You can use AutoCAD’s Block Editor to create copies of a block.  Simply issue the BEDIT command, choose the source block, then use the Block Editors ‘Save Block As’ icon and designate the new name.

Beginning users often assume that elevated polylines must be created as 3dPolys.  If the elevations of a polyline vary, that is the case.  However, if the elevations of a polyline are consistent (such as a proposed contour) a standard (lightweight) polyline is best.

If you are creating them with the PLINE command you can assign the elevation with the first pick.  In response to the start point enter .XY and press enter (or space), AutoCAD will let you pick the point then asks for the elevation.  All remaining picks will be on that elevation.

Command: PLINE
Specify start point: .XY of *PICK LOCATION* (need Z): 1300

If polylines are already created, click on the polyline and use AutoCAD’s PROPS dialog to change the elevation.

AutoCAD FIELDS are extremely useful.  In previous newsletters we have discussed some of the more complex uses, such as in block attributes.  However, you can easily use them at the command prompt with the FIELD command.  Here is an example of an auto updating plot stamp.

Enter the FIELD command.

Scroll down the list on the left and select PlotDate.

Choose the way you want the date to appear in the center.

Choose the [OK] button to place the field in the drawing.

Complete placement which is similar to the Mtext command.

Note that initially, this field will appear as four dashes, but it will be automatically updated by AutoCAD every time you plot!

Take a few minutes to review some of the other field names on the left, the use of fields can greatly expand the capabilities of your drawings!

You may open a drawing and find what has been described as a “black daisy” in the viewport that you can’t get rid of.  This is the AutoCAD GeoMarker and it’s controlled by the GEOMARKERVISIBILITY variable.  Simply enter that at the command prompt and enter a new value of 0.

Newer versions of AutoCAD (mainly 2008+) contains the capability to automatically create a DWF or PDF (added in 2010) file when you save or close your drawing.  To setup the system go to the OPTIONS dialog, then choose the |Plot and Publish| tab.  In the lower left you can turn the system on/off and control the settings.

The settings dialog allows you to designate when the publish is to take place, where the files go, etc.  Various options exist in 2010 for things like layer information, merge control, and more.

Users often come across usable code they want to add to their systems but don’t know how to proceed.  You may obtain a file with the extension LSP, VLX, DVB, etc.  Another case is lisp code in the form of text.  In this case we need to get it into a file with this first procedure.

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Recent versions of AutoCAD have provided the best way to mask the content under mtext objects.  Unlike all other approaches, the built-in functionality grows/shrinks with the mtext content.  To control the mask, make sure your Properties dialog is displayed (command PROPS) then select your mtext.

In the PROPS dialog you will see Background Mask, click the […] button to bring up a dialog where you can toggle the status as well as control the size, color, etc.  Note that in AutoCAD 2007 you can only turn the mask on/off.

You can use the Find command to select blocks by their attribute values.  Use this procedure.

  1. Open the drawing containing the blocks.
  2. Initiate the FIND command.
  3. Enter the value of the attribute.
  4. Choose the [Select Objects] button and select all the blocks.
  5. Choose the [Select All] button to select the matches.

Of course ToolPac users take this farther by specifying multiple fields to match and operators such as less than, greater than, etc.