April 28, 2011

Revit - Rectangle Tool in Families

Here is a tip that I picked up watching one of The Revit Kid's videos a while back, and it has proved to be sufficiently useful that I thought I would make note of it here. When drawing linework that you intend to constrain to Reference Planes in a Revit Family, if you are drawing a rectangle, use the Rectangle tool.
Not only does it allow you to draw four lines with two clicks, but it also allows you to draw those lines in place and then activate the constraints. No need to use the Align tool after drawing the linework.(As always, you can click on a reduced-to-fit image to see it full size. Use the Back button in your browser to return to the blog article.)

April 25, 2011

Controlling Did You Know Balloon Notifications

If you never made much use of the Communication Center, you may not miss its absense on the InfoCenter toolbar in the upper right corner. (I am assuming that the shipping version and the release candidate beta have the same interface elements and that this was not added back in at the last minute.)
Once you have to manually close a Did You Know message more than one time, you may recall that you were able to have the Did You Know messages close after a period of time that you specified, using the InfoCenter Settings dialog that you accessed from the Communication Center.Now how are you going to make those settings?

Fortunately, you still can do so, but you need to know how to access the InfoCenter Settings dialog. Open the Options dialog (one way - from the Application Menu - the big red "A" in the upper left corner - choose the Options button at the lower right corner) and on the System tab, in the InfoCenter area in the lower right corner, click the Balloon Notifications button. This will open the InfoCenter Settings dialog and let you change Did You Know messages from Display until closed to Use balloon notification display time. You can set the number of seconds that balloon notifications display and also choose how transparent the balloons are.If you do not want to see the Did You Know messages at all, you can also just clear the checkmark in the toggle in front of Did You Know messages (or all balloon notifications).

April 22, 2011

Autodesk Discussion Groups and IE9

If you have "upgraded" Internet Explorer to Version 9 and have suddenly found that your posts in the Autodesk Discussion Groups are showing up with a blank message body, try turning on Compatibility View.

Supposedly, there is a button for this at the end of the Address Bar, but I did not have one.
I had to turn on the Menu Bar (which I would have done, anyway) and then chose Tools > Compatibility View while the Discussion Group site was up on the active tab, and then I was able to post a reply and have the text show up.

April 09, 2011

Location Property Misread

If you are experiencing Location properties not reading the correct property when working through external references, you may want to see if the problem is similar to one I recently experienced.

A project in my office was being done in ACA 2010, and was not using the Drawing Management (Project Browser/Project Navigator) feature. Space objects were placed in the main "model" file, and had the company standard Property Set attached which includes two Text-type Manual properties for the room name (for two separate lines, set up before attributes in the view block of a Multi-View Block tag could wrap text), a formula property to concatenate those two Manual properties, for use in Schedule Tables and a Manual room number property. The Property Set was an older version, which also has three "residual" properties from the out-of-the-box property set, a Project property for Level, an Integer-type Manual property for the room number "Increment" and a formula property to concatenate the Level and Increment properties. A separate Property Set was also attached to the Spaces to hold a project-specific Text-type Manual property to hold the "room code".

In order to allow additional staff to work simultaneously, the equipment for the project was placed in several different "equipment" files, which were then externally referenced into the main model file. The main model file was also externally referenced into the equipment files, so that the equipment could be located. The equipment had a Property Set that included three Location properties: one for the concatenated formula property for the room name, one for the room number and one for the room code.

There were a number of issues with the state of the files at the time I was consulted. Once I got the needed Property Sets attached, I found that the room code Location property read the information correctly, but the room name and room number properties were displaying *No Project* for a value. I double checked to make certain that the correct properties were being referenced, and that these did not make use of the Project property. All appeared to be set up correctly.

I finally discovered what the problem was (even if I do not understand why it was a problem) - the equipment drawings had our current version of the Property Set for room names and numbers, which no longer have the "residual" Project-based properties. For some reason, the fact that this was different from the version of the Property Set in the main model file caused ACA to become "confused" (no, that is not a technical term) and resulted in ACA grabbing the wrong property values from the main model. I discovered this when I added two more Location properties, referencing the two Manual properties that make up the room name. The Location property referencing the first line property also displayed *No Project*, but the Location property referencing the second line property was displaying the value of the first line property! At that point, I discovered that the Property Set in the equipment drawings was different from the one in the main model file. I did not want to take a chance on losing all of the values for the room names and numbers in the main model file, so I copied the version in that file to the equipment file, and, just like that, the Location properties started referencing the right properties.

So, if you are seeing a Location property in one file referencing the wrong property from a Space in an externally referenced file, one thing to check is whether the Property Set that has the Space property being referenced is identical in both files.

As part of my diagnostics, I opened the ACA 2010 files in both ACA 2011 and Release Candidate Beta 2012, and the problem occurred in those versions, also.

April 03, 2011

AutoCAD 2012 New Feature - AutoComplete

Another new AutoCAD® 2012 feature that I found useful is AutoComplete, which assists you when typing a command or system variable at the Command: prompt. This will be especially useful to ACA users, who, if you are like me, find typing some of the rather long ACA command names tedious at best and difficult to remember at worst. I know many have set up command aliases for many commonly used command in their ACAD.pgp file, but I find myself typing in most ACA commands sufficiently infrequently that it never seemed worth taking the bother to set up and remember command aliases but often enough to now find AutoComplete useful.

AutoComplete offers several options, which can be configured to your liking by either typing AUTOCOMPLETE at the Command: promptor by right-clicking in the Command: line window and choosing the AutoComplete flyout on the context menu.In the headers below, the command line option is given first, followed by the context menu flyout menu choice.

With the Append option enabled, command and system variable names will be automatically completed, right on the Command: line, as you type. If there are multiple commands that fit what you have typed so far, the first one alphabetically will be completed. The command line option is a Yes/No question; choosing the item on the context menu will toggle the check mark on (= "Yes") or off (= "No").
List/Suggestion List
This option determines whether a popup list of commands that start with the characters typed so far will appear. You can then choose the command you want from the list, or continue to type additional characters to reduce the number of commands on the list (or until the command you want is appended, if you have that option turned on). The command line option is a Yes/No question; choosing the item on the context menu will toggle the check mark on (= "Yes") or off (= "No").
Icon/Display Icons
Use this option to determine whether the icon associated with a command is displayed in front of it on the popup list. The command line option is a Yes/No question; choosing the item on the context menu will toggle the check mark on (= "Yes") or off (= "No").

System variables/Display System Variables
Enable this option to include System Variables in the Append and List options; disable it to exclude them. The command line option is a Yes/No question; choosing the item on the context menu will toggle the check mark on (= "Yes") or off (= "No").

Delay/Delay Time
The delay time, entered in seconds, determines how long AutoCAD waits before allowing the Append and List features to be applied, when enabled.

Choosing the ON option will allow the AutoComplete features that have been enabled to be active. Note that if both Append and List are set to "No" (unchecked in the context menu), then using the ON option has no actual effect. But if you previously used the OFF option (see below) to disable the AutoComplete feature when the Append, List or both were set to "Yes", then the "ON" command option will enable AutoComplete with the features that were previously set to "Yes".

The OFF option disables the AutoComplete function without changing the status of any of the command options. You can later use the ON option to enable the AutoComplete function with the same settings you had prior to using the OFF option.

The ON and OFF options are not available in the right-click context menu. You can turn both the Append and List options off in the context menu to effectively disable the AutoComplete feature, but if you later want both options on, you would have to turn both back on individually.To disable the feature while preserving your settings, use the OFF option of the AutoComplete command at the Command: line.

If you hover over one of the commands in the popup list and ToolTips are enabled and the command has a ToolTip, the ToolTip will display.
If you load custom LISP routines that define commands, these will also be available in the AutoComplete feature. In the image below, the SELALL command is a custom command I have defined, and after typing "SEL" at the Command: line, the popup list shows the SELALL command and the balance of the SELALL command has been appended, since it is first alphabetically on the list. The SELBLK command is also a LISP-defined custom command.