Brighten up AutoCAD with a Lighter Color Scheme

Brighten up AutoCAD with a Lighter Color Scheme

Customization has long been among AutoCAD’s core strengths. Even as changes are made to the program it’s typically always possible to tailor the interface to your liking. One recent change that some users love, and others could do without is the graphite interface. Those who enjoy the graphite interface cite the reduced eye strain, whereas others seem to prefer the contrast of the former (lighter) interface.

Whilst I don’t have a strong preference either way, I have found the light interface to work a little better for me when presenting to an audience with a projector. Given the number of presentations I do for my job at CADD Microsystems, it likely goes without saying I typically change the AutoCAD interface to its former – lighter interface. Watch the video above to learn how to make this change on your own system.

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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Introduction to AutoCAD Script Files

Although each release of AutoCAD translates to bigger and arguably better features one thing has never changed; its malleability. In fact some would argue the malleability of the software as being its best feature. Be it the CUI command, LISP routines, or even VBA and .NET applications. Each of these features is included in the software for one reason – user customization. Even still, LISP and .NET customization can be rather illusive for all but a small minority of the AutoCAD user base.

Luckily script customization affords even rookie AutoCAD users a way to automate AutoCAD with endless possibility. While I know the sheer term “Script File” intimidates many, but truth be known, you’ve been writing script files for as long as you have been using AutoCAD. So how is that possible? Well an AutoCAD script file is really nothing more than sequence of standard AutoCAD Commands. Thus if you know how to type commands at the command line, you know how to write a script file.

Let’s take a look at how we might create a script file which creates a new layer named C-ROAD-TEXT, sets its color to Yellow, and then sets the layer current.

The LAYER command is among a growing number of AutoCAD Commands which have both a dialog box version, and a command line version.  By default, AutoCAD uses the dialog box version of a command.  While this is great for general usage, script files have no way to interact with dialog boxes.  For this reason we must explicitly tell AutoCAD to use the command line version of a command.  Generally, this can be done by prefixing the command name with a hyphen (-).  Consequently, rather than typing LAYER which opens the Layer Manager Dialog, we will need to type -LAYER.  This will suppress the dialog, and present the entire command at the command line.

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