Friday, June 20, 2008

Layer Properties Manager in 2009

Hello fellow CAD users!
I have a few minutes free on this Friday afternoon, so I thought I'd take the time to talk to you all. I want to tell you about a couple cool new things that the Layers Property Manager does in AutoCAD 2009. In my last post, I mentioned that the Layers Property Manager now will behave just like the other palettes, once you turn it on you can dock it on the side, or anchor it so it pops out only when you hover over it. However, that is not the only improvement.

Another new thing you'll notice is that when you change something in Layer Properties, it is immediately applied to your drawing. You don't have to worry about accidently hitting escape and undoing all your layer changes!

Honestly, one of my pet peeves has always been that when you maximize the columns, you can never read what the column heading is. They fixed that in 2009. If you right-click on any column header in Layer Properties, and choose "Maximize all columns"from the flyout, you will be able to read all the headings. It's wonderful! However, if you don't want to read the headings, choose "Optimize all columns", and they'll only be as wide as the longest word in the column.

If you're not using Layer Filters, there's now a double chevron (arrow) that will let you hide and unhide them. I love that too.
As in 2008, you can still right-click and uncheck any columns that you don't use, to hide them, and rearrange their order by dragging them. Happily, that didn't go away.

In this picture, I've expanded the Layer filters. Do you notice that vertical line after the layer names? Now in 2009, by right-clicking on any column heading, if you choose "freeze column" you can make every column to the left of where you clicked stay locked on the left side, so you can still see them when you slide over to view the columns on the right. Another new feature I really like!

By the way, If you use layer filters a lot, you'll notice now if you expand the Layers panel you can access the layer filters (and named layer states) from there, instead of opening the Layer Properties Manager.
I labeled it in my previous post, but that picture did end up to be pretty busy, so I bet most people didn't even bother trying to figure it out.

Last of all, I want to tell you that if you hate this new function of the Layers Manager being able to stay open, and fly out when you need it, you can change it back to the old way. On your command line, type in LAYERDLGMODE and change it from a 1 to a 0 (zero). I have a picture of it here, so you can be assured that it works! You'll still have all the other new features I've described, except you can't anchor or dock the Layer Manager and leave it open.
Some people just like things the way they are, and don't like it when someone fixes something that's not broken. I completely sympathize. It's for those people that I added this last tip!
Ta-ta for now, I hope to write again soon!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

AutoCAD 2009- Changes Vol. 1

Today is the first post I'm writing about the new features of AutoCAD 2009, but it certainly won't be the last! I've been so busy with training and other things, I keep getting sidetracked from preparing a blog entry. SO my goal is to make them shorter and more frequent... but I think I've said that before. Sorry folks!
First of all, when you open AutoCAD 2009, you know immediately that things have changed. "YIKES! Where did they move my stuff to now?" So, before panic sets in, let's look at how some of you (maybe like someone who would spend a whole day chasing down his/her red stapler, if someone borrowed it), can get things back to the comfortable, familiar interface you know so well.

In the lower right corner, there are now a whole lot of buttons that didn't used to be there. One of them will give you access to your Workspaces. Click that button, highlight "AutoCAD Classic", and you will have the same toolbars as before. The icons on your buttons have changed, some for the better, and some maybe not so much. Perhaps this isn't as comfortable and familiar as we'd like! I truly was attached to the red dynamite on the "Explode" button, it made me feel like Wile E. Coyote from Warner it looks like a box that's flying apart. But we all have to adjust as time goes on. We get older, our hair turns grey, our bodies wear out, and our AutoCAD buttons don't look the same. Life is all about adjusting...

For the more adventurous, the new user interface has some really terrific features. As ever, at first it slows you down when they move tools around, then once you get used to it, you're faster. Seriously, they've done some good rearranging here, and once we get used to it, I think we'll like it.
First of all, there is a big red A in the upper left corner. The flyout right next to that -I circled it in yellow - contains all your pulldown menus, so you can still get to those. Good thing, too, it's the only place I've found "save as".
Each tab across the top has different panels, arranged by task. So, the Home tab has the most-used ommands, the Blocks and References tab has everything you could do with or to a block or an xref, the Annotation tab has every kind of annotation (text, dimensions, tables, etc), the tools tab has stuff for customizing and the new cool Action Recorder, and so on. I'll talk about all of them in future posts.
Let me show you a few things that might help you want to put forth the effort to use the new Ribbon interface. For one thing, they've really put together tools that you use together. I have a picture of all of the ribbons, if you want to look through them and see where your buttons went.

One great thing about the ribbons is that someone finally decided to put things together that went together. I used to always make a custom toolbar that had Define Attribute, Make Block, Block Attribute Manager, etc, all together. All those things are together now, in the Blocks and References tab. You'll find a lot of things like that in the ribbons. Try it, you'll like it. Also, you don't have to drill down through the Pulldowns anymore, commands like Measure, Area, and Circle - Tan, tan, tan are now easy to find on the ribbons.

Take a look at this picture, I cut and pasted a few examples onto one picture to show you different panels extended all the way.

A really good example of the way they've put everything together is the Layers Panel. My picture is pretty busy, I labeled everything there is on that panel. It's got it all!
Hopefully you all can read it.
When you're not drowning in deadlines, give the new 2D Drafting & Annotation Workspace in 2009 a try. You just might like it. I'll be writing to you all again soon with more info, as often as I can in between classes.