CADnotes CAD Tutorials and Best Practices for professionals and students Wed, 23 Jul 2014 02:25:55 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Create your own magic button to restore AutoCAD layers and styles Wed, 23 Jul 2014 02:19:34 +0000 AutoCAD template is very helpful if you want to start your drawing with predefined setup. You can have all the layers, blocks, layout and all necessary setup right when you create your drawing. It’s not only make you more productive. It helps you to maintain drawing standards as well.

But using template sometimes make your drawings a bit complex. You can have hundreds of layers. And maybe several styles. We don’t use many of them. During the drawing process, we tend to purge the unused objects.

This however, can cause another problem. What if we want to use the layer or styles that has been purge?


The fastest way to restore object from template

There are several ways you can do to restore layers and styles. However, the fastest way is to insert a drawing as block to your current drawing.

Here is the details:

  1. Copy your template. Rename the new template, change the DWT extension to DWG. As we know already, DWT is actually just an AutoCAD drawing.
  2. Activate insert block. Browse and find the DWG drawing. Click OK to insert block.
  3. AutoCAD will insert all defined objects in DWG file (that are the same with in your template).
  4. When AutoCAD ask you for insertion point, just press ESC to cancel. We don’t need to actually insert the block, we just want AutoCAD to insert all objects within the drawing.

That’s it!

The magic button

Now that you know how to restore the objects easily, we’ll try to make it even easier. We’ll create a magic button to restore the object.

You need to create a custom command. If you are not familiar with CUI yet, you can learn how to create a custom command here.

The macro is simple:


Replace file name with your drawing file name. Very simple, right?


Now one thing you should remember: Place the drawing file name in a folder that’s defined as AutoCAD support File Search Path. If you want to place it in custom location, define the location in support file search path.

It doesn’t have to be complicated

Many great tips are actually very simple, but we never thought about it. Many times we think customization is a difficult and complex task. It doesn’t have to. Do you have a simple customization tip to share? You can write for CADnotes and share your tips to the community!

This tip was mentioned to me by Hai Le (@ThatCADguy) on twitter. Thank you for the great tip Hai Le!

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Working with Revit temporary dimension Tue, 15 Jul 2014 03:44:38 +0000 When you place an object in Revit model, you will see temporary dimensions. It will guide you to place the object accurately. The problem is the dimension will measure object placement from nearest face. Not from centerline.


Revit temporary dimension also measure from face when you modify objects. In this example, I select a wall to move it. Many of you already know that we can move the witness line if we want to adjust the temporary dimension.

You can drag the control point to new location. Or simply click it to cycle between faces or centerline.

But it means more clicks to accomplish a simple task.


Changing temporary dimension settings

In my country, we almost always refer to centerline. If you also mainly use centerline as reference, then you should change the settings. You can find temporary dimension in Manage tab> Settings panel> Additional Settings> Temporary Dimensions.


In temporary dimension properties, you can change where it should measure when you place or modify objects.


What are the differences between options?

In walls measurement, there are centerlines and center of core. Faces and faces of core. What is the difference?

Centerlines lies in the center of the entire wall layers. And faces are the exterior/interior of entire wall layers.

What about core? What is that?

If you remember how to define wall layers, you can see the core there. Below, you see the masonry concrete block is the only layer in core. Any layer between core boundaries is the core.


So the center core or core faces will refer to those layers within core boundary. If you see the preview, the core is between between the green lines.

wall core

You can change the temporary dimension settings to your preference. So you can work fast and accurate. If you need to adjust the temporary dimensions when you work, simply move the witness line. Either by dragging the control point or clicking it.

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Are you interested to participate in “Work Better with AutoCAD” Program? Fri, 11 Jul 2014 06:41:07 +0000 Back in 2011, CADnotes hosts discussions on how to work better with AutoCAD. It was an ambitious project. The goal was to discuss how we can work better with AutoCAD in 10 days.


It has decent response. But I feel that it should be more people involved. I think the reason why not so many people involved was because it has daily challenges. The schedule was too tight. If you have daily job, then it would be very hard to catch up. Another possibility is there are not many people read CADnotes at that time. The email newsletter probably only read by few hundreds subscribers. But now we have more than 8000 readers!

I also think if we have weekly challenge instead of daily, it will give you enough time to participate.

I have plan to do the “Work Better with AutoCAD” program again. Before I actually relaunch it, I want to know how many people are interested.

What is Work Better with AutoCAD?

The main purpose of Work Better with AutoCAD is to discuss a topic that can help you to be more productive. I will post a topic to guide you what to discuss. There may be a challenge. After you read the topic, you can go to the discussion page and leave your questions, suggestions or comments there.

To keep all discussion in one place, we are going to do that in CADnotes website. If you are following CADnotes using email newsletter, you need to click “read this article in browser” and leave your comment there. If you are following CADnotes from Facebook, twitter or other social media follow the link and leave comment there. Do not reply the tweet or leave comment in Facebook page.

It’s all about discussions

This program will not work well without your active participation. So please leave your comment after you read it. Share the experience you have when completing the challenge. Or share your tips to other readers. You can also ask if you have problem.

The more response we get, it will give us more idea for the next topic. It means we can learn more. I wish we can cover more than the original program, because we are now a larger community!

Yes I’m interested!

If you are interested, please leave a comment here. Or mention @CADnotes in your tweet, leave comment in CADnotes Facebook page or Google+ page. If I see many people are interested then we can start the program!


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Review: Mastering Inventor – Surface Training Video Tue, 08 Jul 2014 02:03:08 +0000 I was asked by Paul Munford of CadSetterOut to review his training video: Mastering Inventor – Surface. If you have been following CADnotes for years, you probably have read Paul’s article. He published interesting posts like How to use the AutoCAD status line to provide real time reporting or Eleven Killer Tool palette Macros for working with AutoCAD Viewports. Paul always write interesting posts. So I’m curious about his video.

inventor surfacing

And it’s also interesting because I want to know how is actually the Inventor surface capability.

It’s not just a “How to use” training

I quickly notice that this training video is not meant to teach you how to use surfacing tools in Inventor. It certainly covers the tools, but it’s beyond that.

It covers the surfacing concepts in general. I believe you can learn many things even if you don’t use Inventor as your tool.

This image below is captured when Paul explains about SPLINES.


He doesn’t just point the spline tools and how to use it. He explains the concept of splines in surfacing.

Check this training video table of contents. You will see many concepts in surfacing are explained in this training video.

Paul did a good job when explaining them. They are concise and clear. Paul Munford’s style.

Those concepts and theories will definitely give you strong knowledge to create great surface models. You will know exactly what you are doing.

Who need this training video?

I would say everyone who want to learn about surfacing will get benefits from this training video. The exercises are using Inventor, but you can learn many things even if you don’t use Inventor.

It’s not just teach you how to use Inventor surfacing tools. It gives proper knowledge before you start using them.

Get Mastering Autodesk Inventor – Surfacing here. As always, don’t forget to check the contents and sample videos!


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How to: delete/hide items in AutoCAD associative array Mon, 07 Jul 2014 07:06:22 +0000 I posted about associative array last week. I mentioned that we can’t delete items in associative array.

Jeremy wrote a comment, mentioned that we actually CAN delete items in associative array. Thank you Jeremy, for the correction.

To delete items in associative array

If you want to delete items in associative array, you can treat them as sub object. Click to select the associative array.

Now hold ctrl key and click items to select them. As you can see below, the selected items are shown in dashed lines.

selected items

Press delete key on keyboard to delete the items.

However, directly deleting items in array like this has an issue. If you change the array parameters (like distance between objects), the deleted items will be restored. It looks like changing a parameter will undo the deletion.

To hide items in associative array

I mentioned how to do this in previous article. But let’s revisit it as an alternative.

As you know, we can replace items with other source. So it will looks like different object. The interesting thing is: items in array also keep the source properties. So you can replace items with the same object, but on different layer.

When you need to hide it, just turn off the layer.

And this trick will keep the items hiding, even after you change the array parameters.

To delete or to hide?

Deleting items is the fastest way to remove items from associative array. However, the items reappear every time we change parameters. It kind of defeats the purpose of associative array, doesn’t it?

This post is to correct my mistake on previous post. Again, thank you to Jeremy C for the correction!


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Associative array: When you need to modify array later Fri, 04 Jul 2014 01:43:00 +0000 Associative array was introduced in AutoCAD 2012. The most significant change is now you can create associative array. It means you can modify it later. If you create non associative layer, you need to delete and recreate the array when there are changes. To make an associative array, the associative button must be active. You can find this button in array contextual ribbon tab. It will appear when you create array.

Associative array

If you don’t use ribbon, then you need to activate it in command line. Choose the option when creating array. Let’s see what you can do in associative array, the benefits you get over non associative array.

You can modify array parameters

Associative array allows you to modify the array parameters later. You can change the number of columns and rows (or items in polar array), distance (or angle) and so on. When you need to modify an associative array, click to select it. You will see contextual ribbon, where you can modify the parameters.

If you don’t use ribbon, you need to change the parameters using multifunctional grips. Move your pointer above a multifunctional grip then you will see a menu to change parameters.


This is obviously can be done in regular non-associative array.

You can modify the source object

After you create the array, you can modify the source object. It means you can add or remove objects to the array. To edit the array source, select the array then click edit source in contextual ribbon tab.

Edit source option

And how to activate it if you don’t use ribbon? That’s correct! You can find it in contextual menu. Select the array then right click.

Array contextual menu

Editing array source is like editing a block in place. The other item will be Make necessary changes. As soon as you make modification, all other items will reflect the changes. After you’re finished, click save changes in Edit Array panel. Or type ARRAYCLOSE.

Save associative array

You can replace items in associative array

When you create an array, all items will be the same object. Sometimes we want to replace one or two items in array, but want to keep the associative array advantages. Associative array does allow you to do this. To replace items, click to select the associative array. The command is in contextual ribbon tab as shown below.

Replace items in associative array

This is an example of an array of chairs. Two of the chairs are replaced by small table.

After items replaced in associative array

What if you want to remove some items in associative array? Yes, you can. Read this article: How to: delete/hide items in associative array.

You can replace the source object

Modify the source item is very helpful if you make array from object in your drawing. However, if you create array from a block, it would be better to replace the source with other block. Associative array also allows you to do this. The command is the same: replace item. But choose [Source objects] instead of selecting items.

Replace source object option

Do you find associative array useful?

Associative array looks promising. However, using features like this often consume more computer resources. So instead of increasing productivity, it could waste more time. So creating non-associative array could be faster. Not everyone often need to modify array  anyway. So what about you? Do you find associative array is useful or annoying?

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3 Things Orient to View in Revit can do for you Mon, 23 Jun 2014 04:46:34 +0000 Modeling in Revit can be overwhelming when you work with complex model. But you shouldn’t be worried about that. If you are comfortable working with views, then this won’t be a big problem.

In this article we will cover about Orient to View tools. This tool can be easily overlooked, but it has many advantages. At least, we can list 3 of them here.

In this article, we use rac_basic_sample_project.rvt that is included in default installation.

To align elevation view

Creating 3D perspective view in Revit is very easy. Once you have the model, all you need is to add a camera to make it. One problem with placing camera is, it doesn’t work with snaps. It makes a bit difficult to place a camera and it’s target precisely. For example, you want to place a camera showing front elevation view. You can place the camera approximately. But it won’t be precisely align to front view.


You can use orient to view to conveniently create this type of view. Let’s see how you can create a view like this.

Create your camera

First thing you need to do is to create the camera. What you need to remember is, you need to set the camera target correctly. The orient to view command will move the camera for you, but not the camera target.

To create a view like above, you can define camera like below.


Revit will open the camera view after you create it. Within the new camera view, right click on the view cube. (You can also right click the home icon).

From contextual menu, choose Orient to View>  Elevation> Elevation: South. Which elevation view you need to choose, it depends on which view you want to create.

In this example I want to create perspective South elevation view.


If not all parts of your models are shown, you can drag the view border control to show them.

To isolate a floor plan

Orient view will only move your camera to match your view to other view. However, it will do more if you use it in 3D parallel projection view.

Floor plan

By default, Revit only creates one 3D parallel projection view. So it is a good idea to copy the {3D} view before you continue.

In Project Browser, find {3D} view. It’s below 3D views category. Right click above {3D} then choose duplicate view> duplicate. Rename the new view as “1st floor”.

With the new 3D view open, right click above view cube.

From contextual menu, click Orient to View> Floor Plans> Floor Plan: Level 1.

Revit will align the view AND activate the section box. It will cut the elevation like the floor plan view.


This is very useful if you want to isolate objects on that floor plan when working with complex model.

To create 3D section view

You can also use orient to view to create 3D detail view.

Let’s copy the {3D} view again. This time rename it to “Typical Wall Section”.

With the new 3D view open, right click the view cube.

From contextual menu, choose Orient to View> Sections> Section: Typ. Wall Section.

Your 3D view will orient to the section view. This is a nice way to create a “3D section view”


Your 3D view will grab the settings from your section view. So if you want to show specific area only, drag the crop view boundary.

For the section depth, change the far clip offset value.


Have you used Orient to View before?

Orient to view is a very useful tool. But not many of us notice if it’s exist. It used to be in menu bar but since it uses Ribbon, it’s moved to view cube.

Now, have you used this tool? Is there anything else we can use it for? Don’t hesitate to share it with us!

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The giveaway prizes in on the way Wed, 18 Jun 2014 02:07:18 +0000 Just a quick update to you who win our annual giveaway. We have sent the e-books and Packt Publishing will send it soon this week. If you win e-book and haven’t received it, check your spam/junk folder.


And if you haven’t received that next week, feel free to contact me at

Again, thank you for all participant. And thank you to Packt Publishing for sponsoring this event. We will see you again next year!

About Packt Publishing

Packt Publishing is a publisher that focus on tech book. Originally focused on open source software. They have donated more than US$ 400K to open source projects, by sharing the royalty of relevant books.

Now they also publish more tech books, including IT management. Such as recently published titles: Attracting IT Graduates to Your Business and Practical Change Management for IT Projects. They now have broaden their focus to all IT professionals.

If you want to promote your products or brand

This giveaway is a good way to promote your product or services. If you want to sponsor our next contest by providing your products, please contact me. We have a regular annual contest on June to celebrate CADnotes anniversary. However, we can arrange another schedule to match your need. Like a new product launch.

Alternatively, you can advertise on CADnotes. We have 3 default banners on our website. Our advertisement banners can be reserved here. We work with BuySellAds to manage our advertisement space.

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