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AutoCAD Productivity Articles - 2010


December - It Was a Very Good Year

Sitting here in Las Vegas where Autodesk University 2010 starts in less than 24 hours and, looking back, it was a very good year. If for no other reason than the publication of The AutoCAD Workbench, a book that was nearly 8 years in the making (thanks in no small part to the efforts of David Watson at

The idea or solution for three of this month's four articles came from customers over the last few months (no surprise, I'm sure) and I am delighted to have this platform to share them with you. Specifically…

…How to add commands to the Edit shortcut menu
…How to avoid getting fat lines in a .PDF (that look like they've been drawn with a Sharpie™)
…What variable controls planar vs. 3D for non-planar distance inquiries
…and a Command line insight you may find useful

I'm really excited about presenting my AutoCAD Toolbelt lab twice tomorrow (85 in each session!), and the workbook I will be using will be posted on my website for the next couple months.

Blessings to one and all for a glorious and blessed Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Add Mirror to Your Right-Click Shortcut Menu
Solution to Fat PDF Lines
Finding the 2D Distance Between 3D Points
Another Command Line Insight

November - Review of Random Ribbon Stuff

Horns, meet the Bull.

It was high time I addressed the issue of transferring customization files, so I figured it would be a good time to do it while Autodesk University was in session. As a matter of fact, everything in here this month turned out to be Ribbon-related, specifically:

…How to export your Workspace and/or Ribbon Tab (and any associated Panels).
…A quick way of maximizing your screen size.
…The Toolbars button on the Ribbon.
…Ribbon optimization technique.

Sales of The AutoCAD Workbench are going very well, thanks to many of you who have purchased your own copy of the book and/or .PDF.

If you think your college or university's AutoCAD course may benefit from The AutoCAD Workbench… or if you wish you had a text book chock full of AutoCAD insights like that when you were in school… let me know and I'll send an evaluation copy to your professor.

Meanwhile, I hope all of you celebrating Thanksgiving this month have a wonderful time wherever you may be and may we all remember to count our blessings daily.

Export Your Workspace or Ribbon Tab via the CUI
‘Full Screen’ Workspace
Toolbars Tool on the Ribbon in A2011
A2011 Ribbon Cycling Button

October - Fall Flavors

Several years ago I considered writing a book called The AutoCAD Cookbook. When you think about it, you're taking the the vast array of AutoCAD ‘ingredients’ (the commands) and creating appetizers, the main dish, or dessert (the drawings). Instead, the book many of you have now purchased - The AutoCAD Workbench - ran a little closer to AutoCAD's true nature, if only in the fact that the buttons are called ‘tools’.

I enjoyed ‘cooking up’ this month's articles, so I hope you enjoy learning about…

…A more practical solution to last month's coverage of updating blocks that were inserted from a tool palette.
…How to use a custom hatch pattern (.PAT) you may have found on the Internet.
…Why you can't see text in a viewport and what to do about it.
…How to globally Find and Replace attribute values.

Last week one of my customers bought all of the books I had left, so The AutoCAD Workbench is now officially in its second printing! I ordered up another 200 books, so if you have yet to do so, you can order The AutoCAD Workbench from my website using PayPal or download the order form.

October is my favorite month and it's really nice to have those crisp autumn mornings back after a hot summer.

Follow-up to Updating Blocks From a Tool Palette
Download and Install Custom Hatch Patterns
Annotative Text Visibility Button
Replace Attribute Values with FIND

September - The Clever & The Curious

Getting from Point A to Point B is not always a straight line in AutoCAD and we occasionally need to get very clever in our efforts and frequently discover some curious behavior. Such was the case in recent customer visits and seminars which have lead me to this month's collection where you learn how to…

…Update all instances of a block in a drawing after the tool palette block definition has been modified.
…Incorporate Otrack with Direct Distance entry.
…Re-order the attribute order when creating attributed blocks.
…Float and manipulate a Panel from the Ribbon.

Autodesk University registration opens up this month, too [September 14 for AU in Las Vegas and Virtual and September 28 for AU Extension]. My seminar, The AutoCAD Toolbelt II: Customizing and Power Tools for Productivity, will be on Tuesday, November 30, from 2:00 – 3:00. If you're going to AU, come to my session and sit in the front row!

And if you have yet to do so, you can order The AutoCAD Workbench from my website using PayPal or download the order form.

Hope you all had a great summer!

Updating a Block Definition in a Drawing [Block from the Palette]
Otrack with Direct Distance Entry
Attribute Definition Order
Floating a Panel from the Ribbon

August - Random Features of Productivity

Now that The AutoCAD Workbench has been published and I'm back out on the road training pretty extensively, I went back through all the little sticky notes I have squirreled away and figured I better start getting them into print. The new hatch features in AutoCAD 2011 are very cool, so I wanted to review a couple of those, and then one of the AutoCAD powerheads at Lawrence Berkeley Labs came to me with a quandry that I think we were able to fix with the old ‘Cookie Cutter Trim’ feature.

Now that I got it all put together, here's what's in store for August 2010:

…Setting a new Origin and Rotating the hatch in AutoCAD 2011
…‘Cookie Cutter Trim’ is still around in the EXTRIM command
…Insights to the Navigation Cube, SNAPANG, & the A2010 Status bar
…Measuring an Area with the Measuregeom command

And if you have yet to do so, you can order The AutoCAD Workbench from my website using PayPal or download the order form.

Hope your summer is going well. Last week I was in Florida and this week I'm in Alaska; corner-to-corner. I have a lot of webinars in August, so I'm looking forward to just sticking around the house for a few weeks.

A2011 Hatch Tricks: Set a New Origin & Spin it
The Old ‘Cookie Cutter Trim’ Still Around in EXTRIM
Navvcube, Snapang, & A2010 Status
The Area Option for Measuregeom

July - July Celebrations!

Happy 234th birthday, USA! (Well, we have to celebrate something since it won't be a soccer trophy!)

Guam studentsI had another totally great time in Guam again last month! Here's my team of students from the AutoCAD 2010 Update course I presented for New Horizons Computer Learning Center.

As many of you know, my training sessions are fertile ground for new articles and Guam was no exception. We were all lamenting about the "exploded box" icon for Explode that was introduced in AutoCAD 2009, so I told the guys I would show 'em how to put the firecracker back on the Explode button.

Here's what's in store for July 2010:

…Put the (4th of July) firecracker back on the Explode button
…Including ‘Prompt for Rotate’ in Dynamic Block with multiple insertion points
…‘Single’ option for Copy
…Multiple Points in the Distance option of Measuregeom

And if you have yet to do so, you can order The AutoCAD Workbench from my website using PayPal or download the order form.

Put the Firecracker Back on Explode!
‘Prompt for Rotate’ in Dynamic Blocks with Multiple Insertion Points
"Single" Option for Copy
‘Multiple Points’ Option for Measuregeom Distance

June - The AutoCAD® Workbench is Now Shipping!

It is our collective pleasure to announce that, by the time of the posting of this month's Michael's Corner, The AutoCAD Workbench is on its way to dozens of you! Those of you who have already sent in payment will be first to receive your copy. I'm really pleased with how it turned out and I hope you are, as well. Over 200 pages, 300+ "How To" exercises, and fully indexed. I think the most humbling emails I received was from a reader in Sao Paulo who said he could now dispense with the loose-leaf copies he had made of assorted articles, now that it was all going to be in one volume!

Download the Order Form which has all the relevant information for purchasing either the book, the .PDF, or a combination of both. You will also find options to use PayPal on the Workbench page of my website.

This month's articles are included in The AutoCAD Workbench, so order your copy today!

…Adding a Sub-Panel to a panel on the Ribbon
…PDF Underlay layers
…Tab through commands and variables
…The BLOCK and INSERT commands

And I want to give a shout out to my class at NeoCon, too. On Wednesday, June 16th I will be presenting my 8th annual ‘AutoCAD Toolbelt’ session at the NeoCon Worlds Trade Fair at the Merchandise Mart in Chicago. I'm looking forward to another great class of very appreciative professionals, some of whom are kind enough to sign up each year!

Adding Another Row to a Panel on the Ribbon
PDF Underlay Layers
Tab Through Commands and Variables
How to Create and Insert a Block

May - More AutoCAD® 2011 Insights and some Customizing for Fun

AutoCAD 2011 really does bring some luster to the productivity features. I'm having a grand time updating the book with the current version because I'm discovering the subtle differences between A2011, and the previous Ribbon-based versions of A2009 and A2010. And I'm always excited when a customer has a question in training that requires some customizing. This month you'll learn…

…How to add a user-defined button (and an image) to the Quick Access Toolbar
…Some of the cool new selection features introduced to the A2011 shortcut menu
…How to display a toolbar WITH the Ribbon in A2011
…Some fundamentals of the Multiline Text (Mtext) command

Hopefully these tips and insights will enable you to get your job done more quickly so you can get out and enjoy this fabulous Spring weather!

Adding a User-Defined Button (with Image) to the Quick Access Toolbar
Selecting Objects in AutoCAD 2011
Toolbars with the Ribbon in AutoCAD 2011
Multiline Text

April - AutoCAD® 2011 Hot Spots

Of the dozens of software titles produced by Autodesk, I am quite delighted to be fluent exclusively on the flagship of AutoCAD®. The first version I trained on was Release 10… which was also the first version in which they thought it would be a good idea to alphabetize the layers. Nice.

Guri Stark, (Vice President, AutoCAD & Platform products) mentioned during our ‘Welcome to the Official Launch of AutoCAD 2011’ session that AutoCAD 2011 is their Silver Anniversary version - their 25th product release. From where I sit, it's another fabulous release and has several features that my primary customer base - contract furniture dealerships and corporate Facility Planning departments - will find extremely helpful. My ‘Top Three’ that I'm presenting this month include:

…An introduction to the Hatch improvements
…The now-intuitive process of polyline editing
…The (hopefully last) revision of the process of selection cycling

Stay tuned, I think AutoCAD 2011 is going to be a great ride.

An Introduction to the AutoCAD® 2011 Hatch Updates
Polyline Edits in A2011
Diameter-specified Circle with DYN
Object Selection Cycling in A2011

March - AutoCAD® 2011 - Ready When You Are!

Dateline March 25, 2010: As many of you may have suspected, AutoCAD® 2011 was officially released today and it was a humbling experience to be seated among Autodesk management and the AutoCAD Development teams at the live webcast of the official launch.

Several of us from the social network of AutoCAD bloggers and authors were hosted by Autodesk in San Francisco in recognition of our enthusiasm for this flagship product. Please be advised: AutoCAD® and it's branded products - AutoCAD LT, AutoCAD Architecture, AutoCAD Civil 3D, AutoCAD Inventor Suites, AutoCAD Map 3D, AutoCAD Mechanical, & AutoCAD MEP - are alive and extremely well.

In the months ahead, I will have articles in Michael's Corner covering some of the wonderful new productivity features found in AutoCAD 2011 and AutoCAD 2011 LT.

"Michael's Corner, 7 Years of AutoCAD Tips & Insights": Update. I have contacted a printer and it looks like I'm still on track to have this title available by June, just in time for NeoCon! I will be working closely with the CADTutor administrator, David Watson, to coordinate the logistics of making the book available to all of you, so stay tuned!

Taking a look at what I just wrote, it looks like customizing is once again the order of the day. Ribbons, tool palettes, and workspaces are the power that drives our productivity… and I've also answered that niggling question about the difference between Off and Freeze that you've always wanted to ask.

Blessings to one and all for a glorious new season.

The Ribbon and Toolbars, too?
Custom Button #14: Layout Tabs with Titleblocks
Ribbon Tab & Panel Shuffle
Freeze vs. Off

February - Customizing for Fun & Profit

OK, so the ‘Profit’ would be the benefit of being more productive, rather than financial remuneration. Nonetheless, that's what I try to do in these articles; make you more productive so you increase (profit) in your personal time and reduce your overtime.

The main article is a bit code-heavy, but I have posted the necessary files out on my website so you won't have to start from scratch and with a minimal amount of effort can begin using the attributed, automatically incrementing block.

Other insights you will learn about this month include:

…Automating your favorite Workspace using a switch when you launch AutoCAD from the icon
…How to change the width of Mtext that was transferred to Paper space using CHSPACE
…The importance of the Support File Search Path

By the way, the compilation of over 300 tips from Michael's Corner is coming along nicely and I'm still hoping for a June 2010 publish date. All subscribers will get an email when the book becomes available. If you have yet to subscribe, just click the link over on the left panel.

Customize AutoCAD LT Using DIESEL (and AutoCAD, too!)
Setting a Workspace Switch when Launching AutoCAD
Mtext Width After Change Space
The Importance of the Support File Search Path

January - New Stuff for the New Year!

This year I'm going to be taking on some new projects. For one, I'm going to become fundamentally literate in Revit so that I can allay the fears of my core customers. Contrary to what you may hear from some, it cannot cure world hunger and it does have a specific focus and may not be for every application. I may even have an article or two this year to pass along what I find out.

I'm also expecting to provide training on another product that I'm very excited about that has to do with the contract furniture industry, but I'm not at liberty to discuss that at this time, so stay tuned.

And finally, I hope to finish the book compiling the last 7 years of Michael's Corner (Oh, please, God). Not sure what format this will take - definitely an eBook for starters - so I have quite a bit on my plate for the next few months.

What you have before you is…

…Referencing a PDF Underlay
…Adding another tool to an existing Panel on the Ribbon
…AutoCAD Timesavers to speed up your system that I learned at Autodesk University
…Status Bar tidbits

I hope this New Year will be your best year ever!

PDF Underlay
Add a Tool to a Panel
AutoCAD Timesavers
AutoCAD 2010 Status Bar Tidbits

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