Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Obscure Key-In You May Want to Know

I'm getting to the point in my CAD-life where it is a novelty to learn completely new tricks in base AutoCAD. But today I did, and here it is:


Use this to convert a standard color table (CTB) to a style-based table (an STB).

Then, once you have an STB made, you can force your drawing to recognise the style table by typing:


ACAD will ask you if you really want to do this. Say yes. It will take a few minutes to kick in.

What does this mean? It means that you can now set plot styles by layer rather than by color. In other words, if Bob likes his "Roadway" layer to be Cyan and Sue wants her "Roadway" layer to be Magenta, they can plot the same shade of gray.

Oh happy.

Beta Name Suggestions

Ok. Software developers are insecure people, therefore they name versions-in-progress really hip-CIA-wannabe names. Here are my suggestions for next year:

  • Bunnyhill
  • Slingshot
  • Karmabomb
  • Uranus
  • The String
  • Miasma
  • Denny's
  • IHOP
Feel free to comment with your own ideas!

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Styles Mystery Solved

I have figured out a problem I was having with my Pipe Label styles!

When I was attempting to put invert elevations on structures, I kept noticing that the Civil 3D default labels seemed a whole lot smarter than mine. Now, I realize there are TWO different types of text you can add to a structure. There's the good old Text Component, then there's a component called Text for Each. OOhhhh, I get it.

So Text gives you the following list:

These are items that there can only be one value associated per structure.
For example, you can only have one rim elevation.

Text for Each on the other hand gives you this list:

This list shows things there might be more than one of, such as upstream connected pipe invert elevations .

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Booth Bunny

This week is the Wisconsin Land Surveyors Show in fabulous Wisconsin Dells.

Imagine Vegas after the apocolypse and you've got the "Dells." We're at the Kalahari Waterpark/Resort which is cheesy as heck but fun. I must be getting old. After one very freaky slide I got separated from my glasses and wandered around blind and disoriented until I found where I had left them. Then it was time for the lazy river. More my pace.

We're here through Friday doing Civil 3D demos all day. Stop by if you can!

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Client Nightmare

As I have a client in my class this week who is seriously trying my patience, I am writing this post from his perspective. By doing this I am hoping to regain my empathy.

When I started this job 20 years ago things were different. The
secretary did all my typing for me on an old DOS machine. I had my
own office and drafting table with a shiny new power eraser. We were hired
if we were the best. I graduated in the top 5% of my tech
school class. For the first 15 years of my career I was
king. You want a sheet full of cross-sections? Give me a sheet
of vellum and I'll blow away any of these guys in speed. With just an
accociates degree I put three kids though college, bought a house in a nice
suburb and have no more payments on the Blazer.

A few years ago things started to change. They never
replaced the secretary when she retired and I got a PC dumped in my
lap. When the company moved to a different building, all us drafters were
moved into cubicles. They "flattened" the organizational structure
and I didn't have much say in anything. They sent me to a Microsoft class so I can plug away at letters and e-mail. And this CADD thing? I tried it once. Even bought a tablet device. The new kids coming in make it look like frosting a cake. I'm still faster with ink and vellum.

And today? Fuggitaboutit. They say I have to learn this
AutoCAD thing or I'd best retire. It makes no damn sence.
Right-click? Left-click? Middle mouse wheel? Do I hit enter or do I
hit Escape? What do I hit to get rid of this thing chasing the
mouse? What happened to those tablet things anyway? The teacher is half my age and she makes it look so damn easy. "Read the command line," she says. What the hell are you talking about? How am I supposed to remember Snap Overrides when I'm in the middle of figuring out dimensioning? (And I only know they are Snap
Overrides because the teacher had to remind me three times.) I'm never
gunna remember all this stuff. Theres three ways to do hundereds of
things. Its going to take me all day to build that sheet of cross
sections...and you're saying THIS is better?

But the teacher seems like a nice kid and she's attempting to give me some extra time. Kinda reminds me of my daughter.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Support Question of The Day

How do I change the default behavior of the Copy Command so that it does not automatically go into Multiple mode?

At the end of this post is a set of LISP commands to turn off the Multiple copy default in AutoCAD. This set of instructions will work for versions 2005 to current.

Copy and paste the information to a text file and name it copy-single.lsp. Store it on your local c:\ drive in a location that will not be moved or deleted.

In AutoCAD, type APPLOAD at the command line. This will open up the Load/Unload Applications Dialog Box.

Click on the Contents button in the Startup Suite Area.

Now Click the ADD button.

Browse to the location where you saved the LSP file.

When you find the File, click ADD on the Add File to Startup Suite Dialog Box.

Then click Close. When AutoCAD is re-started the Copy command will behave as desired.

If you no longer want this functionality, remove the LSP from the startup suite and the Copy behavior will return to default.

Contents of LSP File:

(command ".undefine" "copy")
(defun c:copy ()
(command ".copy")

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Support Question of The Day

Draw Feature Line

If I create a feature line by using the Point Number Transparent Command, then move the respective points, does the feature line come with it?

Point Number Transparent Command

Sadly, no.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Devo is Blogging About C3D?! just the blokes at From the Ground Up

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Pop Quiz: Transparent Commands

Level of Difficulty:
Q1: Complete the following sentence:
Transparent Commands are ______.
a. Like a fiesta in your mouth.
b. Your best friend.
c. Better than Coldstone icecream.
d. Both A and B are correct.


I happen to be having a fit of insomnia and feel compelled to tell the world of the virtues of this powerful cogo toolbox.

What are transparent commands?

Well, there have always been transparent commands in Autocad from way back in the pure key-in days. Today all the fun shortcuts and icons make them somewhat unused. In Civil 3D, however, they provide a way to be more specific about how a line is drawn (or a point is placed, or what have you) I think of Transparent commands as "nested" commands. For instance, you are drawing a line that needs to be N15d 20' 35.2"E at 120'. You start the plain old AutoCAD line tool. Once you are in the line tool you start a Transparent command; in this case Bearing and Distance.

Whallah! You have a way to specify a quadrant, bearing and distance.

Transparent Commands ONLY work from within another command. As we take our tour I will let you know what commands are most common with which Transparent Commands.

Angle Distance

This is ideal if you wish to enter information using angle-right and distance information. It is most often used with the line commands such as LINE, Pline, or creating a Feature Line. You can also place points relative to ech other using this command.


The older cousin of the angle-distance command, Bearing-Distance allows users to specify a quadrant, angle away from the N-S axis, and distance from the previous point. It is used in similar situations to the Angle-Distance Command.

Remember, no matter how hard you try, you will never get an angle larger than 90 degrees.


This is another cousin of the last two, but the shyer one that doesn’t come out to party very often. This little guy references all his angles from due north.


Another command that is looking for an angle-right (or angle-left if you are one of those weirdoes).