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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Creating Custom Contextual Ribbon Tabs in AutoCAD 2010

I certainly hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas, and got to spend some quality time with your family. Thanks to a rather historical snow the Saturday before Christmas, here in Richmond, VA we did still have snow on the ground for Christmas.  Aside from the big piles of snow found in nearly every parking lot throughout town, by the morning after Christmas all the snowmen had melted away.

One of my favorite enhancements to AutoCAD 2010 was the contextual ribbon tabs.  In fact, contextual tabs are one of the biggest reasons I have come to actually like the Ribbon.  Out of the box Autodesk provides a number of contextual tabs for all sorts of things like xref’s and more.  Like many things in AutoCAD, the true power of Contextual Ribbon tabs if the fact you build and customize your own Contextual Ribbon tabs.

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Automate Sheet Setup with Named Page Setups

image During my time at Autodesk University 2009 this year, I had the chance to sit down with Heidi Hewett and record some videos for the AutoCAD Exchange.  Among the topics, we discussed were Named Page Setups inside AutoCAD.  Despite their time-saving potential, Named Page Setups seem to be one of those features that’s been in the software forever, and is often overlooked. So if you find yourself overwhelmed with the endless array of plotting options inside AutoCAD, have a look at this quick video.

In the video, I’ll show you ways to capture all the settings inside the AutoCAD PLOT command in a way you can configure the dialog once, and use it again and again. In addition to the time Named Page Setups can save you, they also ensure each of your sheets is setup in exactly the same way; so your title block will plot in the same location on every sheet.

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Creating Multiline Ribbon Tool Display Names

image Recently I’ve had a few people ask me about modifying the display names of ribbon tools inside AutoCAD 2010. More specifically; how to make AutoCAD show the display name for a tool on two lines (not just one). With the question growing in popularity, I figured it was time to make a quick post on the topic.

The solution is as simple as knowing about the code “\n”. When entered into the Display Name field inside the CUI command, AutoCAD will convert it into a line break. To help those unfamiliar with the CUI command, I’ve recorded a quick video demonstrating how to use this simple, but powerful code.

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Easily find Ribbon Commands

image_thumb.pngAs illustrated by my blogging frequency, the last several weeks have been incredibly busy. During that time I had the chance to speak with a large number of AutoCAD (and its many vertical flavors like Civil 3D) users, and answer some of their burning questions. As you might imagine, I fielded a diverse range of questions, many of which I intend to use as inspiration for a number of upcoming blog posts. Certainly one of my most asked questions was some derivative of “Where can I find ___ command in AutoCAD 2010?”

My answer certainly wasn’t earth shattering, but it was certainly a huge time saver for many of the users I spoke with. The Application Menu (the big “A” icon in the upper left corner of the screen, or “C” for Civil 3D users) has an incredibly useful search feature. Let’s assume for a moment you’re having a hard time locating the OFFSET command. The tooltips in AutoCAD are certainly good enough that you could hover over a seemingly infinite number of icons to figure out which each one does. On the other hand you can earn yourself another coffee break by using the Application Menu’s search function.

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