Understanding the Customize User Interface (CUI)

November 30th, 2011

The Customize User Interface (CUI) in AutoCAD® Architecture allows you to tailor your drawing environment to suit your needs.  Before you start customizing your own menus, toolbars, and workspaces, you should familiarize yourself with the customization environment.  Open the Customize User Interface Editor by clicking the Manage tab of the ribbon, Customization panel, and then User Interface (see Figure 1).  Once you have opened the Customize User Interface (CUI) Editor, you can view the contents of the loaded customization files by expanding the elements in the tree structure and viewing the properties of the elements by selecting them.  You can also select the Transfer tab to see how to migrate or transfer customizations, and select the Customize tab to see how to create or modify user interface elements.  Once you are familiar with the environment, you can start to take advantage of the capabilities of the tools.

Let’s take a look at some of the great customizations that can be performed in the CUI in AutoCAD Architecture.  Since there are so many possibilities, we will concentrate on workspaces, toolbars, and commands for the purposes of this article.

Figure 1: Customize User Interface

Customize Workspaces

The CUI Editor allows you to create or modify workspaces that have precise properties associated with the application and drawing windows, as well as user interface elements (toolbars, menus, ribbon tabs, and palettes).  You can customize a workspace by selecting it from the Workspaces node in the Customizations In pane.  The Workspace Contents and Properties panes will be displayed. 

If you wish to create a new workspace, begin by clicking the Manage tab of the ribbon, Customization panel, and then select User Interface.  In the Customize User Interface Editor, Customize tab, in the Customizations In <file name> pane, right-click the Workspaces tree node and select New Workspace (see Figure 2).  A new workspace (named Workspace1) is now placed at the bottom of the Workspaces tree node.  Next, enter a new name over the default name Workspace1.  In the Workspace Contents pane, click Customize Workspace (see Figure 3).  In the Customizations In <file name> pane, click the plus sign (+) next to the tree nodes to expand them.  Click the check box next to each user interface element that you want to add to the workspace.  The selected user interface elements are added to the workspace.  In the Workspace Contents pane, click Done and then click Apply.

The new workspace you have created can be set as the default workspace. To do this, click the Manage tab of the ribbon, Customization panel, and then select User Interface.  In the Customize User Interface Editor, Customize tab, in the Customizations In <file name> pane, click the plus sign (+) next to Workspaces to expand it.  Right-click the workspace you want to set as default and select Set Default then click Apply.  It is important to note that in the Network Deployment Wizard, the main and enterprise CUIx files can be specified.  If the main CUIx file has a default workspace set, that default workspace will be set as the current workspace when the file is loaded into AutoCAD Architecture for the first time.
If you wish to modify an existing workspace, you can do this by clicking the Customize Workspace button in the Workspace Contents pane.  After you click Customize Workspace in the Workspace Contents pane, the Customizations In <file name> pane lists the user interface elements that can be added to the workspace currently being modified.  Check boxes are displayed next to each user interface element in the loaded CUIx files.  You use the check boxes to add or remove user interface elements from a workspace.

You can use the Transfer tab of the Customize User Interface Editor to import a workspace to the main CUIx file.  Workspaces that are in partially loaded CUIx files must be transferred to the main CUIx file if you want to set that workspace current.  To import a workspace to a main CUIx file, begin by clicking the Manage tab of the ribbon, Customization panel and then select User Interface.  The Transfer tab is displayed, with the main CUIx file displayed in the Customizations In <file name> pane (left side).  In the Customize User Interface Editor, Transfer tab, in the Customizations In <file name> pane (right side), select the Open Customization File button.  In the Open dialog box, locate and select the customization file that contains the workspace you wish to add to the main CUIx file.  In the Customizations In <file name> pane (right side), drag the workspace from the CUIx file to the Workspaces node of the main CUIx file in the Customizations In <file name> pane (left side) and click Apply.

Figure 2: New Workspace

Figure 3: Customize Workspace

Customizing Toolbars

Simple toolbar customizations can make your daily drawing tasks much more efficient. For example, you can consolidate frequently used commands and controls onto one toolbar to give you a “one-stop-shop” for all your drawing needs.  You can even create your own toolbars and flyout toolbars.  You can also create a toolbar from scratch, create a copy of an existing toolbar or create a toolbar from an existing pull-down menu.  Please note that sub-menu items are not included when a toolbar is created from a pull-down menu.  By default, a new toolbar is displayed in all workspaces.

To create a new toolbar, begin by clicking the Manage tab of the ribbon, Customization panel and then select User Interface.  In the Customize User Interface Editor, Customize tab, right-click Toolbars in the Customizations In <file name> pane.  Select New Toolbar (see Figure 4).  A new toolbar (named Toolbar1) is placed at the bottom of the Toolbars tree.  Next, right-click Toolbar1 and select Rename.  Enter a new toolbar name.  Now select the new toolbar in the tree view and update the Properties pane.  In the Description box, enter a description for the toolbar.  In the Default Display box, specify if the toolbar should be displayed by default when the CUIx file is loaded as a partial customization file.  In the Orientation box, specify the orientation of the toolbar.  In the Default X Location box, enter a number.  In the Default Y Location box, enter a number.  In the Rows box, enter the number of rows for an undocked toolbar.  In the Aliases box, enter an alias for the toolbar.  In the Command List pane, drag the command you want to add to a location just below the name of the toolbar in the Customizations In <file name> pane.  Select Apply (see Figure 5).

You can now customize your new toolbar using the Toolbar Preview pane.  Begin by clicking the Manage tab of the ribbon, Customization panel and then select User Interface.  Now, select the new toolbar.  In the Command List pane, drag the command you want to add to the toolbar and drop it on the toolbar’s preview in the Toolbar Preview pane.  You can control where the command is placed by releasing the mouse button when the black vertical splitter bar is displayed.  Continue to do this until all commands you wish to add are on the toolbar and then select Apply.

AutoCAD Architecture allows you to customize toolbars that are displayed in the application when the CUI Editor is open.  You can simply drag commands from the Command List pane and drop them directly onto a visible toolbar that is docked or floating in the application window.  You can also reposition, remove, or copy commands on a visible toolbar while the CUI Editor is open.

You can create new ribbon panels from a toolbar by dragging existing toolbars from the Toolbars node under the Customizations In <file name> pane to the Panels node under the ribbon in the Customizations In <file name> pane.  You will be prompted to convert a copy of the toolbar to a ribbon panel when the toolbar is dropped.

Figure 4: New toolbar

Figure 5: Customize toolbar

Customizing Commands

You can easily create, edit, and reuse commands.  The Customize tab of the CUI Editor allows you to add any command listed in the Command List pane to a toolbar or menu.  You can create a new command from scratch, copy an existing command to create a new command, or edit the properties of an existing command within the CUI.  When the properties of a command in the Command List pane are changed, the command is updated for all user interface elements that reference the command.

To create a new command in the CUI, begin by clicking the Manage tab of the ribbon, Customization panel, then User Interface.  In the CUI Editor, Customize tab, Command List pane, select Create a New Command (see Figure 6).  This will display a new command, named Command1, in both the Command List pane and the Properties pane.  In the Properties pane, enter a name for the command in the Name box.  It is important to note that the name is displayed as a tooltip or menu name when the command is added to a user interface element.  In the Description box, enter a description for the command.  The description will be displayed in a tooltip or on the status bar.  In the Extended Help File box, enter the name of the file and ID to use for the extended help for the command.  In the Command Display Name box, enter the name of the command you want to display for the command.  In the Macro box, enter a macro for the command.  In the Tags box, enter the tags you want to use when searching for commands in the Search field of the application menu.  In the Element ID box, enter an element ID for the command.

To edit a command, begin by clicking the Manage tab of the ribbon, Customization panel, and then select User Interface.  In the Customize User Interface Editor, Customize tab, Command List pane, select the command you wish to edit.  You can also select the command you wish to edit in the Customizations In <file name> pane tree view.  In the Properties Pane, enter a name for the command in the Name box.  In the Description box, enter a description for the command.  In the Extended Help File box, enter the name of the file and ID to use for the extended help for the command.  In the Command Display Name box, enter the name of the command you want to display for the command.  In the Macro box, enter a macro for the command.  In the Tags box, enter the tags you want to use when search for commands with the Search field of the application menu.  In the Element ID box, enter an element ID for the command.  Note that the element ID is for new commands only—you cannot modify the element ID of an existing command.

You can remove a command by right-clicking over the command and selecting remove; however, a command can only be removed when it is not being referenced by a user interface element, such as a toolbar or menu.  It is extremely important to note that there is no way to undo the removal of a command from inside the CUI Editor.  If you accidentally remove the wrong command, the best thing to do is click Cancel, but this will also undo any other changes that you might have made.  If you already made several changes to the CUIx file and do not want to lose the changes that you already made, you can open the backup CUIx file that is automatically created after a change is made to a CUIx file from the Transfer tab  (see Figure 7) and then proceed to recover the command that was accidentally removed.  This applies to other user interface elements as well.

Figure 6: New command

Figure 7: Transfer tab

Conclusion

The Customize User Interface is a valuable tool in AutoCAD Architecture.  This article only touches the surface of the vast possibilities offered by this tool.  Try the customizations in the article and when you feel comfortable with these, try some more!  AutoCAD Architecture’s interface can quickly become everything you need it to be with a few simple customizations.

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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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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