When you create sheet views like I described in the previous Sheets Happen post, you probably want those sheet views to be labeled. Using traditional methods, you probably insert a block that uses attributes to display the view number, title and scale. You can continue inserting your view label block just like you’ve always done, or you can save some steps by assigning your view label block as a property in the sheet set.
In the Sheet Set Manager, right-click on the sheet set title and choose Properties.
In the Sheet Set Properties dialog box, select Label Block for Views and choose the button to access the Select Block dialog box.
In the Select Block dialog box, navigate to file that defines your standard view label block. Your view label block might be defined in its own drawing (DWG) or template (DWT) file or it might exist as a block definition within a larger drawing or template file.
If your view label is its own file, select the option: Select the drawing file as a block. Or If your view label is a block definition within a drawing or template, select the option: Choose blocks in the drawing file and then select the appropriate block definition. You can only assign one view label block to a sheet set.
Choose OK to close both dialog boxes and accept the changes.
Now when you create new sheet views using the Resource Drawings tab as described in my previous post, AutoCAD will automatically insert the view label block for you. It places the view label block with its insertion point at the lower left corner of the viewport. You can then use traditional methods to enter the view number, name, and scale. But, wouldn’t it be great if AutoCAD entered all of that information for you??? Ahhh Haaaa!! That is why we need Fields! Stay tuned!
Did you think I was done with sheet sets? Not a chance! I’ve just been a little distracted by other activities. I’m sorry about the delay… I know you’re anxious to move on to the really *exciting* topics relating to Fields! Before we get into fields, I’ve decided to squeeze in two more topics (Creating Sheet Views and Adding View Labels) because these are ways you can further increase your efficiency with minimal effort.
In Sheets Happen! Step 11, you learned how to use your existing template file to create a new sheet. Now I’ll describe how you can quickly add content to that new sheet.
If you were creating “sheets” using traditional tools, you might create a drawing using your template and then attach external references of your model, create viewports on the layouts, set the viewport scale, and insert a view label to describe that particular view or detail. The same concepts apply using sheet set functionality, except the process is automated!
Assuming your xref drawings are in a particular folder on your hard drive (or on a network drive), you can add that folder (or folders) as a sheet set property. This will enable you to have easy access to your xref drawings from within the Sheet Set Manager.
In the Sheet Set Manager, right-click on the sheet set title and choose Properties.
In the Sheet Set Properties dialog box, select Resource Drawing Locations and choose the button to access the Resource Drawings Location dialog box.
In the Resource Drawing Locations dialog box, choose Add and navigate to the folders that contain the xrefs (model geometry) that you want easily accessible for this sheet set. You can add as many locations as you want.
Choose OK to close all of the dialog boxes and accept the changes.
So far all of our work in the Sheet Set Manager has been on the Sheet List tab. However, as you have probably noticed, there are two other tabs: Resource Drawings and View List. The Resource Drawings tab displays a tree view of the resource drawing locations you added in step 3 above and you can add locations directly from the Resource Drawings tab. If you expand the file location node, you can see all the folders and drawings in that location. If you expand a drawing node, you will see the named modelspace views within that drawing. If the drawing does not contain named modelspace views, it will only expand as far as the drawing file itself.
Using the Resource Drawings tab, you can easily add content to your sheets. Rather than going through the manual process of attaching an xref and creating and scaling a modelspace viewport, you simply drag a resource drawing onto your sheet.
In the Sheet Set Manager, select the Sheet List tab.
On the Sheet List tab, open a sheet to which you want to add content.
Select the Resource Drawings tab.
On the Resource Drawings tab, navigate to the drawing file you want to attach as an xref in your sheet.
Select a drawing or named modelspace view within the drawing and drag it onto the sheet. You can simply pick a point on the layout and AutoCAD will automatically determine an appropriate scale based on the size of the drawing/view and layout. However, since you probably want the new layout viewport to be at a particular scale, you can specify the scale before you place the viewport on the layout.
Before you specify the insertion point for the new viewport, right-click and select an appropriate scale from the list.
Specify the insertion point to place the viewport in the drawing.
So what exactly happened during this process? Nothing magic! AutoCAD did exactly what you do using traditional methods, but it did it in a lot fewer steps! AutoCAD attached the resource drawing file to the sheet drawing as an external reference with an insertion point at 0,0. It created a layout viewport and set the viewport scale. Regardless of whether you select a drawing or named modelspace view from the Resource Drawings tab, AutoCAD attaches the entire drawing. Your selection (the dwg or a particular modelspace view) determines how much of that xref will be displayed in the new layout viewport. If you select a drawing, the new layout viewport displays everything that was visible in modelspace of the xref file. If you select a named modelspace view, the new layout viewport displays everything that was visible in that named view; taking into account the layer visibility as well as the view boundaries. If you are not familiar with named views, I encourage you to learn more about them. Named views were enhanced in AutoCAD 2005 to support sheet set functionality but they are very useful even if you don’t use sheet sets. And, as we look into the future of AutoCAD, named views will become even more valuable!
On Thursday, we enjoyed (yes… training is fun!) a day at the Neuchatel office.
When I wasn’t teaching, I was watching the snow fall outside the office window and hoping to catch a glimpse of Lake Neuchatel in the distance. There is a lake back there somewhere but I’ll have to return to Neuchatel another time (maybe during the summer) to get a better look.
We ended our day with a wonderful dinner and several glasses of Neuchatel wine!
I’ve been training in Europe this week with my coworkers, Kelly and Jonathan. While delivering a class at the Autodesk office outside of London, we had the pleasure of meeting the fantastic technical support staff as well as some top consultants from across Europe. We concluded our training session with a couple pints at a British pub and headed to the Autodesk office in Neuchatel, Switzerland the following morning.
Our “training” in Switzerland began with an adventure aboard a Swiss train. Sitting in the dining car on our way from Genève to Neuchatel, Jonathan and I ordered our $20 entrees from the gourmet menu. As we awaited our lunch, we occasionally glanced out the window to admire the snow falling on the beautiful lakes and mountains. During one fortunate glance out the window, I thought “this town looks a lot like Neuchatel”. You should have seen the look on the server’s face when we said “Neuchatel?!? That’s our stop!” I’m sure he was impressed with the intelligence of American travelers! If you are familiar with the trains in Switzerland, you know they stay on schedule and don’t stop for long.
As Jonathan, tried to pay for the food we had yet to see, I ran back to the car where Kelly and our luggage were waiting. I got there just in time to see Kelly, who was rudely awoken from a nap, jumping from the train and undoubtedly wondering where the heck we were! I grabbed as much as I could carry and jumped off the train. Unfortunately in my haste, I lost my purse! Where did it go?! Oh, there it is! Under the train! Here’s a travel tip: If you want to delay the departure of a train, cause a scene that implies you might be crazy enough to crawl underneath the train to retrieve a lost item. The conductor instantly came to the rescue and you can trust (I hope!) that the train wouldn’t go anywhere while the conductor is risking life and limb!
By the way, the server insisted that we take our food to go. You know that $20 gourmet meal? It comes in a bag! I’m convinced that it takes 1 minute to “make” those gourmet dinners. However, to justify the price, customers are led to believe that a chef is slaving away in the back of the restaurant. In reality, the server simply wastes a sufficient amount of time before nuking the bag and creatively arranging its contents on a china plate.
But, to be fair, my gourmet bag of gnocchi and mushrooms in cream sauce was surprisingly good… certainly better than it looked!
Fortunately, the “train”ing day ended happily as we devoured a large pot of traditional Swiss cheese fondue during our dinner in Neuchatel! As my kids would say… “ummmalicious!”
If you have been unsuccessful at convincing your management to send you to Autodesk University, try taking a smaller step by attending a local CAD Camp! A new round of CAD Camp sessions begins in Omaha, Nebraska on February 21 and will move to various locations throughout the United States. The CAD Camp sessions cover a variety of Autodesk products and topics. They are taught by local and national experts; many of which teach similar classes at Autodesk University. This is a great opportunity to explore the value of these courses in your own backyard! If you are a CAD manager, consider bringing members of your staff to CAD Camp. In addition to the knowledge they’ll gain, it can offer a great morale boost when they see you are willing to invest in their advancement. If you and your team can show increased productivity from your CAD Camp training, maybe you’ll justify a trip to Las Vegas for Autodesk University!
I am often asked for advice on how to become more proficient with AutoCAD. There are many options including self-paced books, eLearning lessons, peer instruction, blogs, magazines, Webcasts, etc. The options you choose can depend on many factors including (like most things in life) time and money. Aside from those two ever-present factors, you should also consider personal factors that influence how you best learn. For example, a learner whose native language is not English may find it difficult to follow a fast-paced training course that is delivered in English. However, a self-paced eLearning course (even if it is in English) might work well. Some people can learn a computer application by reading a book, while others need their hands on the keyboard.
My personal “default” method of learning new software functionality is by trial and error. However, I learned very early in my AutoCAD career that, although trial and error enables me to learn the depth of specific functionality, it is instructor-led training that enables me to quickly learn the breadth of the application. Like many AutoCAD users, I was guilty of using only a small part of the application because that’s what I knew and it seemed to work.
I was first introduced to AutoCAD in 1986 when I was a computer science major at Colorado State University. I was in the computer lab when my friend, an industrial design major, showed me how he could draw an ellipse on the monochrome display using computer program called AutoCAD. That was about the coolest thing I had ever seen! Way more fun than the all-nighters I had been spending in the computer lab trying to write a Pascal program to print my name in a circular pattern! I had never taken a drafting class in my life but I was instantly hooked on AutoCAD. I immediately transferred to the University of Colorado, Boulder and enrolled in the architectural engineering program so that I could *play* with AutoCAD all the time! I used AutoCAD for every assignment possible (even if a word processor might have been more appropriate :-). Although the university computer labs had AutoCAD installed on the systems, the only AutoCAD training consisted of a two-week AutoCAD unit within the hand-drafting course. The instructor himself was new to AutoCAD so I gained virtually all of my AutoCAD knowledge through trial and error.
About two years into my engineering degree, my brother saw me drawing a floor plan in AutoCAD. He had taken many hand-drafting courses but had never touched a computer. His first look at AutoCAD and he was hooked! It must run in the family! My brother enrolled in an architectural drafting program at the local technical school where the emphasis was on AutoCAD. One day I happened to catch him doing some cool thing that enabled him to trim a bunch of existing lines to another object. For 2+ years I had been using AutoCAD (including the minimal 3D functionality) but I didn’t even know the TRIM command existed! That was an eye opening experience! What else didn’t I know??? Since I wasn’t about to let my brother know more about AutoCAD than I did, I bought a book and proceeded to learn about all of the other inefficiencies I had been guilty of!
As a poor, starving college student, learning from a self-paced book was a perfect solution! It was inexpensive and I could do it at my own pace. Back then I had more time than money! What about now? I am always learning new applications and when I want to learn quickly, I take an instructor-led course. If learning the application isn’t urgent, I might take a semester course at an academic institution. However, if I want to learn the breadth of the application as quickly as possible or , I attend a 1-3 day corporate training course. Notice that I said “breadth” of the application. There is no way you can learn everything about a sophisticated software application in a single day. But, if you walk away with a broad understanding of its capabilities, even if you can’t remember the exact procedures, your time and money will be well spent! You’ll know what the application can do and when you go back to the office you can explore the depth of the functionality as you apply it to your own work. How do you learn the depth? Trial and error, books, eLearning, blogs, magazines, coworkers, etc.
I can’t say enough about the value of instructor-led training in a professional work environment. Although the cost (in time and training fees) may seem high, when you consider the cost of inefficient work practices over an extended period of time, the cost of training is relatively insignificant.