May 16, 2012

AutoCAD 2013 - Command Line Enhancements

A number of nice enhancements have been made to the Command Line. You can still have it docked at the bottom or top of the screen, and adjust the height to show previous lines. As always, click on any image to see an enlarged version.
As you can see in the image above, there have been some changes. A command icon has been added at the left side of the Command Line and the name of the active command is also always displayed adjacent to the icon. If you ever get interrupted in the middle of a command, you no longer need to check the command line history to remind yourself what command is running. Color has also been added to the Command Line, highlighting the minimum necessary characters for any active command options. The command options are now also clickable, making it even easier to pick an option.

Select the command icon to get a menu of recently used commands. This menu is also still available as a flyout on the context menu that displays after right-clicking the Command Line.

The enhancements I find most useful are those made to the undocked Command Line. I personally have never found much advantage in having the Command Line undocked in previous versions, but expect to be leaving it undocked when we move to 2013. When undocked, the Command Line shows a single line "floating" above the AutoCAD window. The width can be adjusted by moving the mouse to the far right side; when the cursor changes to the double arrow icon, click and drag to change the width. While a command is active, a user-seletable number of partially transparent lines of history (from 0 to 50) related to the active command will appear above the command line.

If you start a new command immediately after ending the previous command, the previous command's history lines displaying above the Command Line are replaced with the history of the new command. You can review the full command history by pressing F2 or selecting the up arrow icon at the right end of the Command Line.

The size of the full command history area can be adjusted by moving the mouse to the top of the area. When the cursor changes to the double arrow icon, click and drag to change the height. You can scroll the history area by using the mouse wheel or by moving the cursor to the right side of the history area to get the scroll bars to show.

If you move the Command Line near an edge or a corner of the AutoCAD window or docked palette, it will snap to it, and stay snapped in that position even if the AutoCAD window is resized or a docked palette is undocked. Here is the reason I will be undocking my Command Line: if you hold the CTRL key down when moving the Command Line, you can move it over the top or bottom of the AutoCAD window without having it dock. This allows you to position the floating Command Line over the left side of the Drawing Status Bar and reclaim the drawing space that the docked Command Line would have taken.
If you use the Drawing Management Feature (Project Browser/Project Navigator), this will cover the display of the project name and the current drawing type/name that is displayed on the Drawing Status Bar when a Project/Project Drawing is current. My firm does not use the Drawing Management feature, so that is not a problem for me. Even if you do use the Drawing Management feature, you can set two levels of transparency on the Command Line in 2013, one for when the mouse is over the Command Line, and one for when it is not (see below). As the image above shows, the project name and drawing type/name can be read through the Command Line with the opacity set to 65%.

Select the wrench icon at the left side of the Command Line to display a context menu that allows you to customize the Command Line and also access the Options dialog.
The AutoComplete flyout allows you to control the features of AutoComplete (added in the 2012 release). The Lines of Prompt History menu item allows you to set the value of the CLIPROMPTLINES system variable, which specifies the number of lines of command history that should be displayed above the undocked Command Line when a command is active. As noted above, valid values are integers between 0 and 50. The Transparency menu item opens the Transparency dialog,
which allows you to set the General level of transparency for the Command Line and how transparent the Command Line should be when the mouse is over it. The latter value cannot be less than the General value.