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Michael’s Corner

Michael BeallMichael's Corner is a monthly publication written by Michael E. Beall, Autodesk Authorized Author and peripatetic AutoCAD trainer. Michael travels all over the USA, bringing his fantastic experience and great understanding of AutoCAD to his clients. Michael's Corner brings together many of the tips, tricks and methods developed during these training sessions for the benefit of all users.

Michael's Corner provides something for every AutoCAD user. Every month, a number of articles cover a wide range of topics, suitable for users at all levels, including "The Basics" for those just starting out. Essentially, the aim of Michael's Corner is to help all AutoCAD users work smarter and faster.

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This month…

February - Second Fiddles

We all have our ‘lead guitars’ in AutoCAD; for some it's Blocks, for some it's Polylines, and on it goes. In this offering of Michael's Corner, it looks like most of these tricks would play second fiddle to the big dogs, but they are equally powerful and have a sound of their own. And for the most part, these all came up in the training I did up in Port Huron, MI for a group of users from Semco Energy. We had a great three day session, and I'm heading up there soon for our Level II session. So hats off to the team in the cold northern climes of east Michigan!

Here's what you'll find when you scroll down…

…How to overlap viewports and fade the viewport layers with a Transparency value
…How to apply a Background Mask to Dimension text. You'll be surprised.
…How you can toggle Ortho On and Off… without toggling Ortho On and Off
…How AutoCAD 2015 will now snap to a user-specific Polar increment… for all values of that increment!

I hope you're all staying healthy… and have even checked off a few things on your To-Do list for 2015.

Keep up the good work!

This month's articles

Transparent Viewport Layers
Mask Dimension Text
Ortho Shift
User Increment Angles for Polar (new in 2015)

From the Vault

Originally published October 2009

Multiline Attributes

Block Editor

The following procedure is based upon having a block, with or without attributes. I am using a block for a roll-up door in section. If you would like the block I am using for this exercise, you can download it here:
Download: Multiline Attribute_CTMC_1009.dwg

Ever since a customer suggested using the Block Editor to modify existing blocks (most commonly used in relation to the creation and editing of dynamic blocks), Refedit hasn't even been on my radar. And since I haven't covered Multiline Attributes yet, I thought I'd roll both of those together. (This is also a follow-up to my January 2007 coverage of adding an attribute to an existing block.)

Instructions to Add a Multiline Attribute to an Existing Block

Attribute Definition dialog box
  1. Select the block to which you would like to add the attribute, then right-click and click Block Editor to open the Block Editor.

  2. To add an attribute, type ATTDEF to open the Attribute Definition dialog box. [Ribbon: Insert tabAttributes panelDefine Attributes]

  3. Specify a Tag value (no spaces), check the box for the Insertion Point, and specify your Text Settings.

  4. To create a multiline attribute, under Mode, check the box for Multiple Lines, then click the ellipsis at the right end of the Default field.

  5. When the multiline text editor opens, adjust the size to begin your entry, then enter the desired information. The right-click menu provides a few additional features.

  6. Multiline text editorClick OK to close the text editor and return to the Attribute Definition dialog box.

  7. Click Close and Save the changes to return to the drawing.

Right-click menu

Note: If you have an instance of the block you just modified in the drawing, use BATTMAN. (See October 2006). Click Select Block, then select the block to which you added the attribute. In the upper right corner, click Sync to synchronize all the other instances of the block to reflect the condition of the edited block.

Inserting the Block with Multiline Attributes

  1. Use the Insert command and select your block with the multiline attributes.

  2. After specifying the insertion point and the rotation angle (and possibly other single-line attribute prompts), the AutoCAD Text Window may open and you will see a prompt similar to the following, which displays the default attribute value entered when you created the attribute:

    Enter attribute values
    DOOR_NO: 800A [a single-line attribute originally in the block]
    INSTALL_NOTES - default value:
       Installation to be
       compliant with all State
       and Local codes
    INSTALL_NOTES <accept default>

  3. Press Enter to accept the defaults shown for that attribute -or- enter new text for the attribute.

  4. Open Multiline EditorTo edit the width of the multiline attribute, double-click the block to open the Enhanced Attribute Editor.

  5. Select the attribute in the list, then at the bottom right, click the ellipsis for the Value to open the Multiline Editor and make your necessary adjustments, including the value.

Noted Anomaly (or "Bug", if you prefer) - If you have included a multiline attribute definition when you initially create the block, after inserting the block, you will be able to edit the width and move the position of that attribute as you do with single-line attributes - using the grip(s). If, however, you have used the procedure given above to add a multiline attribute to an existing block via the Block Editor, that multiline attribute cannot be repositioned or sized using the grips. I submitted an "improvement request" as soon as I discovered this, so we'll have to keep an eye on it in the next release.

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