Tips & Tools Weekly (Vol. 13, No. 13)6 Apr, 2008
This Week's Software Tips
Flip Dimension Text
"To run this, simply drag the FDT.LSP file into the AutoCAD drawing window to load it. Then type FDT on the Command line. (I have this utility set up with Autoload on demand from a custom toolbar for easy access.)"
NOTES FROM CADALYST TIP PATROL: Very slick! Be sure to follow the instruction to drag and drop the code file it into the drawing window, because we couldn't get Appload to run it. We adapted this to automatically flip the text when we pick a dimension, with further picks flipping the dimension back and forth. That's because we may need to only flip odd dimensions and would rather see the dynamic effect on each one as we go rather than selecting a set of dimensions to operate on.
Note that when you cut and paste between drawings with rotated UCSs, you may get dimensions being read from the left instead of the right, and adapting this via the properties of the dimension is nearly impossible.
Plot Styles Toggle
NOTES FROM CADALYST TIP PATROL: This is another winner. For those who have plot styles turned on in their displays, this is a huge time saver.
Copy/Paste as Block
NOTES FROM CADALYST TIP PATROL: We must use this one a dozen times a day -- one of our favorites! These shortcuts and others can be found under the Edit menu. The keyboard shortcuts display next to the commands on the menu itself.
Tip Patrol member Kevin Sawyer shared his COPYPASTE.LSP routine, which lets you select objects to copy in World Coordinate System (WCS) regardless of your current UCS and is followed by the Pasteorigin command to paste to the original world coordinates, again regardless of your current UCS. He uses it all the time between various floor plans to copy all sorts of entities from one level to another.
"Well, maybe not the X/Y/Z part; they will usually fail once the Paste is finished. If you try to skew the objects, they tantalizingly drag into the display correctly, but then revert back to original aspect ratio once they are inserted. Use Paste as Block if you need skewed X/Y/Z scales.
"Copy/Paste has some interesting bonus abilities. If you copy a viewport using the core Copy command and then use the core Scale command to change the viewport size, the viewport display scale stays where it was originally. But if you scale the viewport during a Paste operation, the viewport display scale will be adjusted by the new scaling factor. Note that you must use the Mview command to turn on viewports copied via the clipboard.
"It has probably been mentioned before, but worth repeating: The clipboard memory is unaffected by many AutoCAD commands (such as Undo or creating new selection sets). Entities can be copied into the clipboard for later retrieval. Just don't forget they are there if you are multitasking! Imagine finishing something complicated that you wouldn't want to do over, but you discover that earlier something else was done horribly wrong. A multiple Undo action would help resolve the old error(s), but you'll lose the new good stuff. Just copy the new good stuff to the clipboard, and run Undo as far back as needed. Undo does not affect clipboard memory, so those objects are still available to paste back in once you get that bad stuff out of your drawing."
NOTES FROM CADALYST TIP PATROL: Useful tips! Everyone will need this at some stage, although if you're not confident that your new work will stay on the clipboard successfully, then just save your work to a temporary file using .SAVE (dot save) before undoing you work. Don't use Save As because this changes the current drawing to your temporary name without saving your previous file.
Layout Viewports Handler
Read VPHANDLEEN-README.DOC for complete information about installing and running the utility. ViewportHandle is shareware, but runs fully with no limitations.
NOTES FROM CADALYST TIP PATROL: This tip is a very complete package. It may need to be adapted to each user's office standards regarding viewport layer, colors, etc. Very well thought out!
NOTES FROM CADALYST TIP PATROL: Good tip! Add to that the Windows Character Map (accessed through the Mtext Editor), and users will have a vast array of characters at their disposal. In the Mtext Editor, right-click and then select Symbols / Other to access this feature.
Note: These follow-up tips have not been tested by the Cadalyst Tip Patrol.
Follow-Up: Isolate and Unisolate Layers
"The ^C^C is to clear all previous commands so this command is not transparent. Similarly, you can make a new command and button to thaw all layers:
Follow-Up: Middle of Two Points
Regarding the same tip, Cadalyst Tip Patrol member Mitch Hirschklau added some interesting perspective.
"Back in 2006, I had occasion to discuss the Middle-2-Points in an AutoCAD/DRCAuto user's forum. One of the reasons that a lot of users don't use the new (well, new in 2006-LT, etc.) Middle-2-Points command modifier much (or for that matter, the older From and Tracking command modifiers) might be because too many people keep casually referring to them as object snaps!
"What is the difference between a command modifier and an object snap mode? An object snap mode refers to a geometric or other "fixed" feature. A line has only two endpoints. A line or an arc has only one midpoint. A circle and an arc can have only one center point. Text, mtext, and blocks can have only one insertion point. And two lines, or arcs, or graphic entities can have only one intersection, apparent-intersection, and so forth. Even for a given line and arc, there can be only one tangent. That's why they can be made into running osnaps. Although some calculation is involved (as in quadrant-of, nearest-to, apparent-intersection-of, and tangent-to), these calculations are limited and relatively simple.
"Command modifiers, however, require AutoCAD (or AutoCAD-LT) to make separate and unique calculations based on changing conditions! The Middle-2-Points command modifier, for example, requires two user inputs -- and the user inputs themselves can be, let's say, apparent-intersection-of for one and tangent-to for another. By their very usage, they cannot be object snap modes; the calculation does not relate to any preset or predefined quality of the entities to be selected.
"That's probably why they're not on the Osnap or Dsettings pop-up menus or in AutoCAD Help under Osnap. Of course, confusingly enough and in typical Autodesk fashion, they are in the Osnap toolbar!"
Follow-Up: Snapang Command
Follow-Up: Block Count
BLCOUNT.LSP is my attempt at a better version. It counts all blocks in the drawing, including dynamic blocks. It prompts the user to select a single block or the entire drawing. If a single block is selected, only the instances of that block are counted. "The user is then given the choice of outputting a list similar to that of the BCOUNT command, or to output a detailed description of all the inserted blocks. The detailed description lists block name, anonymous name, insertion point, if the block has attributes, if the block is visible, the layer name, the space the block is inserted to and the layout name if the space is paper space.
"If you select a detailed list, you're given the choice to print the list to the text screen or to print it to a comma-delimited text file. If the drawing contains a large number of inserted blocks, the text screen buffer may be too small to list all. The text file can easily be imported in a spreadsheet program.
"I have written the LSP file in AutoCAD 2008, but I can't see any reason it shouldn't work in earlier releases (or later). I used the file Blocks and tables -METRIC.DWG in the Sample directory of the AutoCAD installation along with some other files for testing. I hope some will find this command useful!"
BCOUNT list from Blocks and tables -METRIC.DWG:
BLCOUNT list from the same drawing:
MicroStation Tip: Dragging and Dropping Reference Files
Today's MicroStation tip courtesy of Axiom and MicroStationTips.com.
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Physical Landscape Models Made to Order
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Deals & Freebies
Free AEC Batch Editing Software
Free Architectural Software Download
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Opportunities & Honors
VectorWorks Users Win AIA 2008 Housing Awards
ADEPT Airmotive Named Autodesk Inventor of the Month
Bass, Yares, and Riddle Win CAD Society Awards
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Books & Training
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The Week's New CAD and Related Products
General Software: Mathematica Player Pro
General Software: EnSuite v2
General Software: ABViewer v6.3
AEC: TurboCAD Deluxe v15
AEC: CADWorx Design Review 2008
AEC: AecBatchStylesEditor 2008
AEC: RAM Structural System v11.3
MCAD: QuadriSpace v2008
CAE: ANSYS Engineering Knowledge Manager (EKM)
CAM: progeCAM CNC 2008
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Mark Your Calendar
Webcasts: Synergis Training for CAD Professionals
International DFMA Forum
For a complete list of CAD meetings, conferences, training sessions, and more, check out our calendar of events on Cadalyst.com.
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