April 27, 2015

Autodesk Answer Days - AutoCAD

Got a question about AutoCAD® or AutoCAD LT® that you wish you could ask directly of the Autodesk team behind AutoCAD? Mark Thursday, May 7, 2015 on your calendar; from 6:00 am to 6:00 pm U.S. Pacific Time, you can ask your question as part of the inaugural event in the Autodesk® Answer Days series.
Find out more about this event here.

April 26, 2015

ACA/AMEP 2016: Section Enhancements

A number of enhancements have been added to the 2D section feature (AecBldgSectionLineAdd and AecVerticalSection commands), to help streamline the process. Some of the enhancements also apply to sections generated with the callout tools.

In previous releases, there is a two-step process. First you place the section line and specify the length. Then you select the section line, and generate the section, interacting with a dialog to select the objects to be included in the section, specify the style to be used, select a Display Set and specify either the location for a new object or select an existing object to be replaced.

In 2016, you place the section line and, after specifying the length (see below), you are immediately prompted for an insertion point for the section result.
Specify the insertion point and the section will be generated. Or, if you want to call up the Generate Section/Elevation dialog to specify a 2D Section/Elevation Style and/or a Display Set, use the Dialog command option. The reason why you are able to do everything in one step, skipping the dialog if desired, is because now a selection set of objects to include in the section is automatically generated based on the objects that lie within the section volume. This replicates the way that sections generated using the Callout commands have always worked.

Specifying the length of the section (the perpendicular distance from the section line to be included in the section), has been improved. Instead of typing in a distance at the Command: line, you can now indicate a point on screen, aided by rubberband lines from the section line (similar to the Callout tools). If dynamic input of dimensions is enabled, you can also type an exact amount for the dimension. (The dynamic input feature has been added to the Callout commands, also.)

When additional objects are added to the drawing within the section volume, these will be included in the section result by simply refreshing the section result. NOTE: In drawings that include a 2D section that was created in previous release, new objects will not be automatically added to the section result unless the drawing is saved in 2016 or the section result is refreshed in 2016 prior to the addition of the new objects.

You can still choose to omit objects from the selection set, even though all objects within the section volume are automatically selected, by using the Generate Section/Elevation dialog, either on initial creation or when regenerating a section result (Aec2dSectionResultUpdate command). Previous releases had two tools in the Selection Set area - Select Additional Objects and Reselect Objects. These have been replaced in 2016 with a single tool, Select Objects.
When you choose this tool, the dialog will be temporarily dismissed, and all of the objects in the current selection set will be highlighted. As indicated by the command prompt, you can select or deselect objects to modify the selection set used for the section result.

Objects which are excluded from a section result, whether in the 2016 release or in a previous release, will be maintained as excluded when the section result is refreshed. To add a previously excluded object to the selection set, regenerate the section result and use the Select Objects tool in the Generate Section/Elevation dialog as noted above.

When the section line or length is modified, objects that are now included or excluded from the section volume will be added or removed from the section result when the section result is refreshed. Previously excluded objects will be remembered, however, and will not be added back to the section result by changes to the section volume.

One final enhancement has been added to the flyout on the Section & Elevation panel. By selecting the Refresh Current Drawing tool, you can refresh all of the 2D Sections and Elevations in the current drawing. (Aec2dSectionResultRefresh command).

April 14, 2015

ACA: -EXPORTTOAUTOCAD and the EXPERT System Variable

The EXPERT system variable can be used to suppress certain command prompts. The initial default value for EXPERT is 0 (all prompts are issued), and any change only applies to the current drawing session; it is not saved in either the drawing or the registry.

I suppose some may use this to avoid what they consider to be useless warning prompts while actually working (I benefit from being asked "Are you sure?" often enough to leave it at 0); I find it is most valuable when trying to automate a task with AutoLISP®. For example, if my routine saves the current drawing file with a different name, a drawing file with the same name may or may not exist in the specified location. While the routine could check to see if such a file exists and then adjust the command input accordingly, if I always want to overwrite the file and want to minimize the amount of code I have to write, setting EXPERT to 2 will suppress the "A drawing with this name already exists. Overwrite it?" prompt, so the same command input will work whether or not a file of that name already exists.

I was working on a routine to automate the -EXPORTTOAUTOCAD command in a particular situation. Unlike the SAVE, SAVEAS or WBLOCK commands, I discovered that there is no value to which EXPERT can be set to suppress the prompt about overwriting an existing file. Fortunately, in this particular case, I know there will be a file of that name, and I can add "_Y" to the command input to tell AutoCAD® Architecture to go ahead and overwrite the file.