Have you ever complained about having too much drawing area? I didn’t think so! There are two things that control the amount of space in which you have to draw. One is hardware and the other is software. I can’t give you a bigger monitor (I can’t even get one for myself!) but I can show you how to create a larger drawing space using your AutoCAD software! During this series, I’ll show you how to configure your AutoCAD drawing environment for maximum drawing area while maintaining easy access to your drawing and editing tools!
My FAVORITE UI (user interface) enhancement in AutoCAD 2007 is palette anchoring. When I say “palette”, I don’t just mean the Tool Palettes window. I mean everything that looks and acts like a palette. Sometimes these palettes are referred to (by software developers and ultra-techies) as Enhanced Secondary Windows (ESW). These palettes (ESWs) are different from other UI elements such as dialog boxes because they can exist outside of the main AutoCAD Window and they can remain open while you perform other tasks in AutoCAD.
You might have noticed, over the past few releases, that many of the newer AutoCAD tools have been introduced as ESWs (Tool Palettes, Sheet Set Manager, Dashboard) and some older AutoCAD tools have been converted to ESWs (External References Manager, Command Line). For example, in AutoCAD 2007 you can move the External References manager outside the AutoCAD window and you can leave it open while you continue to launch other AutoCAD commands.
In AutoCAD 2006, the External References manager is not an ESW. It can’t be moved outside the AutoCAD window and you must close it before you can continue using other commands.
So what does all of this have to do with maximizing your workspace? ESWs have special display controls that enable them to be easily accessible without consuming large areas of the drawing window. You can move, resize, open and close them, and you can dock them at the side of the AutoCAD window. You can also enable Auto-hide so they roll-up out of the way and then unroll when you pass your cursor over them.
All of this functionality is available for ESWs in AutoCAD 2006. You can open your favorite palettes, resize and move them, and then enable Auto-hide. However, in AutoCAD 2006, when you pass your cursor over the palette titlebar to unroll it, the palette maintains its current height. So, if you have three palettes stacked on the side, each one will be “short” requiring you to scroll up and down to access content.
AutoCAD 2007 offers a solution to this limitation by enableing you to "anchor" a palette to the left- or right side of the screen.
You can even right-click on the titlebar and specify “Icons only” so that only the palette icon is displayed.
Using this functionality, you can have every AutoCAD palette (including the Command window) at your fingertips in the space of a single toolbar! You can literally do all your AutoCAD work in an environment like this!
So, exactly what AutoCAD functionality is available as a “palette”? In AutoCAD 2007, look under the Tools Menu. The “Command Line” as well as everything under the Palettes submenu are ESWs. In addition to these palettes, Sun Properties and Drawing Recovery are also ESWs.