Customizing the AutoCAD 2009 Ribbon

Autodesk began shipping many of their 2009 products starting Monday. Among those released is their flagship product, AutoCAD 2009. If you just can’t wait until your subscription shipment makes its way to your doorstep, a fully-functioning 30 day trial can be downloaded from the Autodesk website. As I have said in some previous posts, the big new feature in AutoCAD 2009 is more-or-less the user interface (UI) as a whole.

Just about every red blooded AutoCAD user I have ever met has first asked “How do I use XYZ Feature?” After they learn how to use XYZ feature, their next question is “How do I customize it?” Last month I gave a quick how to with my “Introduction to the AutoCAD 2009 Ribbon”. This month, we’ll take a look at customizing the new AutoCAD 2009 Ribbon. At first glance, the Ribbon may seem like a brand new cryptic monstrosity at the heart of new release. Good news is the “all new” Ribbon isn’t really all that new afterall.

In essence, our “all new” Ribbon is nothing more than the Dashboard from AutoCAD 2008 with an additional category. In AutoCAD 2008 we had Dashboard Panels which contained Dashboard Tools. In AutoCAD 2009 those items have been renamed to Ribbon Panels, and Ribbon Tools respectively. One shortcoming of the Dashboard in AutoCAD 2008 was the fact we only had 1 Dashboard. Short of creating a workspace, I couldn’t have a Dashboard for general drafting, another for annotating, etc. AutoCAD 2009 introduces another element to the Dashboard, uh – Ribbon, called Ribbon Tabs. In much the same way Ribbon Panels contain Ribbon Tools, Ribbon Tabs contain Ribbon Panels.

22 thoughts on “Customizing the AutoCAD 2009 Ribbon

  1. I’m costumizing the cui-file. No problem there. I’ve made the Single Line Text command large so it can be as easely acceced as the Multiline Text.
    The thing I want to know is how you can create a multiline text at the name of a button, like at the Multiline Text command where the “Text” is on the next line. I tried to copy the name of the Multiline Text command but that didn’t work.

    Hope you can help me

    • Iwan – Couple things to look for. Naturally you will want to get inside the CUI command, and navigate to the panel/tool you want to modify. From there, click on the tool you want to modify, and it’s properties will be displayed below. Under the “Display” group, enter the text you want to display for your tool on the ribbon. Next, change the Button Style (under the Appearance group) to Large With Text.

      Now I’m not sure if you’re creating a new panel of your own, or modifying one of the existing panels. Keep in mind the ML/SL text commands appear on both the Home and Annotate tab.

      • Donnie,

        I am working with AutoCAD2009.

        When I am in the CUI file I know how to make my own buttons/tools or how to change/modify the standard tools of rearrange the panels and ribbons.

        It’s the name of the button that is diplayed when “show label” is set to YES.

        I have added the Single Line Text tool to the Annotation panel. When it’s placed I select the Single Line Text tool and the properties appear.
        Under Display the name is ‘single line text’
        Under appearance the orientation, size and show label are set to vertical, large and yes.
        The name Single Line Text is displayed under the button image. However, because it’s a rather long name I want it to be placed on two lines. Just like at the Multiline Text command.
        At the Multiline Text tool/button there’s some sort of symbol between the two words that makes that the word ‘text’ is on the next line.
        And that’s what I want for the Single line text tool. The word ‘text’ to appear on the next line of the name.

        • Iwan – The secret code I think you’re looking for is “\n”. Basically type that where you want the line break to happen, and AutoCAD will replace the \n with that boxy looking character when you tab out of the field.

          • Donnie,

            Thanks.

            It’s working partially. The \n isn’t replaced with the boxy looking character, but the \ is breaking the line. Only thing is that you see the \ on screen. It’s enough for me to work with.
            When I type \n the \n is showing on screen.

            I noticed that if you use the \ itself with everything behind it wil appear on the next line. But if you use the / it wil put anything behind it on the next line without itself. The n doesn’t have any effect and just shows on screen.

            Tanks again. For now it’s enough to work with. It’s not the most ellegant way but it’s working.

            Iwan

  2. I’m costumizing the cui-file. No problem there. I’ve made the Single Line Text command large so it can be as easely acceced as the Multiline Text.
    The thing I want to know is how you can create a multiline text at the name of a button, like at the Multiline Text command where the “Text” is on the next line. I tried to copy the name of the Multiline Text command but that didn’t work.

    Hope you can help me

    • Iwan – Couple things to look for. Naturally you will want to get inside the CUI command, and navigate to the panel/tool you want to modify. From there, click on the tool you want to modify, and it’s properties will be displayed below. Under the “Display” group, enter the text you want to display for your tool on the ribbon. Next, change the Button Style (under the Appearance group) to Large With Text.

      Now I’m not sure if you’re creating a new panel of your own, or modifying one of the existing panels. Keep in mind the ML/SL text commands appear on both the Home and Annotate tab.

      • Donnie,

        I am working with AutoCAD2009.

        When I am in the CUI file I know how to make my own buttons/tools or how to change/modify the standard tools of rearrange the panels and ribbons.

        It’s the name of the button that is diplayed when “show label” is set to YES.

        I have added the Single Line Text tool to the Annotation panel. When it’s placed I select the Single Line Text tool and the properties appear.
        Under Display the name is ‘single line text’
        Under appearance the orientation, size and show label are set to vertical, large and yes.
        The name Single Line Text is displayed under the button image. However, because it’s a rather long name I want it to be placed on two lines. Just like at the Multiline Text command.
        At the Multiline Text tool/button there’s some sort of symbol between the two words that makes that the word ‘text’ is on the next line.
        And that’s what I want for the Single line text tool. The word ‘text’ to appear on the next line of the name.

        • Iwan – The secret code I think you’re looking for is “n”. Basically type that where you want the line break to happen, and AutoCAD will replace the n with that boxy looking character when you tab out of the field.

          • Donnie,

            Thanks.

            It’s working partially. The n isn’t replaced with the boxy looking character, but the is breaking the line. Only thing is that you see the on screen. It’s enough for me to work with.
            When I type n the n is showing on screen.

            I noticed that if you use the itself with everything behind it wil appear on the next line. But if you use the / it wil put anything behind it on the next line without itself. The n doesn’t have any effect and just shows on screen.

            Tanks again. For now it’s enough to work with. It’s not the most ellegant way but it’s working.

            Iwan

  3. @Norm – You’ve got a couple releases on me, as I started with R12 DOS. If you’re like me, you’ve never quite left the keyboard behind, and still use it to type many of your most frequently used commands (eg. QLEADER). While Autodesk has taken QLEADER out of the default graphical interface, they have not changed the LE alias away from the QLEADER command. So that’s option 1.

    Since either AutoCAD 2005 or 2006 (can’t remember off hand) the entire AutoCAD interface has been controlled by what’s known as the CUI (Custom User Interface). Enter the CUI command line to launch its dialog. From there you can customize what tools display on which ribbon panel.

    You will need to navigate to Ribbon Panels > Annotation. Click on the current Multi-Leader tool in the preview, and it will take you to the correct row inside the Annotation panel. From there, locate the Quick Leader tool under the command list & drag-and-drop it onto your ribbon panel. Here’s a screen shot to help you out (http://screencast.com/t/TbARfpkQcJ).

    Heidi Hewett also has a good post on using the CUI. Her example demonstrates working with toolbars, but the same concept applies to the ribbon in the context of the CUI command. (http://heidihewett.blogs.com/my_weblog/2008/01/quick-tips-for.html)

    Hope that helps,

    Donnie

  4. @Norm – You’ve got a couple releases on me, as I started with R12 DOS. If you’re like me, you’ve never quite left the keyboard behind, and still use it to type many of your most frequently used commands (eg. QLEADER). While Autodesk has taken QLEADER out of the default graphical interface, they have not changed the LE alias away from the QLEADER command. So that’s option 1.

    Since either AutoCAD 2005 or 2006 (can’t remember off hand) the entire AutoCAD interface has been controlled by what’s known as the CUI (Custom User Interface). Enter the CUI command line to launch its dialog. From there you can customize what tools display on which ribbon panel.

    You will need to navigate to Ribbon Panels > Annotation. Click on the current Multi-Leader tool in the preview, and it will take you to the correct row inside the Annotation panel. From there, locate the Quick Leader tool under the command list & drag-and-drop it onto your ribbon panel. Here’s a screen shot to help you out (http://screencast.com/t/TbARfpkQcJ).

    Heidi Hewett also has a good post on using the CUI. Her example demonstrates working with toolbars, but the same concept applies to the ribbon in the context of the CUI command. (http://heidihewett.blogs.com/my_weblog/2008/01/quick-tips-for.html)

    Hope that helps,

    Donnie

  5. I’ve been a cad operator since Rel.9 for Dos and all I want to do is add the Qickleader icon back to the dimension toolbar where it belongs. i don’t have time to relearn this program every year or so. It has been continuously junked up beyond belief. I’ve watched the video, read the help manual, etc. and I still can’t figure out how to do it. My production level has dropped to about 50% while I try to learn a bunch of un needed functions, let alone relearn the command icons which seem to change with each release. Am I frustrated? You betcha. If it aint broke don’t fix it. God help the newbies if its this confusing for someone with 20 yrs. exp.

  6. I’ve been a cad operator since Rel.9 for Dos and all I want to do is add the Qickleader icon back to the dimension toolbar where it belongs. i don’t have time to relearn this program every year or so. It has been continuously junked up beyond belief. I’ve watched the video, read the help manual, etc. and I still can’t figure out how to do it. My production level has dropped to about 50% while I try to learn a bunch of un needed functions, let alone relearn the command icons which seem to change with each release. Am I frustrated? You betcha. If it aint broke don’t fix it. God help the newbies if its this confusing for someone with 20 yrs. exp.

  7. The “new” dashboard looks a LOT more like the old Robert McNeel and Assoc. (Formly a Seattle based CAD store turned software manuf. AKA: RHINO) Smart menus from the Allegro tool sets.

    I used to think the toolbars were a McNeel tools knock off… The Ribbon is even more similar.

    They have yet to make it active and alive by evolving as you work with it like the McNeel one did… As you used commands they moved to the front of the lists. Sort of like a fly out tool bar off on a fixed toolbar does. it was in a rubber band like adjustible pallet though so you could change the width and height that it displayed.

    That was back in the early 90s too by the way!!!

  8. The “new” dashboard looks a LOT more like the old Robert McNeel and Assoc. (Formly a Seattle based CAD store turned software manuf. AKA: RHINO) Smart menus from the Allegro tool sets.

    I used to think the toolbars were a McNeel tools knock off… The Ribbon is even more similar.

    They have yet to make it active and alive by evolving as you work with it like the McNeel one did… As you used commands they moved to the front of the lists. Sort of like a fly out tool bar off on a fixed toolbar does. it was in a rubber band like adjustible pallet though so you could change the width and height that it displayed.

    That was back in the early 90s too by the way!!!

  9. I have problem on this.
    Actually, I don’t have any ribbon panel except accurender and express panel. I couldn’t find regular panels such as file, open, or draw menu.
    Do I need to reinstall? Please help.

  10. I have problem on this.
    Actually, I don’t have any ribbon panel except accurender and express panel. I couldn’t find regular panels such as file, open, or draw menu.
    Do I need to reinstall? Please help.

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