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Whether you’re a one-persen operation working out of your heme or one of several hundred AutoCAD users in a large company, file sharing and file maintenance becomes the focus of much of your time. In a mere interconnected world, the volume of messages and files crossing our path seems to be constantly on the rise. In addition, the Internet has allowed us to be mere mobile, adding mere complexity to our file management tasks.

you’ll learn about some of the tools that AuteCAD offers to help you manage your files and the files you share with others, You’ll also examine some general issues that arise while using AutoCAD in a workgroup environment. In this discussion, you may find help with some problems you have encountered when using AutoCAD in your particular work environment. This chapter also discusses tl{e management of AutoCAD projects.

Managing Your Drawings with the Design Center

As you start to build a library of’ll find that you’re reusing many of the components of existing drawing files. Most of the time, you will probably be producing similar types of drawings with some variation, so you’ll reuse drawing components like layer settings, dimension styles, and layouts. It can be a major task just to keep track of all the projects you’ve worked on. It’s especially frustrating when you remember setting up a-past drawing in a way that you knew would be useful in a current project, but you tan’t remember that file’s name or location.

AutoCAD 2000 offers the Design Center to help you keep track of the documents you use in your projects. You can think of the DesignCenter as a kind of super Windows Explorer that is focused on AutoCAD files. The DesignCenter lets you keep track of your favorite files and it helps you locate files, blocks, and other drawing components. In addition, you can import blocks and other drawing components from one drawing to another by using a simple click and drag. If you’ve been diligent about setting the unit format of your drawings, then you can use the Design- Center to import symbols and drawings of different unit formats into a drawing and the symbols will maintain their proper size. For example, a 90-cm door symbol from a metric drawing can be imported into an English unit drawing and the DesignCenter will translate the 90-cm metric doer size to a 35.43-inch door.

Getting Familiar with the DesignCenter

At first glance, the DesignCenter looks a bit mysterious. But it only takes a few mouse clicks to reveal a tool that looks very much like the Windows Explorer. Try the following steps to get familiar with the DesignCenter.

1. Open AutoCAD to a new file, and then click the DesignCenter tool in the Standard toolbar.

The DesignCenter appears docked in the left side of the AutoCAD window .

2. Click the Desktop tool in the DesignCenter toolbar,

The DesignCenter displays a listing of the Favorites directory. What you are actually looking at is a view into the C:\Windows\Favorites\Autodesk\directory. You see the single DesignCenter shortcut icon. You can add more shortcuts to this directory as you work with the DesignCenter. You may also see a view showing the tree structure of the files you have open in AutoCAD.

3. Double-dick the grab bars at the top of the Design< enter window. The Design- Center window moves away from its docked position to a floating one.

4. Place your cursor on the lower-left comer of the DesignCenter window so a double-headed diagonal arrow shows, then click and drag the comer out so that you have an enlarged DesignCenter window that looks similar.By the way, the view on the right containing the DesignCenter folder is called the Palette view and the View on the left is called the Tree view.

5.. Place your cursor on the border between the Tree view and the Palette view until you see a double-headed cursor. Then click and drag the border to the right to enlarge the Tree view in till it covers about one-third of the window.

6. Finally, use the scroll bar at the bottom to adjust your view of the Tree view so you can easily read its contents.

Once set up like this, you can see the similarities between the DesignCenter and the Windows Explorer. You can navigate your computer or network using the Tree view, just as you would in Windows Explorer. There are a few differences however. Try the following exercise to see what those differences are.

1. Double-click the DesignCenter shortcut in the Palette view. The view changes to display the contents of the DesignCenter Directory under the \AutoCAD2000\ Samples \ directory.

2. Instead of the usual listing of files, you see sample images of each file. These are called preview icons.

3. Click the Views tool in the toolbar. The Palette view changes to show the files in another format.

4. Click the Views tool again and the view changes again. The Views tool is similar to the Large Icon, Small Icon, List and Detail options in Windows Explorer.

5. Click the file named Eanlogic .dwg to select it.

You can see an enlarged version of the preview icon of a selected file by clicking the Preview tool in the DesignCenter toolbar.

The view appears at the bottom of the Palette view. The preview can be helpful if you prefer viewing files and-drawing components as a list in the main P3 it of the Palette view.

Another option on the toolbar that offers more information on your drawings is the Description tool.

When you click the Description tool, the DesignCenter displays any text information that has been included with the draw ink or block. To see an example of how this works, do the following.

1. Use the Tree view of the DesignCenter to locate and select the directory containing the file called 14 unit .dwg.This should be in a directory called Figures if you used the default installation for the figures from the companion CD-ROM.

2. Click the 14a-uni t. dwg file, then click the Description tool in the Design- Center toolbar. You’ll see a description of the file at the bottom of the Palette window.

The information you see was added using the Properties dialog box (File> Drawing Properties) described.

Both the preview icon and the Description tool can offer help in identifying files that you may be looking for. Once yo\.1-find a file, you can click and drag it in u the Tree view to organize your files into separate directories, or you can click a. -irag them into Windows.Explorer.

You can also add files to the Favorites folder under the Windows directory by right-clicking, then selecting Add to Favorites. The file itself won’t be moved to the Favorites folder but instead, a shortcut to the file will be created in the Favorites folder. If you want to work on organizing your Favorites folder, you can open a window to the Favorites folder by right-clicking on a file in the Palette view and selecting Organize Favorites. A window to the Favorites folder appears.

Since you’ll be working with the sample drawings from the companion CD-ROM, go ahead and add the Figures directory to the Favorites folder,’

1. Locate the Figures directory in the Tree view then right-click it.

2. Select Add to Favorites from the popup menu.

3. To go directly to the Favorites folder, click the Favorites tool in the Design- Center toolbar.

The Favorites folder appears in the Palette view.

4. Double-click the Figures shortcut in the Palette view. You return to the contents of the Figures directory.

You can go beyond just looking at file listings. You can look inside files to view their components.

1. In the Palette view, locate the file named 16a-unit. dwg and double-click it. You see a listing of its components in the Palette view. The Tree view also shows the file highlighted.

2. Double-click the Block listing in the Palette view. Now you see a listing of all of the blocks in 16a-unit. dwg.

From here, you can import any of the dlfct wing components from the Design- Center palette into an open drawing in AutoCAD. But before you try that, try a few other features of the DesignCenter.

Opening and Inserting Files with the DesignCenter

With the DesignCenter, you can locate the files you are looking for more easily because you can view thumbnail preview icons. But often, that isn’t enough. For example, you may want to locate all of the files that contain the name of a particular manufacturer in an attribute of a drawing.

Once you’ve found the file you’re looking for, you can load it into AutoCAD by right-clicking the file name in the Palette view, then selecting Open in Window. ,
Try it with the following exercise.

1. Click the Up tool in the DesignCenter toolbar twice. This takes you up two levels in the ‘Palette view from the view of the drawing blocks to the list of file names.

2. In the Palette view of the DesignCenter, locate the 12c-unit2. dwgsample.

3. Right-click 12c-unit2. dwg,then select Open in Window. The drawing appears in the AutCAD window.

Another way to open files from the DesignCenter is to click and drag ‘the file name from the Palette view of the DesignCenter into a blank AutoCAD window, but not into an open file. If you already have a few files open, minimize them by clicking the Minimize button in the drawing window.

Once this is done, you can click and drag a file into AutoCAD’s gray window background.

. If you want to insert a file into another drawing as a block, you can do so by clicking and dragging the file from the DesignCenter Palette view into an open drawing window. You will then be prompted for insertion point, scale, and rotation angle. If you prefer to use the Insert dialog box to insert a drawing from the DesignCenter, right-click the file name in the Palette view, and then select Insert As Block. The Insert dialog box opens, offering you the full set of insert options, as described.

Finally, you can attach a drawing as an Xref by right-clicking a file in the Palette of the DesignCenter, then selecting Attach as Xref. The External Reference dialog box appears, offering the insertion point, scale, and rotation options similar to the Insert dialog box.

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