March 09, 2008

AutoCAD Architecture 2009 - Part 4

First Article in the Series: AutoCAD Architecture 2009 - Part 1
Previous Article in the Series: AutoCAD Architecture 2009 - Part 3

Drawing Management
There have been a number of improvements to the Drawing Management feature in the 2009 release. I do not use this feature at work, and while I have some limited experience with it, I can not pretend to be intimately familiar with it, particularly with regard to what features were added when. So bear with me as I try to convey the new features.

One item that I know has been on the wish list of many people for some time is the ability to make use of Project Browser and Project Navigator without first having to have a drawing file open. As you can see in the series of screen captures below (click on any image to see a full-size version, then use the Back button to return here), both can now be opened and used with no drawing file open.

Project Browser... in the File Pulldown, Zero-Doc State

Project Browser Open, Zero-Doc State

Adding a New Project, Zero-Doc State

New Project Set Current, Zero Doc State

Project Navigator Open, Zero-Doc State

Here is another oft-wished for feature. There is now a button at the bottom of the Project tab of Project Navigator that will allow you to close the current project. Opening Project Browser is no longer necessary to close the current project. You will, however, need to use Project Browser to set a project current, as Project Navigator will close when the current project is closed.

Close Current Project in Project Navigator

When closing or switching projects in 2009, you now have the option to close all project files from the project being closed.

Close All Open Drawings in Closing Project

That might put you back in a zero-doc state, but that is not a problem in the 2009 release.

Yet another item is removed from the wish list: you can now open a file "read-only" from Project Navigator.

Open File Read-Only in Project Navigator

There are a number of other file-related enhancements in Project Navigator. Files that are open are now indicated graphically by the addition of a small lock in the lower right corner of the file icon. In the image below, the 00 Core, Stairs and 01 Interior Constructs are open, and show the lock icon. If you have multiple files from a project open, you are now given the opportunity to bring a particular file that is not current to the front on the right-click context menu in Project Navigator. You can also close an open file from that same context menu.

Right-click Menu Options for a Construct in Project Navigator

The External References Worksheet, accessed from that same right-click menu, has been enhanced in 2009. Instead of merely showing a list of the externally referenced files in a given Project Navigator file, you can now also see the saved path and found location for each of the external references.

External References Worksheet

The Project Properties Worksheet has gotten a makeover, making it easier to find the particular item you want to edit. Of particular interest, note that the last item, Project Tool Palette Group, is set to None. Project Tool Palettes are now optional.

Project Properties Worksheet

Drawing tooltips in Project Navigator are now available, paralleling those available in the Sheet Set Manager in AutoCAD®. In Project Navigator, the tooltips are available for all files types, not just Sheets.

Drawing Tooltips in Project Navigator

The tooltips combine the information on the Detail and Preview options of the Detail area at the bottom of Project Navigator; you may find that you can close the Detail area, expanding the file viewing area, and using the tooltip when you need to see that information.

There are a number of other Drawing Management enhancements. If these sound like a solution to one or more pain points for you, be sure to check them out in 2009:
  • Double-click on APJ file enhancements.
  • Commas in Sheet file names (and therefore sheet drawing titles).
  • Who-has information
  • Recovery from failed, cancelled or missed repathing.
  • Reference file repathing queue worksheet.
  • Use layout name for sheet name.
  • Improvements to the Attach Elements to Constructs Worksheet
  • Project Templates installation location improvements.

Additional Features
The context menu for external references has been improved, with the addition of several new options. You can now unload, reload, detatch or bind an external reference from the context menu.

External Reference Right-Click Context Menu

Support for gbXML has been added to the 2009 release. Those of you interested in green building and extracting information from the building model will want to look into this more deeply. You can find an overview at the website.

IFC import and export has been improved to provide greater control over the IFC process.

Material tools now allow you to apply a material directly to a component of an AEC object or to an AutoCAD object. When a tool is active, hovering over a component will highlight the component and give you a tooltip identifying the component and listing the material that would be applied. The tooltip will also let you know if the highlighted component can not accept a material. For AEC objects with styles, the assignment can be made at the style or object level.

Applying a Material to a Door Panel with a Material Tool

Here is another one that many have asked for over the years - all dialogs in ACD-A 2009 are resizable. I have not personally opened every single one to see if this is true, but I do not recall any that could not be resized.

The Match Properties command (MATCHPROP) now also allows you to copy the style of an AEC object to other objects of that type. Look for the new icon on the Standard toolbar.

Match Properties Icon

The Display tab of the Properties palette has also been improved. The "light bulb" icons on the components list that formerly only indicated whether or not the component was on or off can now be used to toggle the on/off status of the component.

Toggle Component Visibility with Light Bulb Icon

All of the Display Properties of an object, including properties that appear on additional tabs like Cut Plane and Other in the Display Manager, are now available through the Display tab of the Properties palette.

All Display Properties Accessible Through Display Tab

AutoCAD Features
There are also a number of improvements to AutoCAD 2009 that will also be available in ACD-A 2009. Many of these have been covered in detail by other bloggers of greater stature than I, and I will defer to their postings. If you have not already read these articles, you may want to take advantage of the following links.

General Overview
Heidi Hewett

Quick Access Toolbar
Lynn Allen
Heidi Hewett

Steering Wheel
Lynn Allen

Lynn Allen
ACD-A 2009 users will also see the ViewCube in the Object Viewer.and the Components tab of a Wall Style, among other places.
Action Recorder
Lynn Allen
Heidi Hewett

Show Motion
Lynn Allen

Quick Properties
Lynn Allen
Heidi Hewett

Quick View Layouts
Lynn Allen
Heidi Hewett
Shaan Hurley

Status Bar
Heidi Hewett

Menu Browser
Heidi Hewett

I hope this series on the new features in AutoCAD® Architecture 2009 has helped whet your appetite for the coming release and shown that there are features in the new release that make the effort to install it worthwhile.

March 02, 2008

AutoCAD Architecture 2009 - Part 3

First Article in the Series: AutoCAD Architecture 2009 - Part 1
Previous Article in the Series: AutoCAD Architecture 2009 - Part 2

There have been several improvements to the Space object. Curved surfaces of freeform spaces are now displayed as one surface, rather than as a series of segments, as they were in previous releases. The freeform spaces shown below are from 2008, on the left, and 2009, on the right.
AutoCAD® linework, such as lines, circles and polylines, now have a "Bound spaces" property, in the Advanced category.When this is set to "yes" and you are calculating Space areas from a standard, the AutoCAD linework will affect the calculation the same way as an AEC Object that is set to bound spaces. For the BOMA standard, Base and Net areas will exclude the area of bound items within the Base and Net boundaries, respectively, while Usable and Gross areas will include the area of bound items. For AutoCAD linework, it appears that the linework needs to be entirely within the Base Area boundary, while AEC Objects can straddle a Space edge and still have their area included in the Usable and Gross area. In previous versions, when AutoCAD linework formed the boundary of a Space, the Space would still be associative to it, but the area within the AutoCAD linework would not be included in any of the areas.

The associative interaction of Spaces with objects in external references is improved. In a test file, I found that reloading the external reference with changes to the walls forming the boundaries of a space would automatically update the Spaces in the host file in 2009; a manual updating of the Space geometry was necessary in 2008.

Multi-line Attribute Text in Schedule Tags
One of the cool things added in the 2008 release was the ability to set a width for an attribute in a block, and have the entered text wrap to multiple lines if it exceeded that width. Unfortunately, that ability was not supported in Multi-View Blocks, and therefore, not in Schedule Tags. The 2009 release extends that functionality to Multi-View Blocks and Schedule Tags. One common use for this will be in room tags. You will no longer need to have multiple attributes in your view block, one for each line to be supported, and either separate Manual properties for entering the lines, with a Formula property to knit them together for use in a Schedule Table, or a set of fancy Formula properties to take the value entered into a single Manual property and chop it up into smaller pieces for use in the tag. It will also make it much easier to use List Definitions for room names.

When selecting a Schedule Tag, you will now see two or three grips. The square cyan grip is the old, familiar location grip, used to move the entire tag. If the Schedule Tag is annotative, and more than one scale is assigned to the tag, then there will be a square, yellow grip for relocating the tag graphics for the current drawing scale. New to 2009, there is now a round, gray grip that is the trigger grip for editing attributes.Selecting the edit attributes grip will enable a number of grips that allow you to edit the attributes, as shown in the composite image below. (Click on any image for a full-size version, then use the Back button to return here.)As the tooltips indicate, the two triangular cyan grips allow you to set the width of the attribute (and the tool tip lets you know the current width - 0 will display the entire text on one line). The upper circular gray grip triggers another set of grips (not shown) where you can change the justification of the attribute. The square cyan grip allows you to change the location of the attribute and the diamond cyan grip allows you to change the rotation of the attribute. The lower circular gray grip allows you to exit the attribute edit mode.

After using the left width grip (either will do) to offset the width by 3'-6", the attribute will have a total width of 7'-0"...... and result in a three-line display for the featured room tag.So easy, even a project manager could do it.

Additional Annotation Improvements
You can now associate a Display Configuration with a particular scale. Changing to that scale will also set the associated Display Configuration current. These settings are on a drawing-by-drawing basis, starting with whatever may be set in the template file, so you could have different assignments for different drawing types. For example, the imperial default setting of Medium Detail for scales from 1/8" = 1'-0" through 3/8" = 1'-0" may be appropriate for a regular plan drawing, but you will want to reset the assigned Display Configurations for a reflected ceiling plan drawing, unless you are working in a single scale. Set or change the Display Configuration assigned to a particular scale on the Scale tab of the Drawing Setup dialog.
Multi-leaders are now supported for the leader and keynoting tools.
There are new tool types for inserting various types of annotation. (Out-of-the-box DesignCenter content for imperial and metric annotation is down to Chases and Elevation labels.) These include various symbols (Bar Scale, Datum Point and North Arrow, although you could customize an instance of this tool type to insert any symbol),various polyline symbol tools (fire-resistance-rating lines - line only - and match lines and revision clouds - line and symbol)and a Column Grid Bubble tool..
The Stock Catalog's Command Tool now also features the ability to specify a Layer Key or Layer Key Overrides! This tool type is now used to provide Dimension tools and a Shrink Wrap tool that are not dependent on AEC Content.
I hope to wrap up this overview of the new features in the 2009 release in the next installment.

Next Article in the Series: AutoCAD Architecture 2009 - Part 4