AutoCAD Architecture 2014: Tips & Tricks

January 15th, 2014

Command Line

The command line has several new enhancements, including giving the user more control over transparency, content search, and autocorrect.  If you float the undocked command line above the AutoCAD® Architecture drawing window, you will notice that the semi-transparent prompt history doesn’t affect the drawing area.  If you select the customize tool on the command line, you can control the number of lines of prompt history (which displays up to 50 lines) as well as Transparency, Options and Input settings, and Search.  If you wish, you can make the command line almost completely transparent so that it will display only when you hover over it.   

AutoCAD Architecture 2014 now features new Synonym Suggestions, which is very helpful for users of multiple CAD systems.  You can customize your synonyms by using the Edit Aliases tool on the Manage ribbon tab.  If you need more information on a command or system variable, simply move the cursor over the intended command in the suggestion list and select the new Help or Internet icons that appear in the upper right corner.

AutoCAD Architecture 2014 has also added even more features to the Command Line search and now allows faster and easier access to all architecture styles within a drawing.  You can customize the search features by selecting the wrench icon on the left of the Command Line and choose Input Search Options.  The Input Search Options dialog box will appear (see Figure 1). Be sure the box is checked by Architecture and hit okay.  Once the Architecture box is checked, you can type in any part of a style name on the Command Line and a list will appear of all the styles that contain that word.  When you select the Style name you wish to use in the Command Line, the Add command is started, enabling you to add existing styles to your drawing more quickly and easily.

Figure 1: Input search options

Layer Merge

Layer Merge (LAYMRG) has finally been incorporated into the Layer Manager with AutoCAD Architecture 2014.  At the command prompt, enter LAYMRG.  Then in the drawing area, select an object on each layer that you want to merge and press Enter.  Next select an object on the target layer.  All objects on layers that contain objects in the first selection set are moved to the target layer.

You can also do this using the Layer Properties Manager.  Select the Home tab of the ribbon, Layers panel, and then select Layer Properties.  In the Layer Properties Manager, select the layers you want to merge into another layer, then right-click and select “Merge Selected Layers to” (see Figure 2).  You will need to press Ctrl+click to select more than one layer.  In the Merge to Layer dialog box, select a target layer.  Objects on the merged layers are moved to the layer you select in this dialog box.

Figure 2: Merge Selected Layers to

AutoComplete

AutoComplete is the ultimate time-saver for those who like to key in commands.  As commands are keyed in, AutoCAD Architecture will automatically complete the entries.  If you pause while entering the command, a list of all possible commands and system variables will display, allowing for easy selection.  By entering the command AUTOCOMPLETE, you can customize which of the following features are activated.

  • Append – Controls whether commands and system variables are automatically completed as you type.
  • List – Controls whether a list of valid commands and system variables is displayed as you type.
  • Icon – Controls whether the corresponding icon for a command is displayed in the list. The same icon is used for all system variables.
  • System variables – Controls whether system variables are also included with the Append and List features.
  • Delay – Sets a time delay in seconds before the Append and List features take effect.
  • On – Enables the operation of the AUTOCOMPLETE features that are currently turned on.
  • Off – Suppresses the operation of AUTOCOMPLETE features without changing their settings.

At this point, you will notice that the history is now displayed with a gray background color, which can be modified in Options.  To obtain the above list of options, you can also right-click on the command line and the AutoComplete list is present.

File Tabs

File tabs provide an easier way for you to access all the open drawings within AutoCAD Architecture, as well as create new ones.   You can turn the file tabs bar on or off using the File Tabs control on the View ribbon tab.  When file tabs are turned on, a tab for each open drawing is displayed at the top of the drawing area showing the full name of the file.  File tabs are displayed in the order they were opened, but you can drag tabs to change their order, if needed.  If you run out of room for all the file tabs to display across the AutoCAD Architecture window, an overflow menu at the right end of the file tabs bar provides access to the additional files.  Simply select a file tab to make it active.  A lock icon on the file tab indicates that the file is open as read-only and an asterisk on the file tab indicates if the file has been modified since its last save.  When you pass the cursor over a file tab, preview images of the model and layouts are then displayed.  If you pass the cursor over one of the preview images, the corresponding model or layout is temporarily displayed in the entire drawing area.  

Plot and Publish tools are accessible from each preview image.  A Plus (+) icon to the right of the drawing tabs enables you to easily create new drawings.  The right-click menu for file tabs enables you to create, save, open, and close files, including the ability to close all open files except the one on which you right-clicked.  You can also copy the full file path to the clipboard or open the file location in Explorer.  This is an excellent new feature!

Figure 3: File tabs

Associative Array

The ARRAY command creates a new array object that is associative by default.  An associative array treats the entire array as a single array object, similar to a block.  Unlike a block, however, you can still manipulate the individual objects.  This makes editing the properties of an array much easier.  Editing can be done using multifunctional grips, which is quick and easy.  You can edit individual items within the array by using the Ctrl key.  If you find that you have made errors in your edit, the Reset tool returns the items to their default size and position and you can begin again.  You can use the new Replace Item tool to replace selected instances with other objects.

There are three types of associative arrays:  rectangular, polar, and path option.  Rectangular arrays are automatically displayed in a 3-row by 4-column grid.  Polar arrays are displayed in a full circular pattern of 6.  Associative arrays can be 2D or 3D.  3D associative arrays are very powerful in AutoCAD Architecture.  You can indicate the number of items needed in the Z direction and specify the distance between levels.  It is important to note that the distance of 0 between levels would create each row at the same elevation.  The visual preview provided by AutoCAD Architecture makes it easy to get your array right the first time around.  Multifunctional grips can be used to  quickly increase or decrease the number of rows or columns or to control the spacing between the rows and columns.

Figure 4: Array toolbar

Section & Detail Views

Creating Section Views has become easier than ever!  It’s as simple as picking the points on the section line on an existing view.  The Section View Creation tab includes tools such as depth and hatch controls.  A section identifier will display once you create a section view.  The identifier automatically increments each time more section views are added.  You can also display a view label that displays both section and scale.  You can use the Section View Style Manager to customize the section views to meet your standards. 

Creating Detail Views in AutoCAD Architecture 2014 is easy as well. From the Detail View Creation tab, you can specify smooth or jagged edges, a circular or rectangular boundary, connection lines, and so on.  Once this is complete, a detail view label is automatically inserted.  Like the Section View, the Detail View identifier automatically increments each time more detail views are added.  You can use the Detail View Style Manager to control the appearance of the label, detail view, and boundary.

Escarpment Block

The new escarpment block is used to quickly generate graphics to represent slope changes, which eliminates the need to create these complex graphics manually.  Escarpment representation is used to display two relatively level areas of differing elevations. These elevations could include embankments, levees, cliffs, construction pits, etc. 

In the drawing, the escarpment is displayed as a pattern of long and short lines maintaining a certain distance between each other.  It is drawn as an AutoCAD Architecture block on the current layer of the drawing.  To do this, begin by drawing the upper and lower boundary of the escarpment.  Boundary lines can be created by using lines, polylines, circles, arcs, splines, or ellipses.  Then click the Vision Tools tab on the ribbon, Graphics panel, and select Escarpment (see Figure 5).  Now, select the upper and lower boundary line.  In the command line enter a value for the distance between the escarpment pattern lines.  The smaller the number, the closer together the pattern lines are drawn.  A larger number draws the pattern lines of the escarpment block further apart from each other.  It is important to note that the escarpment pattern is created as an AutoCAD Architecture block.  Double-click the pattern to edit the block using the block editor.

Figure 5: Escarpment

Autodesk ReCap

For those who work with 3D laser scans, Autodesk ReCap is an excellent new tool.  Autodesk ReCap™ is used to convert scanned file data from a variety of formats to a high-speed point cloud that you can view and edit in other Autodesk products.  Begin by opening Autodesk ReCap and select scan files you wish to import.  Then use the tools provided inside Autodesk ReCap to work with the scanned data.  You can use the Home tile menu to save the current project as a Point Cloud Project file (.rcp) or you can export to a Point Cloud Scan file (.rcs).  Both of these file types can be used in AutoCAD Architecture.  You can use the Display Tools tile menu to change the appearance and display of components, and analyze and specify lighting options of the point cloud.

Geographic Location

Geographic location information in a drawing file is built around an entity that is known as the geographic marker.  The geographic marker points to a reference point in model space that corresponds to a location on the surface of the earth of known latitude and longitude.  The program also captures the direction of the north at this location.  Using this information, the program can derive the geographic coordinates of all other points in the drawing file.  You can set a geographic location using the Set Location tool on the Insert tab of the ribbon, then easily search for an address from a map and drop a marker on the map to mark the spot.  Drawing units can be easily modified. 

After you insert a geographic marker in a drawing, you can do any of the following:

  • Make the program automatically determine the angle of sunlight when you perform sun and sky simulation.
  • Insert a map from an online maps service in a viewport.
  • Perform environment studies.
  • Use position markers to mark geographic locations and record related notes.
  • Locate yourself on the map in real time on systems that support location sensing.
  • Export to AutoCAD® Map 3D and expect the model to position itself automatically.

You can remove geographic location information from a drawing file using the GEOREMOVE command.  The geographic marker and GIS coordinate system are removed from the drawing file.  However, position markers will continue to remain in the drawing file.

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About the Authors

Melinda Heavrin

Melinda Heavrin

Melinda Heavrin is a CAD Coordinator & Facility Planner for Norton Healthcare in Louisville, Kentucky.  She has been using AutoCAD Architecture since release 2000.  Melinda can be reached for comments and questions at melinda.heavrin@nortonhealthcare.org.

 

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