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Put a Mask on that Symbol

Have you ever moved a block attribute (text) around to an area that is open and you have no lines or objects crossing the text? I bet some of you have even trimmed the area to the block or created a wipeout to mask out behind the text and/or the symbol. There is a solution. We want to take one of our standard symbols and create a new block. We are going to use a standard boring symbol location as shown below. Make sure this object is exploded as we are going to create a block.01-Symbol

Next we are going to create an attribute but this time we are going to check the box for multiline text as shown in Figure 1. Type ATTDEF at the command prompt and enter the data as shown below. Note: we are not going to click the annotative button for this example. Yes, you can do that but we need to start with the basic symbol to see how the mask works.

Figure 1: Attibute Definition Dialog Box

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Your geometry should look like what is shown in Figure 2. Double-click the attribute (text) and then click the ampersand (…) as shown.  You will now be taken to the text formatting editor.

Figure 2: Edit Attribute Definition

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Right-click on the attribute (text) and select background mask from the menu as shown in Figure 3.

Figure 3: Background Mask

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Apply a background mask and select Use drawing backgrond color as shown in Figure 4.  Of course you can select an alternate color if that is preferred.

Figure 4: Apply the Mask

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Almost done.  Complete the symbol by typing the block command to create your new block. Enter the name SB and select all of the objects on the screen and use the base point as the center of your symbol. Figure 5 illustrates how to name and add a description to the block.

Figure 5: Create the Block

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You have now created a block with a multiline text attribute that has a background mask as shown in Figure 6. Note: as with multi-line text you need to check the mtext width, the background mask will be applied to the entire width of the text (attribute). Adjust that accordingly in your design to produce an effective looking scenario. Remember, create a new symbol and check the annotative button for the same properties to be developed with an annotative block.

Figure 6: Test your new block

06-Final Block

Get the Data Out

I bet is safe to say at some point in time you were asked to extract coordinates from a symbol on a map. In the older releases of AutoCAD we would use the list command, ID, or even a lisp file to get the data we need. In AutoCAD 2014 you can use the data extraction wizard to extract all types of data from objects within your drawing file. Open up any drawing which contains objects or data you wish to extract. For our example we are going to use an existing map with 3 blocks representing monitoring wells placed at different locations and elevations as shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1: Base Map with Boring Locations

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On the Ribbon move over to the Insert tab then across to the Linking and ExtractionTable as shown in Figure 2.

Figure 2: Linking and Extraction

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After selecting the button the next steps will take us through the data extraction wizard. If you have not used this take the time to get to know how this works.  You can extracts all sorts of information from any object contained within your drawing file. Step 1 is to create the extraction.

Step 1: Create the Extraction File

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You will need to create the data extraction file (.dxe). Place this file in the project folder along with your drawing file or if preferred in a folder named data extraction as shown below.

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Now that we have our extraction file created we have to select the items which we need to collect information from. In Step 2 we can select the entire drawing and/or sheet set or select the button as shown to pick the objects.

Step 2: Define the Data Source

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After selecting the 3 monitoring wells (blocks) we are presented with Step 3 asking us what data do we want to extract from those 3 objects. At this point we want to uncheck everything except for our block as shown below.

Step 3: Select the Objects

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After selecting the data we need (monitoring well block) we then hit next.  Take a look at all the data we can extract as shown in Step 4. Select (on the right below) what we want to extract from our blocks. In this exercise we want the X,Y,Z and the attribute name (i.e. MW-01).  Take time to scroll down and look at all of the options available to extract.

 Step 4: Select the Properties

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Remaining on Step 4 we are going to uncheck everything in the Category filter (right below) except for the geomoety and the attribute. We need the coordinates as well as the name of our well.

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Now that we have defined what we need we hit next and you will be presented with Step 5 to refine the Data. Notice how you have a table with all of the items you have selected and defined within your drawing file.  At this Step you can remove the Count and Name columns by unchecking those as shown below.

Step 5: Refine the Data

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We are almost done. Step 6 gives us the option of putting the data in a table on the existing drawing or outputting to several formats including Excel and Access. You can have both checked as I have and AutoCAD will write the data file and also place the table within your drawing.  Step 6 shows us the dialog box that pops up asking the user if we want to write the data to a file.

Step 6: Choose your Output

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The file has been saved to our folder and table style dialog box pops up. If you extract data frequently you could setup a table style to assign to this task each time you get coordinates for wells. For this example we are just going to choose the standard table style.

Step 7: The Table Style

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Almost done, Step 8 has us select the finish button and then we will be asked where to place the table within our drawing file.

Step 8: Finish the job

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The last image is our original base map with table as inserted next to our monitoring wells.

Figure 3: The Final Output

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This wizard or tool is extremely powerful and useful with AutoCAD.  Many people are not aware that you can extract data from objects and rely on third party software or apps to get the job done. Use the tools you have to be more efficient and producive and you will be recognized as that go to person in your office.

Copyright and Trademark Symbols

AutoCAD has the ability to create exponential text values with Mtext using the carat (^) character. Simply add before or after the text you wish to stack and highlight and right-click. What about special characters including registration, trademark and copyright as shown in Figure 1?

Figure 1: Special Characters

01-Trademarks

 Last week I came across a drawing file that used Trademark and the Copyright symbol within mtext. The problem was the user created two separate pieces of text instead of taking advantage of AutoCAD’s special characters and stacked text function. Let’s take a look at how this can be done. Figure 2 shows the Autodesk name with the registered trademark symbols next to it in one piece of text.

Figure 2: AutoCAD Mtext Object

02-AutoCAD Registered

Let’s type Mtext and add the word AutoCAD as shown in Figure 2 above. When you are at the end of the last letter perform a right-click to bring up the shortcut menu as shown in Figure3 below.  Select Symbol – Other – as shown.

Figure 3: Right-click menu

02-Righclick-Symbol

The next image you are going to see is the special character map (Figure 4) which will give you the ability to visually see and insert those special characters into your piece of text. We are now going to follow 5 simple steps to get what we need.

  1. Find the symbol you are looking for (Registered Trademark).
  2. Select the Symbol.
  3. Copy the Symbol.
  4. Get out of the Character Map
  5. Paste the character into your text string

Figure 4: Special Characters Map

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 Figure 5: Paste into the Mtext object 

03-Paste in   

 

All looks good as shown in Figure 6. We have our symbol in there but we still need to superscript that symbol placing it just to the top of the text. Using the Multiline text editor add and the carat (shift+6) just following the special character as shown below.

Figure 6: Symbol add – Place carat

06-AutoCAD Reg

Next, left click, drag, and highlight the registered trademark symbol and the carat, then right-click to view the shortcut menu as shown in Figure 7. From the shortcut menu select STACK. This will stack the symbol just above the AutoCAD piece of text.  You can do the same for superscript just place the carat in front of the symbol and follow the same procedure.

Figure 7: Stack menu

07-Stack Menu

To have additional control over the stacking features, simply select the stacked text and right-click again. From the shortcut menu and select Properties. TheStack Properties window will appear as shown in Figure 8. You can now control the appearance as well as the position of your stacked special character.

Figure 8: Stack Properties dialog box

87-Stack Properties

Keep those Mtext Objects together by using special characters, take a look at all of the symbols in the character map. You may be surprised at what you find. This stacking technique does not work with text created by the commands TEXT, DTEXT or RTEXT, just MTEXT.

Note: As a reminder for those Microsoft word users you can add special characters in word by using the following keyboard shortcuts.

In Microsoft Word the following keyboard shortcuts will insert special characters:

Copyright Symbol: Alt + Ctrl + C

 Trademark Symbol: Alt + Ctrl + T

 Registered Trademark Symbol: Alt + Ctrl + R

 If Autocorrect is turned on (which it is by default), you can enter the following text and Word will automatically convert it to the desired symbol:

 Copyright Symbol: (c)

 Trademark Symbol: ™

 Registered Trademark Symbol: (r)

 

2013 in review for CADProtips

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 4,500 times in 2013. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 4 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

My Rows, My Columns, My Table

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

Table-cell-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

Table-cell-prop

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.

AUGIWorld – Power of Properties (2013-0906)

AUGIWorld is the official magazine of Autodesk User Group International (AUGI). Published every month, it is distributed to AUGI members around the world. Join AUGI and become the newest member of the most active Autodesk related community on the planet.

www.augiworld.com

 

Oh No, I Can’t Double-Click Edit!

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

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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

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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

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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

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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.

Where are my Tool Palettes?

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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

AU13-Speaker-275x250

Delete Stubborn Layers

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.

01-layerdel

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.

02-layerdel

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.

Can you Convert this file?

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.

Trueview-1

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.

Trueview-2

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.

Trueview-3

Remember, it’s always good practice to backup your files prior to doing any converting.

The Command Alias Editor

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.

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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.

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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.

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Have a Happy and Safe Memorial Day weekend!

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