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Creating an AutoCAD Linetype for Valentines Day

How about a Heart Linetype in AutoCAD for Valentines Day?

I wanted to post this again about linetypes in AutoCAD and how you can use the wingdings and webdings fonts to display shapes in AutoCAD linetypes. Let’s use the Heart symbol to illustrate a linetype suited for Valentines Day.

So you ask “Why would you want to draw a heart in AutoCAD?”

This post is not about the heart symbol but about special characters used to create a line type with a character symbol used in fonts.

This post focuses on how to create a custom linetype in AutoCAD incorporating already defined shapes via the Webdings font into your custom linetype. We are going to create a linetype using a heart shape. Keep in mind there are many different shapes within the Webdings and Wingdings fonts that are available for our use. These can easily be shared with your users providing a standard approach to linetypes.

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

Copy and paste this code below into notepad and name the file Valentine.lin  Make sure you create the text style weblines or you will get a bad definition.

The semi colons are not recognized therefore you can add notes to you team members on what you created.

;; Linesanity is back again in 2020: CADproTips
;; to load the setting and configure the lines.
;; Create a text style named weblines and give it a 0 height and not annotative
*HEART,Happy Valentines Day

Two years ago at Autodesk University 2018 I presented a class on how to leverage linetypes in AutoCAD. Within the class we had objectives as shown.

Learn how to create custom linetypes using fonts and shapes

Learn how to create and compile a complex linetype library with shapes

Learn how to create a tool palette with custom linetypes loaded and properties defined

Select the image below to be taken to the presentation

Hope you had some fun with this and thought of some ways to make it productive as well.

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

Until next month….Sam

Non-Breaking Space in Sheet Set Templates in AutoCAD and Civil 3D

What do I mean by a non-breaking space using a field in AutoCAD?  Entering data using fields in AutoCAD is an extremely efficient way to connect the data and keep consistent throughout your design project, especially when using Sheet Set Manager.  In my class at Autodesk University 2019 we explored Advanced topics using the Sheet Set Manager. This class was a hands-on-lab with 15 exercises and one of those was entering Sheet custom data into our sheet set template.

In word processing and digital typesetting, a non-breaking space, also called no-break space, non-breakable space, hard space, or fixed space, is a space character that prevents an automatic line break at its position. Within the SSM you can insert a non-breaking space which will give you the ability to have a cleaner output by inserting a blank field.

We are going to review exercise 3 from my Sheet Set class and a video of the non-breaking space. The virtual computers at Autodesk University would not allow us to enter the non-breaking space but we were able to use %% or %%U to capture the same effect. You can perform this same function with your standard company title block to provide consistency on your design projects.

Start AutoCAD and open up a Sheet Set that already contains a sheet within the set.

Right click on the Sheet Set Project  (AU2019_Project Header shown in the image below), then select properties from the fly out menu.

Select Edit Custom Properties on the lower left of the dialog box.

For this task we will add sheet custom properties. We are going to edit sheet custom properties by adding 01-Drawn by and 02-Checked by.  Why the 01 and 02?  AutoCAD will sort these fields alphabetically and in our title block we want to enter the drawn by first then the checked by. To do this use a numbering sequence to keep organized.

The area underlined above in RED is where you have options to enter a Non Breaking Space to replace the word VALUE.  If you leave this area blank you would think that you would get a blank space, instead you will get 4 dashed lines —- that will print in your title block. To enter a blank space you can use %% or %%U which enable a blank field, but we are going to use a key combination or ALT+0160 for a blank field.

Although I find the %%U and %% helpful since you can see the characters, I have found many people that prefer the blank space. The key is to press and hold down the ALT key while you type 0160. The 0160 code will insert a non-breaking space and appear blank when plotted as shown below.  You do need a keyboard with the number pad to perform this function. The video below will show you how to add these custom fields using the Sheet Set Manager and the non breaking space.

My friend Jeff Bartels posted on about this very same topic on  Civil Immersion Blog except using the %% as the blank space. Both ways will work effectively but I wanted to post about the ALT+0160 variable since we covered this in class at Autodesk University 2019.

Please visit  Civil Immersion Blog for an extensive amount of AutoCAD and Civil 3D training videos and information from Jeff, Jerry, and Alan.

Have a good rest of your weekend wherever in the World you may be…..until next month….Sam

Remove Layout1 and Layout2 tabs in AutoCAD

Do you every get annoyed by those default layout tabs in AutoCAD?  Why are they there? Can I remove them? I always instruct my users to rename the layout tabs (right-click-rename) to an appropriate name and/or remove if they are not used.  Here is a trick on how to remove those tabs using a macro placed on a tool palette.

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.


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.


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.


Let’s create a macro to remove those tabs and cleanup your drawings. 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.


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.


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.


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  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, the video is from a previous version of AutoCAD but will still work with the most current version.

It’s goal setting time at work and in my opinion never too early to set a goal to attend Autodesk University 2020 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 company may reward you with the ability to learn and network with your peers and create new connections along they way – like me 🙂

Until next time…..Have a great weekend….Sam

Model Space Viewports in AutoCAD

There are two types of viewports in AutoCAD. Model Space viewports and Layout space viewports. Viewports are areas that display different views of your drawing and/or model. Layout viewports are objects that you can scale to display the view of your drawing on a layout tab for publishing and production. In model space, you can split the drawing area into one or more rectangular areas called model space viewports. Viewports are areas that display different views of your model. In large or complex drawings, displaying different views reduces the time needed to zoom or pan in a single view. You can configure these viewports from the View tab on the Ribbon as shown.

The illustrations below show several model space viewport configurations. You can save and restore viewport configurations by name with the VPORTS command or pulling down the Viewport Configuration from the ribbon as shown.

When you display multiple viewports, the one that is highlighted with a blue rectangle is called the current viewport – shown as 1 below. The remaining viewports will be displayed grayed out as for not used.

from Autodesk Help – these points describe the options you have when using model space viewports.

  1. Commands that control the view, such as panning and zooming, apply only to the current viewport.
  2. Commands that create or modify an object are started in the current viewport, but the results apply to the model and can be visible in other viewports.
  3. You can start a command in one viewport and finish it in a different viewport.
  4. You can make any viewport the current one by clicking in it.

You can modify the size, shape, and number of model space viewports in a viewport configuration:

  1. Choose from several viewport configurations by clicking the [+] or [-] control in the top-left corner of a viewport.
  2. Drag the boundaries of viewports to adjust their size.
  3. Press CTRL while dragging viewport boundaries to display the green splitter bar and create new viewports. Alternatively, you can drag the outermost splitter controls.
  4. Drag a viewport boundary onto another boundary to remove a viewport.

After you create a new viewport, you might want to maximize and center the view by double-clicking the mouse wheel to perform a zoom extents.

If you want to configure the viewports a certain way for your model move the sliders around until you get the desired configuration.  Under the  New name:  Enter the name of your viewport and it will appear in the Named Viewports section and be able to resuse throughout your drawing session.

Convert your AutoCAD DWG file format with DWG Trueview 2020

As a CAD Manager and Senior Civil Designer I frequently get the request saying “Sam, can you convert this drawing I don’t have AutoCAD 2020?” My answer is simple, “Sure, I can do that”. Then I ask the user “Have you ever tried DWG TrueView?”  DWG Trueview has been labeled as a drawing viewer for .DWG files but what people do not realize that it also contains a built in drawing convert program. You can install DWG TRUEVIEW 2020 and compare drawing viewers here. Many project managers and senior team members simply need to view the drawing files without having the cost of a full license of AutoCAD.

Figure 1: DWG Trueview 2020 Splash screen

Approximately every three years AutoCAD changes the .dwg file format and older versions of the software are incompatible with the new versions. Table 1 shows the File format the the AutoCAD Release that is compatible with that format.

Table 1: AutoCAD file format

Many 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 DWG Trueview 2010 Autodesk has included DWG Convert within DWG Trueview. DWG Convert  can be found on the quick access toolbar or on the Home tab of the Ribbon as shown in Figure 2.

Figure 2: DWG Convert on the Ribbon

Converting a file can be completed in 4 simple steps as shown in Figure 3.

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. You can use this section to create a conversion setup for a specific client or project need. Select the Conversion Setups button and you will be taken to a new dialog box with many options for your drawing file conversion. You can also save this as a standard to use for other drawings and projects.

4. Select the convert button.

Figure 3: Convert your drawing file.

Your files have been converted to the new format. Remember, it’s always good practice to backup your files prior to doing any converting.

See the attached Screencast for a description how to use the DWG Trueview 2020 for viewing, printing, and converting AutoCAD files.

Registration for Autodesk University 2019 is open.

Click the links below to learn more about my sessions which are both hands-on-labs this year. It’s going to be fun! Both classes have sold out quickly so Thank you!  Remember you can always get on a wait list or stand in line outside the door the day of the class – typically there are some spots available at the last minute.

Until next time or at Autodesk University……….Sam

Enjoy the rest of your weekend and look for another post from me next month.

Quick Access Toolbar in AutoCAD

Let’s discuss the Quick Access Toolbar in AutoCAD or as many refer to it as the QAT. I had fun writing an article about the Quick Access Toolbar which can be found published in AUGIWorld November 2016. Seems like a long time ago but all of the principals still apply. This bar can be customized per workspace and can be very helpful to you while you work in different disciplines.

The Quick Access Toolbar is a customizable toolbar that contains a set of commands that are independent of the tab on the ribbon that is currently displayed. You can move the Quick Access Toolbar above and below the ribbon. Let’s review what I wrote and I have attached a video describing how you can create several different QAT’s linking those to alternate workspaces. Using the CUI (customizable user interface) you can create several QAT’s and attach those to different workspaces to help keep you productive in your workflow.

Check out this Screencast (click Image) on how to add the layer combo control bar  to your QAT and give it a longer length.

That’s all for now.  I hope you enjoyed this post and have a great weekend wherever in the World you may be.

I will post about Autodesk University in more detail in the coming weeks.  Both of my classes have sold out quickly so Thank you!

Click the links below to learn more about my sessions which are both hands-on-labs this year. It’s going to be fun!

Until next time or at Autodesk University……….Sam

Autodesk University 2019 – My Class Proposals

The annual Call for Proposals  for Autodesk University closed on Monday June 25, 2019 with record setting numbers. When the deadline arrived, Autodesk received over 2000 proposals from people all over the world. I decided not promote my classes during the proposal voting process. I understand why this is done since AU is about you and with this in mind we all want to see presentations that will inspire us to continue to improve and grow in our professional career. I decided to let the proposals get voted on the content and objectives which is how I approach my class selection.

My primary focus again this year is on AutoCAD and Civil 3D. Of course I am going to take sheet sets to the lab again. After how much fun we had last year (you had to be there) it was worth another try. I believe in hard work and dedication and that will show in what I present.

My proposed classes: All images below contain links for additional information.

Exploring Advanced Topics in the Lab with the Sheet Set Manager

This class will be a Hands on LAB. We are all at different levels of using the Sheet Set Manager and the best way to present in a lab is to separate this into multiple exercises. There will be approximately 15 exercises in this class. We will not go through all of them due to time but the dataset and handout will be available for you to take back and practice at the office when you get home. This is an extremely valuable and important topic that drafters, designers, and managers need to understand.

Staying Productive with Plan and Production in Civil 3D

I have learned some new tricks on this topic I presented in 2018. Join me for a class on how to make it easy to automate sheet layouts in Civil 3D.

Using Civil 3D to Make your Mark with a Map Book

I recently had a project in Civil 3D where I just needed tiled viewports of a large area and a key map. Civil 3D is built upon Map 3D therefore we will use the built in functionality of Map to create a Map Book then tie that into a sheet set.

Making the transition from AutoCAD to Civil 3D

Many people believe that if you know AutoCAD you also know Civil 3D and can make a quick transition.  This class will focus on what I have learned from a personal experience as well as training others on how to think differently and use the power that Civil 3D has to offer.  We will explore points, styles, profiles, alignments and other tools and compare the differences between AutoCAD and Civil 3D helping you think differently on how you approach your design project.

Investigate how to use and implement the CAD Standards Manager in the Lab

Nuff said – CAD Standards.  Let’s discuss how a tool that has been around for years can help you maintain and keep your company standards. This year let’s go to the lab and use the CAD Standards Manager to help us check and maintain standards within your design team.

You ask why I do this? I do this because I feel I need to share what I know. I have been working in the industry for a long time and realize you can’t do it alone, we all need help, mentorship, and guidance along the way.  I have many friends who I see once a year which is awesome. Words can’t explain the respect and friendship we share.

My employer, Haley & Aldrich sees the value of continued learning and development and we share what we know within our design team and throughout the company.
We currently have some opening for CAD designers and Engineers – check out those positions here

I hope to see you all in Vegas again – I plan to be there and if you see me don’t hesitate to talk to me or ask a question.

Get Ready for Autodesk University 2019

Enjoy the rest of your weekend wherever in the World you may be.

Until next month………..Sam


Center Marks and Centerlines in AutoCAD

AutoCAD 2020 is here and there are still some useful routines that have been introduced in previous versions yet not fully implemented into our workflow. With AutoCAD 2017 a couple simple yet favorite commands of mine are the Centerline and Center Mark commands which you can add to existing geometry.

Type CENTERLINE or CENTERMARK at the command prompt or on the Ribbon – Annotate Tab – Centerline panel, select the Center Mark or Centerline as shown below.  By selecting the image you will be taken to the knowledge network showing an article on these commands.


These center lines and center marks will remain associated with the objects you selected when they were created. These lines are linked together, therefore changing the position of the original geometry the centerline and center mark geometry will change to reflect the updated position. The following video shows the two objects that are associated with the Centerline. Notice when I move the outer lines the centerline retains it’s position and remains in the center of the two lines regardless of whether I move and/or stretch the associated objects.

The Center Mark command will put center marks on a circle or arc. This command creates a cross-shaped mark at the center of a selected circle or arc shown in the quick video.

These Center Marks will have properties associated to each of those as shown in the window in the upper right of the image which can be found on the properties palette. Select the Center mark and hit CTRL+1 to see the properties palette and located the geometry section. You can control the distance, size, and display of the objects by using the properties palette as shown.

Let’s review from the image shown below with the numbers representing the geometry as shown on the properties palette in the upper right of the image.

  1. Cross Size: this will control the size of the cross
  2. Cross Gap: the gap between the cross and where the extension line begins.
  3. Left Extension: Distance from the grip on the end of the circle to the end of the line.
  4. Right Extension: Distance from the grip on the end of the circle to the end of the line.
  5. Top Extension: Distance from the grip on the end of the circle to the end of the line.
  6. Bottom Extension: Distance from the grip on the end of the circle to the end of the line.


7.  Show Extension: This determines if you just get the cross or the extension lines. You have the ability to turn on and off.  The following video shows what this switch does.

These two new commands can be very helpful when creating detail sheets for projects as well as locating and maintaining the Centerlines of objects in AutoCAD.

Prior to publishing this tip, I noticed Jaiprakash Pandey – SouceCAD had previously posted on this very topic. Please take a look at his article as well as it provides additional information on the use of these new tools in AutoCAD. Take time to visit his website as he has a very large amount of AutoCAD tips, tricks, and training materials to help you as you work in AutoCAD.



Select Similar in AutoCAD and Civil 3D

For the past several weeks I have been placed on projects using AutoCAD and Civil 3D. I found myself working through drawings making edits and incorporating changes along the way. About a week ago I realized that my favorite command MATCHPROP (match properties) just may not be my favorite anymore. I found myself using SELECT SIMILAR frequently throughout my checking and editing process. Let’s explore how this command works.

The Select Similar command will select objects with shared properties and works like this:

  1. Select an object that represents the category of objects you want to select (we selected the text).
  2. Right-click, and choose Select Similar.

You will notice that the objects that are similar become part of your current selection set (shown with the blue grips). You can now use the Properties palette (CTRL+1; shown below in the red box) and change the properties of all these objects at once – a big time saver.
In this case the fonts are not all consistent with our standard and all we have to do is change the style in the window.
What if I want to change what the command searches for?

With no objects selected, enter SELECTSIMILAR.

Enter se (settings) or you can just select at the command prompt.

In the Select Similar Settings dialog box, select the properties that must match for objects to be selected. These settings can be setup within the template file you are using for your company standard.

If no properties are selected, objects of the same type (for example, all lines) are selected.

Note: If you want to select different types of objects that share properties like color or line type, use Quick Select. Type Qselet at the command prompt and you have the option to filter through object settings as shown in the dialog box.
Please see the attached ScreenCast showing the Select Similar command.
I wanted to conclude and wish each and all the moms out there a Happy Mother’s Day!
Enjoy your Sunday, you deserve it!
Until next time……..Sam

Using the AutoCAD Startup Suite as your Briefcase

We all have things that we take to work each day. Many years ago….NO, not in a galaxy far far away (Hey, I am not that old!) I had a briefcase I absolutely loved and took every day to work carrying some of my favorite drafting and design tools. I now have converted over to a backpack where I use to travel back and forth to the office as well as being my trusty carry on during flights across the country. That briefcase and now my backpack hold all my own favorite tools which I may need to use to do my job. The Startup Suite in AutoCAD is just like a briefcase or backpack carrying those tools you need and having that right by your side as you work each day.

One of the easiest ways to make sure your favorite tools are loaded in AutoCAD without any customization is adding those to the startup suite. The Startup Suite dialog box list the AutoLISP routines you are currently loaded.

You can access the startup suite by typing APPLOAD at the command line or on the manage tab of the Ribbon select load application as shown below.

You will now see your briefcase located within the dialog box. Select the Contents button.

Within the window you will see all the applications that are loaded each time you launch AutoCAD.  Select the Add… button and the windows explorer window will open providing you the option to select any lisp files you would like to add to the suite. They will be in your briefcase each day and ready to use.

The one thing I like about the startup suite is that we all have commands that we like and use each day. I have a set of two letter shortcut lisp routines that I have become accustomed to. This is where you can still follow the standards of your company and add some tools that make the look and feel of what you do more familiar. What you have done is given yourself instant access to your tools!

You can add more than just lisp files – see the list below of file types you can add to your startup suite.

Note: You may get a warning that the routine is not in a trusted location.  Best practice to to place all those files in a secure location then add that to the trusted locations folder in your support path.

Have you ever heard of AUGI?  Free and online membership to a community of people just like you who answer questions, share ideas, and collaborate all over the world.  Join today, it’s Free!

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

Until next month or at Midwest University 2019………………..Sam