ADT: Copying Layer Keys Between Layer Key Styles

I know, I hear you, you’d like to upgrade to the next release but you dread searching through the out of the box (OOTB) Layer standards to find all the new Layer Keys. Migrating them between releases isn’t so bad (except for the transition to 2004), but moving across multiple releases has you in a cold sweat doesn’t it? Sure, you can export them into Excel. It is fairly easy to compare and contrast two layer standards to identify the differences using built in sorting methods. But there’s got to be a better way! I’m talking VBA automation here! Here is my version of a tool and a few of my built in macros to assist you in the task. Be sure to download the Excel File! ADT_ABS_LayerKeysCompare.xls

As you can see from the image above, it is fairly easy to cut and paste the layer keys into Excel, perform a little bit of formatting to make the appearance more palatable. I also added in the code to insert the “plot/no plot” symbol and to show an example of the actual color by inserting an aci index color as an image in each cell. Yes, that vba code is also present in the spreadsheet for your use.

Look closely at the toolbar and I’ll tell you what the individual tools do.

The first button is the comparison tool. It will launch the VBA macro which displays a dialog box waiting for your input. It will display the available worksheets in two different listboxes. Simply select one worksheet from each list and then click the “Compare LayerKeys” button to run the comparison. You can see the results in the background. Any keys in the “Existing” layer key style (the left listbox) that are not found in the new layer key style (the one selected on the Right) will be identified by changing the excel cell background to red. You can see an example in the above image background.

The second button is the Clear Comparison tool, it will remove the red background from the current active worksheet.

The third button will “color by number” by looking at the number or name entered into the Color column and insert a matching image in the Display column.

The last tool is the “plot or no plot” button to insert the appropriate icon symbol representing whether that layer is plottable or not.

I hope this helps you…. But actually getting those new keys back into your Company standard is another herculean task entirely isn’t it? Not anymore! You can use VBA to copy layerkeys out of one layer standard and add them into the other layer standard. It is really quite easy. Here are a couple of screen caps to show how simple it is.

Stay tuned for more when I show you how to actually insert the missing layer keys by copying them out of one Layerkey style and inserting them into your chosen target Layerkey Style. That is real automation and can save you hours of time! VBA and AutoCAD is a powerful tool!

AU Registration to Open by AUG. 1st


Be Early! Save this link in your favorites to be among the first to register for Autodesk University 2005. It is being held in sunny Florida this year, so register early to get all your favorite classes.

Remember, the AUGI Early Bird gets the worm! and you’re never too old for Disney World!

MText-Follow Up.

Following up on yesterday’s post. Jimmy Bergmark of JTBWorld sent me a short email yesterday reminding me that the zoom wheel behavior is automatic in AutoCAD 2006, meaning that there is no need to hold the ctrl key to make the text size more legible in the editor. Can they make it any easier?

Be aware that although automatic, this behavior is indeed different. In AutoCAD 2005, the text merely appears larger within the original confines of the Mtext editor. See figure 1 for the original size.


Figure 1.

Now note the enlarged size here in figure 2. Note too, that the objects outside the edit box have not increased in size.


Figure 2.

AutoCAD 2006 actually performs a zoom in place rather than simply increasing the size of the text in the editor. Figure 3 shows the original size.


Figure 3.

Now note how the size has increased as a result of the zoom….note the surrounding entities have also increased in apparent size.


Figure 4.

Check out the new features workshop for more info on improvements to the MText functionality, also available on line here, for those of you who have not yet made the leap

MText Too Small? – Control Mouse Wheel Zoom

I just caught Lynn Allen’s post about MText being un-readable and I remembered this little tip so I thought I would post it for you.

So now that you’ve fixed the clear type problem, maybe that text is still just TOO small! While in the MText editor, hold your control key (CTRL) down and roll your mouse wheel. Go ahead! Make that text as big as you want! Much better isn’t it!

Try this tip in your favorite programs too! You can enlarge this blog’s text for easier reading too if you want. Remember, the Control Mouse Wheel Zoom combination, its not just for MText editing!

Architectural Desktop Xref Wall Cleanup Tip

Standardize your clean up group definitions and distribute to all your template files!

This will ensure that when you attach an external reference, you will be prepared to have all your walls clean up properly whether contained within the file itself or within the external reference!

I can hear the excuses coming now….But my architect swore that he had the cleanup group definition in there…it is just broken, or my geek knows what he is doing, the application is at fault. Sorry to share this with you, but a little standardization goes along way. But have no fear all is not lost. You just have to detach and reattach the xrefs to fix the problem. Remember to edit the definition and ensure that the following option is checked as shown:

A quick fix for your files is to create all your standard cleanup group definitions and save the file on your network so that all users can access it. Did you know that you can drag and drop this file onto any drawing missing the definitions and simply cancel at the command line when prompted? The only thing better than this is to have the definitions already present in your template files.

Hope that helps!

Did You Know? AutoCAD follows hyperlinks?

A little known fact about AutoCAD is that if you point the the Plot Style Table Search path to a local folder, you can insert a shortcut inside that same folder pointing to another folder….AND AUTOCAD WILL SEARCH THAT FOLDER TOO!

This is quite useful for including your users in your company standards! Over time, our selection of “Standard” pen tables has grown from 3 or 4 to well over 30. Since it is hard to maintain a standard when there are 30+ standards to choose from, I decided to tackle this problem and use the shortcut method. This would allow me to slim down my “Standard” collection and also allow each user to have their own collection of Pen Tables to use as necessary. It all worked well enough until a single nefarious CAD user decided to copy some pen tables from the standards folder to their local folder too!

Beware the duplicate file syndrome!

If you have the same files in your Plot Style folder and inside your company standard folder that is found via shortcut you may have problems selecting your pentables inside the AutoCAD plot dialog!

I was receiving calls from users who complained that an evil gremlin was somehow selecting different pen tables. I had to see this for my self, so I watched a user select our company standard pen table. When the selection was complete, the file that was chosen was not the one selected but a file further down the list. This had me baffled until I reviewed the files contained in both folders.

It seems that AutoCAD is smart enough to follow the link and smart enough to only list each pen table a single time in that list, but it somehow was remembering the true index order so that when a pen table was selected from the list that selection was actually something other than the file which was chosen.

Solution: Ensure no duplicate files exist in the two folders.

I’ll add my code fix for this tomorrow!

AutoCAD 2006 Tool Palette Tip

Have you created some useful tool palettes and want to share them? Are you tired of doing the “right-click-customize-import” dance? Looking for a better way to import your library of XTP files?

Open a windows explorer browser.
Navigate to the folder containing your XTP files.

DRAG AND DROP them onto AutoCAD’s window!

What could be easier than that? You don’t have to do it a file at a time either! You can drag and drop multiple files at once! Just be sure to re-organize them once you have brought them into AutoCAD.

P.S. Once you organize them and create palette groups, be sure to export those palette groups. When I dragged in my exported palettes, ADT2006 forgot the groups I had created…Lucky for me I exported the groups and was able to reimport them. Problem solved.

Hope that helps!