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What’s new in AutoCAD 2010

Segment 1

Date: April 6, 2009

Instructor: Kenneth Leary

Level: All Levels
Category: AutoCAD 2010



It’s April, the flowers are blooming, birds are chirping, and spring is in the air. It must be time for the
next version of AutoCAD to be released. This year, the good folks at Autodesk have done their best to
put together another version that tempts the wallets of even the stingiest user.

I don’t know how many of you are Star Trek fans, but there has always been a belief among many of
the fans that the even numbered movies were better than the odd numbered ones. I’ve yet to meet a
person that would pick Star Trek V: The Final Frontier as their favorite over the very popular Star Trek II:
The Wrath of Khan. I’m not asking everyone to don some Spock ears and speak Klingon with me, I’m
simply illustrating the point because, oddly enough, that same theory seems to hold true with AutoCAD.
There’s no comparison between Release 13 and the much-lauded Release 14. Some old school
AutoCAD users like myself still long for
the heady days of Release 12.

Well, AutoDesk has done nothing to

prove the even number theory wrong.
AutoCAD 2009 made huge changes in
the user interface, with the introduction
of the menu ribbon and a completely
revised the look and feel of the
program. It was also slower, a
memory hog and had more than it’s
share of glitches.

Once again, the even numbered

release has a lot great new commands
and time saving tools to offer and it’s a
more stable program to boot. In this
course, we’re going to cover the new
commands, the improved commands,
and the ones that have been
completely over hauled.

Parametric modeling

The biggest and initially the most intimidating new feature in AutoCAD 2010 is Parametric Modeling.
You may be surprised to find that there is no actual Parametric command. That’s because it’s the
name for a new set of tools that allow you to create geometric relationships between objects or restrict
the dimensional properties of objects. The two different types of tools are referred to as geometric and
dimensional constraints. That doesn’t sound that complicated now does it?

Well before you panic and pull out the old dictionary that you used to use to decipher what Dennis
Miller said on Monday night football, relax. We’ll go through the tools and their usage in plain English
and before you know it, you’ll see that it’s really not complicated at all.

All of the constraint settings and display options are handled by the Constraint settings dialog box. You
can open it with the CONSTRAINTSETTINGS command. We’ll refer back to this command as we
cover the different constraint functions and commands.

Another important feature that is used with the constraints are the Constraint Bars, these show which
constraints are applied to drawing objects. The CONSTRAINTBAR command effects how the
constraint bars are displayed. When constraint bars are displayed, you can pass the cursor over a
constraint to view the constraint name and the objects that it affects. You can also control the display
of constraint bars with this command or use the Show, Show All, and Hide All options on the Geometric
panel of the Parametric ribbon tab.

There is a new Tab on the menu ribbon for the parametric modeling tools called the Parametric tab.
This tab is broken down into three panels, each with a different set of tools that you would use for the
different constraint functions. Let’s look at each separately.

Geometric Constraints
The first panel on the left side of the Parametric tab is for the tools that create and modify geometric
constraints. These are the relationships that are applied between two objects, points on objects, or
between a single object and the coordinate system. In simple terms it works like an object snap that
stays persistent throughout your design.

The middle sub panel on the Geometric constraints panel contains the commands
that you will use to apply the constraints to objects in your drawings. These can be
accessed from this location on the ribbon or with the GEOMCONSTRAINT command.
There are twelve to choose from, we’ll cover each of them.

Coincident - Constrains two points on two objects

together. A constraint point on an object can be made
coincident with an object or a constraint point on another
object. When the cursor hovers over the constrained
point, the constraint bar to the right is shown.

Colinear – Constrains two or more line
segments to lie along the same line.
Regardless of how the original line is moved
or rotated, the Colinear line will move to
match the new location.

Concentric - Constrains two circles to the same center

point. This also works for arcs and ellipses. The result is
the same as that of a coincident constraint applied to the
center points of the curves. Moving one of the circles will
move the other with it, much like a block.

Fix - Locks a point or curve in position. The fixed point can

be on an object, or a point in relation to an object, like a
center point of a circle for example. This command may be
a let down for those people who thought it might fix
something in the drawings that doesn’t seem to work the
way they wanted it to.

Parallel – Constrains two lines or polylines to be Parallel to each

other. When one is modified the other will move to match it.

Perpendicular - Causes selected lines to lie 90
degrees to one another. Perpendicular constraints
are applied between two objects and, unlike the
Perpendicular object snap, these lines do not have to
be touching each other when the constraint is

Horizontal - Causes lines or pairs of points to lie

parallel to the X axis of the current coordinate system.
Be aware when using this constraint that they are set
to the axis in the coordinate system in which they
were created. When another user coordinate system
is active the Constraint bar icon (pictured below) will
change to show that the current axis in not the one
that the constraint was created in.

Vertical - Causes lines or pairs

of points to lie parallel to the Y
axis of the current coordinate
system. Just like the
Horizontal constrain these are
set to the axis in the coordinate
system in which they were
created. When another user
coordinate system is active the
Constraint bar icon (pictured
on the right) will change to
show that the current axis in
not the one that the constraint was created in.

Tangent - Constrains two objects to maintain
a point of tangency to each other or their
extensions. Tangent constraints are applied
between two objects, those objects could be a
curve (arc or circle) and a line or another

A circle can be made tangent to a line even if

the circle does not touch the line and a curve
can be tangent to another even if they do not
physically share a point.

Smooth (G2) - Constrains a Spline to

be contiguous and maintain continuity
with another spline, line, arc, or
polyline. When the constraint is
applied the endpoints of the curves to
which you apply the smooth
constraints are made coincident.

When two Splines are selected,

they are updated to be
contiguous with one another.
This function is similar to using
the JOIN command for polylines
except the splines are not joined
to be one object; they only
behave as if they were one

Symmetric - Causes selected objects to become
symmetrically constrained about a selected line.
The function is similar to that of the Mirror
command. Unlike other constraints where two
objects are selected, with a symmetric constraint
you must have an axis around which you will
constrain the objects or points to be symmetrical.

This is referred to as the symmetry line. For lines, the

line’s angle is made symmetric and not the endpoints.
For arcs and circles, the center and radius are made
symmetric not the endpoints of the arc.

Equal - Resizes selected arcs and circles to the same

radius, or selected lines to the same length.

Constraint Settings
The sub panel on the far right side of the Geometric
panel controls the display of the Constraint Bars. This is
where you can control the display of constraint bars with the
Show, Show All, and Hide All options. These are the same
functions that are available in the CONSTRAINTBAR
command mentioned earlier.

Show will display the current constraints that apply to an object when you place your cursor over the
object. It will also highlight the objects affected by the constraints.

Show All will turn on all the constraint bars for the objects in the drawing that have constraints applied
to them.

Hide all turns off all of the constraint bars in the drawing.

Auto Constraints

The sub panel on the left contains the AutoConstraint command. This tool can significantly speed up
the process of adding constraints to objects. AutoConstraint
will add specific constraints to objects that meet certain
parameters. For example, applying AutoConstrain to two
circles will apply the appropriate concentric constraint while
applying AutoConstraint to a rectangle applies the coincident,
horizontal, parallel, and perpendicular constraints to maintain
the rectangular shape.

Which constraints are applied automatically can be preset

in the constraint settings dialog box. Select the button on
the menu panel or type in CONSTRAINTSETTINGS at the
command prompt and select the AutoConstraint tab.

This dialog will allow you turn

determine which constraints are
applied to an object or a selection set
and also gives you the ability to
change the order in which the
constraints are applied.

There are also toggle buttons that can

be used to require that a tangent
constraint will only be applied if the arc
and the tangent object share a
common point or if two perpendicular
lines intersect before the constraint will
be applied.

Distance and angle tolerances can be

applied to limit the tolerances that are
applied to those values.

Dimensional Constraints

Dimensional constraints function much like associative

dimensions, only in this case it’s the object that changes to
match the dimension and the not the dimension changing
to match the object.

Dimensional constraints have a panel on the Parametric

tab next to the Geometric constraints. This panel contains
several commands, which will apply different dimensional constraints.

Linear – Linear constraints create a horizontal or vertical

dimensional constraint. Select the Linear icon on the
Dimensional constraint panel or type DIMCONSTRAINT and
select the Linear option Selecting the pulldown menu on the
lower half of the icon allows you to choose from Linear,
horizontal or vertical. Linear switches from vertical to
horizontal dynamically depending on the direction that you
move the dimension line based on the extension line origins.

Horizontal places horizontal constraint,

regardless of the angle of the object and
Vertical does the same in the vertical
direction. When a new dimensional
constraint is created it is given a unique
identifier by AutoCAD. These identifiers
can be changed in the parameter manager,
which we’ll cover later.

Aligned – Aligned dimensional constraints are much like the aligned dimensions in that they align with
the angle of the object that they constrain. Select
the aligned icon on the Dimensional constraint
panel or type DIMCONSTRAINT and select the
Aligned option. At the command prompt the
options Object, Point & line, and 2Lines appear.
Object will allow you to add the aligned constraint
to an object without picking constraint points. Point
& line will select a constraint point and the closest
point on a line to that point. 2lines is handy in that
it will select two lines and make the second parallel
to the first and maintain the distance between the
two lines.

Radial – This is not a constraint that involves
tires, it controls the radius of an arc or circle.

Diameter – Like the Radial constraint, this

constrains the diameter of an arc or a circle.

Angular – Angular constraints control the angle

between two line or polyline segments, the angle
swept out by an arc or a polyline arc segment, or the
angle between three points on different objects. If
the angle is greater than 360 degrees or is a
negative number, the number displayed is based on
the units in the drawing. For example, in decimal
degrees, 390 degrees would display as a 30-degree

Form – This constrain commands serves two purposes, first it will convert associative dimensions into
a constraint or it can specify whether a constraint it dynamic or annotational. These will most likely
raise two questions, why is it called Form and not Convert and what are dynamic or annotational

There is one answer for both questions, although it’s a complicated answer. There are three forms of
dimensional constraints; dynamic, annotational and reference. This command determines which “form”
the Dimensional constraint will take on. Let’s look further into what purpose the three forms of
constraints server.

Dynamic constraints are the default form of dimensional constraints. These are best for normal
parametric drawing and design tasks as they function much like a construction line would. They can
easily be turned on or off globally in the drawing using the DYNCONSTRAINTDISPLAY command.
They display using a fixed, predefined dimension style. They position the text information of the
constraint automatically, and provide triangle grips with which you can change the value of a
dimensional constraint and they do not display when the drawing is plotted.

Annotational constraints are useful when you want dimensional constraints to have more of the
characteristics of typical dimensions. They can be placed on layers, which is not an option available to
Dynamic constraints. They are displayed using the current dimension style. They can be modified
using grips provide grips similar to those used on dimensions. They are also displayed when the
drawing is plotted.

After plotting, you can use the Properties palette to convert annotational constraints back to dynamic

Reference constraints are driven by the geometry and are strictly for informational purposes. This
means that it does not control the associated geometry, but rather reports a measurement similar to a
dimension object. Dynamic and Annotational
Constraints can both be converted into
reference constraints.

Reference constraints will always display the

text information in parentheses and cannot be
modified. Like an associative dimension, it
will follow the constrained geometry and
display the new information for that object or

Managing Constraints

The final panel on the Parametric menu tab is the Manage panel. This panel
has only two commands, Delete constraints and the Parameters manager.

A constraint can be deleted at any time by simply selecting the individual

constraint and selecting ERASE or hitting the delete key. Delete constraints
will delete all of the constraints associated with the selected object at one

The Parameters Manager is a palette that displays the constraints in a drawing and all of the
associative variables (dimensional constraint variables and user-defined variables).

The Parameters Manager palette

displays three columns, by default.
You can also right click and use
the shortcut menu to add two
columns for Description and Type.

The Name column displays the

name that AutoCAD generated for
the dimensional constraint. This
name can be changed to
something more user friendly.

The Expression column displays

the real number or the equation for
the expression, for example,
d1+d2 or 390 degrees.

The Value column shows the

number that will be displayed on the dimensional constraint. For example, it would show the distance
between d1+d2 or 30 degrees.

Description and Type, if displayed, will show user comments added to the constraints and dimensional
constraint type respectively.

Conclusion of Segment 1

Hopefully this segment helped clear up the mystery behind Parametric modeling. While it all may seem
intimidating, after experimenting with it you might be surprised at how easy it is to use the new
commands. In the next segment we’ll look at some more new commands and some of the ones that
have been completely overhauled.

Remember that this material is only a portion of the class, support is always available online in the
private course forum. I encourage you to visit the course forum and ask any questions that you may
have about this segment or simply join in the discussion. The ATP Mantra is: the only stupid question is
the one you don’t ask. Thanks again for attending this course!