AutoCAD 2009 – The Prequel Part 22 – Open Documents

One more feature that’s crammed into the Menu Browser pane’s limited space is the Open Documents list. This allows you to switch between the drawings you currently have open. It has a similar interface to the Recent Documents list, including the persistently pale preview:

AutoCAD 2009 Open Documents

Unlike Recent Documents, the filenames are displayed in the correct case, although this is not true in the preview where the name and path are all in upper case. Another glitch in the preview can be seen above, where it says Currently Oper instead of Currently Open By:. … Full post

AutoCAD 2009 – The Prequel Part 21 – Recent Documents

Another thing you will find lurking under the big red A is the Recent Document list. This is a mixed bag too, but most of it is good. It differs from the traditional list that still lives under the File menu in several ways:

  • Although the default maximum list length is 9 items, you can allow up to 50 items into the list by changing a setting in the Options command’s Open and Save tab.
  • If the list exceeds the space available, a scroll bar appears. This has the same problems as elsewhere in the menu browser: more … Full post

AutoCAD 2009 – The Prequel Part 20 – Menu Browser Search

So if the Menu Browser isn’t much use for browsing menus, what is it good for? Searching menus, for one thing. Let’s say you’re a very occasional 3D user trying to make a 3D model look pretty. You want to access commands for placing lights, putting the sun in the right place, and changing visual style settings. You don’t really know where to look in the Ribbon or menus. What to do? Click on the red A and just start typing what you think the command is called. With a bit of luck, the appropriate menu item will present itself … Full post

AutoCAD 2009 – The Prequel Part 19 – Menu Browser

You have undoubtedly noticed the large red A in the top right corner of the AutoCAD window. Personally, I don’t like the look of it. The concept is rather Fisher-Price and the execution is poor. No competent graphic designer would align the top of the red A exactly with the top of its surrounding button area like this:

The Big Red A

There are so many examples of poor graphic design in AutoCAD 2009 that the overall visual effect is close to that of a rather amateurish shareware product. That’s not what you might expect of … Full post

AutoCAD 2009 – The Prequel Part 18 – Another Interface Option

There’s one screen-based user interface mechanism in AutoCAD 2009 that you probably won’t see bragged about in Autodesk marketing materials. That’s a shame, because it has some strong points:

  • It can be docked on the side of the screen or allowed to float free.
  • While floating, it can be resized to the desired width and height.
  • If you do dock it on the side, any unused height can be used to place either docked or floating toolbars.
  • Out of the box, it provides access to a large number of the most commonly used AutoCAD commands.
  • In default form, it … Full post

AutoCAD 2009 – The Prequel Part 17 – Ribbon Performance 2

Testing performance under Vista can be an interesting experience. The trouble is, Vista tries to improve its performance by observing what you do and caching it for later use in case you do it again. This leads to something akin to the observer effect in science, where the very act of observing something has an effect on what it is you are observing.

Every time I test Ribbon tab switching performance in Vista, the results improve. In XP, the worst tab switching time I saw on my Core2 PC was 1.6 seconds for the first … Full post

AutoCAD 2009 – The Prequel Part 16 – Ribbon Performance 1

One of the things I like least about AutoCAD 2009 (at least in Release Candidate form) is that I find it very “sticky”. That is, I find myself having to wait for an instant here, then again there, yet again over there. Most of my testing has been on a middle-aged Pentium 4 (3.0 GHz dual core – not too ancient), and it is particularly noticeable there. On my newer Core2 machine, things are better.

When AutoCAD 2009 starts shipping, I suspect your perception of it will be strongly influenced by your hardware. Top gun users on slow machines are … Full post

Grammar and AutoCAD

I have a lot of posts about AutoCAD and a few about grammar, but I expect this will be the only post I ever make that combines the subjects.

Autodesk founder John Walker, a very prominent figure in AutoCAD’s history, has written an article about the correct use of the apostrophe. While I enjoyed it, I think it’s too insulting to be useful. People struggling with the correct use of the apostrophe are unlikely to get past the part where … Full post

AutoCAD tip – more on the Oops command

In a comment on my Five More Simple Tips for AutoCAD post, Jeremy had some questions about the Oops command. I thought I would explain the command in more detail in another post so more people will see it.

The first thing to understand is that Oops varies from Undo/U in that it only reverses those commands that erase objects. The Erase command is obvious, and the same applies to pre-selecting objects and hitting the Delete key, but the Block and Wblock commands can also erase the objects that go to make up the block. In such cases Oops … Full post

AutoCAD 2009 – The Prequel Part 15 – Background

You may have noticed that the default AutoCAD background is an off-white shade. In a comment, Tim asked if this is the same as the Block Editor background. No, not quite. This image shows the different backgrounds and some linework, with black as a comparison:

AutoCAD 2009 Backgrounds

Paper space is pure white (Red, Green, Blue is 255,255,255), Model space is very pale cream (254,252,240) and the Block Editor is a slightly darker cream (255,252,229). In common with most people in my experience (and most people who need to use drawings with yellow linework), my backgrounds … Full post

AutoCAD 2009 – The Prequel Part 14 – What do you think?

I’m interested in people’s perceptions of the forthcoming AutoCAD release. Based on what you’ve seen so far, how good a release do you think it will be? Please speculate using the poll on the right. If you feel the poll doesn’t give you the opportunity to adequately express yourself, feel free to add a comment here.

I intend to follow this up in a few months with a similar poll when people have had a chance to use the shipping product. It’s not scientific, but it will be interesting to see if actually using the product changes people’s opinions.

AutoCAD 2009 – The Prequel Part 13 – ViewCube

For many 3D users of AutoCAD, the ViewCube is likely to be the most useful new thing in AutoCAD 2009. There are a couple of problems with it, at least in the Release Candidate:

  • It does not work in 2D wireframe mode (which is, paradoxically, where 90% of my 3D work is done). You need to choose another visual style before it will appear.
  • It seems to slow things down quite a lot in complex drawings.
  • That said, if you have more than enough computing power for the drawings you usually deal with, then this is a very, very nice … Full post

    Music – Top 3 Debut Albums. Number 3: Led Zeppelin – Led Zeppelin

    For this review of my third favourite debut album of all time, I dusted off the trusty old turntable so I could hear it as it was originally heard.

    Led Zeppelin on the turntable

    It seems that certain stock phrases must be included in all Led Zeppelin reviews. So before we go any further, here they are: primal scream, origins of heavy metal, The New Yardbirds, Keith Moon, supergroup, plagiarism.

    I must declare a personal interest here. My late father knew John Bonham’s father. Dad once told me about “snotty-nosed little Johnny” running around in shorts … Full post

    AutoCAD 2009 – The Prequel Part 12 – Controlling Screen Elements

    How do you turn the new screen elements on and off using the keyboard? How about the not-so-new ones? See this table:


    Music – Best Debut Albums?

    With all this AutoCAD 2009 stuff, I haven’t given much attention to some of the other things this blog is supposed to be about, such as music. I will rectify that soon with posts about my three favourite debut albums of all time. In the meantime, have a think about this: if you could only have three debut albums in your collection (or on your iPod, or whatever), what would they be? I’m sure if I asked 1000 people I would have a list of nearly 3000 different albums.

    My set of three has one album that stands a good … Full post

    AutoCAD 2009 – The Prequel Part 11 – Docked Vertical Ribbon

    This video shows how the AutoCAD 2009 vertical Ribbon behaves when it is docked on one side. The labels explain what is going on.

    AutoCAD 2009 Docked Vertical Ribbon

    The main thing that used to drive me batty with the Dashboard was the way in which expanding one panel would contract another. The vertical Ribbon doesn’t do that, it leaves panels how you left them, which I much prefer.

    Something else you may have noticed is that when there is no docked horizontal Ribbon, the red A in the corner shrinks. I’ll describe what’s lurking beneath … Full post

    Five More Simple Tips for AutoCAD

    More simple AutoCAD tips, as promised:

  • If you erase some objects, draw a few things and then want your erased objects back without losing the things you drew in the meantime, enter OOPS rather than undoing the commands.
  • At any Select objects: prompt, you can select using a triangle, non-orthogonal rectangle or other odd shapes, by entering the WPolygon (WP) or CPolygon (CP) options.
  • If you have a paper space viewport entirely inside another one, it can be hard to make that viewport current just by picking in it. Try Ctrl+R to cycle through viewports instead.
  • Move some objects, rotate … Full post