Monday, May 22, 2006

Convert Text to Mtext

Due to a trip to Iowa to see my cousin Jeremy marry, last week's CAD tip is a little late.

The AutoCAD Express Tool TXT2MTXT converts individual Text entities to a single Mtext entity.

Pull down menu: Express > Text > Convert Text to Mtext
Command: TXT2MTXT
Select text objects, or [Options] : [select Text]

converts these Text entities

Wrapped MTEXT
to this Mtext entity

Well, that wasn't quite what was expected. By default the conversion runs the text together making wrapped Mtext. You can control this behavior with the TXT2MTXT Options:

Options Dialog
uncheck Word-wrapping

Unwrapped MTEXT
to get this Mtext entity

The resultant Mtext has no width and the lines are terminated with hard returns. You can also use Options to control the sorting order of the selected Text.

Bonus Question: What is the tool to convert Mtext to Dtext?

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Hatching Enhancements

Some nifty new features are available in AutoCAD 2006 hatching. (To display all of the features available from the Hatch dialog, be sure to expand the dialog with the more options button in the lower right corner of the dialog.)
Hatch origin - Right from the dialog you can set and reset the origin point of the hatch. This is handy for hatches that represent actual materials: brick, block, etc. It is also good for complicated hatch patterns with large coordinates. You can even automatically set the origin based on the boundary extents. The new system variable that holds the origin point is HPORIGIN. (This supplants the use of SNAPBASE to set the hatch origin.)
Boundaries - Boundaries can now be removed and added to the current boundary selection when creating new, or editing existing hatch. You can also recreate the boundary of an existing hatch.
Create separate hatches - Allows you to hatch multiple boundaries at once but each resultant island of hatch becomes a separate entity and can be edited separately. Existing hatches can also be separated.
Draw order - Hatches are now, by default, sent behind the boundary used to create them. You can override this by changing the draw order setting.
Inherit Properties - You can specify whether new hatches inherit their origin from the source hatch object or from the current origin.
Gap Tolerance - Although not technically a new feature, this one is just too good not to mention again. If your boundary doesn't close, you can treat it as closed as long as the gap is smaller than this value. What is new is that hatches created from non-closed boundaries can be associative in 2006.
Area - Hatches have a new area property. Listing the hatch displays the area that it occupies. If you have multiple hatches selected, the Cumulative area is displayed in the Geometry section of the Properties palette.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Add Project Folders to Places

Create shortcuts to your frequently used project folders using the Places list along the left side of the standard AutoCAD file selection dialog box.

To add a shortcut, navigate to the desired folder and pick Tools > Add Current Folder to Places. By default, the new shortcut has the same name as the current folder. If you use a standard project folder structure this name may be next to useless, so take a moment to rename it by right-clicking on the shortcut, selecting Properties, and changing the Item name to something meaningful, like the project number.

Clicking a shortcut on the Places list takes you straight to your project CAD files. Do not pass Go, do not collect $200.

Bonus Tip: The Places list also has a History shortcut that allows you to quickly open previous drawings. This list can get really large. Autodesk recommends that you periodically remove unwanted history shortcuts to improve your performance.