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 can be used to restore those objects without undoing the block creation step.

Another difference is that unlike Undo, you can only go back one step with Oops. If you erase one set of objects and later erase another set, issuing two Oops commands will not restore the first set … 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 are all going to be 0,0,0 (black). I don’t want to make a big fuss about this, because it’s very easy to change, but I find it kind of funny how this has flip-flopped over the years. There’s a poll about this to the right if you haven’t already seen … 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 interface addition. You can just pick intuitively on the various parts of the ViewCube and your view of the model changes accordingly. You can also click and drag on the cube, and it will move where you place it, while snapping on to the various 45 and 90 degree view … 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 in his dad’s garden. The man who would become the model for generations of rock drummers, the man whose sampled snare you will find on countless modern recordings, was born in the same town as myself and lived a couple of miles from where I spent my childhood. On the … 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 chance of being on a few people’s lists because it’s from a band that was huge in the 70s, one that stands a marginal chance because the band had a UK number one album in the 80s, and one band that is very current but which very few of you … 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 that A in future posts.

    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 them to match something and optionally even scale them to match too, all with the ALIGN command (Modify > 3D Operations > Align). Despite the menu location, this command is great for both 2D and 3D work.
  • The ID command tells you where a point lies in space. In many … Full post
  • AutoCAD 2009 – The Prequel Part 10 – Dude, where’s my Dashboard?

    Dude, Dashboard’s dead. Defunct. Done. AutoCAD 2009 replaced the Dashboard with the Ribbon. If you type in the DASHBOARD or DASHBOARDCLOSE commands, they are just converted to the RIBBON and RIBBONCLOSE commands, which turn the Ribbon on and off.

    If you’re a fan of the Dashboard (and I never was), there is good and bad news. The good news is that you can right-click on various parts of the Ribbon, pick Undock and you get a Dashboard-like floating vertical Ribbon that can be resized and configured very easily in terms of turning panels on and off. You can’t do that with Microsoft’s Office 2007 Ribbon. Performance aside (more on that later), I generally prefer the way the vertical Ribbon works, compared with the Dashboard. But I’m still not a fan.

    AutoCAD 2009's Vertical Ribbon

    The bad news is that if you put a lot of effort … Full post

    Five Simple Tips for AutoCAD

    As my forced change to a different blog theme (thanks IE7) has meant the demise of my random AutoCAD tip feature, you may as well have the tips in a blog post instead. Here are the first five. These are fairly simple tips that apply to all recent releases. You probably know most of them, but just in case…

  • If you need to draw circles, slots or rectangles around multiple text objects, use the Express Tools command TCIRCLE (Express > Text > Enclose Text with Object).
  • When using the TRIM or EXTEND command, you don’t have to select any edges. Just hit Enter and AutoCAD will assume all of the visible objects are to be used.
  • The TRIM or EXTEND commands can be used in place of each other by using the Shift key. When picking an object in TRIM, hold down Shift and the object will extend.
  • The MULTIPLE … Full post
  • AutoCAD 2009 – The Prequel Part 9 – Docked Toolbars

    If AutoCAD 2009’s floating toolbars are the best ever, what about when they’re docked? As a starting point, here is AutoCAD 2008 with the Express Tools toolbars docked.

    AutoCAD 2008 Docked Toolbars

    Here is the same thing in AutoCAD 2009.

    AutoCAD 2009 Docked Toolbars

    So a few pixels have been shaved off in one direction and added in another. The end result is that they use about 99% of the space used in 2008. Not too bad, but I think it could be better. Here’s my suggestion:

    AutoCAD 2009 Docked Toolbars Suggestion

    That uses about 80% of the space. In addition to shaving off a few more pixels, I think this looks a lot neater. I find AutoCAD 2009’s dark grey bars between toolbars ugly and distracting. Not at all cute, unlike their floating counterparts. The bars don’t … Full post

    AutoCAD 2009 – The Prequel Part 8 – Vista Startup Times

    I’ve now tested startup times of various AutoCAD releases under Vista. Here are the results, alongside the XP results for ease of comparison:

    Release First
    XP Vista XP Vista 12 8.6 – 8.2 – 13 2.6 1.8 1.3 0.8 14 2.1 – 0.5 – 2002 3.2 2.1 0.6 1.1 2004 – 4.3 – 1.7 2005 – 7.9 – 4.5 2006 14.9 8.7 2.6 4.4 2007 13.8 11.9 3.5 6.6 2008 14.6 10.5 3.6 6.0 2009 28.9 17.3 7.2 13.3

    Same caveats as before, plus the following:

  • Some AutoCAD releases were not installed on both XP and Vista partitions, hence the gaps in the table.
  • The Vista tests were performed on the same PC as the XP tests.
  • The system had a 1 GB USB key hanging out the back, giving Vista a theoretical startup benefit over XP.
  • It’s very difficult to get meaningful … Full post
  • AutoCAD 2009 – The Prequel Part 7 – Subsequent Startup Time

    This table shows both the initial and subsequent startup times for various releases. Most of the qualifications and caveats from my AutoCAD 2009 – The Prequel Part 6 – Initial Startup Time post still apply here.

    Release First
    12 8.6 8.2 13 2.6 1.3 14 2.1 0.5 2002 3.2 0.6 2006 14.9 2.6 2007 13.8 3.5 2008 14.6 3.6 2009 28.9 7.2

    AutoCAD 2009’s subsequent startups are much less slow than its agonising first startup, as to be expected. Windows XP is doing that by caching and reusing recently used parts of memory. Release 12’s old code, running in 16-bit emulation, is not able to take advantage of that. It’s definitely an unfair test of Release 12 on this system.

    In my tests, AutoCAD 2009 startups (both initial and subsequent) are about twice as slow as other recent releases. Users of older … Full post

    AutoCAD 2009 – The Prequel Part 6 – First Startup Time

    One thing you’ll notice (and dislike) right away with AutoCAD 2009 is that it takes a lot longer to get started. How much longer? About twice as long as recent releases, or about ten times longer than ancient speed demon Release 13. (I bet a 1994 AutoCAD user transported forward in time would be shocked to hear that description being used). Here’s a video that shows what the first startup looks like in a collection of releases from Release 12 to 2009:

    AutoCAD First Startup Time Comparison

    Now for the qualifications and caveats:

  • Tests performed on a Core2Duo E6600 PC with 4 GB RAM, under Windows XP SP2 32 bit.
  • This is not a strictly scientific comparison. Only one system restart and settle-down period was performed prior to timing all releases one after the other. Strictly, each test should get its own restart and settle-down period.
  • Full post

    Advertising Oops!

    I just spotted this image flash up on a banner advertisement on a CAD-related site. At first glance, I thought it was a nasty Autodesk ad promoting Revit (it’s on top, after all) and unkindly suggesting that Bentley software is only fit for disposal.

    Bentley Bin

    Then I spotted Bentley logos elsewhere on the ad and worked out that it was supposed to say BENTLEY BIM, not BIN. Even if you blow it up, it still looks more like an N than an M.

    Bentley Bin

    That’s the trouble with trying to fit a meaningful attention-grabbing image into a small space. Sometimes, it just doesn’t work.