First look at Hatching and Transparency in AutoCAD 2011

image Out in San Francisco during the AutoCAD 2011 Product Launch Event I took a first look at 3D Surfaces inside AutoCAD 2011. As powerful as 3D AutoCAD has become, 2D remains a mainstay of what many AutoCAD users do on a daily basis. After all it’s still 2D plan sheets that get things built.

On the 2D side, Hatching is by far one of the biggest enhancements to the 2011 release of AutoCAD. I’ve made my opinion of the Ribbon no secret in recent years. For me the AutoCAD 2009 Ribbon left a lot to be desired, but the addition of contextual tabs in 2010 made it one of my favorite parts of AutoCAD. You may recall the contextual Editor tab for Mtext inside AutoCAD 2011. This year the trend continues with the HATCH command. Say goodbye to the bulky Hatch dialog, and hello to what I think is a wonderful execution of what contextual editor Ribbon tabs can and should be. Just push play on the video below to have a look at some of the hatch improvements inside AutoCAD 2011.

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.

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.

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.

AutoCAD Civil 3D 2010 Gets Ribbonized

image Ever since Microsoft launched Office 2007 the trend has undoubtedly shifted from the traditional interface employing menus and toolbars, to the “new and improved” ribbon. Users of vanilla AutoCAD got ribbonized with last year’s 2009 release. While a classic workspace was still shipped with the product, the ribbon was an integral part of the default workspace. On the other hand, Civil 3D users got a stay of ribbonization in the 2009 release, but 2010 is a whole different story. You guessed it; the 2010 release of AutoCAD Civil 3D has been ribbonized!

Many of you have probably launched “AutoCAD Civil 3D 2009 as AutoCAD” at least once since installing it. Under that configuration, you got the full ribbon experience! If you were like me, you took a look at it, thought eh’ that is cool, and proceeded to change back to the AutoCAD Classic workspace. Here’s the deal, the ribbon in 2009 was cool, but not overly useful (in my own opinion). I personally felt Autodesk ribbonized AutoCAD just so they could be like every other software manufacturer, following in the footsteps of Microsoft. To be fair, I can certainly see how the Ribbon might help someone first learning AutoCAD.

AutoCAD 2010 – The New Contextual Ribbon


Among the “big new things” inside AutoCAD 2009 was of course a new user interface. At the heart of this new user interface was the all-new Ribbon. Love it or hate it, the ribbon is still inside AutoCAD 2010, but with some new enhancements.  While I got used to the Ribbon inside AutoCAD 2009, I never became a huge fan.  The primary reason for that was because I found myself having to click too much to find the tool(s) I needed.  Apparently, I wasn’t the only one who had this opinion, as Autodesk introduces “contextual ribbon tabs” to the AutoCAD 2010 interface.  With contextual ribbon tabs, the tools I need next are almost always at my fingertips.

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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