Wednesday, March 24, 2010

To Fade or Not to Fade...That Might Be Your Question

As I work with a new group of Civil 3D users, I find that some of the new AutoCAD 2010 commands and settings have not been made clear to CAD users at all companies. This week I was able to share XDWGFADECTL with my fellow employees. In case you're in the dark about this command as well, here's the scoop:

One of the things I notice when setting up AutoCAD 2010 or Civil 3D 2010 on a new computer is that drawings containing xreferenced drawings don't look the same as they did when I opened them in previous versions of AutoCAD. Now I'm not talking about having different colors for layers. You can check the layers and you'll still see red, yellow, green, etc. However, an object in the current drawing on a layer that's green looks different from an object in an xreferenced drawing that is also on a layer that's green. Here's an example of what you see with a black model space background:

It does make it very clear what is in the xreferenced drawing and what is in the current drawing, but it can be a bit difficult to see the objects in the xreferenced drawing with a black background such as this. Here are two ways to change this setting.

The first method is to type XDWGFADECTL at the command prompt and set it to 0 (zero) if you want xref objects to appear without fading as seen in previous versions of AutoCAD or Civil 3D.

The second method is through the System Variable Editor:

In the default Civil 3D workspace of Civil 3D 2010, select the "Express Tools" ribbon tab.

Now left click on the System Variable Editor icon.

Once the System Variable Editor dialog box opens, scroll down the list of variables and left click on XDWGFADECTL. The Initial Value is 70 and the Current Value will probably be 70 as well.

Left click in the white box labeled New Value.

Change the value to 0 (zero), but DON'T PRESS ENTER.

Left click on another system variable in the list such as XFADECTL, then left click back on XDWGFADECTL. The New Value should still be set to 0 (zero).

Now left click on the OK command button.

Here's the same text after changing this system variable:

NOTE: This system variable has settings other than a simple "on" and "off" setting. Here's a description and valid values for the XDWGFADECTL system variable:

The XDWGFADECTL system variable controls the dimming for all DWG xref objects. The valid XDWGFADECTL system variable value is between -90 and 90.

When the value is 0 (zero), DWG xref objects are not faded.
When the value is positive, controls the percent of fading up to 90 percent.
When the value is negative, xref objects are not faded, but the value is saved for switching to that value by changing the sign.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Why Do You Have To Be Different?

You may think I've dropped off the face of the planet, but I haven't. I'm happy to say that I've embarked on a new career and hopefully that means you, my blog readers, will be learning some new and helpful information in the process. I'll have to discuss my journey from Point A to Point B in another post because right now I have something to show you.

Monday, March 1, 2010, was my first day to officially work as a "Civil 3D Trainer" even though I'm been doing that type of work for years now. As one of my first troubleshooting activities, I was presented with a "problem tree" that wouldn't size correctly. Sounded like a interesting issue to me, so I met with the technician to see the problem firsthand.

The drawing consisted of an existing survey that included Civil 3D points. The marker symbol was not sizing correctly when compared to its peers. In this case, Tree #4987 was supposed to be a size "12", but it sure didn't look like the nearby size "12" Tree #5072.

"How did those tree symbols get placed in the drawing?" was my first question. I was told that the tree symbols were a part of the point style. Since all the other trees in the drawing looked correct given the tree diameter size, the problem must be something wrong with that individual point.

So what was wrong with Tree #4987? It was time to take a closer look at these two points by viewing them in the Point Editor Panorama. [You can access this view by selecting the two cogo points and then left clicking on the Edit/List Points in the Modify panel of the COGO Points Contextual menu.]

Here's the Panorama view (some columns were hidden for this image).:

As I reviewed the two points in the list (you may have to use the slider bar along the bottom of the Panorama View to see additional columns), I noticed that the X-Y Scale for the "good tree" point (#5072) was set to the tree diameter size of "12", but the X-Y Scale for the "problem tree" point (#4987) was blank. I suggested that the technician reset the X-Y Scale of tree point #4987 to 12 and the tree symbol for the "problem tree" was immediately updated and now matched the symbol size for Tree #5072.

Problem solved!

Despite how easy this solution may seem now, if you didn't setup your template or know the software well enough to know where to look for this solution, you can get real frustrated. Don't let yourself get too stressed about situations like this, just learn where to go for answers.

Answers can be found in places such as the Civil 3D help files, training manuals, your in-house Civil 3D Guru, discussion forums, Civil 3D Blogs, your Autodesk reseller (if you're on subscription), and you might even have to submit a request to Autodesk directly. If your area has a local Civil 3D User Group meeting, get contact info from the "Civil 3D Gurus" that you meet there. Sometimes it's knowing how to phrase the question or using the correct terminology.

There are so many resources available to us that we sometimes overlook. Be diligent and keep working at it. Civil 3D can work like a well oiled machine if you work with it, not against it.

Good luck with your next Civil 3D problem and use the resources you have available. Most of the time the answer is out there, somewhere, just waiting to be found.