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    By Martin Phelps

    One of the most overlooked and under used commands in AutoCAD is probably “Design Center”. “Design Center” can save time since it give the user the ability to reuse existing content instead of recreating.

    Design Center can be accessed by pressing the key combination of “CRTL+2”, typing “ADCENTER” or selecting the “Design Center” icon in the “View” tab of the ribbon menu, as shown in Figure 1.


    Figure 1.

    The “Design Center” dialogue is shown in Figure 2.


    Figure 2.

    Design Center is divided into two basic areas, the navigator panel on the left allowing access to all folder locations that the user has the permissions to access, and the “Display Content” area on the right.

    Existing content such as “Dimstyles”, “Layers”, “Layouts”, “Multileaderstyles” and “Textstyles” are some of the object categories that can easily be imported from file to file, allowing standardisation of drawings.

    Drawing files are indicated with a yellow and blue icon located to the left of the file name, with a “Plus” icon just to the left of the drawing icon, this shows that the file can be expanded to show the categories with in the file, shown in Figure 3.


    Figure 3.

    The components of these categories are shown in the “Display Content” area once the category has been selected. Content including “Blocks” and “Dimension Styles” can then dragged and dropped from drawing to drawing.

    However were “Design Center” can be most useful, is in the creation of “Pallets” containing “Blocks”. By selecting the “Block” category, then right click to display the menu, from this menu select “Create Tool Pallet”. As shown in Figure 4.


    Figure 4.

    A “Tool Pallet” is now created containing all the “Blocks” that existed in the selected drawing file. As shown in Figure 5.


    Figure 5.


    Pallet creation using this method may take a few moments depending on the number of “Blocks” in the original file. Once created the “Tool Pallets” are automatically displayed. The pallet is automatically give the same name as the drawing file it was created from, in this case “Fasters Metric”.

    “Blocks” from the created pallet may then be dragged and dropped into any open file.

    Numerous pallets could be created using this process, one for each type of component for example.

    This may be improved.

    So instead of creating a “Pallet” from each drawing file. Move to the folder containing all of the files which in turn contains all the “Blocks”, and right mouse click to display the menu, and select “Create Tool Pallet of Blocks”.as shown in Figure 6.


    Figure 6.



    Again a “Pallet” is created, but this time instead of containing induvial blocks, each file is added to the “Pallet” as a “Block”, as shown in Figure 7.


    Figure 7.


    This method creates a block of the entire drawing, containing all the separate blocks which were original produced in that drawing, so a block of nested blocks is dragged into the current drawing, which then may require exploding to get to the separate blocks.


    This method although very useful and will reduce the number of created “Pallets” but will require the regular use of the “Purge” command to reduce the number of “Blocks” in the current drawing and therefore reducing the file size.

    These blocks like most “Blocks,” added to the “Pallet” can be set to be “Exploded” when dragging in to another drawing. This can be done by right mouse clicking on the “Block” and from the displayed menu selecting “Properties”, as shown on Figure 8.


    Figure 8.

    From the “Properties” dialogue box set the “Explode” option to “Yes”, as shown in Figure 9.


    Figure 9.