Hot Tip Harry: Tips from Our Readers – May 2005

14 May, 2005 By: Bill Kramer Cadalyst

Tips for hatch patterns and text shadow boxes, plus a spell checker and a drawing stamp manager

Download code for this and all articles. Look for MAY05.exe in Get the Code. Downloads are free and are provided "as is" without warranty or support.

Tips are tested with AutoCAD 2005, 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.

All published tips are entered into the annual Hot Tip Harry Contest. From a pool of reader-selected monthly winners, our judges will pick the Top Tip for 2005. The first prize is $1,000. Second place wins $500 and third place, $250. E-mail those tips and tricks to

Ah, spring. Harry turned in an art show (figure 1) this time along with some tasty text tools for May. During those long, hard winter months, two fellow readers warmed themselves by creating some new hatch patterns. AutoCAD customization has included the hatch pattern system since the earliest days, and in fact I recall an early Hot Tip Harry challenge for a hatch pattern editor. Have you created a tool for creating, and more important, making edits to a hatch pattern definition? If so, please send it as a tip submission!

Hatch Madness
Hatch pattern, SNOW1.PAT, (Tip #2029) from Mike Venner is a very complex hatch pattern that required a lot of time and patience to create (figure 1). Thanks for sharing it with us. Glass or Mirror Pattern (Tip #2030), from Kevin Kinchen is useful for drawing windows and decorations. Copy them into a folder known by AutoCAD such as the main Support folder.

Figure 1. Snowflakes under glass.

Start the Bhatch command by typing Bhatch at the Command prompt to show the dialog box (figure 2).

Figure 2. The Bhatch command dialog box.

From this dialog box, select the Pattern "?" button to display the dialog box (figure 3). Pick the Custom tab.

Figure 3. The Bhatch custom pattern selection dialog box.

If you copied the PAT files in the custom pattern folder for AutoCAD, a list of files appear in the left list box. Pick one to show a preview of the pattern in the right window of the dialog box.

Custom hatch patterns are a challenge to create by hand, and Harry tips his hat to these great examples.

Manipulate Text
Next on the tips list are some utilities for manipulating text objects. Did you notice the shadow boxes around the title of Harry's artwork? Jeffery Sanders' Text Shadow Box (Tip #2031) provides the highlighting. Jeffery's version of the text shadow box includes a dialog box that lets you set the thickness and direction of the shadow (figure 4).

Figure 4. Text Shadow Box dialog box.

Copy the two files SBOX.LSP and SBOX.DCL from the download file to a folder in AutoCAD's search path. Load the AutoLISP code in SBOX.LSP and type SBOX at the Command line to display the dialog box. This nice utility spruces up your artwork, as in figure 4.

Andrzej Gumala has dropped a couple of cool tools into Harry's tip box over the past few months, and this one is no slacker. With Spell Check (Tip #2032) each string in a drawing is subjected to the spelling checker in Microsoft Word by exploiting the Active X programming element of Word. Visual LISP is cracks into object library of Word by exposing the various layers of objects to symbols until finally a temporary document is created to house the text from the drawing. The drawing text passes into Word and then the Spell Check is invoked. After the spell check is done, the text is extracted out of Word and placed back into the original objects. This tip includes some heavy programming, and is a great example for those who would like to control other Microsoft applications using Visual LISP. Thanks again, Andrzej!

Stamp Manager
The last tip of the month, Drawing Stamp Manager (Tip #2033), comes from Jason Rangel. As drawings are plotted and sent around for review, they are normally stamped with a title block indicating the status of the drawing in the project lifecycle. Jason automated the stamp creation and editing process for his company, and he shared his approach with us. This set of files is rather extensive, and they must be placed in a folder named C:\STA for it to operate properly. The LSP and DCL file should be located in the AutoCAD search path, however, the slides and drawings must go in to C:\STA. Load the LSP file and then select the stamp desired. You can modify the functions in the LSP file to use an alternative folder other than just C:\STA. This example shows how you can use drawings and slides in dialog boxes as well as how to simplify your work when it comes to drawing management.

Harry is always looking for tips and tricks. Send yours in today!

About the Author: Bill Kramer

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