AutoCAD 2016 Favorite Features

With the release of AutoCAD 2017 out, which I am sure will have some pretty sweet new options and enhancements, I thought I’d reflect on my AutoCAD 2016 favorite features.
Like all users, it is not likely that every new feature or enhancement that comes out will be used.  One of the best strengths of AutoCAD is that it offers a variety of ways to be productive and is flexible enough to be used in any industry.  Like the rest of you, although there are so many new features, I have a few favorites.  Below are the top three features I have enjoyed the most – note that these all work in the LT version.

XREFOVERRIDE: 

The XREF properties override variable will help many that deal with external references from providers that practice “Bad CAD” and change entity colors rather than use the color Bylayer option.  With this feature, less work is required on the end user to clean up the external files for their own use.  It can also quickly point out when objects have their color set to by “Entity” instead of the proper “Bylayer”.   How?  Look at the following two examples with the XREFOVERRIDE variable set ON (1) and OFF (0).
 
Image of a screen capture example when the XREFOVERRIDE is set to zero (0)

XREFOVERRIDE = 0

When the variable is set to OFF (0), the entities manually set to a color show up that color, and no matter what you do in your Layer  dialogue, you are stuck with that color.  You will have to go in to the actual XREF drawing and change the items to color by layer.

Image of a screen capture example when the XREFOVERRIDE is set to one (1)

XREFOVERRIDE = 1

When the variable is set to ON (1), the entities manually set to a color will show up as if they were properly set to color “Bylayer” and you will not have to go in to the actual XREF drawing and change the items to color by layer.  This is nice, because with this setting turned on, you can control the colors in your drawing through the layer dialogue and do not have to touch the XREF.  This goes for line types and layer visibility as well.

 

NOTE: Be sure to have your VISRETAIN variable set to “1” also.

Although the cleanup of external references can be done pretty quickly with a script, the ability to quickly attach a drawing and override the color to “Bylayer” without having to modify the base xreference is very nice.

REVCLOUD Enhancements:

There are a few items in the revision cloud area that have been enhanced and although I have created some scripts to enhance our revision handling process, the new enhancements are a nice addition.
REVCLOUD “Modify”:

Type or choose REVCLOUD command and then select “Modify” (M) option to add sections and remove (cleanup) sections of an existing revision cloud.  Note: Where you pick on the existing revision cloud is where the modification starts.  When you are all done, it is one cloud!

New System Variables:

REVCLOUDCREATEMODE:

 Defaults to a specific cloud creation methodology:
     0     = Freehand
     1     = Rectangular
     2     = Closed Polyline

REVCLOUDGRIPS:

 Controls the number of grips displayed on a revision cloud:
ON     = Endpoint and center grips for each segment (very clean, even on a freehand cloud)
Image of a screen capture example when REVCLOUDGRIPS is set to ON

REVCLOUDGRIPS = ON

OFF    = Grips for every arc endpoint and diameter (very messy)
Image of a screen capture example when REVCLOUDGRIPS is set to OFF

REVCLOUDGRIPS = OFF

SYSVARMONITOR:

How many times have you opened a drawing and while your working, find out that variables have been changed or are set differently than you require or prefer?  The SYSVARMONITOR now gives you the opportunity to know it right away. This is by far my favorite addition to 2016, it’s just a simple GUI tool that anyone can setup with their favorite variables and the must haves for company standards.  As I deal a lot with other people’s drawings, I use this daily.  Once I turned my coworkers on to this, it made everyone’s daily work much better.
System Variable Monitor - AutoCAD 2016 Favorite Features

System Variable Monitor

 Note:
You could create a Script or even a LISP to monitor and set these settings (which I have done in the past), but for those that want a simple solution – BAM! this is it.

What about you?!

 What are your favorites? In the comments below, let us know what you have benefited from the most in 2016.  If you have made the move to 2017 already, are there some new things you are happy to see?

WES

Basic AutoCAD 101 Rules

Image for Basic AutoCAD 101 Rules showing Standards

Do you have Standards?

Ok – this one is a Rant…

Daily I deal with AutoCAD drawings from drafting ‘professionals’ that seem to still not understand some Basic AutoCAD 101 Rules – (fundamentals).  If you are an architect or architectural draftsperson – think of your electronic drawing audience – i.e. your consultants. Your drawings need to be easy to use for everyone, not just you. Following some basics adds very little time to your work and in many situations will actually save you time.

A few basics..

Color = Bylayer
Linetype = Bylayer

Use Paperspace:

Draw to scale and use Annotative Scaling

MSLTSCALE = 1
PSLTSCALE = 1
LTSCALE = 1

STANDARDS:

Do NOT use the out of the box “STANDARD” styles for Text, Dimensions, Multi-leaders etc… If you love them, copy and rename to something original.

Use Xreference files – NOT blocks when assembling plan drawings.
– i.e. Do NOT create a floor plan and then start a new drawing for a ceiling plan and block in the Floor Plan. With proper Xref management, you can put all this in one drawing.

Do NOT put drawing components in Paperspace – Draw in Model space and create viewports in Paperspace.

BLOCKS:

Use attributed blocks for Tags, Plan and detail titles – NOT Dtext in circles and squares and lines for underlines, etc…

When doing text, use justification – there are more options than TopLeft.

Use blocks for drawing plan items. If you are going through the trouble to draw something that you plan on copying or even ever using again – in ANY future, make it a block. Dont’ worry about it being perfect – you can tweak it as you learn more or choose to add more detail. You can even save it into a master library. Examples:

For downlights – draw your circle on layer “0” and save as a block called “Downlight” – 5 seconds! Copy this around your drawing and if you want it to look different or change size, just tpe BEDIT and change the block.

Other plan items: All kinds of ceiling or wall mounted light fixtures, furniture, plants, doors, windows, plumbing fixtures, appliances, etc…

Elevation items: Windows, Doors, Light fixtures, signage, plants, etc…

LAYERS:

Be descriptive and use more rather than less.

Examples:
– If you are drawing walls for New, Demo and Future – create them on different layers, NOT on one and change the linetype.
– For a ceiling plan, do not put all lights, diffusers, speakers and sprinklers on the same layer as your grid. Place them on differnt layers – different consultants use them diferently.

Do NOT use Layer “0” for drawing anything but blocks.

Do NOT use Defpoints to draw items you do not want to plot. Make a seperate Non-Plot layer.

MISC:

Once you draw a plan and send it out – do NOT move it from it’s original location!

Do these basics and the world will be a better place – atleast for me… If you don’t know how – ask me.

Here are some links to some previous posts that may help:

101 Series on the what, why, and how of Blocks

External References – Basics

External References – Details and Commands

Dear Mr./Mrs Architect – another request for assistance

WES

Autodesk University 2015 for First Timers

au-2015

In corresponding this weekend with a AU first timer, I thought it might be a good idea to share some additional information for other first timers.

Registration:

When you register at AU you will get a bag (at least that has been the case in the past) which may include a pen and some sponsors literature, but that’s about it. You will also get your badge that will allow you to move around the event and get in to classes.  The badge may also come with some ribbons – like the AUGI ribbon for AUGI members.

Speaking of registering, it is best to do it as soon as possible – Monday, if you can.  By registering early you can hit the ground running on Tuesday. There will be 9000+ plus people roaming the halls and you want any registration formalities out of the way as quickly as possible so you can get to your classes and any events without delay.

Packing:

I would definitely bring something to take notes with – electronic or paper.   If you have a tablet (like an iPad) or a laptop, that would be best.  Before you leave, go to the AU site and download all your class materials. There will be wireless at the event, but it can get pretty overloaded.

If you are not bringing an electronic device and are going the paper route print your material out so you can follow along.  Bring something to write with (and a backup) as well as a notepad and some highlighters as well to emphasize important items to you.

If you have smart phone, there is an AU app that you can install that will have information on the daily events and maps, etc… Search for it on Google Play Store (for Android) or the Apple App Store – it will be called “AU 2015. Note that if you are traveling from overseas, you may want to investigate a mobile data and minutes package through your carrier.  There is wireless at the event that should handle your data needs, but roaming can get pretty pricey for texting and calling home.

Make sure your luggage is big enough to bring back all the literature and any souvenirs you will get – like the annual AUGI beer glass that you will get a ticket for at AUGI’s Annual General Meeting.

The weather this week in Vegas is forecast to be between 34 and 62 degrees Fahrenheit, so bring some warm clothes if you plan on going out on the strip and do some site seeing.

More Info:

If you have additional questions, you may want to check out this link for AU FAQS.

Autodesk University 2015 FAQs

The exhibit hall opens Tuesday at 6:00pm, and you will want to come by the AUGI booth. We are booth #1369 – you can locate us on the AU Exhibit Hall map.  When you come by, ask for me.

If you have friends or co-workers who are not able to make it, have them at least check out the AU online learning resources at:

http://au.autodesk.com/au-online/overview

I’ll follow up with some news after the event, until then – Safe Travels.

WES

Autodesk University 2015

au-2015The holiday season is quickly approaching, and if you have spent any time in a mall or big box store you will see that the adds for Christmas are everywhere – in some cases they were up before Halloween. It’s hard to think Christmas when just yesterday I was resealing my deck while it was 89 degrees out.

I have a feeling the next couple weeks will be similar, which makes the upcoming trip to the annual Autodesk University event in Vegas a welcome break from the Florida weather.

For those of you that make the trek each year, I am sure you have already booked your flights and selected your classes and are anxiously awaiting the event’s beginning. I know that some of you have still not registered and some may not even know what AU is all about.

For those that are new, let me tell you a little about it. Every year Autodesk puts on a huge event in Las Vegas for the past present and future users of Autodesk products. There are tons of classes, exhibits, demonstrations and parties to keep you busy. Attendees can learn not only about Autodesk products, but even more from vendors and sponsors that are also at the event. Additionally, this is a great place to learn about current and future industry trends and what some of your peers are doing. It is a great event to learn, share, and network.

To get more information and get registered, head over to the AU 2015 website http://au.autodesk.com/las-vegas/overview and get signed up.

If you cannot make it this year, at least check out the AU online learning resources at:

http://au.autodesk.com/au-online/overview

I’ll follow up with some news after the event, until then – Happy Holidays! ; )

WES

AutoCAD 101 Series – External References Week 2 – Details & Commands

xref-0Are you new to AutoCAD? Have you been using AutoCAD for years but only use the blocks, styles, layers and tools that others have created?  Do you want to learn more or step up your game on features you’re not very strong in and pick up some practical examples of best practices?  If so, this series is for you.Over the course of 12 months and maybe more I will cover the basics of a lot of AutoCAD tools and features that many may want or need to learn more about. This is the 15th article in my AutoCAD 101 series – to read about the origination for this series, see the first post here: <Intro>  The last post in this series was a summary of external references basics. <link>.   In this post I will discuss various methods of attaching and accessing external references (XREFS) and common commands and system variables.  In the next post I will go over some XREF-ing tips and tricks.
Because AutoCAD now has so many external attachment options, the “XREF” or EXTERNALREFERENCES” dialogue gives you a full picture of all your attachments.  If you choose the drop down menu in the upper left (Figure A), you will see the variety of file types that can be attached to your working drawing.
 xref-1a
Figure A – External file attachment options
For daily use, I use the CLASSICXREF command which is “XR” in my shortcut keys to do daily DWG reference functions, see Figure B.
 xref-2
 Figure B – CLASSICXREF Dialogue
 XREF Binding
 Sometimes you may want to make the externally attached files a permanent part of your working drawing, such as for archiving or sharing with another program that does not understand reference files.  Note that Images, DWFs, and PDFs cannot be bound.
 There are two options for binding external references, ‘Bind’ and ‘Insert’. When choosing the Bind/Bind option all logical named items in the external reference files get bound with a prefix denoting the original XREF name. These items include layers, line types, text styles, blocks, dimension styles, etc.… This can make for a very messy listing of the various types or very useful depending on your goals.  Bind/Insert merges all the items previously mentioned into the working drawing. I typically prefer this binding option as it reduces the clutter in the drawing and makes it easy to do updates.
 Below are some screenshots showing the difference between the Bind/Bind and the Bind/Insert options:
xref-3
Figure C – Layers before Binding
 xref-4
Figure D – Layers after Bind/Bind
 xref-5
Figure E – Layers after Bind/Insert
As you can see above in Figure E, it is much cleaner to use the Bind/Insert option.  Note that the additional “$0$” symbology will also get added to all your line types, text styles, blocks, etc… when you use the Bind/Bind option.
NOTE: If you are having trouble getting files to bind, run an audit and purge on the XREFS and the working drawing, that typically does the trick.
Overlays vs Attachments
AutoCAD has the ability to ‘nest’ XREFs, i.e. attach an XREF that has an XREF attached to it. In the XREF manager (CLASSICXREF) and in the External References dialogue, you will see two icons representing two different dialogue views. You can see when a XREF is nested using the ‘Tree View’.
 xref-6
 Figure F – List View
 xref-7
Figure G – Tree View
The benefit of this feature is that you can stack XREFs for coordination purposes.  I.E. Assume you are working on a reflected ceiling plan and you need to coordinate diffuser and sprinkler locations with your lights, you can attach the HVAC plan and the sprinkler plan to your file to do your coordination.  You can keep these files attached for future change coordination but hide them from view.  In the “Xref Manager” dialogue, select the file you wish to hide and choose the Unload button.  In the “External References” dialogue, right click the file and select ‘Unload’.  These functions are all part of the normal nesting function of XREF attachments.
There is another attachment option called “Overlay” that allows you to attach a XREF to a file and only allow it to be seen in the current file.  Note that this does not work for Images, DWFs or PDFs.  Using the above example for coordination, if the Electrical designer wishes to power up the lights, they could attach the reflected ceiling plan to their lighting plan to do their circuiting.  If the HVAC plan and the sprinkler plan were standard XREFs, they would see that on their plan as well.  If they have no need for that, to avoid possible confusion you could attach the HVAC and sprinkler plans as “Overlays” and the electrical designer would not even know that they existed.
 You can change the reference type on the fly;  In the “Xref Manager” dialogue, select the file you wish to hide and double-click on the word ‘Attach’ or ‘Overlay’ under Type and it will change. In the “External References dialogue, right click the file and select Attach, and in the pop-up make your change.
 xref-2
Figure H – Xref Manager
 xref-1a
Figure I – External References
 Commonly used external Reference Commands
There are a lot of commands and system variables that can be used when using External References, but like most other AutoCAD features you typically only need a few.  Below are the most common commands and SETVARS that you would use on a daily basis.
REFEDIT:
Edit Reference In-Place
XCLIP:
Allows clipping (hiding portions) of the XREF from view. Great for enlarged plans or partial details.(NOTE: for other file types: PDFCLIP, DGNCLIP, IMAGECLIP, DWFCLIP)
XBIND:
Allows binding of individual items from an external DWG file attachment. Say you want to bring in ablock or linetype from the external reference, use XBIND to bind it and then rename it if you would like.
Commonly used external Reference SETVARS
VISRETAIN:
Controls visibility, color, linetype, lineweight, and plot styles. Should be set to “1”.
XFADECTL:
Controls the dimming for all DWG XREF objects. (Fade from 0 – 90%, user visual preference)
XREFNOTIFY:
Controls the notification for updated or missing XREFs. Should be set to “1” or “2”.
XREFTYPE:
Controls the default reference type when attaching or overlaying an external reference.  This depends on use, but the majority of XREFs will be “Attachments”, not “Overlays”.  See “Overlays vs Attachments” section above.
 If you are currently using external references then you have already seen the many advantages that they provide.  If you are not currently using external references, it’s about time to get attached!     In the next post I will go over some XREF-ing tips and tricks.
If you run into a snag with any of the topics her or have additional questions, email me at walt@functionsense.com
WES

 

AutoCAD 101 Series – External References Week 1 – Basics

xref-0Are you new to AutoCAD? Have you been using AutoCAD for years but only use the blocks, styles, layers and tools that others have created?  Do you want to learn more or step up your game on features you’re not very strong in and pick up some practical examples of best practices?  If so, this series is for you.

Over the course of 12 months and maybe more I will cover the basics of a lot of AutoCAD tools and features that many may want or need to learn more about. This is the 14th article in my AutoCAD 101 series – to read about the origination for this series, see the first post here: <Intro>The last post in this series was a wrap-up of all the Block Posts. <link>.

So now we move on to another tool – “External References”.   If you are not using External References (XREFS), which has been around for a long time, you are really missing out on a powerful tool.  If you are a current user keep reading, maybe you will find some new things covered here that you may have been a bit curious about.
Throughout the XREFs posts I will refer to the process of attaching external reference files as “XREF/XREFING”, to the attached files as “XREFS”, and to the drawing that you attach XREFs to as the working drawing.
What are External Reference files (XREFS)?
External references are much like the concept of blocks which was the old school way of handling many of the functions now provided by external references.  Rather than being embedded (inserted) in the file they are externally ‘attached’ or ‘referenced’.  Items that can be attached include; DWGs, PDFs, DGNs, DWFs, and IMAGES (BMP, JPG, TIFF, PNG).  Different commands can be used to attach the various external files, and these commands start with the file type and the word “ATTACH”; PDFATTACH, DGNATTACH, IMAGEATTACH, DWFATTACH.  Or, you can just use the XREF command which will allow you to attach any type from one dialogue.  The individual commands are great for use in automation efforts (Macros, Scripts and Lisp), but will not likely be your first go to option.
Why do you XREF?
Because it is the right thing to do of course! If you are new to AutoCAD and XREFs and wonder what all the fuss is about, XREFs provide a lot of pretty cool features.

  • They keep your working file size small
  • They allow sharing of files while providing real-time updates
  • They are great for coordination
What do you XREF?
As stated above in what are External References, you see a lot of file types that can be attached to your working drawings. Typical items you that would attach include floor plans, title blocks, logos, standard details, survey pictures, and product literature.  But, if you have any of the file types above that you commonly share in projects the options are unlimited. See ‘Figure A’ for the various file types that can be attached in AutoCAD 2015.By choosing the drop down menu in the upper left, next to the DWG with the paperclip, you will see the variety of file types that can be attached to your working drawing.  Because AutoCAD now has so many external attachment options, the “XREF” OR EXTERNALREFERENCES” dialogue gives you a full picture of all your attachments.
 xref-1
Figure A
Why Block Insert when you can XREF?
The big difference between working on a background that is a block verses a background that is an XREF is that the external XREF can be worked on by someone else and be shared real time with multiple users or files.  External references keep your drawing files small and allow you to share the background with multiple drawings.
Example Uses
The following are examples of how XREFs can be used to increase your productivity. The one big advantage that every one of these examples is that when you update the XREF every file that references it is updated.
Title Blocks
This is probably one of the top two uses of external references. In a typical project the one item that is common among all drawings is the title block.  By XREFing the title block drawing you can make changes to the address, issue date, customer info, and logo in one place and have all of your working drawings updated automatically.
Note that the logo in the title block is another common XREF (IMAGEATTACH). You can also enter all your revision info for the entire job in this drawing as individual layers. I. E. REV-1, REV-2, etc… freeze them in the title block and thaw as necessary in the working drawings.
Floor plans
Probably the top use of XREFs.  Through a combination of external references, clipping, and paper space, you can attach multiple plans and plot at different scales all on one sheet.
XREF’s can be renamed when attached, and by doing this you can attach the same file multiple times and control the visual aspects of each as if it were a separate file.  This is referred to as logical name versus the actual name. An example would be attaching a floor plan (FP-1) that has demo and new work layers all in one drawing.  By attaching FP-1 and then renaming it in the XREF dialogue to FP-Demo you can freeze and thaw layers as required to show the demo portion of the plan. You then attach (not copy) the FP-1 plan again and freeze and thaw layers as required to show new work.  Since each logical XREF has its own layer structure showing up in your layer dialog you can also change colors and line types.
Note that this feature relies on your VISRETAIN SETVAR being set to “1 “.
Product literature
In some jurisdictions it is required manufacturers data, safety information, or product performance, is shown on the drawings. Instead of retyping all this data or redrawing it (or creating sticky backs for you old-timers) just XREF the PDF or image files into your working drawings.
Standard details
Nearly every set of drawings utilizes some form of standard details. You could have a standard detail sheet with the details XREFed so that the sheet is always up-to-date.  If you need to revise a standard detail to be job specific or freeze the details specifics from changing during the course of the job, you can bind those details into your working drawing and edit as required with in the current job.
Survey information
When doing renovation projects, a necessary task is to provide enough information on the existing conditions to allow contractors to be able to see what they face so they can give an accurate bid.  Although requiring a field visit is always a good idea that is not always practical for some projects.  A great way to enhance your drawings is to IMAGEATTACH field photos in your drawings and add notes detailing the specifics.
Key plans
When working on large building projects or campus wide projects, you can attach aerial views or screenshots from your favorite mapping program to visually show your site or campus.  For the large building projects you can attach a drawing at a reduced scale of the overall building with hatched areas or layers frozen or thawed to represent specific areas of work.  Any plan changes will automatically update your key plan as the project progresses.
These are just some of the uses for external references.  Your imagination can open up many more.
In the upcoming posts I will cover commands and settings that are important and useful for utilizing XREFs efficiently.
If you run into a snag with any of the topics her or have additional questions, email me at walt@functionsense.com
WES

AutoCAD 101 Series – Blocks – Recap

 dynamic-2-5
Are you new to AutoCAD? Have you been using AutoCAD for years but only use the blocks, styles, layers and tools that others have created?  Do you want to learn more or step up your game on features you’re not very strong in and pick up some practical examples of best practices?  If so, this series is for you.  Over the course of 12 months and maybe more I will cover the basics of a lot of AutoCAD tools and features that many may want or need to learn more about. This is the 13th article in my AutoCAD 101 series – to read about the origination for this series, see the first post here: <Intro>
The last post in this series was about “Dynamic Blocks” on the ‘Flip’ Parameter and Action. <link>. I wanted to Wrap up with the ‘Linear’ parameter and action, but I just ran short on time with all things going on.  If you are interested in the Linear Parameter and Actions, email me and I’ll get something posted for you. At this point I want to get moving ahead on other topics.  This post is a recap of what has been posted so far to date. The next 101 post will switch gears in to external reference files (XREFs).
 So far I have created 10 posts that covered the basics of everyday ‘What, Why and How’ of AutoCAD blocks and how to supercharge them by adding ‘Dynamic’ properties.  Below is a summary of ‘Block’ specific posts to date.
In the next post, I will dive in to external reference files, which is another basic tool that many still struggle with.  I will discuss types of XREFs, ‘Attachments’ vs ‘Overlays’ and practical tips and uses of external reference files.
If you run into a snag with any of this or you have any comments, email me at walt@functionsense.com.
WES

AutoCAD 101 Series – Dynamic Blocks Week 6 – Flip

Are you new to AutoCAD? Have you been using AutoCAD for years but only use the blocks, styles, layers and tools that others have created?  Do you want to learn more or step up your game on features you’re not very strong in and pick up some practical examples of best practices?  If so, this series is for you.  Over the course of 12 months and maybe more I will cover the basics of a lot of AutoCAD tools and features that many may want or need to learn more about. This is the 11th article in my AutoCAD 101 series – to read about the origination for this series, see the first post here: <Intro>
The last post in this series was about “Dynamic Blocks” on the ‘Rotate’ Parameter and Action. <link>. This post will cover the ‘Flip’ Parameter and Action and the next post will cover the ‘Linear’ Parameter and associated Actions.
dynamic-flip-rotate-p dynamic-flip-rotate-a

Figure A
For this post, once again, I will make a new block – the “Refrigerator” (Fridge).  To demonstrate the ‘Flip’ Parameter and Action, I will create a block that has two visibility states. One state will be for a single door (Top or bottom Freezer) and one will be for a Side-by-Side.  If you are not familiar or comfortable with Visibility States, see the post on Visibility states here.  This block will now give me two Dynamic options in one block and the ability to choose a left or right hand version – common for refrigerators and front load washers and dryers.  Now some would say “it is just a rectangle dude!” – well, I tend to be a bit more detailed, so knowing which way my doors open is important. In addition some would just say – “Mirror the block to get a left or right side door handle or Freezer section.  True this is an option, but if you insert a lot of appliances and re-layout kitchen and laundry designs on a regular basis, you will see how much cooler (and faster) the ‘Flip’ option is.
Below are two views of my basic refrigerator in the original left side option view.
flip-1
 Figure B
You will notice that the image shows the various grips of the block.  the down arrow grip is for choosing the visibility states, and the bottom centered grip is the insertion point.  Note that the insertion point is off the back of the refrigerator – this is because we need space behind it.  This one of those important little details discussed in the “Important Stuff” post about making blocks.
NOTE: The time it takes to make a simple block like this is small compared to the time you save each time you insert it.  And the more options you add to it – the more flexibility and time you save.  For instance, if you have (4) common refrigerator sizes, maybe more for a professional kitchen designer, and you add all the looks and sizes in to Visibility states and add flip options, you can keep everything in one block, one insertion, one edit… Make sure your most common used version is your default visibility state. 
To create the ‘Flip’ option, I need to add both the ‘Flip’ Parameter and the ‘Flip’, Action.
Flip
Parameter:
  • On the Parameter Tab of the Block authoring Palette, select ‘Flip’
  • Select the base point for the Flip (bottom of Fridge)
  • Select the endpoint of the Flip line (top perpendicular to bottom of Fridge)
  • Place the label just above the Fridge
Action:
  • To save editing later – because we have multiple Visibility States, select the button that shows  all objects (filled box over open box on Block Editor Toolbar)
  • On the Action Tab of the Block authoring Palette, select ‘Flip’
  • Select the Flip Parameter from the previous step (arrow on bottom of Fridge)
  • Select everything
  • Right click on the Flip Label and set Object Visibility to ‘Show for All states’
  • Test the block to make sure it is functioning properly – pick on the arrow and your block should ‘Flip’
  • Once I verify it is all good, I moved the Flip “Arrow” to the top of the Fridge for easier access
Below are two views of my final refrigerator in the right side option view.  You will notice that the image now shows the ‘Flip’ arrow grip.
flip-2
 Figure C
In the next post, I will cover the Linear Parameter and it’s associated Actions.  That will wrap up Dynamic blocks and I will move in to External References.
If you run into a snag with any of this or you would like a copy of the blocks created here, email me at walt@functionsense.com
WES

 

AutoCAD 101 Series – Dynamic Blocks Week 5 – Rotate

Are you new to AutoCAD? Have you been using AutoCAD for years but only use the blocks, styles, layers and tools that others have created?  Do you want to learn more or step up your game on features you’re not very strong in and pick up some practical examples of best practices?  If so, this series is for you.  Over the course of 12 months and maybe more I will cover the basics of a lot of AutoCAD tools and features that many may want or need to learn more about. This is the 10th article in my AutoCAD 101 series – to read about the origination for this series, see the first post here: <Intro>
The last post in this series was about “Dynamic Blocks” on points. <link>. This post will cover the ‘Rotate’ Parameter and Action and the next post will cover the ‘Flip’ Parameter and Action.
dynamic-flip-rotate-p dynamic-flip-rotate-a

Figure A
For this post I will break away from the Electrical world and create a new block that anyone can use: “North-Arrow”.
One thing that is typically the case with a North arrow is that unless your building is perfectly square or rectangular and can fit across the sheet with one side facing True North, your North angle needs to rotate, and it is not always in perfect 45 degree angles.  What I have seen a few Architects do, is to provide a ‘Plan North’ and a ‘True North’.  This feature can be included in the block.
I will start by creating the basic block with a circle, a set of cross hairs, a thick polyline for the True North line and an indicator for Plan North.  The block combines a few previous Parameters, so it will also have:
  • Two visibility states, one for just a basic North arrow and one for both Plan and True North.
  • The option to choose to be inserted by the left, right or center point of the North Arrow
Below is the basic Visibility states of the North arrow.  I know they are “Basic”, you can make your own as pretty as you would like.
dynamic-north-1
Figure B
Below is the block in the editor, showing all the parameters.  The steps for doing the multi-insert points were covered in the last post and the Visibility States were covered in a previous post also.  Remember, that for ‘Insertion’ points, the exclamation points are ok.  This image shows three insertion points, the Rotate Parameter/Action and the Visibility state drop-down arrow.
dynamic-north-2
Figure C
To create the ‘Rotate’ option, I need to add both the ‘Rotate’ Parameter and the Rotate, Action.
Rotate
Parameter:
  • On the Parameter Tab of the Block authoring Palette, select ‘Rotation’
  • Select the center of the circle for the basepoint
  • For the radius I choose just past the end of the line that I will be rotating
  • For default rotation angle, I type ‘0’ (Zero)
Action:
  • On the Action Tab of the Block authoring Palette, select ‘Rotate’
  • Select the Rotation Parameter from the previous steps
  • Select the line you will be rotating
  • Test the block to make sure it is functioning properly
    • Turn ortho off and on to see it smoothly rotate or go in 90 degree steps
If I switch the visibility state to to ‘True vs Plan North’ view, I lose my rotation option.  This is because when I set up the ‘Rotate’ option the ‘Standard North’ view was the view I had selected as current.  I want the rotate option in both views; fortunately this is a simple fix.   Using crossing, I select the Angle Parameter and Rotate Grip, right click to select  ‘Object Visibility’ and then choose ‘Show for All States’.  Testing again shows the rotation option in both states.  You can do this same step to Hide an Action from a specific Visibility State.
dynamic-north-3
Figure D
One thing I do not like is that the “dot” that is the grip for rotation is 90 degrees off from my line I am rotating.  Once again, easy fix.  I select the Rotation Grip and drag it to where I want it – at the top of the thick polyline.  When gabbing items in the Dynamic block if your not sure what you have, look at the properties palette and it will let you know if it is a parameter or Action what it is – See below.
dynamic-north-4
Figure E
In the next post, I will cover the flip Parameter and Action.
If you run into a snag with any of this or you would like a copy of the blocks created here, email me at walt@functionsense.com
WES

 

AutoCAD 101 Series – Dynamic Blocks Week 4 – More on Points

Are you new to AutoCAD? Have you been using AutoCAD for years but only use the blocks, styles, layers and tools that others have created?  Do you want to learn more or step up your game on features you’re not very strong in and pick up some practical examples of best practices?  If so, this series is for you.  Over the course of 12 months and maybe more I will cover the basics of a lot of AutoCAD tools and features that many may want or need to learn more about.This is the 9th article in my AutoCAD 101 series – to read about the origination for this series, see the first post here: <Intro>
The last post in this series was about diving in to “Dynamic Blocks” ‘Point’ and ‘Alignment’ Parameters and the ‘Move’ and ‘Stretch’ Actions. <link>.  This post will be just changing the Phone_Board block created in the previous post to remove the ‘Alignment’ Parameter and add some additional insertion points.
Figure A
‘Figure B’ below is a view in the block editor showing the additional ‘Points’ added and ‘Alignment’ removed.
dynamic-4-b
Figure B
Notes on the above image:

  • 0,0 = default insertion point
  • ‘INSERT-MID’ = an optional insertion point (Note that naming your parameters is a nice organizational step)
  • ‘INSERT’ = an optional insertion point
  • The ‘Move’ and ‘Stretch’ points will actually also be optional insertion points – whether you want it or not.  (There is probably a way around this, I just have not spent the time to figure it out – If you know, please enlighten me!
  • The exclamation points, which typically indicate an issue, are ok if they are just being used as multi-insertion point parameters.
Multiple Insertion Points:
  • Right click on the block and select ‘Block Editor’
  • Pick the ‘Point’ parameter and place it on the far lower right corner of the rectangle
  • Pull the cursor down to place the label (call it ‘Insert’)
  • Pick the ‘Point’ parameter and place it on the mid-point of the bottom horizontal line
  • Pull the cursor down to place the label (call it ‘Mid-Insert’)
  • Done
  • Test the block to make sure it is doing what is expected – pick on the right end of the block and drag the point left or right.  If all is well, close test window and save your block.
So what do these extra points do for us?  If you created this block or something like it and you added multiple points, when the block is inserted, as you tap the ‘CTRL’ key, the insertion point will alternate to each point – handy!
In the next post, I will cover the flip and rotate Parameters and Actions.
If you run into a snag with any of this, email me at walt@functionsense.com
WES