Workspaces in ACA

June 26th, 2014

A workspace in AutoCAD® Architecture is the basic user interface that includes those palettes, commands, and controls you need for your architectural process.  When you first start AutoCAD Architecture during implementation, the default Architecture workspace is displayed.  The workspace can be reconfigured according to your preferences as you work. You can move or hide various components as needed, display additional ribbon controls, or add new tools and tool palettes.  You can even save your customization as a new workspace that you can access for later drawing sessions.  You can also switch from one workspace to another at any time.

The Workspace User Interface

The workspace is designed to make it easier and faster for you to find and use the tools and commands you need.  The workspace user interface consists of several components.

  • The Ribbon – Similar to Microsoft Office, AutoCAD Architecture 2014 uses the ribbon as the central access point for commands.  The ribbon contains a number of tabs on which commands are grouped according to conceptual task types or selected objects.  The ribbon replaces the menu bar and the toolbars as the primary command access point.
  • The Application Menu – The application menu contains basic commands pertaining to the drawing as a whole, such as Open, Save and Print.  Like the menu browser it replaces, the application menu is accessed by clicking in the upper-left corner of the workspace.
  • Workspaces – AutoCAD Architecture is equipped with a single default workspace (Architecture).  The menus and commands associated with the previously provided workspaces (Design, Document, Detailing, and Visualization) can be accessed from the tabs of the ribbon.
  • Help Access – With the removal of the menu bars in favor of the ribbon, the commands to access Help features have been moved into the InfoCenter at the top right of the application window.  Here, you can find the online resources of InfoCenter and the Help menu, which allows access to Help, Tutorials, and other interactive resources.
  • Autodesk Seek – You can use Autodesk Seek to find product design information.  Many content providers, both corporate partners and individual contributors, publish to Autodesk Seek.  Content includes 3D models, 2D drawings, specifications, brochures, and other descriptions of products or components.
  • Import Design Content into AutoCAD Architecture – You can also share your own content with others using Autodesk Seek.  Upload drawings or blocks to Autodesk Seek to give your partners and customers ready access to your content.

Customizing a Workspace

Workspaces control the display of sets of user interface elements and they are typically organized by function or workflow.  You can create and manage workspaces from the user interface with the WSSAVE command or Customize User Interface (CUI) Editor.  You can also define the properties of a workspace with the CUI Editor.  These properties allow you to identify the workspace from other workspaces in the CUIx file and control the behavior of some of the user interface elements related to the application window.

A workspace must be set current to update the user interface based on the properties and settings of the workspace.  Only workspaces in the main and enterprise CUIx file can be set current.  If a workspace is in a partial CUIx file and you want to use it, you must transfer the workspace with the Transfer tab in the CUI Editor to the main CUIx file before it can be set current.  The most recent workspace is set current after closing and restarting the program.  If you are setting up a network deployment, you can define which workspace to set as the current workspace the first time the program is started by setting a workspace as default.  The CUIx file containing the workspace set as default must be defined as the main or enterprise file with the deployment.  A workspace set as default is also set as the current workspace when the CUIx file containing the workspace is loaded with the CUILOAD command.

If you wish to set a workspace current, you can use the Quick Access toolbar, click the Workspace drop-down list and select the workspace you want to set current.  You can also set a workspace current from the CUI Editor by clicking on the Manage tab of the ribbon, customization panel, and select User Interface.  In the Customize tab, Customizations In <file name> pane, click the plus sign (+) next to the Workspaces node to expand it.  Right-click the workspace you want to set current and select Set Current.  Last, select Apply.

Workspaces in a CUIx file can be marked as default.  Setting a workspace as default determines that it should be restored when the CUIx file is loaded into the program the first time or after the CUIx file has been loaded with the CUILOAD command.  To do this, click on the Manage tab of the ribbon, Customization panel, and select User Interface.  In the Customize tab, Customizations In <file name> pane, click the plus sign (+) next to the Workspaces node to expand it.  Right-click the workspace you want to set as default and then select Set Default.  Last, select Apply.

You can save changes to an existing workspace from the Application window.  On the Quick Access toolbar, click the Workspace drop-down list and select Save Current As.  In the Save Workspace dialog box, Name box, enter a name to create a new workspace or select an existing workspace from the drop-down list to overwrite it.  Click Save to create or modify the workspace.

If you wish to create and customize a new Workspace, begin with the Manage tab on the ribbon, Customization panel, User Interface.  Now, in the Customize tab, in the Customizations In <file name> pane, right-click on the Workspaces node and select New Workspace (see Figure 1).  A new, empty workspace (named Workspace1) is placed at the bottom of the Workspaces.  Right-click on Workspace, select Rename, and enter a new workspace name.  Now, in the Workspace Contents pane, click Customize Workspace.  In the Customizations In <file name> pane, click the plus sign (+) next to the user interface elements 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, select Done and then select Apply.

Once you have created your new workspace, you may find that you need to change the properties of that Workspace.  To do this, select the Manage tab on the ribbon, Customization panel, User Interface.  In the Customize tab, Customizations In <file name> pane, click the workspace whose properties you want to change.  In the Properties pane, do any of the following (see Figure 2):

  • In the Name box, enter a name for the workspace
  • In the Description box, enter a description
  • In the Start On box, select an option (Model, Layout, Do Not Change)
  • In the Menu Bar box, select an option (Off, On)
  • In the Status Bar box, select an option (Application only, All Off, All On, Drawing Status Bar Only)
  • In the Navigation Bar box, select an option (Off, On)
  • In the Model/Layout Tabs box, select an option (On, Off, Do Not Change)
  • In the Scroll Bars box, select an option (On, Off, Do Not Change)

Once your changes are complete, select Apply.

Figure 1: New workspace

Figure 2: Workspace properties

Working with Objects in a Workspace

The AutoCAD Architecture workspace is where you add and manipulate the architectural objects that make up your drawings.  You can add objects to the drawing using tools.  Tools generally have preset creation parameters called properties.  When you click an object tool to add an object in the drawing, the Properties palette opens and you can change properties for the new object if desired.  If not, you can go ahead and place the object in the drawing.  Tools are arranged on tool palettes for easy access.  To open the default Design tool palette, click Home tab on the ribbon, Build panel, Tools drop-down and then select Design Tools (see Figure 3).

You can modify an object in a workspace using any of the following methods:

  • Object-specific ribbon tab – When you select an object, an object-specific tab is displayed on the ribbon.   The object-specific tab contains commands that apply to the selected object.
  • Properties palette – The Properties palette is one of the central locations for entering and changing information about an object.  This palette has categories that group the properties by type.
  • Matching properties between objects – You can use the Match Properties command to copy the style and display properties of one AEC object and apply them to one or more other objects of the same type.
  • Context menu – Right-click the object to display its available commands.
  • Direct editing with grips – Commands for modifying an object are accessible from the object’s grips.  Click an object in a two-dimensional (2D) or three-dimensional (3D) view to display its grips.

Figure 3: Design tools

Copying Tool Palettes and Tool Packages to a Workspace

You can create a linked or unlinked copy of the tool palette.  A linked copy remains connected to the original in the tool catalog, so you can easily update the copy with any changes made to the original.  An unlinked copy is treated as a new tool palette, with no relationship to the original. 

To do this, begin by clicking the Home tab on the ribbon, Build panel, Tools drop-down, and then select Content Browser.  Open the tool catalog containing the tool palette to copy to the tool palette set.  If the palette is located in a specific category of the catalog, open that category.  Move the pointer over the i-drop icon next to the tool palette, so the pointer image changes to an eyedropper (see Figure 4).  To copy multiple tool palettes, press and hold Ctrl while clicking each palette and then position the eyedropper over any of the selected palettes.  Drag the eyedropper according to the desired action.  If you want to store a linked copy of the tool palette in the tool palette set, then click the eyedropper and drag it to a tool palette in the tool palette set.  If you want to create an unlinked copy of the tool palette in the tool palette set, then press and hold Alt.  Then click the eyedropper and drag it to a tool palette in the tool palette set.

You can also create linked or unlinked copies of the tools in the package.  A linked copy remains connected to the original in the tool catalog, so you can easily update the copy with any changes made to the original.  An unlinked copy is treated as a new tool, with no relationship to the original.  Just as you did with the tool palette above, begin by clicking the Home tab on the ribbon, Build panel, Tools drop-down, and then select Content Browser.  Open the tool catalog containing the tool package to copy into the tool palette set.  If the package is located in a specific category of the catalog, open that category.  Move the pointer over the i-drop icon next to the tool package, so the pointer image changes to an eyedropper (see Figure 5).  To copy multiple tool packages, press and hold Ctrl while clicking each package and then position the eyedropper over any of the selected packages.  Drag the eyedropper according to the desired action.  If you want to store linked copies of the package’s tools in the tool palette set, then click the eyedropper and drag it to a tool palette in the tool palette set.  If you want to create unlinked copies of the package’s tools in the tool palette set, then press and hold Alt.  Then click the eyedropper and drag it to a tool palette in the tool palette set.

Figure 4: Tool palette

Figure 5: Tool package

Conclusion

Workspaces are sets of menus, toolbars, palettes, and ribbon control panels that are grouped and organized so you can work in a custom, task-oriented drawing environment.  Workspaces keep things organized and easy to find within AutoCAD Architecture.  It is important to customize your workspace so you are as productive as you can be.  

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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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