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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.

This month…

October - One-derful!!!

It's a God-thing.

I had no idea that 14 years ago I would be given the opportunity to make an impact on the professional lives of so many. Only God knew what was ahead, and hopefully, the contributions I have made through Michael's Corner have equipped many of you to be more productive and a bit more savvy using AutoCAD. And apart from all the AutoCAD bashing that is going on, I'm sure it has a long life ahead.

So, in an effort to keep the AutoCAD fires burning, here's what I have for my final installment…

…A reminder on how to customize your hot keys
…Three Power Tools — one for Zoom, one for editing, and one for Layers
…Two Odd Spots — one for Layers and one for Hatching
…Buried text treasure
…And how to Search 14 years of the Archives

As for what's ahead for me, I will continue to present a variety of AutoCAD sessions — Fundamentals, Intermediate, Customizing, Updates, and 2D & 3D. I will also keep training CAP Designer, 20-20 Worksheet, Visual Impression (those three from 20-20 Technologies, Inc.), and some Revit Fundamentals. Next year I'm looking forward to being very involved in training CET (from Configura, Inc.) when Herman Miller joins the growing number of manufacturers embracing this software that is being touted as the ‘Future of Space Planning’. Personally, I'm looking forward to spending a bit more time with Donna, my lovely bride of 30 years. When this posts, we'll probably be within days of going on our 30th Anniversary vacation to the Tanque Verde Ranch in Tucson; Ee-Hah! We had such a good time when we went for our 20th, we figured we'd do it again!

Ah, and I'm hoping to have The AutoCAD Workbench, Final Edition out before snow flies.

And with that, Mike drop! …so to speak.

The LORD bless you and keep you;
The LORD make His face shine upon you,
And be gracious to you;
The LORD lift up His countenance upon you,
And give you peace. Numbers 6:24-26

This month's articles

Change F1 to ESC
Smoother Zoom
Stretch with Extension
Lock Layers with a Crossing Window
Layer Columns & Hatch Background Color
Text Frame on Mtext

From the Vault

Originally published October 2007

Custom Button #1: Consistent Revision Cloud

The Revision Cloud command is a wonderful routine, but the most aggravating feature is that the Arc Length is about as fickle as the weather. One day it could be 1/2″ the next it's set to 487′. (It's actually related to the current Dimscale, but let's not go there.)

I've always wanted to run a series in the Power Tool section on fun macros or modified commands you can add to your tool palette, so here's the first one.

The first step is getting the Revision Cloud button onto your tool palette, then we'll modify the Command String. [For additional button and palette insights, I have written about custom buttons on a palette in January 2006, August 2006, and April 2007.]

Instructions to Add a Toolbar Button to a Palette

  1. Open the toolbar from which you will be copying the command - the Draw toolbar in this exercise - and also open the Tool Palette window. (If you want to make a new palette first, right-click on a the current tab, then click New Palette and name it.)
  2. Customize PalettesRight-click on the title bar of the tool palette title bar (or in between icons on the palette) and click Customize Palettes to open the Customize dialog box.
  3. Move the Customize dialog box aside, it's simply the key to get in the "door" for the process of copying a button to the palette.
  4. Drag and dropClick and drag the Revision Cloud button from the Draw toolbar and drop it onto your palette. Now you can Close the Customize dialog box; it has served its purpose.

At this point, you've done nothing more than copy the button onto the palette. Now we need to modify the Command String to specify the Arc length and Style, as well as specify the desired Layer, Color, and Linetype. Before editing the Command String, however, you need to know what the prompts are for the Revision Cloud command itself. It reads…

Minimum arc length: 2′-0″ Maximum arc length: 6′-0″ Style: Calligraphy
Specify start point or [Arc length/Object/Style] <Object>:

When editing the command string "macro", think of what you would type at the Command line in response to the prompts.

Instructions to Edit the Command String of a Command on a Palette

  1. Right-click on the Revision Cloud button on the palette, then click Properties to open the Tool Properties dialog box.
Revcloud command string
Here's what the Revcloud's Command String means:

^C^C - Cancel; essentially hits the ESC key
_revcloud - The underscore in front of the command means to use the English version of the command. You can delete it.
space - You will also notice there's a space after the command; you can back that out, too. (See the semi-colon comment below.)

  1. Edit the Command String to read as follows (it is not case sensitive; I did that so you could see it better):
Here's what the additional characters mean:

; - Presses Enter; it's easier to discern a semi-colon than a space when pressing Enter in a macro
A - The Arc option of the Revcloud command
24 - Specifying the minimum arc length
72 - Specifying the maximum arc length (the maximum arc length cannot exceed 3x the minimum. Your call)
S - The Style option of the Revcloud command
C - The Calligraphy option (you can use N for the Normal option if you prefer)

Note: Nothing follows the last character

At this point you have a button on a tool palette that launches the Revcloud command, specifies the Min/Max arc length, and also specifies the Style to be used.

Tool Properties

Bonus Points: Create a layer in the current drawing named "Revision" and give it a color. Edit the General area of the Tool Properties window to read as shown in the figure, then click OK. You will then have a button that can be used to create a revision cloud on the proper layer (yes, even if it's not in the current drawing) in addition to those features specified in the command string. Way cool.

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