With a follow up to my pickfirst example I wanted to show another quick tip which can clean up those tables on current projects. A table is a compound object that contains data in rows and columns just like Microsoft Excel. Similar to excel you can set the rows and columns to the same height and also put an indent in there for your page sheets on the project. Figure 1 shows a table where we use the properties dialog palette to ensure that we have consistent sizes for the rows and a good indent for the drawing sheet list. Item 1 shows an indent of .18 and Item 2 shows a consistent row height of .3. How do we make sure those values are the same in the entire table?
Figure 1: Title Sheet Table
Select all of your cells in the table using a window or crossing (just like excel) and hit ctrl+1 or bring up the properties palette as shown in Figure 2. Here on the palette you can change a number of items within the table. With the properties palette you can change the alignment of text, add a background fill, and even change the lineweight of the table cells. These are only a few of the many options available.
Figure 2: The Properties Palette
Make your edits as shown in the properties box and your table will change and be ready for final review. I also have attached The Power of Properties article I wrote in the AUGIWorld September issue. I keep the properties palette open all of the time on my second monitor, you might be surprised at some of the items you can control and or change with that simple palette.
That’s all for me until Autodesk University 2013! As I said in the article I look forward to meeting new friends and collegues during the most wonderful time of the year.
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Over the past few weeks I have been working in Civil 3D on a large design using the sheet set manager to populate data on the sheets and in the table. If you are not using the sheet set manager in AutoCAD or Civil 3D please give it a try, you might be surprised at how efficient you will become. When I went to edit the table (shown below in Figure 1 ) I could not double-click to edit the field or change the text. What happened?
Figure 1: Double-click text editing
Somehow my PICKFIRST variable changed. The PICKFIRST variable allows you to select objects, then start a command and apply to those objects. If PICKFIRST is off (set to 0), you have to start the command first then pick the object. Setting PICKFIRST to 1 or enabling it gets you back to the behavior where you can select the object then launch the command (double-click). Below is a snapshot from AutoCAD help.
Figure 2: AutoCAD help
How do we change this? You can simply type PICKFIRST at the command prompt and change the value on that line as shown in Figure 3.
Figure 3: Command Line Entry
You can also bring up the options dialog box. There are several ways to accomplish this. You can type options at the command prompt or simply right click in the command area to name two. Navigate to the section modes section and check the Noun/verb selection as shown in Figure 4.
Figure 4: Options Dialog Box
Now when you double-click on objects that have specific editing tools you will be able to perform the functions necessary to complete the task.
Have you ever changed the tool palette path and wondered where did all my default palettes go? Sometimes those locations can be tricky when trying to find the default location. We put the path in a text file, a note on the desktop, or maybe a macro to bring it back. There is a much easier way. Type Options, Config, or right click in the command area and select options to bring up the Options dialog box as shown.
Navigate to the tool palette file locations section and expand the + then delete the path that is shown in there. Next, when you hit apply AutoCAD will bring up the following dialog box indicating that the default tool palette directory will be used.
Simply hit OK then Apply and your tool palettes will be restored. A simple tip on how to get those palettes back to the default setting as shown below.
Don’t forget to register for Autodesk University 2013! Registration begins in 10 days, September 12, 2013. Join me for Mighty Macros: Powerful Commands to Pump up Productivity on Thursday 12-5 at 2:30. My goal is always to provide you with some useful knowledge that you can take back to your employer to help you excel within your field and become more productive with AutoCAD. See you in Vegas!
I am sure all of us have been in the situation where we could not delete a layer. For some reason AutoCAD will not remove the layer when running the purge command. This is where we take a look at the layer delete command. The LAYDEL command has been part of the express tools since AutoCAD 2010. Type LAYDEL at the command prompt.
Remember to always look at the command line. Since AutoCAD 2013 there have been some significant improvements to the command line. Select Name as shown above or type N and hit Enter. AutoCAD will bring up a list of layers to chose from. Simply select the layer you wish to have deleted then hit OK.
Tip: You can use windows selection methods. Hold down the CTRL key to add more layers or the SHIFT+CTRL key to add a selection of layers (select one, hold down shift, then select another on the list).
Remember! If you have objects on that layer they will be removed along with the layer. It is always good practice to run the Layer walk command prior to deleting any layers. You can find the layer walk command on the ribbon in the layer panel.
As a CAD Designer/Manager (the older guy in the office) I frequently get the request saying “Sam, can you convert this drawing I don’t have AutoCAD 2014”. My answer is simple, “Sure, I can do that but I have to ask have you ever tried DWG TrueView?” They usually seemed puzzled as DWG Trueview has been labeled as a drawing viewer for .DWG files.
A few years ago some of us remember Autodesk had a separate program named DWG True Convert. The purpose of that was to simply convert .dwg files between different formats. Since Trueview 2010 Autodesk has included DWG Convert within DWG Trueview. With AutoCAD 2014 DWG convert can be found on the quick access toolbar or on the Home tab of the Ribbon as shown.
Converting a file can be completed in 3 simple steps. 1. Add your file (you can add more than one) to the DWG convert window. 2. Select the format you would like the files to be converted to. 3. Hit the convert button. Like magic! Your files have been converted to the new format.
Remember, it’s always good practice to backup your files prior to doing any converting.
As much as I like the Ribbon I still find myself creating command aliases so I can access those longer commands just a little quicker. How about changing your favorite commands to 2 letters so they can be launched from the keyboard and you can still move your mouse around. I am right-handed therefore I enter keyboard aliases with my left hand and move the mouse with my right. Here is how you do that.
Type ALIASEDIT at the command prompt or select from the express tools tab on Ribbon as shown.
After selected AutoCAD will bring up the acad.pgp editor (shown below). Us veteran users can remember editing this file in notepad or word but since 2009 we can edit the file in a dialog box making it much easier to manage the data.
We are going to change the long MEASUREGEOM command to MG. Type in your two letter shortcut, select the command from the list, and save your settings. AutoCAD will save the file and you will now be able to use that command each and every time you load AutoCAD.
Have a Happy and Safe Memorial Day weekend!
No one likes to pick up a drawing and find out that everything has been drawn on layer 0. You could just match properties or select from the layer pull down but that may not get everything you need. Objects’ properties within blocks will not be changed. That is where the SETBYLAYER command comes in handy. The SETBYLAYER command changes property overrides for color, linetype, lineweight, material, plot style, and transparency to ByLayer for selected objects and inserted blocks on unlocked layers
Simply select from the application browser under the Home tab, modify panel (as shown below) or type SETBYLAYER at the command prompt. Select the object(s) you would like changed and hit Enter.
This command also has settings options where you can control what properties you would like changed.
After launching the command type S (or select) at the command prompt and the following dialog box will pop up.
This box will control the setting of the SETBYLAYER command. Give it a try today!
Additional Layer Notes:
By creating layers, you can associate similar types of objects by assigning them to the same layer. Layers can control the following:
- Whether objects on a layer are visible or dimmed in any viewports
- Whether and how objects are plotted
- What color is assigned to all objects on a layer
- What default linetype and lineweight are assigned to all objects on a layer
- Whether objects on a layer can be modified
- Whether objects display with different layer properties in individual layout viewports
A quick tip on how to use the fillet command to close corners or trim and extend an object creating a 90 degree angle. Yes, you can simply set your fillet radius to 0 and select two lines but what if we did not want to change our radius. Let’s say we want to keep our radius set to a standard value. This is where we can use the SHIFT key to help out.
Draw crossing lines as shown below (top left of image). Type fillet then hold down your shift key and select lines 1 and 2. AutoCAD will close the corner and you will have a 90 degree angle. Another tip would be if you would like to create an arc between two parallel lines. Simply type fillet and select the lines 3 and 4 as shown below. AutoCAD will create an arc between the two lines as shown.
These are two simple tips on how to use the fillet command more efficiently while working in AutoCAD.
Viewing layers within a pdf file can be extremely useful to managers and clients who do not have access AutoCAD or a viewing program. Sometimes a client may have a specific request to view the layers of the drawing giving them the ability to manipulate the file. Drawings that use the DWG to PDF driver (from Autodesk) have the ability to turn on the layer control by following these three steps.
There are several ways to do this but the easiest would be to just type PLOT at the command prompt.
- Set your plotter to the DWG to PDF.pc3 file as shown below, then select properties.
- Highlight custom properties on the files tab and select the Custom Properties button.
- After selecting the Custom Properties button the following dialogue box will appear. By default the include layer information is checked. Simply uncheck that box and hit ok. The settings will be saved to the printer driver and you are ready to go.
That’s it! Simply open your drawing in Adobe or another PDF reader and you will notice you have full control over your layers.
With SHELL, you can execute operating system (OS) commands while remaining in AutoCAD. Type SHELL at the command prompt and AutoCAD will prompt you for an OS command. When the command has been executed, SHELL launches the program in a new window. For example you can type Explorer (to launch windows explorer) or Notepad (to launch Notepad).
Although shell commands can be helpful I found it even better to add a little lisp to the equation. Typing Explorer at the command prompt brings you to a default directory on your local drive. What I would like to do is type explorer and look at my project folder where my current drawings are located. This can be very helpful when trying to manage project data.
This handy little lisp routine (shown below) will bring up explorer to the current project directory you are in.
(defun c:expl ()
(startapp “explorer” (strcat “/n,/e,” (getvar “dwgprefix”)))
Copy or paste the code into notepad (or any text editor) and name it expl.lsp. Next type appload at the command prompt and place that lisp file in your startup suite (see image below). Of course you do not have to do that but it’s nice to have that command available at all times.
After you type expl you will be taken out to the current folder where your drawing is located. For this example I have been taken out to the folder my projects where my drawing named My Project.dwg is located.
This is a great tool for managing project files and folders. Let’s take this one step further. Have you ever wanted to go directly to the folder that contains your backup (.bak) files? Maybe after a crash or a change you need to go back. Using the same code simply change a variable to the autosave setting (savefilepath variable) as shown. We will name this one exps.lsp
(defun c:exps ()
(startapp “explorer” (strcat “/n,/e,” (getvar “savefilepath”)))
This command will take you out to the folder where you backup files are located. This folder location is stored in the options menu as shown.
You now have quick access to you project folders and you backup files. Put both in your startup suite and you will be much more efficient when working with project folders and backup files.