AutoCAD 2012 - Command Completion

Hi, my name is Melanie... and I'm a Command Line junkie.

In my defense, I started using AutoCAD for classes in high school, release 10, so typing commands in was the fast way to draft then.

The problem, of course, is that the human brain can sometimes stall a bit.

From release 2006 through 2011, your answer to a little brain stall would be to type the first character(s) of a command name and then hit the TAB key to cycle through them all, until you saw the one you wanted.

AutoCAD 2012 makes this command search a little bit easier by introducing AUTOCOMPLETE. Typing in the Command Line window or the Dynamic Input prompt has gotten quick and easy with this little beauty.
Granted, I probably do not need this feature too often because I've forgotten a command name, but, it will save me a few seconds of typing per day.

By comparison, what work I've done in Visual Studio has benefited greatly from the autocomplete feature, because I'm not very familiar with the ins-and-outs yet (free version here).

Of course, with AutoCAD, what's a new feature without some settings, eh? Depending on your level of use and personal preferences, you might want to tweak some of these.

To access the options, you can Right + Click in the command line window or type AUTOCOMPLETE.

The options, as explained in AutoCAD Help files:
  • Append - Controls whether commands and system variables are automatically completed as you type.
  • List - Controls whether a list of valid commands and system variables is displayed as you type.
  • Icon - Controls whether the corresponding icon for a command is displayed in the list. The same icon is used for all system variables.
  • System variables - Controls whether system variables are also included with the Append and List features.
  • Delay - Sets a time delay in seconds before the Append and List features take effect.
  • On - Enables the operation of the AUTOCOMPLETE features that are currently turned on.
  • Off - Suppresses the operation of AUTOCOMPLETE features without changing their settings.
You can see Heidi Hewett demo this feature in this short YouTube video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P8hgnurpPBM


AutoCAD 2012 - What's missing?

AutoCAD 2012 was released this spring. Most of the talk is, understandably about the features that are new to the program. But, sometimes, we have to talk about the things that are now missing.

If you visit the Online Help for AutoCAD 2012, try doing a search for "deprecated". This should take you to the Command and System Variable History, which contains new and updated system commands and variables. However, if you scroll to the bottom of this page you'll see a list of "Deprecated Commands and System Variables."

  • BLIPMODE (a temporary marker that shows where you've clicked)
  • DSVIEWER (an aerial view window that shows where your view is zoomed in)
System Variables

Let's be honest, most people do not even use these anymore. I do have a running jab every year where I assure people that the SCREENMENU is still in AutoCAD (because no one uses it and it's demise has been rumored for many years).

However, this release... it really is gone.
Or, is it?
Over on the CADnauseam blog, Steve Johnson (and Jimmy Bergmark) points out that not all of these commands are *really* gone yet. Some of them are just turned off by default, and will likely be removed in future versions.
To turn back on (screen menu, ds viewer, blipmode or trace) use the REDEFINE command. After you have redefined the command, call up the applicable system variable and set it to "1" (default is 0).
If you are interested, read the comments section in the link above, they address customization and other changes.

(click image to enlarge)

This screenshot shows AutoCAD 2012 with the ScreenMenu on the right and the Aerial Viewer depicting my view of the drawing file (which happens to be my husband, Mike's sketch of the new native plantings he is currently installing in our back yard).

You might also want to check out Steve Johnson's post on 'putting things back to normal', so that your new release looks and acts a bit more like the older versions.


AutoCAD Bible Winner - Tips and Tricks

The winner of the AutoCAD and AutoCAD LT 2011 Bible is: Nancy Eaton!

A photo of the impartial party drawing the winner from the names of the tipsters:

Thank you to all who participated! I hope everyone enjoys your tips.

Tipster: Nancy Eaton
Product: AutoCAD

For polylines I change the command string in the tool properties to make the appropriate layer current (command CLAYER) so I don’t have to pick the tool again to draw another polyline. Notice that “Use flyout” has to be set to “No” otherwise you can’t change the command string:

If the layer isn’t in the drawing or you end up using a lot of drawings that have old standards you can make the layer and set the layer color in the tool properties command string:

Tipster: Shaoib Azeem
Product: AutoCAD

Today I would like to submit a Tip which is my favorite and I use it mostly. This tip is about Embedded Images.
It means all the inserted images can be parts of a drawing without using external reference.

1 - Open your drawing in which you want to insert the image.
2 - Go to the Main menu then click on "insert tab" it will give you drop down menu then  go to OLE Object,click it.
3 - Here is a box which shows you many options. Select "bitmap image" under Create New radio tab button.
4 - After selecting that "paint" will open.
5 - Click "edit" then click "paste from" and select your desire file.
6 - Save your file as "24 bit bitmap" format.
This image will be a permanent part of your drawing without using external reference.
(click to enlarge image)

Tipster: John Loudermilk
Product: AutoCAD

Use the "@" symbol to get the last point (i.e. while using the line command).

Tipster: Dan Crimmins
Product: AutoCAD / Map 3D

When one of your standard drawing templates will not quite do for the drawing you are starting, try creating your new custom Layer Names as follows:  
Open Layer Manager.  
Rt-Click on any existing layer name and select, “New Layer”. I find that this approach is faster and easier than using the “Create Layer” icon at the top of the pane.  
Next, type in the name of the new layer and hit “enter” twice.  
The double “enter” will  1. save your new layer name, then 2. shift down a line for entering the next new layer name.

Tipster: Jason
Product: Unspecified

I've used a nostromo speedpad for years. It allows me to have multiple key configurations. 
One is set to standard asdfg etc. another is set to snap points, and the third is for running uncommon commands. 

For instance, stretch polygon is one button. Its a bit of an investment, but pays for itself rather quickly in the time saved when drafting.

Tipster: Mark
Product: Unspecified

Use SNAPSTYL and the F5 key with ORTHO on to draw nice 2D isometrics.

Tipster: Greg Silva
Product: AutoCAD

Have you ever wished your block had multiple insertion points?

You can create the block or edit the block with the bedit command.

Use the point parameter from the Block Authoring Palette and insert one at each location you would like an extra insertion point.

Close the bedit workspace and now when you insert that block you can use the Ctrl key to switch between insertion points.

Tipster: Greg Silva
Product: AutoCAD

Have you ever needed a list of all the layers in a drawing? Maybe just to create your standards.
Well there is a very easy way to get an excel spreadsheet of your layers and their properties.
Bring up the layer dialog box anyway you want (for me it's still typing "layer" at the command prompt. Sorry, I am old school).

Make sure you select something in the layer dialog box to make it active and use the ctrl "A" to select everything. All the layer names and properties should now be blue.

Now use the Ctrl "C" to copy everything to the clipboard.

Start Excel, select the first cell and use Ctrl "V" to paste the contents of the clipboard into the spreadsheet.

You now have a complete spreadsheet with all the layer names and properties of each layer.

Tipster: Randal Fernandez ("Randal of the Hill People")
Product: AutoCAD (and verticals)

When using a vertical product such as Map, Civil 3d, Architectural, Utility Design (and probably the others as well), the default install typically doesn’t have the menus you want. The plain vanilla toolbars and menus are likely missing. Sometimes there is a workspace pre-configured to “Classic” or similar, but I like to customize. I want my menus, my way. Here’s a short description of my process:

1: Using the Customize User Interface (CUI), on the Transfer tab, create a new custom CUI file on the right side. On the left side, use the open button to locate acad.cui (the location varies by product and OS).

2: Copy your favorite menus, toolbars, and (maybe) ribbons to your new CUI file. *IMPORTANT: I rename the menus (A-File, A-Modify, etc) so I know which menus come from my cui file, and to prevent duplicates and general weirdness. Save the new CUI file.

2a: You can open other CUI files to copy menus into your new CUI file. With Civil 3d, I have some Design and Survey menus available at all times with a D- and S- prefix.

3: On the Customize tab, on the left side choose the “All customization files”. At the bottom of the list, right-click “Partial CUI Files” and choose “Load Partial Customization File…”. Select your newly-minted CUI file, and it will load at startup.

4: Finally: create a new Workspace and choose the menus, toolbars, and ribbons you want active; obviously you want everything from your new CUI file, and maybe a few other things. Save that workspace, set it current, apply, and close.

5: Spend the next 15 minutes rearranging the toolbars where you want them, then save your workspace again, overwriting the current settings. I also might go back into the CUI window and streamline the menu commands a little, deleting unnecessary or duplicate menu items. Again, SAVE YOUR WORKSPACE every time you make changes, or Save As if you want to test out changes temporarily.

You still have the factory-set workspaces in case your manager says “why doesn’t your screen look like everyone else’s?”, but then you can turn it back so you can get your work done faster.  :-)

Tipster: Angela
Product: Any
I was taught, during my time at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, to save my AutoCAD projects as a PDF. 
Do this by pressing the print button (or CTRL + P), and where it asks for which printer you want to use, you would scroll down to 'PDF' and select, then print.

If PDF is not one of your printer options, download a program like PDFCreator for free.


OT: Lord of the Rings Pickup Lines

Undeniably, the most popular post on my blog is (WAS) the one entitled Geek Pickup Lines. Strangely enough, one of the top searches that brings people to my little corner of the interwebs is "Lord of the Rings Pick up Lines". Due to my mention of the books in my profile. =>

Yes, that is sort of sad, given that this blog is dedicated to the serious and the professional... ~pause~ Okay, maybe not entirely. One reason I take so much pleasure in my work is that my colleagues enjoy a good laugh (see also: "You Might be a CAD Diva if...").

You can see more proof in the "LOTR Punwar", it left me in stitches! 

So, I think to myself... "Self, give the people what they want!" And, the people obviously want some Lord of the Rings Pickup Lines! So, I hit Google and found that, while there might be much innuendo, there were few one-liners of the type for which I was searching.
At the bottom of this post, I pasted in some of what I found, but, first, I'm going to try my hand at crafting a few original Lord of the Rings pickup lines:

  • You don't need One Ring to find me.
  • Baby, you're hotter than the cracks of Mount Doom.
  • Your rejection would destroy me like an Ent destroys Isengard.
  • So, hey, how about that Weather... top?
  • My love for you is deeper than the lodes of Mithril in Khazad-dum.
  • Speak, friend, and enter... your number in my phone.
  • I'll be your Isildur and you can be my bane.
  • I couldn't help but notice all of these losers circling you like Nazgul... why don't we get out of here and go back to my Mathom-house?
  • No, we haven't met, unless you count in the Mirror of Galadriel.
  • Your beauty has pierced my heart like a Morgul Blade.
  • I'm not usually this forward, but, you've broken down my barriers like Grond.
  • ~offering the Red Arrow~
  • Was that a Middle-Earthquake? or did you just rock my world?
  • I've heard about a great new club... want to go There and Back Again?
  • You've got beautiful eyes, they sparkle like the Mirrormere.
  • I'd climb the Endless Stair to be with you.
Well... what do you think? If you can do better (and I am sure you can), please leave a comment below.

  • "If you are not Luthien, then you walk in her likeness."
  • Sauron: "I've only got Eye for you"
  • "Pardon me, but are you elvish? You've been running through my mind without pause!"
  • "If loving you is El-Rond, I don't wanna be El-Right!"
  • Thorondor: Going my way?
  • If you were an orc, I'd be sting. When you're near me, I glow!
  • If you like it then you shoulda put a ring on it, precious.
  • Are we in Lord of The Rings? Cause I swear you're my precious... 
  • You shall not pass... without giving me your number.
  • Certainty of death, *small* chance of success... What are we waiting for?
  • "Why couldn't Tom Bombadil hear the telephone?"
    • "Because the ring had no effect on him."
  • "Give me a ring later."
  • "What's a nice elf like you doing in a place like this?"
  • "Didn't we meet at the orc siege the other night?"

(/\ please note, this thread contains a lot of innuendo, only click if you don't mind that sort of thing)
  • Sauron: "I've had my eye on you for a long time, baby."
  • Gollum: "Want to see my precious?"
  • Denethor to guard: Come on baby, light my fire.
Just in case any of these pickup lines work, don't forget to pick up something suitable for your love: 
  • One Ring
  • Nenya Ring
  • Ring of Barahir
  • Elven Leaf Broach
  • Elven Leaf Necklace & Earrings
  • Arwen Evenstar Necklace
  • Tree of Gondor Earrings
  • Not all those who wander are lost necklace

Recent Random AUGI resources

Alright, you all know I love AUGI and all of it's talented volunteers, right?

Well, just in case you're not a big dork, and do not follow me on Twitter, here is a list of resources I recently shared there, just to ensure that everyone gets to see them. Have a scroll through and see if someone has shared some news or tips for the products you use.

Hot Forum Topics: 

Navisworks: setting up object enablers http://forums.augi.com/showthread.php?t=85131
CAD Management: CAD vs. Creativity http://forums.augi.com/showthread.php?t=18562 
CAD Management: working with laptop users http://forums.augi.com/showthread.php?t=128352
BIM Management: startup costs for #Revit http://forums.augi.com/showthread.php?t=129552
BIM Management: job descriptions? http://forums.augi.com/showthread.php?t=97134
CAD Standards: NCS in contract requirements http://forums.augi.com/showthread.php?t=125587
Training: New users vs. old users #CAD #BIM http://forums.augi.com/showthread.php?t=84092
AutoCAD MEP: changing conduit bends http://forums.augi.com/showthread.php?t=129194
Discussion @AUGI #AutoCAD Architecture: 2012 release discussion http://forums.augi.com/showthread.php?t=128699
Revit Architecture: 2012 Stability http://forums.augi.com/showthread.php?t=129259
Revit MEP: relinquishing issues http://forums.augi.com/showthread.php?t=83117 #RMEP
Facilities Management: Project Management software http://forums.augi.com/showthread.php?t=110350 #CAFM #FM
AutoCAD LT: What will I miss (if anything) using LT? http://forums.augi.com/showthread.php?t=129191
AutoCAD: what's the most obscure command you can think of? http://forums.augi.com/showthread.php?t=74304
Civil3D: adjusting settings for better performance http://forums.augi.com/showthread.php?t=128539
Inventor: Moving parts into a new assembly http://forums.augi.com/showthread.php?t=128105
AutoLISP: What API Should I learn? http://forums.augi.com/showthread.php?t=67675
Vault: so many unanswered questions, help out http://forums.augi.com/forumdisplay.php?f=292
HotNews Articles:
An Interview with @AutoCADLT 's Kate Morrical http://tinyurl.com/3bpkh7n
TIPniques: Parametrics in AutoCAD, Part 1 http://tinyurl.com/3ewy969 
TIPniques: Parametrics in AutoCAD, Part 2 http://tinyurl.com/3gscb6u
CAD Management: How to Impress Your Boss http://tinyurl.com/43a2d55
- by Mark Kiker
Is the CAD Classroom Obsolete? http://tinyurl.com/3myvoyo

TIPniques: A Few of my Favorite AutoCAD Things http://tinyurl.com/3h5wxnq

The Civil Side: Six Smart Tips http://tinyurl.com/3q36yv4
AUGIWorld Magazine Articles:
May Issue:
(The links below all point to specific pages in the same pdf document)
- by Andra Marquardt
- by Brian Benton
- by Melinda Heavrin
- by Tench Tilghman
- by James Salmon
- by Joe Eichenseer and Scott Burke
- by Miriam Ganesh and Damian Serrano
- by Mark Flayler
Implementation Concepts and Processes in Navisworks http://www.augi.com/images/uploads/augiworld_issues/AW0511_lr.pdf#page=42
- by Will Harris
- by Casey Eckhard
- by Erik Lewis
- by Marcello Sgambelluri
- by Tom Cipolla
Heads Up! - updates, services packs, known issues http://www.augi.com/images/uploads/augiworld_issues/AW0511_lr.pdf#page=59
- by William Troeak
- by Beth Powell
- by David Mills

April Issue:
(The links below all point to specific pages in the same pdf document)
AutoCAD MEP 2012 Streamlined  
- by Beth Powell
2012 Productivity Boost
- by Brian Benton
- by Stephen Preston
What's New in AutoCAD WS (cloud-based autocad for smartphones and tablets)?
- by Brian Benton
Interview with 's Harlan Brumm
- by Steve Stafford
Civil 3D 2012: Life's a Beach  
- by Chris Fugitt
Architecture & platform 2012 Score!
- by Lonnie Cumpton
Introducing MEP 2012  
- by R. Robert Bell
What's New in Structure 2012
- by Phil Russo
Navisworks 2012 - What's New  
- by Richard Parker
New Features in Autodesk Inventor 2012
- by John Evans


Mastering Civil 3D Winner - Tips and Tricks

Thank you to everyone who participated in the Tips and Tricks contest. I apologize for the delay in selecting the winner. I'm finally on summer break from uni and had some time to revisit this.

This post is about the winner of the Mastering AutoCAD Civil 3D 2011 book!

Congratulations to Dave Drahn! As promised, an impartial party was given the names of all of the tipsters, and he selected one at random. 

Tipster: Dave Drahn
Product: Civil 3D

With C3D came a crapload of new layers and time to wrap our head around (usually) the NCS layering standards. To help us handle these a little easier, in our C3D template(s), I've included a set of layer filters like these:

The time it took to set these up in the template undoubtedly paid for itself in the first week of use by just one user and is now a standard at our company.

Finding these filter codes in help was trickier than doing them. Here are 3 of them, but I can post the rest somewhere if desired:

All Civil 3D Layers
[A C V O]-* (all layers beginning with A-, C-, V- or O-)
Layer* (any new layer created while in the filter will display initially as "Layer...")

C-PROF* (All layers beginning with C-Prof...)
Layer* (See above)

No C3D Layers
~[A C V O]-* (Layer name Not beginning with A-, C-, etc)
Layer* (see above)

Also, if you need to show No C3D or Xref Layers, simply select the "All C3D and Xref layers" filter and check the Invert Filter box.

Thanks to everyone else submitted tips but did not win, your sharing is very much appreciated!
Tipster: Zane Zigmund
Product: Civil 3D

Adding notes to objects in Civil3D
1. Select the “General” menu followed by “Utilities” then “Notes”
2. In the drawing select the object that you wish to add the notes to, followed by ENTER!
3. The Text Dialogue box is displayed and you can now enter the required information, followed by “OK”
4. To view any text that may have been attached to an object simply bring up the properties of the object (by double clicking the object). Select the “Extended Data” tab and any notes attached to an object can be read.

 Tipster: Earl Kubaskie
Product: Civil 3D

Got a flat surface at an even elevation where contours jump across instead of going all the way around? Get sloppy! Set the elevation of the features that define the surface "close enough", like 39.99999 instead of 40.0! Your "40" contour will now wrap all the way around, label properly, and you won't have anyplace where the contour pops across the feature. And the effect on volume calcs and such will be nil unless you're covering a LOT of ground.

ps - you might have to do it the other way (40.000001) if your feature is a plateau instead of a pond!

 Tipster: David Renaud
Product: AutoCAD

 Having trouble seeing your QLEADER during the command so that you have to guess where it ends up if the angles are constrained? And DRAGMODE and DRAGP1 don't do a thing for you? 
Try switching from model space to paper space, and back again. Don't ask me how or why, but it works!

 Tipster: Kyle Nishioka
Product: AutoCAD

Use the Shift + Right-Click context menu and a shortcut key to select Object Snap points instead of using the OSNAP lock.

For example, start the LINE command then Shift + Right-Click and hit "E" for the Endpoint snap.  Most of the common Object Snap shortcut letters are typed with the left hand (e.g. E = Endpoint, A = Apparent Intersection, C = Center, R = Nearest). 
This makes it easy to select only a particular type of Object Snap among a dense cluster of snapping points.

Tipster: Sam Lucido
Product: AutoCAD

Use the express tool LAYDEL command but at the command prompt type N to bring up a dialog box to dispay a list of layers that you can choose from and delete.  This is a great tool for managing drawings with large amounts of layer information.