Ever heard of a water elevator? Maybe not, but I’d wager you’ve heard of the Panama Canal, which is one of many ‘water elevators’ around the world! A ‘water elevator’, also known as a canal lock, transports a watercraft from a body of water at one elevation to a body of water at a different elevation.
AutoCAD is a powerful tool when it comes to design and drafting. With each new version there are more bells and whistles that assist efficiency and productivity. Menus, buttons and ribbons continue to help make the user interface more intuitive and the command line perhaps more archaic.
However, over the years from collaborating with some of the older engineers and drafters who were introduced to older versions of CAD, I’ve learned that there are hidden or overlooked features that are not apparent. Commands that are not displayed by ribbons and buttons, so called “easter eggs” reminiscent of the “old school” drafting days are still in the code of the newest versions of AutoCAD. These are some of the hidden tricks that the user might not be aware, and may not be able to easily find unless he or she knows the exact command name to search. Often they may also be overlooked.
One of my favorite shortcuts is the FENCE subcommand. This is a selection option that does not always appear in the command line. It can be used as an alternative to using a selection box or lasso, or clicking objects several times.
For example, let’s say that we want to trim several cyan lines at the single green line, as shown.
By entering the TRIM command we are prompted “Select objects or <select all>:” First select the green line as the trimming object. The command prompt then reads, “[Fence/Crossing/Project/Edge/eRase/Undo]:”
By typing “F” at this prompt the User is able to create a temporary polyline through the desired objects to trim!
Because the lines are at an angle, a selection box is not useful, so this is a great alternative that saves time and avoids having to click each individual line the User desires to trim.
This can be used for just about any command that requires a selection! Let’s use the same cyan lines and extend them to the multiple magenta polylines shown. Enter the EXTEND command. The command prompt reads “Select objects or <select all>”.
This time there isn’t a fence option offered through the command line, however it can still be used! Type F at this prompt. Sure enough, the command line prompts “Specify first fence point”!
Create a fence through the magenta lines and ENTER.
Now create a fence through the cyan lines and ENTER to complete.
Finally, let’s erase some of them. Type the ERASE command. The prompt reads “ERASE Select objects”.
Again, the FENCE option is not listed but can still be used. Type F and create a fence through some of the cyan lines.
By ENTERing the User can exit the FENCE subcommand before completing the ERASE command. But let’s say the User wants to select more objects before completing the ERASE command. Once exiting the FENCE subcommand, the User can continue selecting additional objects, or use FENCE again! Type F to create another fence and add to the selection, then ENTER to complete the ERASE command.
The FENCE subcommand can be very useful when needing to select multiple objects oriented in tight spots or awkward arrangements. It can also be used with just about any command that requires selecting objects, even if it’s not a listed option in the command prompt.
In the Project Management arena, multi-tasking while managing projects in varying phases of development requires creative scheduling…and an intense amount of focus. It is imperative that the tasks associated with the project at hand are completed prior to moving on to the next task. As this article points out, constant distractions and shifting of gears prior to task completion not only decreases productivity, but could also drop your IQ to the equivalency of an elementary school kid.
Several years ago I worked for a consultant doing some environmental permitting and stormwater management for this massive project to power the Six Flags Great Adventure amusement park in Jackson, New Jersey. Once the project appeared before the Jackson Planning Board several environmental groups made their voices heard about the concerns of cutting down trees in order to build a solar farm.
While the outcry over whether this was a true “green” development grew louder, the environmental impact was not of legal concern. Eventually the case came down to whether a zoning change for the area was broadly fair to encourage development or whether it was too specifically inclined to this individual project. As the above article states, last month it was ruled that the zoning change was admissible and the project may now have cleared at least one hurdle.
Cases like these make us, as those who work in development, really think of the power of zoning and more specifically how zoning is used by municipalities to get the type of desired development. In this case it was argued that the zoning was created too specifically. Not in protest of the project, but to guarantee it would move forward. How to dive into municipal zoning code, find intentions and split hairs, is a topic that I’m sure will find its way to debate and probably into a court room again.