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Become a Master
* Find your way around the AutoCAD interface
* Create and developing an AutoCAD drawing
* Manage your drawing projects
* Ensure that your drawings print properly
* Improve your efficiency with AutoCAD
* Align points with existing elements
* Preview your drawings using WYSIWYG plotting
* Capitalize on hidden or hard-to-find features
* Work with multiple documents
* Master the 3D modeling and rendering process
* Use VBA and other techniques to customize AutoCAD
* Collaborate with others on large-scale AutoCAD projects
* Take advantage of AutoCAD's Internet features
* Combine tools to accomplish complex tasks
* Taking a Guided Tour
* Working with AutoCAD
* If You Want to Experiment ...
Over the years, AutoCAD has evolved from a DOS-based, command-line-driven program to a full-fledged Windows application. AutoCAD 2000 continues this trend with a new look and a wealth of new features that allow you to work more efficiently and with less effort. Like Release 14, AutoCAD 2000 is strictly a Windows 95/98/NT program; there are no UNIX or DOS versions.
By concentrating on a single operating system, Autodesk is able to create a more efficient, faster AutoCAD. AutoCAD 2000 offers the speed you demand with the convenience of a Windows multitasking environment. You'll also find that AutoCAD makes great use of the Windows environment. For example, you can use Windows's OLE features to paste documents directly into AutoCAD from Microsoft Excel, Windows Paint, or any other programs that support OLE as a server application. And, as in Releases 13 and 14, you can export AutoCAD drawings directly to other OLE clients. This means no more messy conversions and reworking to get spreadsheet, database, text, or other data into AutoCAD. It also means that if you want to include a photograph in your AutoCAD drawing, all you have to do is cut and paste. Text-based data can also be cut and pasted, saving you time in transferring data, such as layer or block names.
OLE stands for Object Linking and Embedding-a Windows feature that lets different applications share documents. See Chapter 14 for a more detailed discussion of OLE.
With Windows, you have the freedom to arrange AutoCAD's screen by clicking and dragging its components. AutoCAD 2000 now sports a look that is more in line with the Microsoft Office suite of applications, with Excel-like sheet tabs and borderless toolbar buttons. The changes in AutoCAD 2000 are not only skin deep either. Among the many new features of AutoCAD 2000, you can now open multiple documents during a single session of AutoCAD. This means an easier exchange of data between different files, and the ability to compare files more easily. AutoCAD 2000 also introduces a wealth of new tools to help you manage your drawing projects. If you are new to AutoCAD, this is the version you may have been waiting for. Even with its many new features, the programmers at Autodesk have managed to make AutoCAD easier to use than previous releases. AutoCAD's interface has been trimmed down and is more consistent than prior versions. They have even improved the messages you receive from AutoCAD to make them more understandable.
But in one sense, AutoCAD 2000 represents a return to an old feature of Auto- CAD: Autodesk has begun to listen to the user community again and has clearly incorporated many of the wish-list features users have been asking for over the years. So whether you're an old hand at AutoCAD or whether you are just starting out, AutoCAD 2000 offers a powerful drawing and design tool that is easier to use than ever.
So let's get started! This first chapter looks at many of AutoCAD's basic operations, such as opening and closing files, getting a close-up look at part of a drawing, and making changes to a drawing.
Taking a Guided Tour
First, you will get a chance to familiarize yourself with the AutoCAD screen and how you communicate with AutoCAD. As you do these exercises, you will also get a feel for how to work with this book. Don't worry about understanding or remembering everything that you see in this chapter. You will get plenty of opportunities to probe the finer details of the program as you work through the later chapters. If you are already familiar with earlier versions of AutoCAD, you may want to read through this chapter anyway, to get acquainted with new features and the graphical interface. To help you remember the material, you will find a brief exercise at the end of each chapter. For now, just enjoy your first excursion into AutoCAD.
Consider purchasing either Mastering Windows 95 by Robert Cowart or The ABCs of Windows 95 by Sharon Crawford, both published by Sybex. For Windows 98, try Windows 98: No Experience Required, also by Sharon Crawford. For Windows NT, Windows NT Server Complete, edited by Mark Minasi, is a good bet.
If you already installed AutoCAD, and you are ready to jump in and take a look, then proceed with the following steps to launch the program:
1. Click the Start button in the lower-left corner of the Windows 95/98 or Windows NT 4 screen. Then choose Program -> AutoCAD 2000 -> AutoCAD 2000. You can also double-click the AutoCAD 2000 icon on your Windows Desktop.
2. The opening greeting, called a splash screen, tells you which version of Auto- CAD you are using, to whom the program is registered, and the AutoCAD dealer's name and phone number, should you need help.
3. Next, the Create New Drawing dialog box appears. This dialog box is a convenient tool for setting up new drawings. You'll learn more about this tool in later chapters. For now, click Cancel in the Create New Drawing dialog box.
The AutoCAD Window
The AutoCAD program window is divided into five parts:
Pull-down menu bar
Docked and floating toolbars
A sixth hidden component, the Aerial View window, displays your entire drawing and lets you select close-up views of parts of your drawing. After you've gotten more familiar with AutoCAD, consult Chapter 6 for more on this feature.
Figure 1.1 shows a typical layout of the AutoCAD program window. Along the top is the menu bar, and at the bottom are the Command window and the status bar. Just below the menu bar and to the left of the window are the toolbars. The drawing area occupies the rest of the screen.
Many of the elements in the AutoCAD window can be easily moved and reshaped. Figure 1.2 demonstrates how different AutoCAD can look after some simple rearranging of window components. Toolbars can be moved from their default locations to any location on the screen. When they are in their default location, they are in their docked position. When they are moved to a location where they are free-floating, they are floating.
The menu bar at the top of the drawing area (as shown in Figure 1.3) offers pull-down menus from which you select commands in a typical Windows fashion. The toolbars offer a variety of commands through tool buttons and drop-down lists. For example, the layer name or number that you are presently working on is displayed in a drop-down list in the Object Properties toolbar. The layer name is preceded by tools that inform you of the status of the layer. The tools and lists on the toolbar are plentiful, and you'll learn more about all of them later in this chapter and as you work through this book.
A layer is like an overlay that allows you to separate different types of information. AutoCAD allows an unlimited number of layers. On new drawings, the default layer is 0. You'll get a detailed look at layers and the meaning of the Layer tools in Chapter 4.
The Draw and Modify toolbars (Figure 1.4) offer commands that create new objects and edit existing ones. These are just two of many toolbars available to you.
The drawing area-your workspace-occupies most of the screen. Everything you draw appears in this area. As you move your mouse around, you see crosshairs appear to move within the drawing area. This is your drawing cursor that lets you point to locations in the drawing area. At the bottom of the drawing area, the status bar (see Figure 1.5) gives you information at a glance about the drawing. For example, the coordinate readout toward the far left of the status line tells you the location of your cursor. By the way, your screen may show the drawing area in black. You can set the drawing area background color using the Options dialog box. Appendix B describes how this can be done. The figures in this book show the drawing area background in white for clarity.
A set of tabs gives you access to the Layout views of your drawing. These are views that let you layout your drawing like a desktop publishing program. You'll learn about the Layout tabs in Chapter 7. The arrows to the left of the tabs let you navigate the tabs when there are more tabs than can fit in the window. The Command window can be moved and resized in a manner similar to toolbars. By default, the Command window is in its docked position, shown here. Let's practice using the coordinate readout and drawing cursor.
Some AutoCAD users prefer to turn off the scrollbars to the right and at the bottom of the drawing area. This allows you to maximize the size of the drawing area. Settings that control the scroll bars and other screen-related functions can be found in the Options dialog box. See Appendix B for more information on the Options dialog box.
1. Move the cursor around in the drawing area. As you move, note how the coordinate readout changes to tell you the cursor's location. It shows the coordinates in an X, Y format. 2. Now place the cursor in the middle of the drawing area and press and immediately release the left mouse button. You have just picked a point. Move the cursor, and a rectangle follows. This is a selection window; you'll learn more about this window in Chapter 2. 3. Move the cursor a bit in any direction; then press and let go of the left mouse button again. Notice that the rectangle disappears. 4. Try picking several more points in the drawing area.
If you accidentally press the right mouse button, a popup menu appears. This will be a surprise to both new and experienced AutoCAD users. In AutoCAD 2000, a right mouse click frequently brings up a popup menu with options that are context sensitive. This means that the contents of the popup menu depend on where you right-click as well as the command that is active at the time of your right-click. If options are not appropriate at the time of the right-click, AutoCAD treats the right-click as a ??. You'll learn more about these options as you progress through the book. For now, if you happen to open this menu by accident, press the Esc key to dismiss it.
The ?? symbol is used in this book to denote the Enter key. Whenever you see it, press the Enter key, also known as the Return key.
Terminology to Remember: The operation you performed in steps 1 and 2-placing the cursor on a specific point and pressing the left mouse button-is referred to as clicking or clicking a point.
In the lower-left corner of the drawing area, you see a thick, L-shaped arrow outline. This is the User Coordinate System (UCS) icon, which tells you your orientation in the drawing. This icon becomes helpful as you start to work with complex 2D drawings and 3D models. The X and Y inside the icon indicate the x- and y-axes of your drawing. The W tells you that you are in what is called the World Coordinate System. Chapter 16 discusses this icon in detail. For now, you can use it as a reference to tell you the direction of the axes.
If you can't find the UCS icon ... The UCS icon can be turned on and off, so if you are on someone else's system and you don't see the icon, don't panic. It also changes shape depending on whether you are in Paper Space mode in the Layout tab or in Model Space mode! If you don't see the icon or it doesn't look like it does in this chapter, see Switching to Paper Space in Chapter 12 for more information on Paper Space and Model Space. Chapter 16 can give you more information on the UCS icon.
The Command Window
At the bottom of the screen, just above the status bar, is a small horizontal window called the Command window. Here AutoCAD displays responses to your input. It shows three lines of text. The bottom line shows the current messages and the top two lines show messages that have scrolled by, or in some cases, components of the current message that do not fit in a single line. Right now, the bottom line displays the message Command (see Figure 1.5). This tells you that AutoCAD is waiting for your instructions. As you click a point in the drawing area, you'll see the message Other corner. At the same time, the cursor starts to draw a selection window that disappears when you click another point.
As a new user, it is important to pay special attention to messages displayed in the Command window because this is how AutoCAD communicates with you. Besides giving you messages, the Command window records your activity in AutoCAD. You can use the scroll bar to the right of the Command window to review previous messages. You can also enlarge the window for a better view. (Chapter 2 discusses these components in more detail.)
As you become more familiar with AutoCAD, you may find you don't need to rely on the Command window as much. For new users, however, the Command window can be quite helpful in understanding what steps to take as you work.
Now let's look at AutoCAD's window components in detail.
The Pull-Down Menus
Like most Windows programs, the pull-down menus available on the menu bar offer an easy-to-understand way to access the general controls and settings for AutoCAD. Within these menus you'll find the commands and functions that are the heart of AutoCAD. By clicking menu items, you can cut and paste items to and from AutoCAD, change the settings that make AutoCAD work the way you want it to, set up the measurement system you want to use, access the help system, and much more.
To close a pull-down menu without selecting anything, press the Esc key. You can also click any other part of the AutoCAD window or click another pull-down menu.
The pull-down menu options perform four basic functions:
Display additional menu choices
Display a dialog box that contains settings you can change
Issue a command that requires keyboard or drawing input
Offer an expanded set of the same tools found in the Draw and Modify toolbars
As you point to commands and options in the menus or toolbars, AutoCAD provides additional help for you in the form of brief descriptions of each menu option, which appear in the status bar.
Here's an exercise to let you practice with the pull-down menus and get acquainted with AutoCAD's interface:
1. Click View in the menu bar. The list of items that appears includes the commands and settings that let you control the way AutoCAD displays your drawings. Don't worry if you don't understand them; you'll get to know them in later chapters.
2. Move the highlight cursor slowly down the list of menu items. As you highlight each item, notice that a description of it appears in the status line at the bottom of the AutoCAD window. These descriptions help you choose the menu option you need.
3. Some of the menu items have triangular pointers to their right. This means the command has additional choices. For instance, highlight the Zoom item, and you'll see another set of options appear to the right of the menu.
If you look carefully at the command descriptions in the status bar, you'll see an odd word at the end. This is the keyboard command equivalent to the highlighted option in the menu or toolbar. You can actually type in these keyboard commands to start the tool or menu item that you are pointing to. You don't have to memorize these command names, but knowing them will be helpful to you later if you want to customize AutoCAD.
This second set of options is called a cascading menu. Whenever you see a pull-down menu item with the triangular pointer, you know that this item opens a cascading menu offering a more detailed set of options.
You might have noticed that other pull-down menu options are followed by an ellipsis (...). This indicates that the option brings up a dialog box, as the following exercise demonstrates:
1. Move the highlight cursor to the Tools option in the menu bar.
If you prefer, you can click and drag the highlight cursor over the pull-down menu to select an option.
2. Click the Options item. The Options dialog box appears.
If you're familiar with the Windows 95/98 Explorer, you should feel at home with the Files tab of the Options dialog box. Clicking the plus sign to the left of the items in the list expands the option to display more detail.
Excerpted from Mastering AutoCAD 2000 by George Omura Excerpted by permission.
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Posted January 29, 2003
I've used AutoCAD extensively for many years, but only recently upgraded to 2000. I bought Mr. Omura's book and it stands so far ahead of any other title, that I really don't know why anyone would buy anything esle. It's worth every penny!!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 8, 1999
Talk about the most intimidating drafting software out there! What other modern software greets you with a black screen? I started with Omura's Mastering AutoCAD 12, then went to his r13 book when we upgraded. When I went to r14, I HAD to have his book. Now with AutoCAD 2000 (A2K), I choose Omura again. Omura's Mastering AutoCAD series is our office bible, and indispensable for learning and using AutoCAD. Mastering AutoCAD 2000 gets my highest recomendations.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 16, 2000