Showing posts with label Express Tools. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Express Tools. Show all posts

Installing Express Tools in AutoCAD Architecture 2011

Check that you are installing the express tools before running your ACA 2011 installation. They are important.
Català - Castellano - Deutsch
We have seen in several posts how useful Express Tools are (both in AutoCAD and AutoCAD Architecture). It is important to know that in some versions, installing these tools is not set as default on the installation programs. So let's go quickly into how to install these awesome tools from the very beginning.

This post applies to AutoCAD Architecture 2011 which I had to reinstall in one computer recently. But I assume for other versions it might be quite similar. When you run the set up program and after entering you serial number and product key, you'll come to the following screen.

Press on configure and you will be able to modify some of the installation parameters. On the first screen you'll choose Network or Stand-Alone license, on the second one is where you'll have to choose to select the express tools. See below.

First you need to press "Custom" and then browse till you see the express tools on the list and select them to be installed. On the image above you see the default status, where the Express Tools would not be installed.

That's it, now your AutoCAD Architecture 2011 Installation will include the Express Tools

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AutoCAD: Save All The Open Drawings

An Express Tool command allows you to save changes on all open drawings.
Català - Castellano - Deutsch
The Express Tool Command SAVEALL allows you to easily save changes on all open drawings, no matter if you have only one drawing open or you have 15 of them open.
This, as simple as it sounds can be useful when for whatever reason we are working simultaneously on many drawings updating all of them. With this command, we can save changes on all the drawings in a very simple way.
Similar to this command is the CLOSEALL Express Tool command. What this one does is to close all the open drawings asking if you want to save changes in those that have been modified. So next time you need to save and close a lot of drawings, you can simply type SAVEALL and then CLOSEALL and all the drawings will be saved and closed in only a few seconds.

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AutoCAD Express Tools: Replace Blocks

Replace all the instances of a Block for a different one with this express tools.
Català - Castellano - Deutsch
I use quite often simple Blocks as placeholders for parts of the drawing that might change or get more detailed in the future. This might apply to windows, doors, toilets, staircases,etc. We might want to put a placeholder to have a rough idea of the space needed for those objects, and later on we might want to replace that placeholder for the final and more detailed block. How do we do that in a simple and fast way?
We use the BLOCKREPLACE express tool. With this command, we can easily pick the block we want to replace and the Block that will replace it. When we enter the command, we will get the following dialog box, where we enter the name of the block to be replaced. If we don't remember the name, we can simply press the pick button and select the block on the screen.

After selection the block to replace, the same dialog will ask us for the block we want to use as a replacement. For this command to be effective, we must have two blocks that have their 0,0,0 coordinate (their insertion point) at the same location, and not be rotated differently. Otherwise, the new blocks will not show in the proper location or with the proper rotation.

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AutoCAD: Breakline and Dimjogline

Draw the breakline symbol and dimension elements that contain this symbol properly
Català - Castellano - Deutsch
When doing detailed sections and other similar drawings, we tend to not draw the entire length of a facade. Rather, we detail certain parts and represent them in a sequence. To separate those different parts we use the break line symbol. This symbols also used on floor plans to represent the point where the stair intersects with the cut plane of the floor plan (at school they always told us to consider 1.5m as the cutting plane for floor plans)
AutoCAD has an express tool to draw the break line symbol, no big secret. Simply enter BREAKLINE or go to Express --> Draw --> Break-Line Symbol. You will enter the 2 points you want the break-line symbol to reach, and the third point you pick is where the jogged line will appear. See how in the detail below, 2 break line symbols have been used to separate the different parts of the detail.

If there is an element that we want to dimension that gets cut by this break line, we might want to represent the dimension symbol with a jogged line too, so whoever reads the drawing understands that the dimension shown is the real dimension not considering that we have cut part of the drawing for representation purposes. To do this, we need to use the command DIMJOGLINE, that will allow us to add the jog line to an existing dimension. The result being something like this.

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AutoCAD: Use Curved Frames to Clip your References

Clip your Blocks or XREFs using curved polylines, circles, etc
Català - Castellano - Deutsch
A common problem found when using the XCLIP command is that it doesn't clip properly if the polyline we use has curved segments. The same way we can't use circles to clip Blocks or XREFs. If you try to clip a block using a polyline that contains curved segments you will see that along the curved segment the clipping is not done properly. See the following image. The block was clipped using the yellow polyline. The result is not satisfactory at all.

The first image shows the original block, the second one is the block clipped with the XCLIP command. As you see we need a work around this result. The work around is to use an Express Tool Command.

CLIPIT is an express tool command that will allow us to do what we wanted to do. CLIPIT will ask us to select the new clipping frame, that can actually be a POLYLINE, CIRCLE, ARC, ELLIPSE, or TEXT object. It works the opposite as the XCLIP command. With CLIPIT you first select the frame and then the Block, Image, Wipeout or XREF you want to clip. See the following image with the result.

What CLIPIT does, is turn the curved clipping frame into a set of segments. If you switch on the XCLIPFRAME and select the block, you will see that the frame is actually made of straight lines. See it below.

The only bad part of this express tool, is that so far (till version 2009) it doesn't allow inverted clips. We talked about how useful inverted XCLIPS can be on a previous post. Hopefully in future versions of AutoCAD this will be solved.

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AutoCAD: Select all Connected Geometry.

Wonder how to select with a single click all connected geometry? AutoCAD can do it, you just need to know the right command.
Català - Castellano - Deutsch
Usually my day at work involves designing and drawing both in AutoCAD and SketchUp (and eventually in Rhino depending on the complexity of the geometry of the project). Switching back and forth from one software to another makes you miss on one program some of the functions that the other program has. This was the case of the "Select all Connected" option in SketchUp. It is so useful to select all connected geometry (it can be accessed through a right click menu or by triple clicking any line on the drawing). But can something similar be done in AutoCAD? The answer is yes.

There is an Express Tool for AutoCAD called FASTSEL (accessible also via the FS shortcut) that allows us to select all the geometry that is connected (touching) any element on our drawing. The elements that can be used using this commands are LINE, POLYLINE, LWPOLYLINE, CIRCLE, ARC, ATTDEF, TEXT, MTEXT, ELLIPSE, SPLINE or IMAGE objects. BLOCKS or XREFs containing these objects will also work.
AEC Objects from some of the vertical products such as Walls or AEC Polygons are not supported. In case you have a Block or XREF containing both supported and unsupported elements, the command will only use the supported elements.

The command can be accessed transparently while using other commands by typing 'FS while the command is running. Also, use the FSMODE System Variable to control if the FS command selects all connected geometry (FSMODE = ON) or only the geometry connected to the first object (FSMODE = OFF).

Note that this Express Tool Command is mostly intended for 2D since I tried to use it in 3D and lines that are actually not touching other geometry did get connected. I find it specially useful when I accidentally explode polylines, with this command you can select all the lines that where previously connected with a single click. Select faster than a private jet with this express tool!

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AutoCAD: Delete a Layer that Contains Objects

Do you need to delete a layer but the purge command doesn't do it? No worries, there is an express tool for that.
Català - Castellano - Deutsch
One more day of problem solving at work. Ryan asked me today if I knew how to delete a layer that the purge command doesn't delete. The solution is to use one of the Layer Express Tools. And of course I thought: let's write about it here during my lunch break! It is raining anyways.

LAYDEL is an Express Tools Command that allows us to delete a layer even if it contains objects. This is useful to delete layers we want to purge but because they might be included in some block definition we are not using anymore, the purge command can't delete them. Be careful though, since it will delete the layer and its contents. TO use it simply make sure that the layer you want to delete is not current, type LAYDEL and select an object on that layer (alternatively you can access this function through Format --> Layer Tools --> Layer Delete).

There is an alternative method to delete a layer but keep its objects. The LAYMRG Express Tool Command merges one layer into another and deletes the first one. It is very useful when trying to simplify the layer structure of a drawing but we want to keep all its graphical information. To use it, type LAYMRG (alternatively you can access this function through Format --> Layer Tools --> Layer Merge)select the layer to delete and merge, press ENTER, then select the target layer where you want the information to be merged to.

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AutoCAD: Editing Aliases "on the fly"

With this command, you don't need to acces acad.pgp to edit your aliases
Català - Castellano
There is an Express Tool Command, ALIASEDIT, that allows us to edit the Aliases we use in the current session of AutoCAD. Previously, we had to acces acad.pgp, change the Aliases there and restart AutoCAD.
With the command ALIASEDIT you can change any Alias while working, making the process much simpler (and also reducing the chances of screwing up the acad.pgp file).
Changing and adding Aliases is to me the number 1 step to do to improve your wirk speed. Some people prefer to use icons or access commands throught the menu bar, but to trully speed up your workflow you should alwas have a hand on your keyboard and another on the mouse.
ALIASEDIT can also be accessed through the Menu Bar.
Express - Tools - Command Alias Editor
I am going to post soon a list of the ALIAS modifications that I use that make me work more efficiently. And remember that not so long ago i published a List of Express Tools.

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AutoCAD: List of Express Tools

A complete list of the Express Tools that make your drafting expierence much easier.
Castellano - Català
Las week I found this list of the Express Tools in the Autodesk discussion Groups. With no means of just copying it, I though I could reproduce it here and use it as a directory to link to those Posts that I have written already about them. With more time, I will eventually update the list wit more and more links to Posts talking to one or more Express Tools. So here is the list.

ALIASEDIT Allows you to create, modify, and delete AutoCAD command aliases on-the-fly.
ALIGNSPACE Adjusts a viewport's zoom factor and panning position based on the alignment points specified in model space and paper space.
ARCTEXT Places text along an arc
ATTIN Imports block attribute values from an external, tab-delimited ASCII file.
ATTOUT Exports block attribute values to an external file in tab-delimited ASCII format.
BCOUNT Calculates number of blocks
BEXTEND Extends objects to nested objects within blocks or xrefs
BLOCK? Lists block objects
BLOCKREPLACE Allows you to globally replace all inserts of one block with another block.
BLOCKTOXREF Replaces all instances of a standard block with an xref. Unbinds xrefs that are bound.
BREAKLINE Creates a polyline and inserts the breakline symbol.
BSCALE Scales a block insert from its insertion point.BTRIM Trims to entities nested in blocks or xrefs
BURST Explodes block and converts attributes to text
CDORDER Arranges the drawing order of objects by colour number
CHSPACE Seamlessly moves objects from one space to the other while maintaining the appearance of the original objects.
CHURLS Provides a method to change a previously placed URL (Uniform Resource Locator) address.
CLIPIT Xclip command with arc, circle, and polyline capability
CLOSEALL Close all open drawings, asking whether to save changes if the drawing has been modified since the last Save.
COPYM Copies multiple objects with Repeat, Array, Divide and Measure options.
COPYTOLAYER Copies selected objects to a different layer, leaving original objects intact.
DIMEX Saves dimension styles to a file
DIMIM Imports dimension styles saved to a file with
DIMEX command
DIMREASSOC Restores a measurement value to overridden or modified dimension text.
DUMPSHX Converts existing SHX (compiled) files to the equivalent SHP (decompiled) files
DWGLOG Creates and maintains an individual log file for each drawing file as it is accessed.
EXOFFSET This enhanced version of the OFFSET command offers several advantages over the standard command, including layer control, undo, and a multiple option.
EXPLAN An extended version of the PLAN command.
EXPRESSMENU Loads the AutoCAD Express Tools menu and displays the Express menu on the menu bar.
EXPRESSTOOLS Loads the AutoCAD Express Tools libraries, places the Express directory on the search path, and loads and places the Express menu on the menu bar.
EXTRIM Trim using closed polyline for cookie cutter effect
FASTSEL Creates a selection set of objects that touch the selected object.
FLATTEN Converts 3D geometry to 2D geometry
GATTE Globally changes attribute values
GETSEL Collects specific entity types and makes them the current selection
IMAGEEDIT Launches the image-editing program (for example, Paintbrush) for the selected image.
JULIAN Contains a collection of AutoLISP routines for calendar date conversions
LAYCUR Changes the layer of selected objects to the current layer
LAYDEL Permanently deletes layer from drawing, even if it contains objects
LAYFRZ Freezes layers of selected objects
LAYISO Isolates layers of selected objects
LAYLCK Locks layer of selected object
LAYMCH Changes the layer of selected objects to the layer of a selected destination object
LAYMRG Merges two layers, and removes the first layer from the drawing
LAYOFF Turns of layers of selected objects
LAYON Turns on all layers in drawing
LAYOUTMERGE Combines specified layouts into the current layout
LAYTHW Thaws all layers in drawing
LAYULK Unlocks layers of selected object
LAYUNISO Turns on all layers that were turned off by the last LAYISO command.
LAYVPI Isolates an object's layer to the current viewport
LAYVPMODE Controls whether the layer utilities LAYISO, LAYFRZ and LAYOFF use VPFreeze or the standard layer Freeze or Off when used in a floating paper space viewport.
LAYWALK Dynamically displays objects on selected layers
LMAN Layer Manager saves and restores layer settings
LSP Displays a list of AutoLISP commands available at the command prompt
LSPSURF Displays the contents of an AutoLISP file by individual functions.
MKLTYPE Creates linetypes based on selected entities
MKSHAPE Creates shapes based on selected entities
MOCORO Moves, copies, rotates and scales entities
MOVEBAK Changes the destination directory for BAK files
MPEDIT PEDIT for multiple polylines
MSTRETCH Stretches using multiple selection windows
NCOPY Copies entities nested inside blocks and xrefs
OVERKILL Removes unneeded objects by deleting duplicates and combining line and arc segments that overlap.
PACK Starts Pack & Go program
PLT2DWG Imports HPGL files into the current drawing session. All colours are retained.
PROPULATE Update, list or clear Drawing Properties data
PSBSCALE Sets or updates the scale of block objects relative to paper space.
PSTSCALE Paper space text scaling utility
QLATTACH Attaches leader to annotation object
QLATTACHSET Globally attaches leaders to annotation objects
QLDETACHSET Detaches leader from annotation object
QQUIT Close all open drawings and exit.
REDIR Redefines hard-coded directory paths in xrefs, images, shapes, styles, and rtext
REDIRMODE Sets options for the REDIR command by specifying which object types the command should act on.
REVERT Closes and re-opens the current drawing.
RTEDIT Allows editing existing Remote Text (Rtext) objects
RTEXT Inserts or edits remote text entity
RTUCS Rotate the UCS dynamically with your pointing device.
SAVEALL Save all open drawings
SHOWURLS Shows location of embedded URLs S
HP2BLK Creates a new block definition based on the appearance of a shape object.
SSTOOLS A collection of AutoLISP routines that creates exclusionary selection sets SSX returns a selection set either exactly like a selected object or, if the filter list is adjusted, very similar to it.
SUPERHATCH Uses images, blocks, xrefs, and wipeouts as hatch patterns
SYSVDLG Allows you to view, edit and save system variable settings.
TCASE Changes the case of selected text, mtext, attributes and dimension text.
TCIRCLE Places a circle, a slot, or a rectangle around each selected text or mtext object.
TCOUNT Adds sequential numbering to text objects. The numbering can appear as a prefix, suffix or replacement text.
TEXTFIT Fits text between specified points
TEXTMASK Masks entities from behind text
TEXTUNMASK Remove mask from text
TFRAMES Toggles the state of frames for Wipeout and image objects. If frames are turned on, this command turns them off, and vice versa.
TJUST Changes a text object's justification without changing its position. Works with text, mtext, and attribute definition objects.
TORIENT Aligns text, mtext and block attribute objects to new orientation
TSCALE Scales text, mtext, attributes and attribute definitions.
TXT2MTXT Converts text entities created with text or Dtext to Mtext
TXTEXP Explodes text or Mtext objects into polylines
VPSCALE Displays a clear translation of the scale of the current or selected viewport.
VPSYNC Synchronizes one or more viewports with a master viewport. All synchronized viewports will take on the zoom factor of the master viewport.
XDATA Attaches extended entity data to any object
XDLIST Lists extended entity data attached to object
XLIST Displays properties of entities nested in external references or blocks

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AutoCAD Express Tools: NCOPY

Copy entities from nested objects or files.
Català - Castellano
The NCOPY command is a very useful one when we are working with XREFs or Blocks. NCOPY stands for Nested Copy which means that it will allow us to copy objects that are nested in XREFs and Blocks.
Instead of opening the xref and copying an pasting the entities we want to move from the reference file to the drawing we are at we can use NCOPY and directly copy this entities without opening the file.
The same applies for Blocks, no need to open the Block Editor to copy objects from inside the block to outside of it.

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AutoCAD: Text Express tools

One of the treasure of latest AutoCad versions are the express tools.
Català - Castellano
In some versions of AutoCAD, you have to check the box that asks you to install them when installing the program, but believe me, they are worth it. Simpler ways to do things com with the express tools.
Lets analize those Express tools that helps us improve the way we treat Text.
We have:
ARCTEXT (Express - Text- Arc aligned Text)
With this one we can place a Text following the path marked by an ARC. We have several options on how to do it to select from the ArcAligned Text Workshop dialog box.

We can select to justify text on either side or center of the arc or to fit it along the length o the ARC. We can place it on the outer part of the Arc or the inner one, Upside down, reverse other, etc. Regetfully this tools don't seem to suport a curved path created by a polyline. Just as a quick example of what you would get check this image.

TEXTFIT ( Express - Text - Text Fit)

We can take any text (not multiline text) and shrink it or stretch it to fit in any given dimension. See that this is basically a fastest and more visual way to play with the widht factor of the text.
See this three texts, each of them shrunk to fit in different lentgh but keeping the same text height.

We can convert any TEXT or DTEXT into MTEXT.

The Upper text was transformed into the lower Mtext with the TXT2MTXT command.
The remaining Express Tools for Text I don´t really find them that Useful or I haven´t been using them so I´ll simply list them here. They are:
TEXTMASK Masks entities from behind text
TEXTUNMASK Remove mask from text
TJUST Changes a text object's justification without changing its position. Works with text, mtext, and attribute definition objects.
TORIENT Aligns text, mtext and block attribute objects to new orientation
TSCALE Scales text, mtext, attributes and attribute definitions.

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AutoCAD: Overkill and Flatten commands

Two importnt commands to clean your drawing.
Castellano - Català
I just learnt today in a training session in my company two Express Tools commands that are very useful in some situations.
  • OVERKILL: This command allows you to erase any duplicated line. Let's say that you have a line that is supposed to be a single one, but because you mirrored the drawing or whatever you did it happens to be a bunch of lines one on top of the other. Well select all the lines, type OVERKILL in the command bar, and they will end up being a single line with the length of the longest one. Of course it doesn't clean up anything if the lines are not exactly one over the other, but anyway this is very useful. I'll put you another example. In my company we use a laser cutter to build models. It is very very important that the files you send to the laser have no repeated lines, since that would make the laser cut more than once the same area, with the overheating risk that might end up with a nasty situation such as fire and sprinklers flooding the office. So select everything, tyoe overkill and you will get rid of most of the repeated lines.
  • FLATTEN: This is a very useful command to know if you have trouble with lines that for some reason are not on 0 height. Select everything that you wanna have for sure on 0 elevation, type FLATTEN and everything will come to O elevation. Be careful because wih big topography files this might take really long and even crash AutoCAD if your computer is not powerfull enough. Remember also, that blocks will be flattenend and renamed, so be carefull when using this command.

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