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Michael’s Corner

Michael BeallMichael's Corner is a monthly publication written by Michael E. Beall, Autodesk Authorized Author and peripatetic AutoCAD trainer. Michael travels all over the USA, bringing his fantastic experience and great understanding of AutoCAD to his clients. Michael's Corner brings together many of the tips, tricks and methods developed during these training sessions for the benefit of all users.

Michael's Corner provides something for every AutoCAD user. Every month, a number of articles cover a wide range of topics, suitable for users at all levels, including "The Basics" for those just starting out. Essentially, the aim of Michael's Corner is to help all AutoCAD users work smarter and faster.


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This month…

October - One-derful!!!

It's a God-thing.

I had no idea that 14 years ago I would be given the opportunity to make an impact on the professional lives of so many. Only God knew what was ahead, and hopefully, the contributions I have made through Michael's Corner have equipped many of you to be more productive and a bit more savvy using AutoCAD. And apart from all the AutoCAD bashing that is going on, I'm sure it has a long life ahead.

So, in an effort to keep the AutoCAD fires burning, here's what I have for my final installment…

…A reminder on how to customize your hot keys
…Three Power Tools — one for Zoom, one for editing, and one for Layers
…Two Odd Spots — one for Layers and one for Hatching
…Buried text treasure
…And how to Search 14 years of the Archives

As for what's ahead for me, I will continue to present a variety of AutoCAD sessions — Fundamentals, Intermediate, Customizing, Updates, and 2D & 3D. I will also keep training CAP Designer, 20-20 Worksheet, Visual Impression (those three from 20-20 Technologies, Inc.), and some Revit Fundamentals. Next year I'm looking forward to being very involved in training CET (from Configura, Inc.) when Herman Miller joins the growing number of manufacturers embracing this software that is being touted as the ‘Future of Space Planning’. Personally, I'm looking forward to spending a bit more time with Donna, my lovely bride of 30 years. When this posts, we'll probably be within days of going on our 30th Anniversary vacation to the Tanque Verde Ranch in Tucson; Ee-Hah! We had such a good time when we went for our 20th, we figured we'd do it again!

Ah, and I'm hoping to have The AutoCAD Workbench, Final Edition out before snow flies.

And with that, Mike drop! …so to speak.

The LORD bless you and keep you;
The LORD make His face shine upon you,
And be gracious to you;
The LORD lift up His countenance upon you,
And give you peace. Numbers 6:24-26

This month's articles

Change F1 to ESC
Smoother Zoom
Stretch with Extension
Lock Layers with a Crossing Window
Layer Columns & Hatch Background Color
Text Frame on Mtext

From the Vault

Originally published February 2010

Customize AutoCAD LT Using DIESEL (and AutoCAD, too!)

Several of my customers have requested an attributed block that would sequentially increase each time it is placed in the drawing. Well, at Autodesk University I learned of how to do this - even in LT! - and Kate Morrical had the answer.

Kate was one of my lab assistants and also happens to be Autodesk's Technical Marketing Manager for AutoCAD LT. She is a very sharp young lady and it was a delight to meet her and attend her session at AU this year. Her blog, LT Unlimited, is a great resource for not only LT users, but AutoCAD as well.

Briefly, DIESEL is the only programming language that AutoCAD LT will recognize. It's very clunky, but it can so some pretty cool stuff. For those of you who absolutely have to know what it stands for: Direct Interpretively Evaluated String Expression Language. If you found that enlightening, you may also like this DIESEL site I found which has some easily understood explanations.

Room Numbers


On the "AutoCAD Stuff" link on my website, I have posted (2) DWG files and the .XPT (Exported Tool Palette) that are the ‘ingredients’ for the following procedure.

To See How It Works:

  1. From the "AutoCAD Stuff" link, copy the two .DWG files and the .XTP to your system. I would strongly suggest you copy these files to your AutoCAD ..\Support folder.

  2. Open CT_2010-AttDIESEL.DWG.

  3. Open the Tool Palette window (Ctrl + 3).

  4. Right-click on the title bar of the Tool Palette, then click Customize Palettes.

  5. On the left side, right-click anywhere in the list, then click Import.

  6. Room No.Navigate to the folder where you saved the files (hopefully the ..\Support folder, per Step 1), then click on MC_2010.XTP and Open it. The MC7 tab will become current on your palette.

  7. Set the ATTREQ value to <1>.

  8. Set the USERI1 to the number you want to start with, ex: 101.

  9. Click the Room No. button on the imported MC7 tool palette, then click where you want the numbers!

Important: Please note, until you configure your Support File Search Path (covered in this month's Basics and in the next instruction set) you do not want click that button without the sample drawing open. The Room No macro calls for the "Label" block and if it's not in the drawing, AutoCAD gets stuck in a loop [… and I haven't learned how to trap for that yet.]

How To Use This In Any Drawing:

  1. Open the LABEL.DWG, then make the desired changes to the Layer and Text Style.

  2. Save the LABEL.DWG to the folder of your choice.

  3. Open Options, then click the Files tab.

  4. AddExpand the Support File Search Path node. If the location you saved the drawing to in Step 2 is not in the list, click the Add button, then Browse. (This is also covered in the Basics section below.)

  5. Navigate to the folder specified in Step 2, above, then click on that folder and click OK. The path will now appear in the Support File Search Path list.

  6. Click OK to save your changes and close the Options dialog box.

Congratulations! At this point, you have configured AutoCAD so that - after setting the USERI1 variable value - you can click the Room No. button on the palette and have it work in any drawing.

Geek Notes

  • The code found in the Command String of the Room No. button on the palette is…


    …which is why I gave you the sample files.

  • Launching the procedure must take place from a button on a tool palette, a menu, a toolbar, etc. It won't work by entering all the gibberish/code at the Command line (… reason No. 2 why I provided the sample files).

  • The block for the incremental numbering can only have one attribute - specifically USERI1 - which is the ‘hook’ to the numeral being updated, i.e., 101,102,103, etc. This can only be a single-attribute block, you can't have other attributes in the block such as "Room Name" or something.

  • To use this procedure in any drawing, any time, the block being inserted must be a .DWG saved in a folder that is on the "Support File Search Path" under OptionsFiles tab.

  • The ATTREQ variable must be set to <1 > so the routine has a prompt to respond to.

  • The variable USERI1 must be set with the desired starting number (just type USERI1 at the command line) before launching the automated procedure.

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