Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Customize the Dashboard

Hi again! This time let's look at how to customize the Dashboard.

I know it's hard to change the way you've always accessed your commands, so I thought perhaps if you knew you could customize the Dashboard to look the way you want it, you all might just give it a try.
First of all, so we're all on the same page - the Dashboard was there in AutoCAD 2007, but only in the 3D Workspace.
Now in 2008 they've added it to the Workspace named '2D Drafting and Annotation'. They've also added a lot of functionality; you can customize your Dashboard now like you could the toolbars, and since they hide themselves when you don't need them, you can maximize your drawing space. (I mean it doesn't have to be all filled up with toolbars any more.)

Each of those rows with the faint grey line underneath is a control panel. You can control which control panels show. Right click on any control panel, you'll see the list of available panels. Only the ones that are checked will show. So, the first way you can customize the user interface is by choosing which control panels you would use. Once you have that set up, go to the Workspace Toolbar ( or the Tools menu; Tools>Workspaces ) and save as a new name. Next time you want just those Control Panels, choose that Workspace from your list and voila, you've got it. ("Tish, you spoke French!")

The fun part is making your own control panels. You can right click on any of the panels (not anywhere else on the Dashboard) and select "Customize". It'll put you into a folded-up display of the CUI dialog box. ( Customize User Interface). In the illustration here I've labeled where you click to open up the dialog box.

To open up the list of exising Dashboard panels, in the top left section of the CUI dilaog box, where it says "Customization in all CUI files" click the "+" in front of "Dashboard Panels". Right click exactly on those words and one of your choices will be "New". I selected that, in this picture you'll see my new panel.
One way to add commands to my panel is to find them from the list on the bottom there, and just drag them one at a time onto the Control Panel. If I wanted to, for example, I could drag every different Arc command onto one Control Panel and have them all at my fingertips.

By right-clicking on your Control Panel, you can add another row, a separator or a flyout; duplicate an object, or remove it.
Another, faster way to make Control Panels is to drag an entire toolbar onto a Control Panel. Up in the top section, find a toolbar that has most of the commands you want, and just drag and drop it onto your Control Panel. You need to drag it right onto the name , it will make a flyout on the row if you drag it there. The tool palette turns into a row on your Panel

Now on the right side of this dialog box you can see a preview of your new Control Panel. Notice the toolbar you dragged down formed a row, and the original row is now moved and became the 2nd row. By right-clicking on it, you can delete the other row if you don't need it.

Also, by right-clicking on individual buttons, you can delete any you don't want.
The fun part is adding new commands to these. Any command that you can find in the bottom left section of the CUI box can be dragged onto any dashboard. In the next illustration, I dragged a command from Express Tools that doesn't have an icon assigned to it. Notice the question mark for a button.
Also notice in the lower right corner, all the icons used for Toolbars and menus are showing there. It's not hard to customize one of those to make your own icon.

Scroll through the icons until you find one that's close to what you would like for your command. For the following example, I dragged the command for snapping Midway between two points onto my toolbar, so I started with the icon for Osnap-midpoint. In the picture below you can see it in the background, I clicked on Edit and then changed the bitmap as you see here. Then I just pick the "saveas" button, and AutoCAD puts me into one of those deeply buried folders, named Icon. Use that to store your custom icons.

Once you've saved it, the icon shows in your list, so all you have to do is scroll down to the bottom of the list and select it. Then it'll show up on your Control Panel.
By the way, if you don't use the botton now, it won't show up here later easily. It's best to do these one at a time.

Here is another custom button I made, for the Express Tools command "Replace block with another block". In this illustraton you can see the path where my custom icons are saved by default. Using this default location makes it easy for you to transfer these next time you upgrade the software.

Last of all, if you want to assign an image to the Control Panel itself, it's as easy as pie. Click on the title of your dashboard, scroll through the icons and click one. It'll then be assigned to the edge of your control panel. You don't have to do that of course. I made a custom one, and perhaps I shouldn't have used red, since all the other icons are just shades of blue. What can I say ? - I like a lot of color!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Vault server on a 64 bit OS. No problem, right?

So this last week, I went to a customers site to install Vault on their server for them. No problem, I've done this a lot of times. I get to their office and I notice their server is running Windows Server 2003 x64. Uh oh. 64 bit software. I haven't dealt with it yet and I know Civil 3D doesn't run on it. So, off to the Autodesk website to make sure it's supported Alright! It's supported for the vault server! Away I go. I pull out the disk, throw it in the machine, and up pops a warning. I don't remember the exact wording but it said something along the lines of:

Hey! You can't do that! Civil 3D isn't supported on a 64 bit OS! I'm cancelling the installation setup!

I know, I should have taken a screen shot of the message, but you get the point. So, I can't run the setup.exe for Civil 3D. No problem, there's probably another exe file for the vault just like there was in 2007. I browse through the install disk and find the vault msi file (that's the installer file). I double click on it hoping it will install the vault server and I get another nasty gram (again, I should have taken a screen shot):

Hey! You can't do that! Vault Server has to be installed through the setup.exe file!

Wait a minute, I can't run the setup file because this is a 64 bit OS but I have to run the setup file to install vault, which is supported on a 64 bit OS. Sounds like the left hand wasn't aware of what the right hand was doing.

Now, if you find yourself in this situation, there are a couple things to do. If you are on subscription, you can download the vault install files from the subscription center. I wasn't aware of that option so I didn't do that. The other option is to contact Autodesk Tech Support. They can e-mail you an alternative Civil 3D msi and ini file. Simply copy the install disk to a local drive, replace the two files, and away you go. You can also contact your reseller for assistance with this (if you don't have a good reseller, you can always check out CommTech

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Civil 3D and Land Deskotp 2008 Service Packs

For those of you that don't live and breath Civil 3D like I do, you may not be aware that there an now service packs available for both Civil 3D 2008 and Land Desktop 2008. Ok, big deal. So why Blog about them? Well, you have to make sure you get the right one or it won't work for you. Remember, there are two different versions of LDT 2008.

First, the easy stuff. The Civil 3D service pack can be downloaded from the Autodesk website. Simply click here: There is only one version of the service pack so download it and install it.

Now the tricky part, Land Desktop. For those of you that have licenses of Civil 3D, even if you aren't using Civil 3D will most likely have the Civil 3D Land Desktop Companion. If that's you, then you'll need to download your service pack here:

If you don't have Civil 3D, you probably have Land Desktop and you can download your servivce pack here:

Let's all hope this service pack will fix all those little bugs!