Keep your Attribute Text (Burst)

Attributed blocks can be friend or foe, especially if you're not sure how to tame them. Let's face it; from time to time they can be a little temperamental. Take for example exploding one of those pesky attributed blocks. Run the EXPLODE command on an attributed block and you're not going to be given nice pieces of text. The result will instead be text strings the name of the attribute tags.

So the question remains, just how does one "explode" an attribute block and keep the values you have inputted. Hidden in the AutoCAD "Express" menu there is an "Explode Attribute Text" or BURST command. This command will allow you to explode an attributed block, and keep whatever value you have inputted into it.

Hidden Copy Options

As designs get more and more complex, and the need to separate things into multiple drawings becomes more important, so does the need to copy things between those drawings. As a result many of you are probably as addicted to the "Ctrl" + "C" shortcut as I am. Although "Ctrl" + "C" is a wonderful shortcut, it has one fatal flaw. It doesn't allow you, the user, to specify a base point.

Of course did you know about pressing "Ctrl" + "Shift" + "C" (all at the same time)? That will evoke the "Copy with Basepoint" command, and allow you to specify a point such as "0,0".

Using the "Copy with Basepoint" command of course requires that you have a second drawing open, and that you flip between drawings. There is a little known copy command that, if you can keep a secret I will share with you.

The mysterious copy command I speak of is the "NCOPY" command, or "Copy Nested Objects". As you may have suspected it is an Express Tool that will allow you to copy an entity from a block or XREF into your current drawing space. The command works much the same as the standard issue ACAD COPY command.

Special Character Codes for Text

These codes stem back to the "Old School" days of AutoCAD in DOS, but are each still useful today. All of these codes still work with DTEXT using the standard AutoCAD fonts. Likewise, all but the %%u and %%o codes work with the newer MTEXT.

%%d = degree
%%c = circle diameter
%%p = plus/minus tolerance
%%u = begin underline of text. Repeat to end underline.
%%o = begin overline of text. Repeat to end.


Autodesk added some smoke and mirrors with their 2006 release of AutoCAD. Previously you could set IMAGEFRAME either to "0" (invisible border or frame), or to "1" (visible border of frame). In 2006 we are now presented with a third choice of "2".

If IMAGEFRAME is set to "2" then you will see the frame when working in your drawing, but the border will not plot. Keeping with the theory that "2" is better than "1", and certainly better than "0", IMAGEFRAME set to "2" gives you the best of both worlds.

Why are the layers not alphabetically sorted anymore?

This problem can be resolved by increasing the MAXSORT variable. In AutoCAD versions 2002 and earlier this is set to 200 by default, and 1000 for AutoCAD releases since 2004.

Though newer and more powerful systems are not effected as badly by it, setting MAXSORT too high can eat into overall system performance.

Are you an AutoCAD EXPERT

If you had to rank your CAD skills on a scale of 1-5 where would you rank yourself?

Packed away in AutoCAD is a little-known system variable that will allow users to change the way AutoCAD interacts with you based on your EXPERTise.

For example when you invoke the REGEN command, are you REALLY sure you want to? Those familiar with the REGEN command know that AutoCAD will prompt the user "About to regen, proceed?" when the command in invoked. Using the EXPERT variable one can have that prompt suppressed. But that's just an EXPERT level of 1.

The EXPERT command can be set to any value 0-5. Each value will of course make AutoCAD perform a little different from another setting. Below is an excerpt from the AutoCAD help file outlining what each value of the EXPERT command does.

  • 0 Issues all prompts normally.
  • 1 Suppresses "About to regen, proceed?" and "Really want to turn the current layer off?"
  • 2 Suppresses the preceding prompts and "Block already defined. Redefine it?" (BLOCK) and "A drawing with this name already exists. Overwrite it?" (SAVE or WBLOCK).
  • 3 Suppresses the preceding prompts and those issued by the LINETYPE command if you try to load a linetype that's already loaded or create a new linetype in a file that already defines that linetype.
  • 4 Suppresses the preceding prompts and those issued by UCS Save and VPORTS Save if the name you supply already exists.
  • 5 Suppresses the prompt, "That name is already in Use, redefine it?" issued by the -DIMSTYLE Save option when you supply the name of an existing dimension style.

When a prompt is suppressed by EXPERT, the operation in question is performed as though you entered y at the prompt. Setting EXPERT can affect scripts, menu macros, AutoLISP, and the command functions.

Closed polylines the easy way - BOUNDARY command

AutoCAD users of all types can appreciate the value of closed polylines. Of course in creating them most users use a procedure involving the PEDIT command. But did you know there was an easier way?
Hidden away in AutoCAD is the BOUNDARY command. Think of the BOUNDARY command as a HATCH command that draws polylines (and regions) rather than hatches. Let me explain.

When using the HATCH command the user has the option to define a hatch "boundary" by "Picking Points". In using that method you would of course select a point to the inside of the area you want to hatch.

The BOUNDARY command uses the same "Pick Points" procedure the HATCH command uses. The only difference is the HATCH command fills the area with a user defined pattern or hatch. The BOUNDARY command will create a closed polyline representing the area you selected.

Being in the civil field I use this command quite frequently when defining parcels in Land Desktop. Using the BOUNDARY command I can quickly click an internal point within each parcel, creating a closed polyline, and finally add it to the Parcel Manager.

Relative XREF Workaround

If you have been using AutoCAD 2006 for anytime you've most likely ran into a situation where you were not allowed to attach a XREF with a relative path. There is a simple workaround for this that seems to work rather well. It seems that the SAVE command resets whatever relative XREF's need to function.

That said. The next time you run into this situation simply; cancel out of the XREF command. Save your drawing; and finally run the XREF command once again.