Automate Sheet Setup with Action Macros

Although there’s no shortage of ways to customize AutoCAD, nearly every one requires some familiarity with programming. Given the barriers of learning a programming language, I find so many of the AutoCAD users I come across simply survive with the tools they already have verses learning to create new ones. This is the fundamental reason I love Action Macro’s so much; they allow users, with or without programming experience, to create new AutoCAD tools in an instant.

The beauty of Action Macros is the way that anyone who can use the command line inside AutoCAD can also customize AutoCAD. Given how simple they are to create, I have found a wide range of ways to create and apply Action Macros over the years. One of my longtime favorites is using them to automate the setup and creation of new drawing sheets.

The best way to ensure all of the sheets for a project plot the same is to create every sheet from a common layout template with the same page setup applied. While the procedure for doing this isn’t especially hard, it does involve several steps, and frequently becomes cluttered among the library of different sheet sizes used by most companies (Letter, Ledger, Arch D, etc). Using Action Macros I can dramatically simplify this process by creating a series of custom commands that will automatically create a new layout tab at the desired size.

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Use Performance Monitor Gadget to keep AutoCAD Virtual Memory in Check

Use Performance Monitor Gadget to keep AutoCAD Virtual Memory in Check

In July I provided a first look at Project Photofly, an uber-cool technology from Autodesk that lets you build 3D models from photographs. Now I’ll admit it’s difficult to exceed the cool-factor of something like Project Photofly. Still that doesn’t mean Photofly’s slightly less glamorous cousins are any less attractive and/or useful.

Performance Monitor for AutoCAD; it’s small, lightweight, and very useful Windows Gadget that monitors the virtual memory usage of your AutoCAD based products. Don’t feel bad if that doesn’t sound cool enough to spend (waste) your time downloading and installing; I too nearly skipped past it without ever looking back. At first glance I thought, oh that’s nifty, but was pleasantly surprised after finally downloading and installing.

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Creating Zoom Macros with the Action Recorder

I can’t speak for the other vertical products out there, but both Land Desktop and Civil 3D have a handy assortment of Zoom Macros. These Zoom macros include things like ZE for Zoom Extents, ZP for Zoom Previous, and so on. Although both LDT and Civil 3D are built atop the beloved AutoCAD platform, these Zoom Macros cannot be found inside regular AutoCAD. That is until you learn how easy you can build them yourself using the Action Recorder in AutoCAD 2009 and AutoCAD 2010.

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Introduction to the AutoCAD 2009 Action Recorder Video

image Goodness, am I not the worst blogger ever? My apologies to all of my loyal readers; last week was quite a monumental week. As I have mentioned a few times before, The CAD Geek is something I do in my free time. Consequently the time I would have otherwise spent blogging, was spent putting a contract on a house. That’s right, I am about to enter the world of being a first-time homeowner. As I am sure many can appreciate, it’s both exciting, and a little scary! Anyone wishing to make a donation to the "Donnie Gladfelter Home Ownership Foundation" is welcome to. For anyone interested in contributing, I accept all major credit cards through PayPal. Sorry donations are not tax deductible, but they will allow me to blog from the comfort of a couch, not my floor ;-).

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Nonetheless, after going all last week without blogging, I am back with a post to introduce the all-new Action Recorder inside AutoCAD 2009. Looking through my e-mail archive, I can’t tell you how many e-mails I have received from readers such as yourself asking about script files. Personally, I have always liked SCRIPT files because they are relatively easy to learn, and even easier to use. Even still, SCRIPT files intimidated many, and proved elusive to many CAD Users.

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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.

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AutoCAD 2009: Quick View Layout & Drawing Video Introduction

image Many within the CAD industry (myself included) coined AutoCAD 2008 the “Wish List Release”.  After many years of asking, we were finally given things like annotative scaling and multileaders. AutoCAD 2009 seems to continue that to some degree, but it’s true focus is the UI (User Interface) itself.  Looking back, the last time we have seen a major UI overhaul was with Release 13 when AutoCAD said goodbye to MS DOS and hello to MS Windows. Just the other day I was reading a post at Civil3D.com by James Wedding titled “Death, Taxes, and the Annual Release Cycle“. While his post was mostly about the upcoming AutoCAD Civil 3D 2009, he did make a quote I think embodies what AutoCAD 2009 is all about.  He said “2009 isn’t the revolution, it’s the evolution, and to me that’s a good sign”.

Packed within AutoCAD 2009 you’re not going to find the next Annotative Scaling or Sheet Set Manager.  Instead what you’re going to see is an all new UI that Autodesk will certainly harness in future releases.  While getting used to the new UI will be a paradigm shift in-and-of-itself; I think the true power of the new UI will be seen in the future. Starting with AutoCAD 2009 we’re no longer trapped within a static interface.  Instead we start seeing some dynamic UI elements.  Among these is the new Quick View Layout, and Quick View Drawing feature.

In the past switching between drawings or layout tabs was a blind operation.  We would have no clue what a given drawing or layout tab would look like until we switched to it.  This is where the Quick View Layout and Quick View Drawing feature comes in.  Using this feature we are now able to see a thumbnail for both drawings and layout tabs before we switch to them.  Making this feature even more appealing is the inclusion of additional functions such as plotting. 

A complete introduction to this new feature can be found in the following video:

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