AECbytes Tips and Tricks Issue
#2 (January 19, 2006)
Creating More Specific Wall Tools in Autodesk
Director of Building & Infrastructure Solutions, Synergis Technologies, Inc.
Relying on the out-of-the-box wall style tools
in Autodesk Architectural Desktop (ADT) necessitates
many trips back and forth to Properties.
That is because many of the last settings used
become the default when you next launch that same
command. Additionally some settings reset themselves
(automatic cleanup, segment type, roof and floor
offsets). Walls styles without variable widths
will come in with the width as specified in the
style, but most of the other variables such as
height, justification, and baseline offset refer
to the last setting used.
This concept also applies to many other commands
and tools. The only exception to this, and a great
shortcut, is by using Add Selected
(at the right mouse shortcut menu) to launch a
command. This captures all of the settings of
the selected entities.
We'll see how we can create a wall tool that
presets many of the property parameters. Another
issue that the out-of-the-box wall tools do not
address is the need to have certain walls on different
layers than the default A-Wall layer (eg. A-WALL-
EXTR, A-WALL-INTR, A-WALL-DEMO). We will create
layer keys in our layer key style and then set
up the wall tools to use them. What we'll learn
with wall tools can also be applied to door, window,
roof, structural member, and other tools.
We'll start by creating the necessary layer keys
to assign our wall tools. From the Format
pull down menu select Layer Management
and flyout to Layer Key Styles.
This will launch Style Manager
and filter you to the Layer Key Styles present
in your drawing. Typically you'll do this in your
template drawing and be editing either the out-of-the-box
AIA layer key style or your firm's layer key style.
Edit the layer key style in the right pane of
Style Manager by double clicking
it or right mouse click (RMC) and selecting Edit.
Switch to the keys tab and at the bottom right
select Add. Type the desired
layer key name. This is arbitrary and it will
make the layer name the same but you will usually
change it. In this case I'll name the layer key
Then I'll scroll to that in the list and set
the desired layer name, A-Wall-Extr,
and the desired color and linetype. I'll repeat
this and create another layer key Wall
Interior. Don't be afraid of giving your
layer keys a unique description, it will help
later when sorting them by description to see
your custom keys. Hit OK at the
bottom of Style Manager and save
Next, I'll create a new palette to hold my custom
wall tools. RMC over the palette set title bar
and select New Palette and name
Then I'll switch to the out-of-the-box Walls
palette and, using control, select and RMC Copy
some existing wall styles that I'm going to use.
I'll paste them on my custom walls palette where
we will be editing their properties and setting
the layer key.
To customize the tool, I'll RMC over it on the
palette and select Properties
in the shortcut menu.
Looking at the properties I'll then start setting
my desired parameters. First I'll click the cell
to the right of Layer Key. This
will bring up the layer keys for me to scroll
and select. For this stud wall, I'll set it to
the layer key Wall Interior,
the base height to 8' and justification
You might also want to set the Baseline
Offset to "0". This will ensure
that it uses that instead of whatever was last
set in Properties. Then test
the tool and verify the parameter settings and
I'll repeat this procedure for an exterior wall
and set the layer key to Wall Exterior,
the justification to Left and
the desired height.
Testing this, we'll see that it lands on the
desired layer and comes in with the desired settings.
If you are setting the same layer key or parameter
for more than one wall tool, you can control select
more than one and access and set properties.
Using these same techniques, you can customize
other architectural geometry tools. A common frustration
is adding some single doors at a width of 36"
and then adding a double exterior door. If you
do not adjust the width in Properties
before you place it, it will come in at 36"
To prevent this you can RMC over the door tool
on the palette, and edit the Properties
for the desired width and other parameters.
The out-of-the-box palettes only give you tools
for the standard structural member styles. But
if you have commonly used structural member styles
in your drawing, you can make a more specific
tool to bring them in.
With a little upfront work customizing your tools,
you can save time and eliminate those repeated
trips to Properties while adding
About the Author
With 18 years of industry experience, Peter Gehring is Director of Building & Infrastructure Solutions for Synergis' Engineering Design Solutions, an independent division of Synergis Technologies, Inc., a leading Autodesk Value Added Reseller for Manufacturing, Infrastructure, and Building Solutions in the Mid-Atlantic region. He is responsible for spearheading the delivery of solutions, technical expertise, and resources to increase customers' productivity and profitability in the Building & Infrastructure industry. Gehring is an Autodesk Architectural Desktop Certified Expert, an experienced CAD instructor, and architectural and engineering designer. He graduated from Bucknell University with a B.A. in Fine Art and previously worked for 10 years with Perks-Reutter Associates, an architecture and engineering consulting firm. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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