Autodesk University is well underway in Las Vegas! More than 6000 attendees are learning how to work more efficiently with Autodesk products. For more information about Autodesk University 2006, visit the official AU 2006 blog.
During this series of posts, I’ve demonstrated many of the AutoCAD 2007 tools and tricks that enable you to transition from 2D drawings to the exciting world of 3D. In these examples, I’ve used a building systems drawing but keep in mind that you can apply all of these tools and tricks to any industry and they are particularly useful for conceptual design. As you become comfortable in the world of 3D and want to get serious about creating 3D models, you should consider Autodesk’s industry-specific 3D modeling applications. Since many of Autodesk’s industry applications use AutoCAD as a foundation, the tools and tricks you learn when transitioning from 2D to 3D AutoCAD will directly apply to these more powerful applications. For example, Autodesk Building Systems enables you to combine the core AutoCAD tools that I’ve shown with automated tools and libraries specifically designed for building systems. You can create 3D building systems models in significantly less time and with more flexibility.
For more information about Autodesk’s industry-specific applications, visit www.autodesk.com and select the appropriate industry.
Have you ever complained about having too much drawing area? I didn’t think so! There are two things that control the amount of space in which you have to draw. One is hardware and the other is software. I can’t give you a bigger monitor (I can’t even get one for myself!) but I can show you how to create a larger drawing space using your AutoCAD software! During this series, I’ll show you how to configure your AutoCAD drawing environment for maximum drawing area while maintaining easy access to your drawing and editing tools!
My FAVORITE UI (user interface) enhancement in AutoCAD 2007 is palette anchoring. When I say “palette”, I don’t just mean the Tool Palettes window. I mean everything that looks and acts like a palette. Sometimes these palettes are referred to (by software developers and ultra-techies) as Enhanced Secondary Windows (ESW). These palettes (ESWs) are different from other UI elements such as dialog boxes because they can exist outside of the main AutoCAD Window and they can remain open while you perform other tasks in AutoCAD.
You might have noticed, over the past few releases, that many of the newer AutoCAD tools have been introduced as ESWs (Tool Palettes, Sheet Set Manager, Dashboard) and some older AutoCAD tools have been converted to ESWs (External References Manager, Command Line). For example, in AutoCAD 2007 you can move the External References manager outside the AutoCAD window and you can leave it open while you continue to launch other AutoCAD commands.
In AutoCAD 2006, the External References manager is not an ESW. It can’t be moved outside the AutoCAD window and you must close it before you can continue using other commands.
So what does all of this have to do with maximizing your workspace? ESWs have special display controls that enable them to be easily accessible without consuming large areas of the drawing window. You can move, resize, open and close them, and you can dock them at the side of the AutoCAD window. You can also enable Auto-hide so they roll-up out of the way and then unroll when you pass your cursor over them.
All of this functionality is available for ESWs in AutoCAD 2006. You can open your favorite palettes, resize and move them, and then enable Auto-hide. However, in AutoCAD 2006, when you pass your cursor over the palette titlebar to unroll it, the palette maintains its current height. So, if you have three palettes stacked on the side, each one will be “short” requiring you to scroll up and down to access content.
AutoCAD 2007 offers a solution to this limitation by enableing you to "anchor" a palette to the left- or right side of the screen.
Then, if you enable Auto-hide, regardless of how many palettes you anchor and how “short” they are, the palette will unroll to the full height of the AutoCAD window.
You can even right-click on the titlebar and specify “Icons only” so that only the palette icon is displayed.
Using this functionality, you can have every AutoCAD palette (including the Command window) at your fingertips in the space of a single toolbar! You can literally do all your AutoCAD work in an environment like this!
So, exactly what AutoCAD functionality is available as a “palette”? In AutoCAD 2007, look under the Tools Menu. The “Command Line” as well as everything under the Palettes submenu are ESWs. In addition to these palettes, Sun Properties and Drawing Recovery are also ESWs.
Continuing with my “Transitioning from 2D to 3D AutoCAD Drawings” series, I want to copy the current duct to multiple locations and then edit the length and diameter accordingly. Of course, I could draw a new cylinder, repeating the process from my previous post. Or, I could create the ductwork using other methods such as extruding a circle along a path. However, I think copying and editing the cylinders is the most efficient. In older versions of AutoCAD (prior to AutoCAD 2006), editing existing objects was much more difficult and I wouldn’t have even considered this method.
Select the cylinder
Right-click and choose Copy Selection.
Pick the Center of the end of the column to specify the base point.
Pick the midpoints of each of the ends of the 2D ducts.
Select a cylinder and then select the length grip.
Select the midpoint of the end of the intersecting duct to ensure the cylinder stretches to the middle of the duct.
Continue editing the existing cylinders by stretching the length or diameter as necessary.
You can easily create all the ducts that have the same orientation by repeating this process of copy/grip-edit.