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Show or Hide Viewport Controls in AutoCAD

Someone asked me “Sam, How do you turn off those text notes on the top left of my model space?” I thought yes you can do that but let’s first explain what these controls are and show you what those controls do.  Note: The images are linked to knowledge network articles on the subject matter.

Viewport controls were first introduced back in AutoCAD 2012. These controls let you add viewports and control the visual display of your model very quickly. The controls are placed on the top left corner of the viewport. When you select each element on the controls a fly out menu will show up with various options for you to view your model quickly.

I am a Civil 3D designer which makes these controls essential when I am looking at my surface and changing views. To control the visibility type VPCONTROL at the command prompt and set the system variable to 1 or 0. You could put a macro on your tool palette to toggle the the system variable on and off. Simply create the button and paste this code (shown below) into the macro section and you will now have a button to toggle the variable on and off.

^C^C$M=$(if,$(=,$(getvar,vpcontrol),1),vpcontrol;0;;,vpcontrol;1;;)

To control the visibility in the options dialog box type options at the command prompt and switch to the 3D modeling tab and check/uncheck the “Display the Viewport Controls check box” as shown below. Click on the image for additional information about this tab.

To change the color of this go to the options tab and select display and find the viewport controls color on the menu as shown in the video.

That’s it.  These controls are great to have available; make sure you check them out while you are working in AutoCAD and Civil 3D or another vertical product.

I am excited to present at Midwest University this coming week. I have been preparing on my weekends and am ready to present Plan and Production in Civil 3D. Look for me to post tips and tricks on how to use this important tool and become more efficient in Civil 3D.

That’s me getting ready to present my class!

Have a great weekend wherever in the World you may be.

Sam

 

 

AutoCAD Layers in a PDF file

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.

Layers in PDF-1

You can follow the same procedure using the additional Autodesk Supplied .pc3 files.

Highlight custom properties on the files tab and select the Custom Properties button.

Layers in PDF-2

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.

Layers in PDF-3

That’s it! Simply open your drawing in Adobe or another PDF reader and you will notice you have full control over your layers.

Be My AutoCAD Valentine

What is Valentines Day?

Well, I looked it up like everyone else does on Wikipedia and this is the definition.

Valentine’s Day, also called Saint Valentine’s Day is celebrated annually on February 14. Originating as a Western Christian feast day honoring one or more early saints named Valentinus, Valentine’s Day is recognized as a significant cultural, religious, and commercial celebration of romance in many regions around the world, although it is not a public holiday in any country.

Those of you who know me remember “Linesanity”. It was my class at Autodesk University 2012 and we discussed linetypes in AutoCAD.

This post focuses on how to create a custom linetype for that special person in your life or just to show you how to incorporate already defined shapes via the webdings font into your custom linetype.

Check out my video on how to create a Heart Linetype in AutoCAD for your favorite Valentine!

This older video will help you define your linetypes using fonts.

Have a great February everyone!  Until next month or at Midwest University 2018 in March. Check out my class Getting Productive with Plan and Production in Civil 3D.

Sam

 

Fields to Calculate Areas in AutoCAD – Part 2

It’s a cold  Saturday morning in Michigan. As I am sitting here drinking my coffee I wanted to respond to a question on a post I wrote about using fields in AutoCAD. It was one of those moments where I thought…..hmmm yeah you can do that with AutoCAD fields.

Part 1 below is my original post about using fields to calculate an area and add to a label. A direct question came to me about saying “Sam, it would be nice if you could have a field to add up areas of several objects.” The answer is yes, you can with a table or a mathematical formula right in the field. Move to part 2 for the explanation and a video explaining both processes. I am going to focus on the portion without the table then show you a quick demonstration on how to add the areas in a table.

Figure 1: Total Area in a field (left image) and total area in a table (right image).

Part 1

I am sure we have all had to calculate an area of a pond, footprint, or some other irregular shape in AutoCAD. What about those times when we need to convert to acres, simple – right? We just get out our calculator or use the onscreen calculator and do the math. Let’s let AutoCAD do that for us. We are now going to locate or create a closed object or polyline in a drawing and place a leader with mtext on an object and use a field to label the area (in acres) of the object. Let’s first drawing an irregular shape on our drawing. Next type the mleader command and place a leader pointing to the object as shown in Figure 2.

Figure 2: Object – Mtext – Label

Area-01

Notice how we do not have anything after the “=” sign for the area. Right click and highlight (red box) where you want the number to be in your mtext and select insert field as shown in Figure 3.

Figure 3: Right click-Insert Field

Area-02

You now need to change the field category to Objects (1) and then hit the Object type button (2) and you will be sent back to out to the AutoCAD screen to select the object.

Figure 4: Select the Object

area-03

 

Select the outer bold line (boundary) in your drawing. The field selection window will pop up. Select Area then Decimal. But wait, we want acres and this is in standard units 1-1 which would be square feet. We are assuming that the coordinate system is setup to decimal units or 1-1. Therefore the value displayed in the field will be in square feet and not acres. We just need to additional format to the field. Checking the coordinate system is very important for any type of calculation. Make sure you are in the correct coordinate system and your drawing units are correct.

Figure 5: Field selections

Area-07

Select the additional format button as shown above in Figure 5 above and  another dialog box will pop up and you can add some custom formatting.  We need to convert the value to Acres and we also would like to add a suffix as shown in Figure 5 .

  • Step 1 you are going to divide the value by 43,560 which is how many square feet are in an acre.
  • Step 2 you will add a Suffix, in this case we are adding the word ACRES.

Figure 6: Additional Format

Area-05
You now have linked a field with additional format to an object in AutoCAD. If you revise the boundary the field will automatically update with the new area shown in Acres. If you break the link between the object and the field, simply right click and reselect the object following the steps above. Your final output should look just like Figure 6 below. Don’t forget to change the precision to your desired output, you can change this in the additional format window as shown in Figure 6.

Figure 7: Area Calculation Shown

Area-06

Part 2

We have our areas again just like in Part 1.  Except in this example we have 3 separate areas that we would like to calculate the square footage individually and also add it to a field which will update if any one of the 3 areas updates. Simply follow the steps in part one selecting each object (in this case the polyline) and adding some additional format as shown in Figures 1 and 2 below.

Figure 1: Object – Polyline – Preview

At this time we do not want to add any additional format until we get to the last field added.

Step 1: Select the object or outline of the pond. It must be a closed polyline-then make sure the object type is area as shown.

Step 2: Change the units to decimal with the precision of 0.0.

Step 3: Drag your mouse and copy the field selection

Step 4: Go to the formula and paste in the number and add a + after it.

Figure 2: Adding all 3 formulas to one Field in a Formula

After completing the first one then go back to the object tab and get the area for the second object. Your final Formula section should look like what is shown below.

Once you get all 3 in there go to the additional format section again and add your custom prefix and suffix as shown.

Figure 3: Add those areas including additional format

You now have a field based off 3 objects that will add up if the geometry of those objects change. The following video will go through all the steps on how to have these areas calculated automatically.

This year I am speaking at Midwest University and my class is Getting Productive with Plan and Production in Civil 3D. This is such a cool topic and I am looking forward to presenting. At Haley & Aldrich we have had some projects over the past year that included very long alignments and roads. The plan and production tools worked great and we were able to streamline the process of setting up our sheets.

That’s all for now, you all have a great rest of your weekend wherever in the World you may be.

Until next month……Sam

 

 

Custom Arrowhead Styles in AutoCAD

When I was teaching a class at Autodesk University 2016 someone asked me a question and started the question by saying “Sam, we have some very creative users”. I laughed and still think of that moment since it was a clever way as a CAD manager to describe a person who just loves customizing AutoCAD and trying out new features.

Now that being said, it is great to be creative and have passion but please stay within the boundaries of your CAD standards. I am sure many CAD managers like myself welcome the opportunity for others to share what they know to appease their creative site and keep things interesting. This post is all about being creative. I actually had to create a custom arrow head for a dimension on a project and incorporated into our company standards.

Let’s first discuss the 19 arrowheads that are available for leaders, multileaders, and dimensions. These blocks will be added to your drawing when you launch a dimension command, leader, or multileader command. You can modify these blocks to custom arrows to align with your business needs.

The following video will show you how to create new arrow styles in AutoCAD. I start out with the blocks already provided and go through steps on how to create new styles.

This second video I created for fun. It’s hunting season in Michigan and I have this unique photo of an arrow head (thanks James!). I wanted to show you how to take an image, import into AutoCAD, and create a custom arrow style based off the object in the picture.

That’s all for this month – time to go finish up decorating the house for Christmas.

I will post after the holidays about Autodesk University 2017 – It was another great year of collaborating with design professionals from all over the world. I saw some old friends and met some new ones. I am very thankful for having the opportunity to be a part of such a wonderful event.

Sam

Multiline Text and System Variables in AutoCAD

For this post I wanted to share some tricks that I use when using Mtext in AutoCAD. There are a few system variables that I use frequently and have come up in my workflow over the past several weeks.

Do you miss that toolbar that was shown above MTEXT in a previous version of AutoCAD? You can get that back with the MTEXTTOOLBAR system variable. The MTEXTTOOLBAR (shown below) system variable controls the display of the Text Formatting toolbar. I like to have this set to 1 which will display the toolbar directly above your mtext for quick formatting.

The settings for the MTEXTTOOLBAR are as follows:

0:  The Text Formatting toolbar is never displayed. The contextual Ribbon (shown below) will show up no matter what setting you use for this variable.

1:    The Text Formatting toolbar is displayed upon selection of an MTEXT object.

2:   The Text Formatting toolbar does not display when the ribbon is on.

Next up is how we edit and view text when double clicking the mtext object. Have you ever double clicked an MTEXT object and the text appear very large or off the screen?  Well, this is where the MTEXTFIXED variable comes in handy.  The MTEXTFIXED system variable sets the display size and orientation of multiline text in a specified text editor.

0 or 1: Displays the In-Place Text Editor and the text within it at the size, position, and rotation of the multiline text object in the drawing.

2: Displays the In-Place Text Editor and the text within it at the size, position, and rotation of the multiline text object in the drawing. Text that would otherwise be difficult to read (if it is very small, very large, or is rotated) is displayed at a legible size and is oriented horizontally so that you can easily read and edit it.

The last one is just a little fun. Do you want your text to default to your name or something else you think sounds cool? The MTJIGSTRING system variable sets the content of the sample text displayed at the cursor location when the MTEXT command is started.

Type MTJIGSTRING at the command prompt and enter your desired text. For this example I used CADproTips.

The next time you launch the Mtext command the text string is displayed in the current text size and font. You can enter any string of up to ten letters or numbers or enter a period (.) to display no sample text.

Those are just a few system variables to help you control how you use and work with Multiline text in AutoCAD. The following video will show you how to go through the steps in editing these system variables.

Less than one month away and I will see some of you in Las Vegas at Autodesk University 2017. I am helping several friends out in the lab this year with Civil 3D and AutoCAD classes. I am looking forward to helping and being a part of this awesome event.

Until next month, Sam

 

Not just another Autodesk University Post

Now that I have everyone’s attention, I have decided to write about something I did at Autodesk University in November of 2016. I was faced with the challenge of teaching a hands-on lab. Teaching a lab can be very difficult since you have 100 people with all different levels of skill. You do not want to make it too easy, go to fast, or make it difficult for people to all follow along. I connected with friends at the AKN (Autodesk Knowledge Network) and decided to use Project PRAXIS as my way of collecting my notes and training materials.

My class, Pumping up Productivity in the Lab with Macros One Character at a Time is based on creating time saving macros in AutoCAD to be placed on a tool palette for quick access. Hands on labs at AU are not recorded which made me want to provide everyone with a way to go back to the class and review anything they missed or did not have enough time to review. The image below includes the palette provided in class as well as some additional ones I have been testing over the past few months. Macros can be very productive and fun to create!

At the time of Autodesk University in November of 2016 my paper was over 50 pages and contained 13 exercises for my class to go through in 90 minutes. I decided to document my entire workflow which you can view in here in PRAXIS. I have finally completed my additional exercises to the workflow and now have 20 total. Each exercise includes documentation and a Screencast (shown in collection below) for the user to have a printout and a video on how to complete the exercise.

Click on the image below to view my Screencast Collection on Macros in AutoCAD

PRAXIS was a great way for me to keep my notes, document the exercises, and stay organized and focused. There were some late nights and weekend hours but the end result is a fully comprehensive workflow of 20 exercises with many references to sources on how to complete macros in AutoCAD.

Select the image to be taken to my workflow on Macros in AutoCAD.

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What is PRAXIS you ask?  See below for notes from the PRAXIS site:

https://praxis.autodesk.com/praxis/getting-started.php

PRAXIS is a cloud-based app for sharing your product knowledge and best practices through simple, step-by-step workflow diagrams.

There’s nothing to download and install. Because

PRAXIS runs on your browser, you always have access to the most up-to-date version.

PRAXIS works on Google Chrome, version 20 and later, on Windows and Mac OS. We plan to support other browsers in the future.

There is no concept of files in PRAXIS. Your work is saved automatically to the cloud.

For the time being, anyone can view a shared workflow, but only in Read-Only mode.

=================================================================================

That’s all for now my friends. For those of you who know me I am a very huge boxing fan so I have to go now and visit with friends and family to enjoy some time together and watch a fight later tonight.

Don’t forget to register for Autodesk University 2017. Look me up, I will be there roaming the halls and attending classes just like you.

Until next month, Sam.

Projects and Places in AutoCAD

Do you know about the “Places List” in AutoCAD? I have used this technique for years and it still holds true to be one of the most effective ways to reach (find) files and projects in AutoCAD. Back in AutoCAD 2000 the “Places List” was introduced into the software on the open dialog box as shown below. It is a feature that is used to reduce your amount of time finding and accessing drawing files and folders and one of my favorites for years. Get to work on Monday and load up all your current projects for the week using this technique. Here is how you do that.

Start a new drawing and choose open. You will see the open window as shown below with the “Places List” highlighted in Red.

All of your projects are located under the name window. Using Windows Explorer navigate to the project and/or folder your files are located. Left-Click and Drag that folder to the Places List on the open pane as shown below. Here is a quick video on how to load your “Places List”.

This will NOT affect anything on the network, it is merely a shortcut for putting your projects in a quick location for you to save time. Once your folder is in the “Places List” you can right click and rename your project to a name that is logical to your workflow (see image below). This name is for you only and will not affect anything on the network.

When finished you will be asked if you want to save the names to the places list. Select YES and those folders will appear each time you load AutoCAD.

This method will save you time and help you as you multitask during your work week.

Happy Father’s day to all you dad’s (and grandpa’s) out there!  Enjoy your day with friends and family and be safe and happy.

Sam

 

Are you in Control or is AutoCAD?

Being a long time user of AutoCAD I am a keyboard person; Shortcuts, Ctrl keys, and Macros are some of my favorite settings to customize and use during the design process. This post will describe keyboard shortcuts in AutoCAD. We are going to focus on shortcuts that use the CTRL key combination. I have listed the control key combinations below as well as including a link to the AutoCAD keyboard shortcut guide.

Control Keys on the Keyboard

CTRL KEY Combinations in AutoCAD

CTRL+Q = Quit

CTRL+W = Selection Cycling ON/OFF

CTRL+U = Polar angle ON/OFF

CTRL+O = OPEN

CTRL+P = PRINT/PLOT

CTRL+A = Selecting all Entities in the drawing even under Layer OFF mode ( But not under Freeze mode ) CTRL+S = Quick save the file.

CTRL+D = Coordinate Display (CORDS) ON/OFF (F6 is the alternate Button)

CTRL+F = OSNAP ON/OFF (F3 is the alternate Button)

CTRL+G = GRID ON/OFF (F7 is the alternate Button)

CTRL+H = PICKSTYLE variable ON/OFF

CTRL+J & CTRL+M = Repeats last Command

CTRL+K = HYPERLINK

CTRL+L = ORTHO ON/OFF (F8 is the alternate Button)

CTRL+Z = Undo a single action

CTRL+X = CUTCLIP

CTRL+C = COPYCLIP

CTRL+V = PASTELCLIP

CTRL+B = SNAP ON/OFF

CTRL+N = NEW

CTRL + TAB = Switching between drawings opened

CTRL+1 = PROPERTIES window Open/Close

CTRL+2 = DESIGNCENTER window Open/Close

CTRL+3 = TOOL PALETTE window Open/Close

CTRL+4 = SHEETSET window Open/Close

CTRL+5 = INFOPALETTE (ASSIST) window Open/Close

CTRL+6 = DBCONNECT window Open/Close

CTRL+7 = MARKUP window Open/Close

CTRL+0 = Clean Screen (Hiding All Tool bars) – good for Presentations For more keyboard shortcuts check out this handy guide provided by Autodesk. Click on the image to follow the link.

Please see the attached video describing some shortcuts in AutoCAD.

Below find the link to the 150+ AutoCAD keyboard shortcuts. Follow the link and download this useful pdf file to help you in you everyday design work.

Hope you all are well and are enjoying the start to your summer. Be safe and happy….until next month.

Sam


					

Lose your Tabs in AutoCAD

The default setting in AutoCAD will display a Model Space Tab along with a Layout1 (1) and Layout2 (2) tabs as shown in the image below. The Model tab represents model space which is where you draft and design the model of your project. The Layout tab represents the paper space environment where you create layouts typically including title blocks, general notes, and a window of items drawn in model space.

01-layouts

First of all, you cannot delete the Model Tab; that is default by AutoCAD and used to create your model or geometry. The Layout tabs are paper space tabs added by default to assist you as you begin your project. When adding a new drawing or a template (3) you may see the following appear with Layout1 and Layout2 still visible. We want to delete those but do it quickly. You can select the image for additional information on switching between the Model Space and Layout tabs.

02-delete_them

To delete a layout tab manually you right click the layout and select delete. That’s a lot of picks and clicks. Notice all of the options included when you right-click. You can rename, create a new layout, insert a new layout from a template (HINT: does not have to be a .dwt file). Select the image below to be taken to a knowledge based article on importing layouts from a template. I like clean drawings and require my users to delete these tabs, rename, and cleanup while on a design project.

03-delete

Let’s create a macro to remove those tabs and cleanup your drawings. If you have followed my screencasts and classes at Autodesk University creating a macro can be very easy. For more information check out my PRAXIS workflow from Autodesk University 2016. Select the image and you will be taken to a comprehensive workflow showing how to use macros in AutoCAD. I am currently updating with BONUS exercises so check back later!  This post will be included as Bonus Exercise 14.

praxis

The easiest way for us to create and use a macro is on a tool palette. Open up any tool palette right click in the palette area and hit New Palette as shown. This will bring up a new blank palette in AutoCAD.

04-new-palette

Next, we need to get a command in there. There are a few ways to do this but in my experience type CUI at the command prompt and type the word “delete” (Step 1). I want to look for a command which I can also use the icon (or edit) so it represents something similar to what I am trying to accomplish. Left click and drag the command (Step 2) onto the tool palette as shown. At this point we are just getting the command in there with the images.

04-palette-steps

After the command has been added to the palette, right click the icon and select properties. We are now going to complete 5 steps as shown below. Actually only 4 since we already have our image in there.

  1. Drag the command from the CUI onto the tool palette.
  2. Rename the name of the command for the user to understand the objective.
  3. Give a brief description of what the command does. PLEASE give a description, it helps for the next guy or gal that goes in there and launches your new command.
  4. The most important step.  We need to change the MACRO.  We will review in detail below.
  5. The image. If you did not import an image from the CUI or another button you can right-click and specify your own image. Keep in mind there is a dark and light theme in AutoCAD which means you need to check the appearance of the image for both. I know, one extra step now but I do like the dark theme.

05-palette

In AutoCAD macros can be shortcuts to a series of commands to help make the process of design more efficient. In Figure 1 a macro is stated as a single instruction. Use the action recorder to record a series of commands and build a macro then run it automatically to repeat a series of steps. To write a macro, you type the commands in the macro properties section as you’d type them in at the command line. If a command displays a dialog box, you would place a dash in front of the command to suppress the dialog box. We will cover special characters as we begin to build our macro. Let’s examine our Delete Layout Macro.

^C^C^R_layout;d;layout1;_layout;d;layout2;

^C^C  Cancels the current command in AutoCAD – Do it twice!

^R    Turns command versioning on or off. We need this when working with Layouts.

_Layout   Issues the layout command.

;   The semi-colon represents a return on the keyboard. You can also enter a space here but I recommend the semi-colon which you can clearly identity the action.

d   Delete the layout.

_Layout1  Deletes Layout1

The macro then continues to delete another layout named layout2. If you only have layout1 in your drawing it will be deleted and no other action will be taken.  The following ScreenCast will show you how this command works.

Find this video along with other macro videos in my ScreenCast Collection Page located the Autodesk Knowledge Network.

2017-03-04_7-50-09

AutoCAD Macro Customization Collection on AKN

It’s goal setting time at work and in my opinion never too early to set a goal to attend Autodesk University 2017 in November of this year.

Set a goal that if you meet all of your targets for the year you would like to attend the premier CAD conference in the World. You may be rewarded with the ability to learn and network with your peers and create new connections along they way – like me 🙂

au2016_logo

Until next time…..Sam