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The CAD Geek is your source for free AutoCAD and Civil 3D tutorials, CAD/BIM Management best practices, and the latest industry news.

Creating Circular Viewports

Do excuse my slight absence from making any new and substantial posts here over the past couple weeks. Just last week the May/June 2007 AUGI World magazine was shipped. Just as the May/June issue was shipped the submission deadline for the July/August AUGI World came up. As you may have guessed I will have another article in that issue, talking about Thematic Mapping in Map 3D. No less with everything behind me now you can expect more frequent posts once again.

To kick things back into gear I’ll offer up a quick tip on making circular viewports. This one came up just the other day, and so I figured I’d share the quick tip with you. Anyone using layout tabs has likely become an expert at creating rectangular viewports. Whip out the MVIEW command, or just click the (single viewport) toolbar button, and within a few clicks you have a rectangular viewport. But what if you want to do a circular viewport? It’s a common request for those wanting to “zoom” in on an area within a plan. Luckily, if you’re familiar with creating normal rectangular viewports than circular viewports will be a cinch.

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Track Plotting from AutoCAD for FREE

Well today I just saved a lot of money on my car insurance, and I didn’t even have to switch my insurance to Geico. In fact the only thing I had to do was wait for the clock to strike midnight. Today my friend is my 25th birthday. At exactly one-quarter-century old, I am officially 7 months older than the first release of AutoCAD in December 1982 (phew glad I made the deadline). My first experience with AutoCAD was in 1996, and thus I do remember the first AutoCAD (technically MS DOS) command that I typed; that being ACADR12. I don’t know about you, but for me cold hard cash is always an acceptable birthday gift. So in the spirit of birthdays, and cash gifts I give you FREE plot tracking in AutoCAD!

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Separate Annotation Scales Per Viewport

Dana Probert over at the Engineered Efficiency blog wrote about quickly changing your Civil 3D Drawing Scale with the new Annotation Scale. Using the Annotation Scale fly out on the Status Bar we can quickly change our Civil 3D Drawing Scale. Those familiar with previous versions of Civil 3D will recall having to go to the “Settings” tab from the Civil 3D Toolspace. So that tip helps us out when working in Model Space, but what about Paper Space.

Read moreSeparate Annotation Scales Per Viewport

Making Blocks Annotative

If you have been keeping up with AutoCAD 2008, you know the idea behind Annotative Scaling as it relates to text. The general concept to make it possible to do in one object what once required we use multiple objects. I am of course speaking about copying a piece of text numerous times just so we could plot a drawing at different scales. Personally I would have been happy just to get Annotative Scaling with text in AutoCAD 2008, but the folks at Autodesk were apparently swinging for the fences as they have hit a home run. See, Annotative Scaling isn’t just for text; we can also dynamically scale things like blocks and hatches.

Read moreMaking Blocks Annotative

RSS Feed Reader Inside AutoCAD

If you frequent mine or any blog on the internet you have likely become familiar with a little thing called RSS feeds. RSS is of course an acronym, which depending on who you talk to has a few variations. The generally accepted definition for RSS is Real Simple Syndication. Many people who frequent a specific blog will add it to a feed reader.

The power behind RSS feeds are their flexibility. They can be added to an array of feed reading devices such as My Yahoo, Google Reader, even the latest versions of Outlook and Internet Explorer. Although each of these programs has their differences, the core similarity is the ability to group together multiple RSS feeds, effectively notifying an individual when a website of interest is updated. But even still what does all of this have to do with AutoCAD?

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AutoCAD 2008 – First Look at Multileaders

Various notes & callouts can easily inundate a plan sheet making it hard to discern the actual design. Thus in the interest in making plan sheets more readable, a common practice is to have numerous leaders referencing a single note. Prior to AutoCAD 2008 the only solution was to trace over the original leader when drawing any subsequent leaders. It’s tough to call that practice a solution, as it was more a workaround, but at the end of the day it was all we had to work with. It likely goes without surprise that the ability to have numerous leaders “attached” to a single piece of text has been a longstanding AUGI Wishlist item. In the words synonymous with the 80’s band Queen – “Another one bites the dust”.

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Geospatial Data in a DWF file

In observance of the “National Orange Effect Day” The CAD Geek Blog is proudly displaying the colors of Virginia Tech – Orange and Maroon.

Those of us who work with geospatial data (aka GIS Data) know how incredibly valuable the data can be. Living in the digital age of the 21st century, the one thing always more valuable than processing data is the ability to share it. Perhaps the most common file format for geospatial data is the ESRI SHP file. Although phenomenally powerful, the format is quite frankly rather clunky. It takes 5 separate support files to make a single SHP file to work. With Design Review becoming a free download the collaborative powers of the DWF format can now be realized. Of the powers packed into the DWF format is the ability to embed geospatial data into a DWF file. It is possible to embed geospatial data into a DWF, and it be available in Design Review.

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New functionality of the Layer Isolate (LAYISO) Command


I must begin by expressing my sympathies to all of those affected by the tragic events at Virginia Tech yesterday. Working in Richmond, Virginia (about 3 ½ hours from Virginia Tech) a large percentage of our engineering staff are Virginia Tech graduates. Today has been especially hard for them as many are learning old friends, and even old professors were among the group of individuals who sadly paid the ultimate price.

***UPDATE (4/18/2007)*** As the news reports have continued to come in, I have recently learned the tragedy at Virginia Tech has touched my firm, Timmons Group, even more. Graduate student, Matt Gwaltney was a phenomenally bright individual who we had made a job offer was among the victims of April 16th. In memory of not only Matt, but all of the victims of the Virginia Tech tragedy this Friday (April 20, 2007) has been declared a national “Orange and Maroon Effect” day (click left image for details). Likewise a memorial fund has also been set up. More information on it can be found on the Virginia Tech website. ***


Introduced as “Bonus Tools’ in Release 14; layer tools such as Layer Isolate (LAYISO) are among the list of favorite commands for countless AutoCAD users. Since AutoCAD 2000 users have come to know the “Bonus” menu under its new name – “Express”. Quite simply the Express Tools are commands that Autodesk is nice enough to include in the software, but does not officially support. From time to time these commands “grow up”, earning their stripes, becoming full-fledged AutoCAD commands. In AutoCAD 2007 our beloved “Layer Tools” were among the commands to get their stripes and become full-fledged AutoCAD commands.

Read moreNew functionality of the Layer Isolate (LAYISO) Command

AutoCAD Civil 3D 2008 is here!

Just as the IRS is out to take our money, Autodesk has released AutoCAD Civil 3D 2008 which drastically streamlines the design process. A streamlined design process means working more efficiently, and working more efficiently means being more profitable. As outlined before, introduces a lot of new features. Just as Annotation Scaling is the big new thing for AutoCAD 2008; the BIG new thing for Civil 3D 2008 is Plan Production. The veterans out there likely remember a little thing called “Sheet Manager”.

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Linking Excel and AutoCAD with Data Links

Arguably the most valuable tool in the modern-day engineer’s toolbox is Microsoft Excel. People love Excel so much that after its launch in 1985 Microsoft redesigned the rest of the Microsoft Office programs to look more like it. Microsoft Excel’s dominance is undoubtedly tied to its flexibility. After all, I think it’s fair to say that nearly all of us have at least one Excel table that is “wickedly complex”. The introduction of OLE objects, and more recently AutoCAD Tables were noble attempts to synchronize AutoCAD with Excel, but still fell short for many real-world needs. What engineers wanted and needed was bidirectional synchronization between AutoCAD and Excel. Among the new features packed within AutoCAD 2008 is just that capability through use of Data Links.

Read moreLinking Excel and AutoCAD with Data Links