Learn about the basics of using the AccuDraw utility to simplify element creation, similar to using OTRACK, POLAR, and direct distance entry in AutoCAD.
- [Instructor] In this chapter, we're going to learn the basics of using AccuDraw, a utility that emulates some of the features found in AutoCAD, such as OTRACK, POLAR, and direct distance entry to create simple drawing content. I will focus on how to use the AccuDraw utility to produce drawings with precision input, and I'll also focus on teaching you how to take advantage of your AutoCAD skills. Open the file for chapter 4-Using Accudraw.dgn, and using view group, select the BASICS model.
The AccuDraw utility, which was first introduced early in MicroStation J, is one of the best productivity enhancements added to MicroStation. This powerful tool has been enhanced several times since then, and it has better than ever in V8i. AccuDraw has matured into an indispensable tool for working efficiently in the MicroStation interface. Users who are learning to use MicroStation for the first time should keep the following in mind in regards to AccuDraw. Use it, but don't touch it. AccuDraw's job is to predict what you are planning to do and to automate the drawing steps as much as possible.
The secret to working with AccuDraw is let it do its job without any interference from you. You need to not get in the way. If you dock the AccuDraw dialogue and ignore it, it really does work better. By default, the AccuDraw dialogue is docked at the bottom of the application window, right above the status bar, as you see here. I recommend leaving it there, since most of us tend to ignore the lower portion of the application window anyway. The amazing thing about AccuDraw is how often it does predict correctly what you need to do.
So how does AccuDraw do its job? AccuDraw tracks your cursor movement and tries to predict what you want to do. To take advantage of this, you need to look at it, and read it, but don't touch it with the cursor. Let AccuDraw control the focus of what is going on in the application window, because this is the critical aspect of how it works. If you touch the AccuDraw dialogue using the cursor, you can move the focus in the wrong direction and actually interfere with this predictability. So again, the secret to making AccuDraw easy to use is don't touch it.
Once you take time to learn AccuDraw and master it, you won't know how you ever lived without it. And AccuDraw in 3D is indispensable. AccuDraw is not an intuitive utility, so please take time to learn AccuDraw and master it. The newer releases of AutoCAD provide input options such as direct distance entry, OTRACK, and POLAR tracking. AutoCAD users who have adopted either of these new interface techniques should feel very comfortable using AccuDraw once the initial learning curve has been overcome.
AutoCAD users still using the old key-ins, such as @X,Y or @Distance<Angle, may prefer to use the old MicroStation precision input options as well, and I will demonstrate those later in this chapter. So let's look at the basics of AccuDraw. As I said before, AccuDraw is opened by default. When you first start MicroStation, and it's docked here at the bottom of the application window. If you undock the AccuDraw dialogue, you can leave it floating anywhere in the application. But again, I prefer to leave it docked, because it's easier to ignore.
The key to drawing in MicroStation with precision input is to learn to use the techniques and shortcuts provided in AccuDraw. In this exercise, we will learn how to use AccuDraw to create a simple series of shapes. AccuDraw provides several keyboard shortcuts. To access, it's different command options. I have provided this list with the exercise files, so that you can print it out and have it available in your office for reference. Learning these keyboard shortcuts is crucial to using AccuDraw efficiently. You don't have to use all of them, but there are about five or six that everyone needs to learn, since they are the ones you will use repetitively throughout the day.
One of the first AccuDraw shortcuts that I want to discuss is using the space bar to toggle between the rectangular and POLAR modes of the compass. The rectangular compass is used to enter X, Y, and Z coordinates or distances, and the POLAR compass is used to input distance and angle values. Also, AccuDraw provides a repeat distance indicator to help when placing repeated distances. First, let's try a simple 100 foot by 100 foot square shape using the SmartLine command.
I will select SmartLine and issue a data point anywhere in view one. Verify that AccuDraw is using the round POLAR compass. If not, use the space bar shortcut to change it. Drag the cursor in the x direction, and key in the value of 100 for 100 feet. The AccuDraw focus is automatically in the distance field, so my key-in is automatically interpreted as a distance. Keep the cursor lined up with the x-axis and issue a data point to accept. Drag the cursor in the negative y direction and key in a value of 100.
Again, the focus is already in the distance field, so my key-in is interpreted as a distance of 100 feet. I'll keep the cursor lined up with the y-axis and issue a data point to accept. Drag the cursor in the negative x direction, and instead of using the key-in value of 100, I'll use the repeat distance indicator to retrieve the previous value of 100. When you see the repeat distance indicator, which is a perpendicular line, at the end of the axis, keep the cursor lined up with the x-axis and issue a data point to accept.
Now drag the cursor in the y direction until you see the repeat distance indicator again, and then issue a data point to complete the square.
- Using menus, settings, and toolboxes
- Modifying MicroStation preferences
- Working with DGN files
- Leveraging multiple views
- Using AccuDraw and AccuSnap
- Drawing lines, shapes, and forms
- Rotating, stretching, and scaling elements
- Trimming and modifying elements
- Selecting handles and element attributes