Adding LISP, VB apps, and more to Tool Palettes

image By now Tool Palettes have probably become a staple of your workspace.  We can put all sorts of things on Tool Palettes; lines and blocks being the most common.  While lines and blocks on tool palettes add a degree of sanity for many, wouldn't it be nice if we could say add a LISP routine, VB app, even execute a script from a Tool Palette?

Well the good news is that we can, although the process isn't necessarily obvious for many. 

Utilize your Multi-Core Processor in AutoCAD

Core 2 Duo Processor It's no secret, the modern-day processor race isn't measured so much on how fast the processor is, but rather how many cores you have.  First we saw the Core Duo (2 cores) processors, then the Core 2 Duo's (4 cores).  While your inner-geek can certainly brag about the number of cores inside your machine, what about actually using them for some real processing?

A lesser-known AutoCAD System Variable might just be your ticket to utilizing some of that extra power.  The system variable is WHIPTHREAD.  Depending on how you set this variable, AutoCAD can use that extra processor to improve the speed of operations which require a redraw or regenerate the drawing such as ZOOM.  I have copied an excerpt from the AutoCAD help file, documenting what each value does:

Inserting DWG's into MS Word or PowerPoint

image Just this evening I received an e-mail from Autodesk letting me know my AU Unplugged session "The Training Trinity: Fundamentals of a Successful Training Program" was accepted.  Thank you to everyone who voted for my session.  If you're attending AU, be sure to check out the AU Unplugged Schedule.  There you will find the full list of, and information on each of the AU Unplugged sessions.  I do look forward to meeting some of you guys!

Throughout the years, I have seen both high and low-tech ways of inserting AutoCAD DWG's into Microsoft Office documents.  I believe the most low tech way I have seen included printing each the MS Word file, and the AutoCAD DWG, then using Scotch Tape to insert the DWG onto the printed document.  Run it through a photocopier, and no one will ever know (unless you were a messy Scotch Taper).  But what do you say we jump into the 21st century?

Staying in the 21st century, AutoCAD does actually provide us with a fair number of options for inserting AutoCAD DWG's into MS Office documents.  Although a Ctrl + C (Copy) and Ctrl + V (Paste) will work, it will insert your AutoCAD DWG just as it looks in AutoCAD - including the black background.  My guess is you would rather have it look similar to the way your DWG plots?

GROUP Therapy

image More often than not, when the GROUP command comes up in discussion it's because a user can't figure out why their selection sets are going crazy.  Hence the reason I titled this post "GROUP Therapy".  But in all seriousness, GROUPS can prove handy when you, and more importantly, your co-workers understand what they are and how to use them.

Blocks are of course quite powerful in the way they collect some number of AutoCAD objects, and package them into a single object.  As we all know the number of uses of blocks and duct tape are directly proportional to one another.  On the other hand wouldn't it be nice if we could toggle a block on and off?

Man that's OVERKILL!!

Man that's OVERKILL!! 020607 2123 ManthatsOVE1

On a somewhat frequent basis I get a call from a user desperate to rid their drawing of the plethora of duplicate objects that in one way or another has plagued their drawing. There is of course the grueling method of individually selecting each duplicated object and running the ERASE command, but surely there is a better way. A better way does of course exist within the beloved "Express Tools". Among the modify commands contained within Express Tools is "Delete duplicate objects". Personally I find that terminology to be boring, and thus I normally type the command “OVERKILL". Yes, a likely top ten contender for most comical command names is the OVERKILL command.

After invoking the command, select the objects you want to clean up. It does not matter if the objects are on different layers; the command is smart enough to sort that out. After selecting all of your duplicate objects the OVERKILL dialogue box will appear where we must instruct AutoCAD how to clean things up.

Man that's OVERKILL!! 020607 2123 ManthatsOVE2

The Help file provides a pretty comprehensive explanation on what each of the options do. Personally when I run this command I like to keep all of the "Ignore…" checkboxes unchecked, and all of the "Lines, Arcs and Plines" options checked (as illustrated). Traditionally the default "Numeric fuzz" works for me, but if I have a really bad drawing I will up its value. You have likely used the saying "Close enough for government work", well the numeric fuzz is like that. Upping its value will allow the OVERKILL command to combine objects that are further apart.

The time the command takes to complete will of course vary based on both your computer and the number of objects you selected. Likewise the OVERKILL command can be somewhat entertaining to watch, as it is known to make AutoCAD look like it had one too many cups of coffee – this is normal. When finished, any duplicate objects selected upon starting the command should be history.