The features this month are some of those things that are buried more than one level deep or just don't lend themselves to being the most obvious. For example, creating named views: Check. Naming a UCS position: Maybe. Combining the two: Seriously? Oh, yeah. Then there's the whole Layer State thing that has now been relegated to a graphic button in AutoCAD 2005/2006, rather than the text "Save State" as in previous versions. A feature that doesn't really come on to the radar when you're in that dialog box.
And then there's AutoCAD LT. Not "Lite" by any stretch, just a moniker that originally stood for "LapTop" when first released but got turned around to "Lite" since it had a reduced command set than the full version. (At the time when it was released, laptops had whopping 10Mb hard drives and you paid dearly for a meg of RAM so there was no way the big dog was going to operate smoothly in that environment). I've been doing quite a bit of training on LT for my customers across the U.S., so I thought I'd tell you about the little-known fact that AutoCAD LT is actually a 3D environment… and I'll prove it. Let me know what you think.
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If you use named views in your drawings, you will be able to more effectively zoom to an area you frequently access. This is particularly useful in mapping applications or those drawings with multiple angles. In the Basics article of my June 2003 column I presented the fundamentals of named views.
To kick it up a notch, what if you have rotated the drawing view by repositioning the UCS as discussed in my lead article in the August 2004 column [Ditto, thanks]. Now let's combine the two features. After rotating your drawing view by changing the orientation of the UCS, save the UCS by name as well as the View. By doing so, when you restore the view, the UCS position will also be restored.
Note: The naming of a UCS can only be done from the UCS command line. Curiously, this is still the case in AutoCAD 2006; there is no dialog box in which you can click a "New" or a "Save" button to name a new UCS position.
In the following procedure, you will need a drawing with at least one line at a non-orthogonal angle. If you're starting from scratch, just draw a diagonal line and go from there.
Those of you familiar with viewports on a Layout tab will relate to this. You have a small viewport on your layout, but you need to just jump in there for a minute, make a quick fix, then jump back out. The bummer is, when you come back out, you will probably need to restore the plot scale of the viewport, and if the viewport is locked, you will have to unlock it before you can pan and zoom. For that reason, many of us just click back on the Model tab, make the edits or whatever, then click back on the Layout tab and go from there.
AutoCAD 2005 introduced the Maximize/Minimize Viewport button on the AutoCAD status bar for just these occasions. When you click into a viewport, then use Maximize Viewport not only does it maximize the frame of the viewport to the entire drawing window (with red 'stitching' around the edges), it will also temporarily override the locked status of that viewport to let you pan and zoom.
But don't panic, when you click the toggled Minimize Viewport button, the viewport returns to the original display, scale, and locked status. Very cool.
One thing AutoCAD LT is not is "lite". Apart from the fact that the moniker originally referenced AutoCAD for the LapTop, AutoCAD LT…any version…is a true 3D drawing environment.
In this illustration, at the prompt to place the Center of the circle, I entered M2P, then specified the lower right corner of room 125, then the midpoint of the opposite wall. Pretty cool.
This is like stepping away from the circle 1 step to the right, 1 step back, and 1 step up in Z.
Curiously, when you run the Hide command, a circle is displayed as an implied 3D face.
A named layer state is essentially a snapshot of the condition of all the layers of the current drawing at a specific point in time. You can save a layer state when all the layers are on, or when some are on and some are off, or when the layer colors are all set to Black (or White), or any number of arrangements. Here's how it works (depending upon your version).
Tip: It's always a good idea to create a layer state of the "original" condition of a drawing when you receive it. Especially if you are just "looking around" among the layers and will need to return to that original condition.
To test your state, stay in the Layer Properties Manager and turn off half of the layers. Now restore the "original" layer state.
This is great for drawings with lots of layers and you need to quickly switch to a condition where, for example, you need to see all the topographic lines and structures, but not the construction notes. Or if you had a large floor plan and wanted to switch between the layers for the electrical plan to all the layers for the furniture plan.
Also, please note that these layer states are by drawing only but in all versions, there is an import feature which enables you to create a .LAS file that can be imported in another drawing with a like layer collection.
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Note from Michael: I want to thank all of my customers for continuing to retain my training services (some for over two decades!) and let you know your donations do not go to me personally, but to the ongoing maintenance of the CADTutor ship as a whole and to support the yeoman efforts of my friend and CADTutor captain, David Watson, to whom I am grateful for this monthly opportunity to share a few AutoCAD insights.