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Inside AutoCADs

Guide to Dynamic Blocks

Table of Contents
Add exibility and intelligence in AutoCAD 2006 with dynamic blocks . . . . . . . . . . . 3
Should you upgrade to AutoCAD 2006? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7
Restore a missing shortcut menu for dynamic blocks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8
Maximize options with advanced dynamic block features, part 1:
Visibility states. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9
Create dynamic blocks with multiple insertion points. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13
Maximize your options with advanced dynamic block features, part 2:
Lookup tables . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14

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Add exibility and intelligence in AutoCAD 2006


with dynamic blocks
by Ellen Finkelstein
Application: Autodesk AutoCAD 2006

locks are everywhere in the AutoCAD world. They allow you to avoid repeating the same drawing
tasks and reduce drawing size. However, they can be too much of a good thing. After a while, you can
collect hundreds of blocks, many that may be very similar to each other. An architect might have several different sizes of doors or windows, an engineer various sizes of the same part, and a facilities manager
many variations of a desk set.
Not only is keeping track of all the blocks confusing, but editing their components can be difcult. With
regular blocks, to edit a component, you need to explode the block and then redene it. In this article, well
explain how the new dynamic blocks feature of AutoCAD 2006 helps streamline the entire process of storing
and editing blocks.

Flexible, but not too exible

Dynamic blocks are blocks with added parameters


and actions that control how you can edit the block

after you insert it. You can modify the entire block,
for example, by scaling it, or change a component,
for example, by moving itall without exploding the
block. Furthermore, you can constrain the modications to a specic direction or to exact measurements.
For example, you can constrain the length of a desk
to 5, 6, and 7 lengths. As a result, you can use one
block for the three desk sizes and also ensure that you
never insert a desk with an unavailable size. Because
you can modify dynamic blocks within constraints,
they are both exible and intelligent.

Create a dynamic block


Figure A: Use

the Edit Block


Denition dialog
box to choose
the block you
want to edit.

You create dynamic blocks, whether from scratch or


by using an existing block, in the Block Editor. For
this article, we assume that you already have a block
open in a drawing. To open the Block Editor, click
the Block Editor button on the Standard toolbar. The
Edit Block Denition dialog box opens, as shown in
Figure A.

Figure B: The new Block Editor


is a special window for creating
dynamic blocks.
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If youre in a drawing that contains only one block,


you can choose <Current Drawing>. Otherwise,
choose the block that you want to edit. Then, click
OK. The Block Editor opens with the block or drawing displayed, as shown in Figure B.
The Block Editor has its own toolbar to help you
create dynamic blocks. You can use almost all drawing, editing, and display commands in the Block
Editor as well as special commands that are only for
creating dynamic blocks.

Add parameters

Add a linear parameter


We also want to be able to stretch the desk, which is
now 5 long, to 6 or 7. Because we want to stretch
horizontally a specic distance, a linear parameter is
most useful. You can use a linear parameter to move,
scale, stretch, or array objects.
To add a linear parameter, choose Linear Parameter from the palette. At the prompts, choose the start
and end points of the parameter, and then specify
a location for the label, as shown in Figure E. Note
the exclamation points; these indicate that the param-

The first step is to add a parameter. A parameter


species the type of geometry that makes the block
dynamic. For example, if you add a point parameter
to a block, youll be able to move or stretch an object
using that point as a base. A common use for the
point parameter is to move a component of a block
separately from the rest of the block.
You add a parameter using the Parameters tab
of the Block Authoring palette. This palette opens
automatically when you enter the Block Editor. The
Parameters tab is shown in Figure C.

Add a point parameter


In our desk and chair block, we want to be able to
move the chair independently from the desk, so we
need a point parameter. To add a point parameter,
click the Point Parameter item on the Parameters tab
of the Block Authoring palette. At the prompts, specify the location of the point and the location of the
label, as shown in Figure D.

Figure D: The chair now has a point parameter at the


midpoint of the front of the seat.

Inside AutoCAD

Figure C: You start creating a dynamic block by


adding a parameter.

Figure E: The desk now has a linear parameter that we can


use to stretch its width.
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