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No Express service?
If your menu bar doesn't include the Express menu (it's the third item from the right in Figure 1-1), you should consider installing the Express Tools from your AutoCAD CD (AutoCAD LT does not include or support the Express Tools).
When you first install AutoCAD 2007, you choose between a Typical or a Custom installation. If you choose Typical, the next screen asks if you want to install the Express Tools. If you
choose a Custom installation, in the next screen make sure to check the Express Tools item in the list of components. If you do not install the Express Tools during initial setup, you will have to rerun AutoCAD 2007's installation routine. If you haven't installed AutoCAD yet, we strongly recommend that you choose the Typical installation option — or, at least, make sure the Express Tools box is checked during a Custom installation.
Le Tour de AutoCAD 2007
In This Chapter
^ Touring the AutoCAD 2007 screens
^ Going bar hopping: title bars, the menu bar, toolbars, and the status bar ^ Dynamically inputting and commanding the command line ^ Discovering the drawing area ^ Making the most of Model and Layout tabs ^ Practicing with palettes
^ Setting system variables and dealing with dialog boxes ^ Using online help
ЛutoCAD 2007 is a full-fledged citizen of the Windows world, with toolbars, dialog boxes, right-click menus, a multiple-document interface, and all the other trappings of a real Windows program. And it’s becoming more and more Windows-like with each release. One of the last weird but essential holdovers from the DOS days is the AutoCAD command line. The command line area is still there (and wouldn’t you know it, officially it’s now known as the command window), but in AutoCAD 2007, you’ll be less reliant on this “look down here — now look up here” method of interacting with the program.
AutoCAD 2007, like the fanciest Detroit iron, bristles with heads-up display features. The dynamic input system puts much of the command line information right under your nose (or at least under your crosshairs). And recently entered data is just a right-click away.
Like the rest of the book, this chapter is written for someone who has used other Windows programs but has little or no experience with AutoCAD. If you are experienced with recent versions of AutoCAD, some of this chapter will be old hat for you — although you may get a shock when you open AutoCAD 2007 for the first time, especially if you choose to enter the 3D Modeling workspace the first time you start the program.
Most of the new features in AutoCAD 2007 are for creating and viewing objects in three dimensions. In the previous edition of this book, we actually removed the 3D chapter on the grounds that AutoCAD’s 3D abilities were pretty clunky to use, and people who did 3D design were probably using other software
20 Part I: AutoCAD 101
programs anyway. Times change, and so has AutoCAD. The 3D engine has been completely rebuilt, stroked, polished, and tuned to the extent that we now think 3D is a useable feature. We introduce you to AutoCAD’s 3D viewing and navigation tools in Chapter 9. In this chapter, we focus on 2D drafting which, after all, is still what the great majority of AutoCAD users do with the software.
AutoCAD Does Windows
Finding your way around AutoCAD 2007 can be an odd experience. You recognize from other Windows applications much of the appearance and workings of the program, such as its toolbars and pull-down menus, which you use for entering commands or changing system settings. But other aspects of the program’s appearance — and some of the ways in which you work with it — are quite different from other Windows programs. You can, in many cases, tell the program what to do in at least four ways — pick a toolbar icon, pick from a pull-down menu, type at the keyboard, or pick from a right-click menu — none of which is necessarily the best method to use for every task.
Profiling your display
The illustrations and descriptions in this chapter and throughout the book show the default configuration of AutoCAD — that is, the way the screen looks if you use the standard version of AutoCAD (not a flavored version such as Architectural Desktop) and haven't messed with the display settings. You can change the appearance of the screen with settings on the Display tab of the Options dialog box (choose ToolsOOptionsODisplay) and by dragging toolbars and other screen components.
The main change we've made is to configure the drawing area background to be white instead of black, because the figures in the book show up better that way. You may want to set a white background on your own system or stay with the default black background — it's your choice, and there's no right or wrong. Some of AutoCAD's colors show up better on a white background, and some are better on a black one.
If you're using a flavored version of AutoCAD, or if someone has already changed your configuration or added a third-party program to your setup, your screen may look different from the figures in this book. You can restore the default configuration — including display settings — with the Reset button on the Options dialog box's Profiles tab. (AutoCAD LT doesn't include the Profiles feature, so LT users are out of luck here.) But before you click the Reset button, consider whether the modified configuration may be useful to someone in the future — like you! If so, first click the Add To List button to create a new profile. Enter a name for the new profile, such as AutoCAD default. Then select the new profile that you created, click the Set Current button to make it the current profile, and finally click the Reset button. In the future, you can switch between your modified and default configurations with the Set Current button.