March 30, 2014

ACA 2015 - Style Import

A new way to import AutoCAD Architecture® styles into a drawing has been added in the 2015 release. When you start the "Add" command for or select one or more instances of certain style-based AEC Objects (Wall, Door, Window, Door/Window Assembly, Curtain Wall, Structural Member, Slab, Roof Slab, Stair, Railing and Space), a new pane has been added to the Design tab of the Properties palette, under the General category, between the Description and Style properties, that shows a preview of the currently selected style, and which is labeled Search....

If you click on this panel, the Select Style dialog displays, allowing you to select a style from the source files for that object type.
From the Select Style dialog, you can do a number of things:
  • Select a style from the list box, using the scroll bar, if necessary, to examine the entire list of available styles for import.
  • Hover your cursor over one of the styles in the list box, to get a tool tip listing the style name, style description (if any was provided) and the source file.
  • Use the Search edit box and the Go button to limit the list of styles to those matching the search term entered. In the image below, the list of Wall styles has been limited to those with "GWB" in the style name.
    Click on the "X" at the right side of the Search edit box to clear a search.
  • Use the Drawing file drop-down list to limit the list to the styles in a single source file, or, having previously done so, to select different file or return to All files.
  • Use the Browse button to modify the list of source files from which styles are shown in the list box.
    The Add and Remove buttons allow you to control the list of the source files. You can save a default list by checking that toggle and then selecting the OK button. You can restore the last saved list (after making "temporary" changes) by using the Restore button.
  • Select the Settings button (wrench icon, in lower left corner), and use the Preview option to modify the way the items in the list box appear. For None, there is no preview image, just a listing of style names and descriptions. The other options control the size of the preview.
  • Select the Settings button (wrench icon, in lower left corner), and use the Background Color option to choose between Default (which is white) or the Drawing Window background color.
Once you have found the style you want to import, select the style in the list box and then select the OK button, or double-click on the style in the list box. If you change your mind about importing a style, select Cancel. The Select Style dialog will be dismissed and you will be returned to the drawing.

If the "Add" command had been used, it will still be active. If you chose to import a style, that style will be set as the current style (and, if it came from a source file, the style will be copied to the current drawing).

If one or more instances in the drawing had been selected, the imported style, if one was chosen, will be copied to the drawing and applied to the selected instance(s).

NOTE: If a style is selected from a source file other than the current drawing, and the current drawing already has a style of the same name, the current drawing's version of the style will be used. If the source file version is different, and is the version you want in the current drawing, use the Style Manager to copy the style from the source file and overwrite the style in the current drawing.

A default folder for source files can be specified on the AEC Content tab of the Options dialog, in the Architectural Object Style Path edit box.

For those using AutoCAD MEP, this feature can also be used to import systems. Source files for systems can be specified in the same manner as noted for style files above, and you can set a default folder for them on the MEP Catalogs tab of the Options dialog, in the System Definitions item in the Style-Based Content Paths.

March 27, 2014

ACA 2015 - New Look

In the 2014 and prior releases, there were two different themes offered, a Light theme and a Dark theme. The difference between the two was minimal, as seen in the image below.

In 2015, the Dark theme is truly dark, with a dark background to the Ribbon and various palettes. The goal was to provide a lower contrast screen, when used with a traditional dark drawing background, reducing eye strain.
If you prefer, a Light theme is still available.

When you first start AutoCAD®Architecture, you will be presented with the "New Tab," starting on the "Create" page, with options for starting a new file from a template, opening a project or re-opening a recently open document.
You can click on "Learn" to go to the "Learn" page, where you can access videos and other educational resources.
You can control the behavior of the New Tab with a new system variable, NEWTABMODE, which is stored in the Registry.
  • 0 - Closes any open New Tabs and turns off the display of the New Tab on subsequent clicks on the "+" at the right side of the drawing tabs, as well as on future launches of the program.
  • 1 - Displays the New Tab on launch as well as every time you click on the "+" at the right side of the drawing tabs to open a new tab (drawing).
  • 2 - Displays the New Tab when the program is first opened, but for the balance of that session, clicking on the "+" will start a new drawing.
When the New Tab is disabled under values 0 or 2, the default template specified for QNEW (Options dialog > Files tab > Template Settings node > Default Template File Name for QNEW) will be used to create a new drawing. If no template is specified for QNEW, then the Select Template dialog is displayed, so that you can select a template for the new drawing. The initial value for NEWTABMODE is 1; if you typically use one template file for new drawings, you may want to consider setting that template as the default template for QNEW and changing the value of NEWTABMODE to 2 or 0.

There was also an effort to "clean up" the interface, particularly the Application Status bar. All of the items are now right-justified on the bar. A few things have moved, a few are gone, and a lot are now initially off, as you can see in the image below.
The Annotation Visibility, AutoScale and Annotation Scale tools have moved from the Drawing Window Status Bar to the Application Status Bar. The Layout/Model (only shown if model/layout tabs were turned off), Quick View Layouts, Quick View Drawings, Display Locking and Drawing Status Bar tools have been removed. Isometric Drafting, Selection Filtering, Gizmo and Units tools have been added. You can control which tools are present by selecting the tool at the far right (three horizontal lines icon), to display a list of the available tools. Select one without a check mark to add the tool; select one with a check mark to remove it.
The function of the Layout/Model, Quick View Layouts and Quick View Drawings can be replaced by displaying the File Tabs (hover over one to get the equivalent of Quick View Layouts) and the Model/Layout Tabs. If you choose to turn off one or both, the QVLAYOUT and QVDRAWING commands are still available.

If you choose to display the model and layout tabs (Options dialog, Display tab, Layout elements area, Display Layout and Model tabs toggle), in 2015 these will appear below the Drawing Window Status Bar, rather than above it. You also have two options: they can be set to appear above the Application Status Bar (good if you typically have a lot of layout tabs in one drawing file)
or in line with the Application Status Bar (good for gaining a sliver of screen space, especially if you usually only have one or two layout tabs.
A "+" tool has been added at the right side of the model/layout tabs to make it easy to add a new layout; you can also right click on the tabs to access a context menu of layout related items, including the docking location.

New to AutoCAD Architecture users, but familiar to those who have seen the "vanilla" AutoCAD interface in recent releases, is the ability to add the Workspace selection drop-down tool to the Quick Access Toolbar (QAT). This is turned off in the initial setup for both AutoCAD and AutoCAD Architecture, but can be turned on in the QAT and off in the Application Status Bar, if you prefer.

A new feature of the Ribbon is the addition of Galleries. These replace certain drop-down lists for AutoCAD blocks and style-based objects, and include a graphic image for each item, instead of just the name. In the AutoCAD Architecture interface, these are available for inserting blocks (Insert tab, Block panel, Insert tool), text (Home tab, Annotation panel, Text Style tool), dimensions (Home tab, Annotation panel, Dimension Style tool), multi-leaders (Home tab, Annotation panel, Mleader Style tool) and tables (Home tab, Annotation panel, Table Style tool). Dimension and Text galleries are also available on the Annotate tab. In the AutoCAD interface, table cell styles also have a Gallery.
Select More Options at the bottom of the Insert gallery to open the Insert dialog. Select Manage xxxx at the bottom for the style-based galleries to open the associated style dialog.