March 30, 2011

AutoCAD 2012 New Feature - In-Canvas View Controls

The In-Canvas View Control is a new feature added to AutoCAD® 2012, so it is also available in ACA 2012. When combined with the tools on the Navigation Bar and the ViewCube, you really do not need to tear off the View panel from the Home ribbon tab anymore.

Appearing at the top left corner of the drawing area on the Model "tab" (TILEMODE 1) and consuming a minimum of screen real estate, there are three text strings enclosed in square brackets; a left click on one of the strings gives access to popup menus related to that particular view control. The first string - either a "-" (one viewport displayed) or a "+" (multiple viewports displayed - allows you to control the visibility of the ViewCube, SteeringWheels and Navigation Bar as well as access to Viewport configurations, including any custom configurations you may have created.You can also temporarily maximize the currently active viewport and then restore the previous viewport configuration using this first menu.

The second string allows you to quickly select a Model View to restore, either preset or custom, as well as access to the View Manager. The name of the current View direction or Model Space View (if current) is displayed in the second string, for easy reference while you work.
The third string displays the name of the current Visual Style, and the menu allows you to set a different Visual Style current (predefined or custom) or to open the Visual Styles Manager.
The VPCONTROL System Variable controls the display of the In-Canvas View Controls. Set it to Off (0) to hide the controls. Set it to On (1) to display the controls. It is stored in the registry, so the setting will hold for all drawings.

With TILEMODE set to 0, you will not see the View Controls unless you maximize a viewport on a Layout "tab".

March 26, 2011

ACA 2012 Enhanced Feature - Column Grids

Two improvements to the Column Grid feature have been added in the 2012 release.

Automatic Labeling of Custom Column Grids
With the linework you wish to convert to a custom Column Grid drawn, on the Home ribbon tab, on the Build panel, select the arrow icon at the right side of the Enhanced Custom Grid split button and choose the Custom Grid Convert tool.(As always, click on an image to see a full-size version. Use the Back button in your Browser to return here.) Following the Command: line prompts, select the linework to be converted. The next prompt asks you to specify the label extension distance. Accept the default value, enter a new value or type "N" (No labels command option) if you do not want to add labels automatically at this time. Type "Y" to erase the selected linework or "N" to keep it, and press ENTER to end the command.The custom grid will be created, and labels will be added at the ends of the grid lines, if you did not choose the No labels command option. Notice, however, that the labels all have "-" as a default value.Note: If you did choose the No labels option when creating the Column Grid, you can add labels to it by selecting it and, on the Column Grid contextual ribbon tab, on the Label panel, choosing the Add Labels tool.

With the new, default-labeled custom Column Grid selected, on the Column Grid contextual ribbon tab, on the Label panel, choose the Edit Labels tool.You can now pick a single grid line or a series of grid lines that are to be sequentially numbered, starting with the one to receive the lowest value. When you are done selecting, press ENTER and then enter the value for the first (lowest) grid line and press ENTER to change those values.

The prompt will repeat, so you can pick a second grid line or series of grid lines, starting with the lowest value, and label those as well. When you are done labeling grid lines, press ENTER to end the AecCustomColumnGridLabelEdit command.
The value you enter for the label can be alphabetic or numeric; either will be incremented when you select a series of grid lines. You can also enter something like "1.1" and choose a series of grid lines and get "1.1", "1.2", 1.3", etc. You can use the Edit Labels tool at any time in the future to edit the values of a single grid line or a series of grid lines.

Labels are automatically added to both ends of each grid line. You can ERASE any labels you do not want to keep.

Enhanced Custom Grids
You can now use an existing regular Column Grid or Enhanced Custom Grid as the starting point for a new Enhanced Custom Grid. On the Home ribbon tab, on the Build panel, choose the Enhanced Custom Grid tool.In the Column Grid dialog, click on the Set From button,and then choose the desired Column Grid. The parameters of the selected grid will populate the Column Grid dialog as a starting point for your new Enhanced Custom Grid. A non-enhanced custom Column Grid (created from linework) can not be selected as the "Set From" object.

March 22, 2011

ACA 2012 New Feature - Corner Windows

One of the new features added to AutoCAD® Architecture 2012 is one for creating corner windows. An easy way to do so has been on the wishlist for some time, and now it is here. Corner Windows make use of "regular" ACA Window Styles, which now feature some added properties on the Dimensions tab in the Frame area.As you can see in the image above, you have the option of specifying butt glazing at the corner. If this toggle is unchecked, you will get a frame at the corner, and you can specify the exposed inside width of the frame (dimension "K"). Window Styles from previous releases will default to having the Butt Glazing at Corner toggle checked (K - Width of 0). The out-of-the-box "regular" Window Styles also have the Butt Glazing at Corner toggle checked. While there is no reason to create a separate Window Style with "Corner Butt Glazing" in the name, the out-of-the-box content includes a "Corner Butt Glazing - Picture" Window Style that is used by the Tool palette tool of the same name.
Corner Windows are placed using a new command, WINDOWCORNERADD. You can create your own Corner Window Tool palette tool by copying one of the out-of-the-box tools and modifying the properties to use your desired style. In addition to the out-of-the-box style-specific tools on the Corner Windows palette in the Design Tool Catalog (under Doors and Windows), you can find a generic Corner Window tool in the Stock Tool Catalog, under Architectural Object Tools. You can also invoke the WINDOWCORNERADD command on the Home ribbon tab, on the Build panel, by clicking the down arrow icon at the right side of the Window split button and choosing the Corner Window tool.
Corner Windows must be placed by selecting a Wall; they can not be inserted as free-standing objects, like "regular" Windows. The Wall selected must also be intersected by another Wall, and both must clean up to form an "L" corner; the angle need not be 90 degrees. "T" or "X" intersections will not work. Curved Walls are also not currently supported. If you try to place a Corner Window and nothing happens when you select a Wall, check the Command: line for helpful messages such as "No valid wall intersection found for selected wall." to help you figure out why the Corner Window is not being placed.
After selecting the first Wall, a preview of the Corner Window will appear on screen. If there are valid corners at each end, you can move your cursor closer to the desired end to have the preview appear at the correct end. When adding a Corner Window, you will find that instead of being able to edit the usual Width property (Dimension A, which is still there, but not editable), you now have two new properties, Width 1 (Dimension E) and Width 2 (Dimension F), which allow you to control the width of each leg of the Corner Window. Width 1 applies to the leg within the selected Wall, Width 2 applies to the other Wall. The Width property will display the sum of the Width 1 and Width2 values.In the image above, the horizontal Wall was selected, and the dynamic dimension for Width 1 is initially active. You can set the widths using the dynamic dimensions or by editing the properties on the Design tab of the Properties palette. Use the Opening measure property to choose whether the specified Width 1 and Width 2 values are measured to the Outside of opening, Center of opening or Inside of opening.
Standard Sizes remain the same as before - when placing a Corner Window, the width dimension specified is used for both legs.

Corner Windows can be tagged and scheduled just like "regular" Windows". The Width automatic property source will show both widths, separated by " x ".
Corner Windows can be grip edited similar to "regular" Windows, with some Corner-Window-specific changes. The arrow-shaped Flip grip located at the jamb will swap the Width 1 and Width 2 legs. This does not just swap the width values, but actually moves the Width 1 leg to the other Wall, as if it had been selected first. The square Location grip offers a different first option. Instead of "Move along" Wall, which makes no sense for a Corner Window, it offers "Specify wall corner", which allows you to move the Corner Window to any other valid "L" corner Wall intersection, even one involving two different Walls.

Corner Windows should not be used in projects where any other team members are not on the 2012 release. While ACA 2012 uses the AutoCAD® 2010 file format and ACA 2010 and 2011 will be able to open the file, neither of those releases will support the proper display of Corner Windows and you will get a "regular" Window, with the width equal to the sum of the center of opening values of Width 1 and Width 2, anchored to the Width 1 Wall at the time it was saved in 2012 and hanging over the end of the Wall, as seen in the image below.Schedules created in 2012 with Corner Windows will also show undesired results when opened in 2010 or 2011. (The Width column will show like a formula property with an error, displaying the entire formula used to calculate the Width value.) In limited testing, it appears that opening/editing/saving in 2011 and reopening in 2012 causes no harm, but you will want to test that in your own environment and with the sorts of edting you expect to do before relying on it being safe.

The openings created by Corner Windows are not taken into consideration when using the Offset or Center options when placing other opening objects (Doors, Windows, Openings, Door/Window Assemblies) in a Wall that has a Corner Window. This is not the behavior I expected, so you will want to keep that in mind.

Any type of Window Style can be used as a Corner Window, but it may not be appropriate for all types. For example, you can set up a butt-glazed Glider Peak Corner Window, but that does not mean you should (nor does it mean it could be built).