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Michael BeallMichael’s Corner #11
November 2003

Automating AutoCAD 2

by Michael Beall

This month follows up with the next level of tool-making in which you create your own tool, button image included. It's quite fun, really, and once you have learned the key features of this customizing procedure, you will find many opportunities to give it a try. I also have included another real-time application involving the fundamentals of paper space, along with some insights into what I refer to as the poor man's document management utility: Hyperlink. For those of you needing to run area calculations, take a look at this month's Basics section. Carry on!

If you would like to contact me directly, you can do that also.

Blessings to one and all,

Tool Time: Kick 'em Up a Notch

Making a Power Tool
  1. To make your own tool open the "Customize" dialog box, then choose "User defined" at the bottom of the Categories column.
  2. From the Commands column, drag the "User Defined Button" onto your toolbar.
  3. Click on the blank tool on your toolbar and the Customize dialog box automatically switches to the Button Properties tab.
  4. Enter a Name and a Description for your tool. The Name is for the tooltip; the Description will be displayed on the status bar.
  1. In the Macro area, type the name of the command you want to run with this tool.

Tip: When writing the macro for a custom tool, the semi-colon ";" means <Enter>.


This routine:
Cancels any currently running command (^C^C), then…
Issues the Vpoint command, then…
Enters the x,y,z values of -4,-5,1 then…
Launches Zoom, then…
Specifies a reduction of 50%, then…
Launches Hide.

  1. To create the button, click the Edit button under the empty button image to open the "Button Editor" dialog box.
  1. Turn the Grid on, grab a color, pick a tool and off you go. If you make a small mistake, click Undo. Click Clear if you want to start over.

Tip: When you're finished with your graphics, click Save As, navigate to the desired folder and give this .bmp a name that you will understand.

  1. After saving the button image by name, click Close to close the Button Editor.
  2. Choose Apply at the bottom of the "Customize" dialog box, then Close out of the Customize dialog and you"re finished!

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Power Tool

Hyperlink for document management

Wouldn't it be cool if you could launch one drawing from within another one. Or how about automatically going to a website containing product specification.

  1. Click the "Insert Hyperlink" tool on the Standard toolbar (Ctrl+K or Insert/Hyperlink in A2004).
  1. Select the object to receive the hyperlink, then press <Enter> to open the Insert Hyperlink dialog.
  1. Enter the internet URL or click the File button to select a file… any file!
  2. Change the "Text to display" to something more concise.
  3. Choose OK, then hover over the object to see the hyperlink tip.
  4. To open the linked file, select, then right-click on the hyperlinked object, then choose HyperlinkOpen…

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The Odd Spot

Remember Tilemode?

Once upon a Release 11-14, to switch over to "Paper Space" (now known as a Layout for those of you just joining us), you changed the Tilemode variable. When Tilemode was set to 0, the Paper Space environment was set to current. Set the Tilemode variable to 1 and the environment switches over to Model Space. This is the same as clicking on the Paper or Model button on the A2000-A2004 status bar.

What I discovered recently working on a drawing with about 25 layouts is that this variable can be extremely helpful if you are, let"s say, about 20 layouts into the multi-tab layout list and you want to jump over to Model. Rather than scrolling back to the Model tab, simply enter the default alias of TM for Tilemode, then enter 1. Once you have finished with your needs on the Model tab, use TM and enter 0… to return to the same Layout!

For those of you on A2004: If you have AutoCAD 2004, it would appear as though Autodesk recognized this need to go back to the previous layout (better late than never, I suppose). Right-click on the Model tab and choose "Activate Previous Layout"!

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The Basics

Area Additions and Subtractions

Whether you"re calculating areas on a corporate office floorplan or the total material area for a plate, the Area command can help.

The procedure will go much more smoothly if the bounding area and any internal shapes are polylines. In floorplans, you may want to consider using the Boundary command, or you could use Osnap and create a polyline on a separate layer.

To calculate the total area of the plate, (subtracting the area of the seven circles), do this:

  1. Launch the Area command and begin with the Add option. This establishes the bounding area from which you will subtract the internal objects.
  2. Since the object is a Polyline, use the Object option and select the object, then AutoCAD will display the following information:

Area = 18.0882, Perimeter = 17.8008
Total area = 18.0882
(ADD mode) Select objects:

If you don't have a pline to select, the prompt to "Specify first corner point" provides a method by which you can pick the points on the perimeter of the area to be calculated.

  1. Press <Enter> to end the ADD mode, at which point you will have an option to Subtract.
  2. With the Subtract option, select each of the objects (or circles in the case of this example), and AutoCAD maintains a running tally of the Area of the object selected and it's perimeter, as well as the Total Area after the subtraction.

(SUBTRACT mode) Select objects:
Area = 0.0928, Circumference = 1.0799
Total area = 17.5314

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