button makes it easy to edit model geometry without modifying the scale factor.
Final tip. AutoCAD 2005 added the awesome Maximize Viewport command. I don't know how we managed without it for so long! Located in the center of the Status Bar, this command maximizes the selected viewport. You can edit to your heart's content while preserving the original display and hence the scale factor. Zoom and pan with no worries! It even returns the background color to black so you really feel like you're in model space. Hit the button again (it now says Minimize Viewport) to return it to its original state. All of your edits are intact, and so is your scale factor!

Final, final tip. You get the same results as Maximize Viewport by double-clicking on the edge of the viewport.

This month we dove deeper into paper space viewports. Next month, we'll tackle the various scale factors that can really complicate your drawing lives! Until next month-Happy AutoCAD-ing!

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