Join Jeff Bartels for an in-depth discussion in this video Using blocks to automate layout data, part of AutoCAD 2009: Mastering References.
Most of the time when we think of a block, we think of a symbol in our drawing like a tree or a toilet or a fire hydrant. The fact is blocks don't have to be symbols. We can use blocks for any entities that are repeated in our drawing. In this lesson, we are going to learn how to use blocks to automate the data on our layouts. On my screen I have got a civil engineering example. This is a drawing of a proposed subdivision, and we are currently looking at one of the layouts that's set up for this file. Before we get started, why don't we take a quick tour of this drawing? I'm going to come down and click my Quick View Layouts tool. Now, my layout previews are pretty big. I'm going to move my cursor over one of these and hold down my Ctrl key on my keyboard, and then I'm going to roll my mouse wheel beck to make these guys a little bit smaller. Then I'm going to click this pushpin so that this tool stays up on screen.
Notice that this drawing contains four separate layouts. Each one views a different portion of the subdivision. By clicking on any of these previews, I can jump to that specific layout. Let's take a look at model space. I'm going to come over and click my model preview. Now, we don't need our Lineweights right now. Let me come down and click the Lineweight title to turn those off. Notice in model space I can see all of my linework. Generally speaking, each of these layouts contains a viewport that shows me a portion of what's going on in model space. Let's turn our Lineweights back on, and we'll jump back out to layout PE1.
I'm going to pan over and we'll zoom in on the right side of the sheet. If we look right here, we can see that I have created a legend that identifies some of the linework that's in my drawing. Now, this legend consists of a bunch of individual objects. In this case I have lines, I have text, and I have some blocks. Now, this legend needs to show up on all of the other layouts. If I copy these individual entities from one layout to the other, I'm going to have problems later if this legend changes, because I'm going to have to change it on each individual layout. Instead, I'm going to turn this legend into a block and then I'll copy the block onto each layout. This way if the legend changes, I can redefine my block and all of my layouts will update automatically.
To turn this geometry into a block, I'm going to come up to my Block panel in my ribbon and I'll click the Create icon. I'm going to call my block legend. Let's come down and click Pick Point, and I would like his insertion point to be the endpoint right here. Then we'll click Select Objects and I'll select all of this linework and right-click. In this case, I'm going to select the Convert to Block option, because I would like this legend to be my first inserted block. When I'm finished, I'm going to come down and click OK.
If I select this guy, I can see he is now a block. Let me hit Escape. I believe in practicing good form. Let's go over to our Layer dialog box. I'm going to click my New icon and I would like to create a layer for my legend. Let's go ahead and set that layer Current and then I'll move outside the palette and we'll let it collapse. Now I can select my block and we can grab that layer from the Layer control. When you are working with blocks, it's always best to put your blocks on a layer of their own. Now that I have created my block, I'm going to copy it to all of the other layouts. To do that, I'm going to use my Windows clipboard. I'll click to select this and then I'll right-click and I'm going to select Copy with Base Point.
This way I can copy my geometry to my clipboard using a specific coordinate. I am going to copy it from this endpoint right here and then I'll come down and select this layout. We'll right- click and select Paste. Notice where I'm holding it from. I'm going to paste it to the same endpoint. We will click this layout. I'll right-click and paste to the endpoint. Then lastly, we'll click this layout. I'll right-click, select Paste, and we'll drop it to the endpoint here.
My legend is now shown on every layout and since I converted my legend into a block, if I have to make changes, I can simply redefine this block and the legend on every layout will automatically update. Let's make a change. To do that, I'm going to come up to my Menu Browser. I'm going to come down to the Tools menu, and we'll select Xref and Block In-place Editing, and I'll click Edit Reference In-Place. Let's select the block and I'll click OK. This screens back everything in my drawing except for my block geometry. If we select this geometry, we can see its individual pieces and it says this block has been created for the first time.
Let me hit Escape. Take a look at my ribbon. Notice I have a new tab called Edit Reference. This guy is giving me tools that are specific to reference editing. I am going to make a change. I'm going to make a window around these blocks, and I'll delete them and we'll remove the blocks off the other side. There we go. This makes my legend look a little bit cleaner. At this point I'll come up and click Save Changes. Yes, I would like all of my references to be updated. Let's click OK. Now if I click on any of my other layout sheets, I can see that I'm showing a current legend. Keep your eyes open for repeated entities in your drawings.
With a little foresight you can create a block that will allow you to edit data on multiple layouts at one time.
- Using blocks in a production environment
- Incorporating project data within drawings
- Simplifying labels with attributes
- Creating automated parts lists
- Linking drawings together
- Placing images to a measurable scale