Flowers at the Elizabethan Gardens After a much needed and most enjoyable vacation to the Outer Banks of North Carolina, I am back in the office. My first two days back to the office have been both busy and exciting, as Monday kicked off our AutoCAD 2008 upgrade training and deployment. Two offices down – five more to go. Needless to say July is going to be an incredibly busy month. Regardless of how busy or chaotic the month may become, it’s all still incredibly exciting as the users I support will be able to take advantage of the seemingly endless list of new features I have been blogging about for months now. If the excitement I have received while conducting upgrade training is any indication, multileaders are destined to become an indispensible tool within AutoCAD.

My previous post on multileaders effectively provided a quick onceover of the new multileader feature. As you will find in using multileaders, they put the aging quick leader on the fast-track to retirement. Their power is truly harnessed in their versatility.

Creating a basic multileader really isn’t all that different from our old friend, the quick leader. As mentioned in my last post multileaders are their own little piece of AutoCAD. I restate fundamental fact as a common misconception is that multileaders are configured with dimension styles. Although a multileader, and quick leader look a lot alike, their similarities end there. Multileaders are configured in their own interface, which I discussed in part 1 of this series.

Creating Multileaders

The actual command is MLEADER, although most will likely opt for the toolbar button . From this point the command works much like the old Quick Leader command where you specify a start and end point of your leader. With textual multileaders, be sure to note the MTEXT editor that pops up. Using it you can set the width of your MTEXT box.

Ok – so that’s not necessarily a big deal. What I do find extremely cool is the way multileaders interact with annotative scaling. The size of your MTEXT box can be set on a scale-by-scale basis. In other words it’s possible to make your text at Scale A wrap to two lines, and at Scale B be a single line of text.

Editing Multileaders

I have always found it especially sloppy and of poor quality when leader tails (part that connects to the text) is not perpendicular to the text it is associated with. After all we should be able to draw things both accurately and neatly when using a pencil which costs the price of AutoCAD! Admittedly using the old quick leader it was easy to grip-edit a leader and get a little sloppy from time to time. Thankfully, multileaders has a solution for keeping things neat, even when we’re pressed to get a job out the door.

The two little arrow grips will allow you to quickly and easily stretch/lengthen the tail of a leader – keeping it perpendicular to the text (or block) it is associated with.

Adding & Deleting Leaders

So far all of our examples have been with a single leader which looks strikingly similar to the old quick leader. Well every definition of “multi” I have ever read has stated multi means more than one. Although mutlileaders can contain only one leader, they are in fact aptly named. AutoCAD gives us two toolbar buttons; one for adding and the other for deleting leaders from a multileader.

To add a leader to an existing multileader use the button. You will be prompted to “Select a multileader”, and in doing so the arrowhead location.

Conversely deleting a leader from an existing multileader is done by using the button. Upon clicking it you will be prompted to select a multileader, and then the leader(s) you wish to delete.

Grouping Multiple Multileaders

Oftentimes when working with tag leaders (circle, triange, square, etc) there is a need to group multiple “bubbles” together with a single leader. No extremely manual process is needed to accomplish this. In fact it’s done by using the “Collect Multileaders” button (). Upon running the collect multileaders command you will be prompted to select your multileaders. Now don’t get too click-happy quite yes, as the order you select the multileaders makes a difference in the way things get collected. Simply you need to select the leaders in the order you want them collected (or grouped). The first leader you select will be the one which gets attached to the leader itself. In my illustration below I selected leader (1) first, and then the (2) second.

Aligning Multileaders

Another pet peeve of mine in relation to annotation is when leaders which were intended to be stacked do not line up. Once again the quick leader serves as a good example in the way it was rather difficult to do much more than eyeball things. Multileaders offer us a slick “Align Multileaders” tool within its bag-of tricks. Clicking the button will invoke the “Collect Multileaders” command, where you will be prompted to select the multileaders to align. Unlike the grouping function discussed earlier, the order you select your leaders does not matter. Press [Enter] to continue in the command, at which point you will be asked to specify the leader to align all others to. Something like POLAR snapping may prove helpful when doing this (see illustration)

Traditionally the “big new features” in AutoCAD take some getting used to before they become especially helpful. Dynamic Blocks and Sheet Set Manager are keen examples. While incredibly powerful, they are rather complex. Multileaders is by no means as complicated as say Sheet Set Manager, but it does still have parts which can prove tricky. Personally the more I test multileaders out, the more I like them. Be warned, unless you use the “Export to AutoCAD” function within the vertical products (ADT, Civil 3D) multileaders will show up as proxy graphics in AutoCAD 2007. What that means is AutoCAD 2007 has the ability to display the multileaders, but not edit them. Even still as the world begins migrating to AutoCAD 2008, and AutoCAD 2009 multileaders seem destined to become the norm among the CAD industry.