Monday, December 24, 2007

The user interface for Autocad

Over the years of using Autocad, I have often found that I have gone for the easy way out. I refer of course to the ability to have toolbars, tool palletes and so on.

These are fine, but tend to gobble up screen real estate, hence my use of a dual monitor setup. Even then, this gets to be a long travel for the mouse, so the view toolbar ends up on the main monitor along with the ucs on etc.
Not smart, which is why I have a 20" monitor.

Other draftees I know have a minimalist approach and have NO toolbars ever and regard me as a slightly mad person.....So maybe this year it is time to change my approach and have a humdinger of a pgp file going.

Which makes me think: how is the best way to do this? I had come across one guy who was left handed. He had a clever plan: every command was assigned a number. This meant he could rest his right hand on the keypad, and hold onto the mouse with his left hand. Seemed pretty clever. Unfortunately I am right handed so nuts to that one. He must have had a good memory!

My coworker uses a keyboard for all commands and has remapped things so that where his left hand rests on the keyboard is where all the common commands are kept--ie something like "a" for "zoom".

Maybe I could use a similar idea--left hand is the one only on the keyboard, and somehow remap the enter key onto the caps lock key. Then all the main keys would be qwert, asdfg, zxcvb. Which gives only 15 commands--obviously not enough. Doubling up could give 15 x 15= 225 enough? ie qw qe qr and so on-- But how to remember all this...ouch.

Would this setup cause RSI-I do not know....

I thought 225 would be fine---that may be ok because some commands are so obscure they are never used---I had a quick check of the standard pgp file- it is about 350 commands.

It would be nice if Autodesk has ever figured out which commands are the most common--ie what are the top 15 and so on.

These would be my most used 15 commands: line, circle, dtext, arc, move, copy, stretch, explode, block, wblock, edit text, dimension, leader dimension, layer, rectangle.

Then I could have the fun of struggling to remember all this for the first 2 weeks back at work. Must be mad.

Standard Parts...will the madness end?

Well, the poor person that seems to be visiting this site has motivated me into another rave. (Thanks Robin!)

Regarding the madness, I predict the employers out there will finally figure out that us draftsmen have been subject to Parkinson's law to increase our working life.

It is like this: somewhere in Poland some draftsman is drawing a footplate for the platform he is going to draw. He will lovingly draw a rectangle, then the circles that represent holes in said footplate, etc etc. At the same time in Germany another draftsman is drawing the identical item....Hmmm.

You have to admit: this is MADNESS. (sorry to shout!)

And don't hand me any crap about local standards and so on....surely a footplate is of a certain rating or it is not?

Why can there not be a WORLD standard of certain items that are of such plain manufacture, there could be a set of drawings that everyone could refer to?

I even have a part number/drawing number system to start it off: In the case of the said footplate, say it is for a 100mm square post and going onto a concrete floor, it could have a part number of:
Which would mean: Footplate for a 100 post, size 200 x 110 x 10 thick, 2 holes which are 14 dia and the A on the end would represent the issue number (in case the standard needs changing).
This way of doing part numbers is not my idea- it is used by companies such as SMC to define part numbers.

I have tried to get my current employer to adopt such a system, but alas, my powers of persuasion are not strong. Seems like a no-brainer to me....