AutoCAD 2009 – The Prequel Part 19 – Menu Browser

You have undoubtedly noticed the large red A in the top right corner of the AutoCAD window. Personally, I don’t like the look of it. The concept is rather Fisher-Price and the execution is poor. No competent graphic designer would align the top of the red A exactly with the top of its surrounding button area like this: There are so many examples of poor graphic design in AutoCAD 2009 that the overall visual effect is close to that of a rather amateurish shareware product. That’s not what you might expect of a multi-billion dollar company that can undoubtedly afford …

AutoCAD 2009 – The Prequel Part 18 – Another Interface Option

There’s one screen-based user interface mechanism in AutoCAD 2009 that you probably won’t see bragged about in Autodesk marketing materials. That’s a shame, because it has some strong points: It can be docked on the side of the screen or allowed to float free. While floating, it can be resized to the desired width and height. If you do dock it on the side, any unused height can be used to place either docked or floating toolbars. Out of the box, it provides access to a large number of the most commonly used AutoCAD commands. In default form, it is …

AutoCAD 2009 – The Prequel Part 17 – Ribbon Performance 2

Testing performance under Vista can be an interesting experience. The trouble is, Vista tries to improve its performance by observing what you do and caching it for later use in case you do it again. This leads to something akin to the observer effect in science, where the very act of observing something has an effect on what it is you are observing. Every time I test Ribbon tab switching performance in Vista, the results improve. In XP, the worst tab switching time I saw on my Core2 PC was 1.6 seconds for the first exposure of the Tools tab. …

AutoCAD 2009 – The Prequel Part 16 – Ribbon Performance 1

One of the things I like least about AutoCAD 2009 (at least in Release Candidate form) is that I find it very “sticky”. That is, I find myself having to wait for an instant here, then again there, yet again over there. Most of my testing has been on a middle-aged Pentium 4 (3.0 GHz dual core – not too ancient), and it is particularly noticeable there. On my newer Core2 machine, things are better. When AutoCAD 2009 starts shipping, I suspect your perception of it will be strongly influenced by your hardware. Top gun users on slow machines are …

Grammar and AutoCAD

I have a lot of posts about AutoCAD and a few about grammar, but I expect this will be the only post I ever make that combines the subjects. Autodesk founder John Walker, a very prominent figure in AutoCAD’s history, has written an article about the correct use of the apostrophe. While I enjoyed it, I think it’s too insulting to be useful. People struggling with the correct use of the apostrophe are unlikely to get past the part where they are called morons, to read the useful advice below. If you just want simple apostrophe advice without being belittled, …

AutoCAD tip – more on the Oops command

In a comment on my Five More Simple Tips for AutoCAD post, Jeremy had some questions about the Oops command. I thought I would explain the command in more detail in another post so more people will see it. The first thing to understand is that Oops varies from Undo/U in that it only reverses those commands that erase objects. The Erase command is obvious, and the same applies to pre-selecting objects and hitting the Delete key, but the Block and Wblock commands can also erase the objects that go to make up the block. In such cases Oops can …

AutoCAD 2009 – The Prequel Part 15 – Background

You may have noticed that the default AutoCAD background is an off-white shade. In a comment, Tim asked if this is the same as the Block Editor background. No, not quite. This image shows the different backgrounds and some linework, with black as a comparison: Paper space is pure white (Red, Green, Blue is 255,255,255), Model space is very pale cream (254,252,240) and the Block Editor is a slightly darker cream (255,252,229). In common with most people in my experience (and most people who need to use drawings with yellow linework), my backgrounds are all going to be 0,0,0 (black). …

AutoCAD 2009 – The Prequel Part 14 – What do you think?

I’m interested in people’s perceptions of the forthcoming AutoCAD release. Based on what you’ve seen so far, how good a release do you think it will be? Please speculate using the poll on the right. If you feel the poll doesn’t give you the opportunity to adequately express yourself, feel free to add a comment here. I intend to follow this up in a few months with a similar poll when people have had a chance to use the shipping product. It’s not scientific, but it will be interesting to see if actually using the product changes people’s opinions.

AutoCAD 2009 – The Prequel Part 13 – ViewCube

For many 3D users of AutoCAD, the ViewCube is likely to be the most useful new thing in AutoCAD 2009. There are a couple of problems with it, at least in the Release Candidate: It does not work in 2D wireframe mode (which is, paradoxically, where 90% of my 3D work is done). You need to choose another visual style before it will appear. It seems to slow things down quite a lot in complex drawings. That said, if you have more than enough computing power for the drawings you usually deal with, then this is a very, very nice …

Music – Top 3 Debut Albums. Number 3: Led Zeppelin – Led Zeppelin

For this review of my third favourite debut album of all time, I dusted off the trusty old turntable so I could hear it as it was originally heard. It seems that certain stock phrases must be included in all Led Zeppelin reviews. So before we go any further, here they are: primal scream, origins of heavy metal, The New Yardbirds, Keith Moon, supergroup, plagiarism. I must declare a personal interest here. My late father knew John Bonham’s father. Dad once told me about “snotty-nosed little Johnny” running around in shorts in his dad’s garden. The man who would become …

AutoCAD 2009 – The Prequel Part 12 – Controlling Screen Elements

How do you turn the new screen elements on and off using the keyboard? How about the not-so-new ones? See this table: Element On Off Toggle Advanced Render Settings RPPREF RPPREFCLOSE   Clean Screen CLEANSCREENON CLEANSCREENOFF Ctrl+0 Command line COMMANDLINE COMMANDLINEHIDE Ctrl+9 dbConnect DBCONNECT DBCCLOSE Ctrl+6 DesignCenter ADCENTER ADCCLOSE Ctrl+2 Layer palette LAYER LAYERCLOSE   Lights LIGHTLIST LIGHTLISTCLOSE   Markup Set Manager MARKUP MARKUPCLOSE Ctrl+7 Materials MATERIALS MATERIALSCLOSE   Menu bar MENUBAR 1 MENUBAR 0   NavCube NAVCUBEDISPLAY 1 NAVCUBEDISPLAY 0   Properties palette PROPERTIES PROPERTIESCLOSE Ctrl+1 Quick calc QUICKCALC QCCLOSE Ctrl+8 Ribbon RIBBON RIBBONCLOSE   Rollover tool tips ROLLOVERTIPS …

Music – Best Debut Albums?

With all this AutoCAD 2009 stuff, I haven’t given much attention to some of the other things this blog is supposed to be about, such as music. I will rectify that soon with posts about my three favourite debut albums of all time. In the meantime, have a think about this: if you could only have three debut albums in your collection (or on your iPod, or whatever), what would they be? I’m sure if I asked 1000 people I would have a list of nearly 3000 different albums. My set of three has one album that stands a good …

AutoCAD 2009 – The Prequel Part 11 – Docked Vertical Ribbon

This video shows how the AutoCAD 2009 vertical Ribbon behaves when it is docked on one side. The labels explain what is going on. The main thing that used to drive me batty with the Dashboard was the way in which expanding one panel would contract another. The vertical Ribbon doesn’t do that, it leaves panels how you left them, which I much prefer. Something else you may have noticed is that when there is no docked horizontal Ribbon, the red A in the corner shrinks. I’ll describe what’s lurking beneath that A in future posts.

Five More Simple Tips for AutoCAD

More simple AutoCAD tips, as promised: If you erase some objects, draw a few things and then want your erased objects back without losing the things you drew in the meantime, enter OOPS rather than undoing the commands. At any Select objects: prompt, you can select using a triangle, non-orthogonal rectangle or other odd shapes, by entering the WPolygon (WP) or CPolygon (CP) options. If you have a paper space viewport entirely inside another one, it can be hard to make that viewport current just by picking in it. Try Ctrl+R to cycle through viewports instead. Move some objects, rotate …

AutoCAD 2009 – The Prequel Part 10 – Dude, where’s my Dashboard?

Dude, Dashboard’s dead. Defunct. Done. AutoCAD 2009 replaced the Dashboard with the Ribbon. If you type in the DASHBOARD or DASHBOARDCLOSE commands, they are just converted to the RIBBON and RIBBONCLOSE commands, which turn the Ribbon on and off. If you’re a fan of the Dashboard (and I never was), there is good and bad news. The good news is that you can right-click on various parts of the Ribbon, pick Undock and you get a Dashboard-like floating vertical Ribbon that can be resized and configured very easily in terms of turning panels on and off. You can’t do that …

Five Simple Tips for AutoCAD

As my forced change to a different blog theme (thanks IE7) has meant the demise of my random AutoCAD tip feature, you may as well have the tips in a blog post instead. Here are the first five. These are fairly simple tips that apply to all recent releases. You probably know most of them, but just in case… If you need to draw circles, slots or rectangles around multiple text objects, use the Express Tools command TCIRCLE (Express > Text > Enclose Text with Object). When using the TRIM or EXTEND command, you don’t have to select any edges. …