Applying Child Dimension Styles: A Geek and a dimension is born

JacksonWrapping up my sixth edition of AutoCAD and AutoCAD LT: No Experience Required; few things can top the excitement of sharing months of hard work that, as an author, I sincerely hope will help others get a footing in the industry – much as I did many years ago. I emphasize few things can top that excitement because Shaan Hurley, longtime friend and Between The Lines blogger, recently spotlighted one of those moments that even exceed the definition of excitement. My wife and I just celebrated the 1-month birthday of our first child, a baby boy, that we chose to name Jackson. Joining in the festivities (and the subject of Shaan’s blog post) was the outfit my company, CADD Microsystems, had made for our little guy. The outfit that set off an incredibly geeky Facebook thread simply reads “Latest Autodesk Product.” Needless to say, my wife and I couldn’t be more excited to welcome Jackson into our lives, and I certainly can’t wait until the day I get to begin teaching him about design.

In the spirit of children, I thought I’d share a quick tip on creating and using Child Dimension Styles. If you’re not familiar with the concept, Child Dimension Styles are an absolute necessity when you need to change the appearance for different types of dimensions. As an example, many architectural plans use Architectural Ticks for linear dimensions, but an Arrow may be more appropriate for Radius dimensions. In lieu of creating a different style for Linear and Radius dimensions, Child Dimension Styles can capture both dimension types into a single (centrally managed) dimension style. Have a look at the video to learn how.


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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Exploring the AutoCAD 2013 Command Line

As a veteran AutoCAD user, I was a bit concerned when I first learned Autodesk was updating the command-line in AutoCAD 2013. While I’m certainly all for regaining valuable screen real estate; reducing the command-line to just one line? Does Autodesk not understand that I need to see at least some of my command history in order to adequately use AutoCAD?

Thankfully the answer to this and many others like it are a resounding yes. While Autodesk has re-imagined the command-line, they have retained everything that made it an integral tool within your AutoCAD environment while managing to breathe some new life into it along the way. Although I did indeed have some initial reservations about the change, most of those initial reservations have faded after actually using the product for a few months now. Check out the following video to see some of what I feel makes the AutoCAD 2013 command-line great:

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XREF Drawings from Autodesk 360

Like most releases, AutoCAD 2013 introduces a lengthy list of worthwhile enhancements to the product in this, it’s 30th anniversary year. While these are each welcome improvements, I feel the biggest opportunity surrounding AutoCAD 2013 is its integration with Autodesk 360. Formerly known as Autodesk Cloud, the family of Autodesk 360 products and services present new ways to interact with, and visualize my designs.

I think one of the greatest opportunities surrounds collaboration, and the way we exchange files between sub consultants on a project. Central to Autodesk 360 is its cloud storage product. With the 2013 release, everyone on Subscription receives 25 GB of storage (heck, even those without Subscription receive 3 GB of storage). Earlier this week I was testing out some of the things I could accomplish with the tight integration between AutoCAD and the storage I not have access to as part of my Autodesk 360 Subscription benefits.

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