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AutoCAD: Tips, Tricks, and Industry Secrets
Illustration by Richard Downs

Launching applications from within AutoCAD


From:

AutoCAD: Tips, Tricks, and Industry Secrets

with Jeff Bartels

Video: Launching applications from within AutoCAD

In a production environment your CAD drawings may utilize content from several other applications. You may use a program to do image editing. You may use another to create general notes. You may use still another application to produce spreadsheets and charts. Typically switching from one application to another involves minimizing and maximizing program windows and hunting for shortcut icons on the desktop. In this lesson, we'll learn how to access virtually any application from within AutoCAD itself. On my screen I have a mechanical drawing. You do not have to open this file.
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  1. 1m 28s
    1. Welcome
      53s
    2. Using the exercise files
      35s
  2. 47m 11s
    1. Adding relevant data to Quick Properties and tooltips
      5m 38s
    2. Creating custom ribbon tabs and panels
      8m 55s
    3. Creating macro-enabled tools
      10m 29s
    4. Increasing speed with command aliases
      4m 44s
    5. Finding commands and system variables using Auto Complete
      2m 35s
    6. Optimizing the size of palettes
      3m 17s
    7. Accessing drawings using Favorites
      2m 25s
    8. Controlling notification bubbles
      2m 24s
    9. Restoring hidden messages
      3m 53s
    10. Following a blog from within AutoCAD
      2m 51s
  3. 1h 0m
    1. Disabling mode settings on the fly
      3m 28s
    2. Finding hatch boundaries in busy drawings
      3m 32s
    3. Generating boundaries from difficult shapes
      2m 20s
    4. Calculating the overall length of multiple entities
      6m 16s
    5. Calculating the area of multiple shapes
      4m 42s
    6. Flattening geometry to a single elevation
      4m 0s
    7. Trimming all entities to one side of an object
      2m 42s
    8. Eliminating duplicated geometry
      5m 10s
    9. Creating true offsets
      3m 44s
    10. Finding errors when joining multiple entities
      6m 48s
    11. Moving and copying entities using Windows shortcuts
      2m 24s
    12. Solving expressions using the command prompt calculator
      5m 1s
    13. Using the Calculator palette
      10m 25s
  4. 21m 17s
    1. Bringing all text objects to the front
      1m 20s
    2. Underlining single-line text
      1m 21s
    3. Managing numbered and lettered lists
      3m 36s
    4. Creating superscript and subscript text
      3m 18s
    5. Removing formatting from MTEXT
      3m 26s
    6. Using fields to identify who revised a drawing
      3m 10s
    7. Squeezing text into tight spaces
      3m 5s
    8. Hiding extra annotative scales
      2m 1s
  5. 16m 55s
    1. Creating "one-click" dimensions
      1m 52s
    2. Dimensioning angles greater than 180 degrees
      1m 40s
    3. Creating dynamic dimension breaks
      2m 20s
    4. Making linear dimensions act like aligned dimensions
      2m 44s
    5. Finding dimensions with false values
      1m 38s
    6. Creating parent/child dimension styles
      4m 45s
    7. Making dimensions easier to read
      1m 56s
  6. 14m 40s
    1. Making global edits to attribute data
      4m 1s
    2. Clipping references using curved geometry
      2m 21s
    3. Exchanging one block symbol for another
      3m 3s
    4. Using drag-and-drop to insert content
      3m 17s
    5. Creating a block library in two clicks
      1m 58s
  7. 10m 42s
    1. Making global changes to layer names
      3m 19s
    2. Converting all object properties to BYLAYER
      1m 43s
    3. Navigating layer lists using the keyboard
      2m 5s
    4. Producing a hard copy of the layer settings
      1m 34s
    5. Removing stubborn layers
      2m 1s
  8. 25m 1s
    1. Accessing viewports within viewports
      3m 21s
    2. Creating viewports with islands
      6m 5s
    3. Creating legends using the Change Space tool
      3m 55s
    4. Rotating viewport content to match layout
      4m 55s
    5. Importing layouts from template files
      2m 3s
    6. Visualizing multiple design alternates
      4m 42s
  9. 30m 18s
    1. Consolidating backup files into a single folder
      2m 48s
    2. Launching applications from within AutoCAD
      3m 53s
    3. Creating custom linetypes
      5m 9s
    4. Incorporating symbols into custom linetypes
      2m 48s
    5. Salvaging data from a corrupt drawing
      3m 57s
    6. Applying hyperlinks to drawing objects
      3m 34s
    7. Converting drawings from name-based to color-based plot styles
      2m 0s
    8. Identifying the owner of a drawing
      1m 18s
    9. Incorporating drawings into PowerPoint presentations
      4m 51s
  10. 31s
    1. Goodbye
      31s

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AutoCAD: Tips, Tricks, and Industry Secrets
3h 48m Intermediate Jan 31, 2011

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

In AutoCAD 2011: Tips, Tricks, and Industry Secrets, Jeff Bartels shows AutoCAD users how to become more efficient power users, reducing the amount of time it takes to accomplish a task, increasing profit margins, and strengthening marketplace competitiveness. The course covers everything from shortcuts used in geometry creation, to program customization, to real world solutions to common problems. Interface customization, block and reference management skills, and express tool usage are also covered. Exercise files are included with the course.

Topics include:
  • Creating macro enabled tools
  • Using Auto Complete
  • Disabling tool mode settings on the fly
  • Moving and copying entities using Windows shortcuts
  • Using the Calculator palette
  • Formatting text
  • Creating parent/child dimension styles
  • Making dimensions easier to read
  • Making global edits to attribute data and layer names
  • Exchanging one block symbol for another
  • Inserting content using drag and drop
  • Navigating layer list using the keyboard
  • Importing layouts from template files
  • Consolidating backup files
Subjects:
CAD 2D Drawing 3D Drawing
Software:
AutoCAD
Author:
Jeff Bartels

Launching applications from within AutoCAD

In a production environment your CAD drawings may utilize content from several other applications. You may use a program to do image editing. You may use another to create general notes. You may use still another application to produce spreadsheets and charts. Typically switching from one application to another involves minimizing and maximizing program windows and hunting for shortcut icons on the desktop. In this lesson, we'll learn how to access virtually any application from within AutoCAD itself. On my screen I have a mechanical drawing. You do not have to open this file.

I am merely using this drawing as a background so we're not working in an empty interface. Let's start by looking at some of the application shortcuts that are already incorporated into AutoCAD. For instance, if I type Notepad and press Enter twice I go directly into the Notepad program. Let's close this. If I type PBRUSH and press Enter, AutoCAD launches Windows Paint. If I type Explorer and press Enter, I can access Windows Explorer. The best part about these application shortcuts is that you can create your own.

All you need to know is the executable file used by the program you'd like to access. That file will typically be located in the same folder where the application was installed. Just look for the file with the .exe extension. As a sidetone, each application and operating system can deal with these files differently. So if you have trouble locating the executable file for a specific program, check with your IT department or your program documentation. Now I know for a fact that the executable file that launches Microsoft Word is called winword.exe.

Let's create a shortcut to launch Word from within AutoCAD. To do that I'm going to select the Express Tools tab, then I'll come down to the Tools panel, and I'll launch the Alias Edit command. From here I'll select the Shell Commands tab. This is where we create program shortcuts. Notice that PBRUSH is here, as is EXPLORER and NOTEPAD. To create a new shortcut I'll click Add. I will then enter my Alias. This is what I'll type to launch the program. I'm going to type Word and I'll press Tab, then I'll enter the name of the executable associated with this program.

In this case I'll type START WINWORD. I will then set my Flag bit code to 1. This code allows me to continue to use AutoCAD while I wait for my program to launch. If you're interested in exploring the other flag settings or the prompts I'll show you where you can get that information in a little bit. Now that I'm finished I'll click OK and AutoCAD has lost the focus of this window. Let me move down at the taskbar and I'll reselect this, and you can see my new alias is right here. As long as we're looking at this, note that I also have the ability to remove or edit an alias.

Let's click OK and then I'll click Yes to overwrite my existing PGP configuration file. And then AutoCAD tells me that my PGP has been updated and reloaded. Let's click OK. So from now on each time I type Word as a command, AutoCAD will instantly take me to Microsoft Word. Just for a second imagine assigning this new command to an icon in the Ribbon. This would give you one click access to any of your favorite programs. Now, if you'd like more information about the nuts and bolts settings of the Alias Edit options, press F1 to launch AutoCAD's Help feature and in the search box type Define Custom Commands and press Enter. There it is, right at the top of the list.

I will then select this hyperlink and then I'll select Define External Commands. And if I scroll down you can find the information about the flag codes and the prompts right here. In a production environment, you may need to create or access data from several other applications for your drawings. Using command shortcuts you can give yourself instant access to those programs without ever leaving AutoCAD.

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