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Splines to Plines and Back to Basics
March 24, 2005

The CAD Times

An AutoCAD Newsletter for CAD Users

The CAD Times brings you the latest AutoCAD tips, tricks and articles that can help you become a more efficient CAD user.

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AutoCAD 2006 - 20th Release

Well it’s official.

Autodesk announced on March 15, 2005, that AutoCAD 2006 ®, the 20th release of it’s global design software, is now available.

In addition, the new AutoCAD LT ® is also available.

Some of our favorite new features include... Please click here to read the full AutoCAD 2006 ® new features article.

This month's tips!

Splines to Polylines

I recently had the need to convert splines to polylines. I wanted to create closed polylines within the boundaries of the splines.

My attempt to create closed polylines, using the boundary command, only resulted in the creation of regions ... which was of no use to me.

After scratching my head for a while, I scoured the net and some CAD forums to find an answer. What I found was third party software to convert splines to polylines.

"Come on!", I thought to myself, "There must be a way to do this in AutoCAD".

So on the phone I went to talk with an old co-worker of mine that I periodically exchange CAD problems/solutions with.

"DXFOUT it to release 12", my old pal said, "Then DXFIN the file and those splines should be converted to polylines".

"Great!", I shouted as I thanked him, and off I went to DXF land.

And you know what? It did work... BUT, what I got was a BAZILLION polylines! That didn't help create closed polylines using the boundary command too much.

So I traced the splines as best as I could for the next 3 hours or so, and was finally able to create closed polylines using the boundary command.

My point? Time is money.

One hour surfing the net, phone time, plus 3 hours of tracing: X my hourly rate of $400/hr (he he, just kidding, that would be nice though ;) = do I consider buying some 3rd party software help?

If that project had been big enough to justify a third-party purchase I would have made the leap, but it didn't.

I learned a good lesson though -- every now and then you need to bite the bullet and take the leap; whether it's 3rd party software or farming out for some programming help. Sometimes it's not worth the time and money to try to do it all yourself.

Back to Basics

Some Useful System Variables

Mirroring Text

You’ve drawn the left side of a symmetrical object complete with annotation and dimensions.

Now you would like to mirror the left onto the right and include the text.

Problem is – the text now looks backwards (you know, as it would look in a MIRROR ;)

Solution: Use the MIRRTEXT system variable to flip the text for proper reading.

Settings: Set to 0 for normal viewing, OR, set to 1 for reverse viewing.

Setting Your Middle Mouse Button to Use the OSNAP Menu

Some people like using their middle mouse button for panning (default setting) and others prefer to use the button to access the OSNAP pop-up menu.

Settings: Set to 0 to access OSNAPS (OSNAP menu is the default defined in the ACAD.MNU file), OR, set to 1 to enable panning.

Tip! You can also access the OSNAP menu when MBUTTONPAN is set to 1 by doing a SHIFT+RIGHT CLICK.

Some Useful Commands


Have you ever opened up a drawing and zoomed extents, only to receive an AutoCAD Alert: “About to regen – proceed?”

Well, the REGENAUTO command was previously set to OFF; probably in order to minimize timely regens.

Chances are, the last user of the drawing either had a slow computer or the file size is pretty big.

Nevertheless, to get rid of the reoccurring AutoCAD Alert, simply turn REGENAUTO ON.

Settings: ON for automatic regens, OR, set to OFF to be prompted for regens.


Are the spaces between the dashes in your hidden linetypes too big or too small to suit your drawing? Use the LTSCALE command to modify the global linetype scale of the entities in your drawing.

Command: LTSCALE
Settings: Enter a positive number and adjust accordingly.

The PSLTSCALE command is used to control the linetype scale with paper space.

Settings: Set to 0 to utilize the model space linetype scale, OR, set to 1 to use the scale factor of the viewport.

Until next month :)

We hope you found this months newsletter helpful!

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