Cheat Sheet

AutoCAD 2009 & AutoCAD LT 2009 All-in-One For Dummies

AutoCAD 2009 is both powerful and complex. Whether you're working on 2D or 3D designs, you'll learn some common commands to make drawing more efficient and know where to turn for AutoCAD help. You'll also learn some differences between AutoCAD 2009 and AutoCAD LT 2009.

AutoCAD 2009 Commonly Used 2D and 3D Commands

AutoCAD 2009 gives you the drawing tools you need to create accurate 2D and 3D designs. Depending on the drawings you create, there are probably going to be some drawing commands you use the most, for example, LINE and ARC. Here's a list of some of the most common commands you'll use for creating drawings.

2D Command Purpose 3D Command Purpose
LINE Draws a line BOX Draws a 3D solid box
CIRCLE Draws a circle UNION Combines two or more 3D solids together
INSERT Inserts a block or drawing file 3DORBIT Rotates the camera of the current view around a drawing
ERASE Removes selected objects 3DMOVE Moves objects in 3D space
MOVE Moves objects 3DROTATE Rotates objects in 3D space
COPY Copies objects from one place to another CAMERA Creates a camera object in the model
ROTATE Rotates objects LIGHTS Adds user-defined lights
PAN Pans a drawing MATERIALS Displays the Materials palette
ZOOM Zooms in and out in a drawing RENDER Renders the current view of a drawing

Choosing AutoCAD 2009 or AutoCAD LT 2009

AutoCAD LT 2009 is a scaled-back version of AutoCAD 2009 targeted at companies that create only 2D drawings and can't (or don't want to) afford the higher price of AutoCAD. AutoCAD LT contains roughly 80 percent of the functionality of AutoCAD at about 20 percent of the price.

Deciding which version is right for you really depends on what you are doing: 2D drafting, 3D modeling, plotting drawings, or reviewing comments. Here are six questions that should help you to determine whether AutoCAD or AutoCAD LT would work best for you. This list doesn't provide all the possible questions that can help to determine which is best for you, but it should be enough to get you going in the right direction. Keep in mind that you have to consider what your current needs are and what your future needs might be:

  1. Are the drawings you create or work with 2D only?

    If so, you might think about using AutoCAD LT.

  2. Do some of the drawings that you create or work with contain 3D objects, or will you need to supply renderings to any of your clients?

    If so, you might think about using AutoCAD. AutoCAD LT doesn't support rendering or the creation of 3D objects. You might also want to consider using AutoCAD LT and Autodesk Viz if your 3D needs are centralized around presentations.

  3. Will you be doing nothing more than some light drafting, plotting, and reviewing of DWG files?

    If so, you might think about using AutoCAD LT unless you need to plot renderings. If you just need to plot 2D drawings or know someone in the office who does, you can download DWG TrueView 2009 from Autodesk for free.

  4. Do you need or want to run third-party applications to extend the functionality that comes with the program?

    If so, you need to use AutoCAD and not AutoCAD LT because AutoCAD LT doesn't support certain forms of customization and programming languages.

  5. Do you plan on working with a variety of clients and vendors?

    If so, consider using AutoCAD and not AutoCAD LT. AutoCAD offers a number of collaboration features that can make working with vendors and clients much easier. Some of the features that make collaborating with AutoCAD easier are CAD standards and sheet sets. If you choose to use AutoCAD LT, you can still work with vendors and clients, but you might have some additional hurdles that you will need to plan for. Vendors have a tough time working with the lowest common denominator, AutoCAD LT in this case, if you're missing out on productivity features.

  6. What is your budget for software?

    If you have a small budget and you do 2D only drawings, the best choice is AutoCAD LT. Another solution you might consider is to buy a single seat of AutoCAD and the other seats as AutoCAD LT if you are primarily doing 2D only drawings. This would allow you to at least see what those with AutoCAD created when you receive drawings or what they will see when you send drawings back. You can always upgrade to a full seat of AutoCAD later if you need to as well.

    If you have a medium or large budget, you might consider buying AutoCAD and using the license manager to allow you to buy fewer licenses than you have staff. You can then add new licenses later as needed. If your budget simply allows you to buy what you need, you could buy a license of AutoCAD for each user in your office and be done with it.

No matter whether you plan on using AutoCAD or AutoCAD LT, remember that you will be using the most popular CAD drafting package on the market and will be able to communicate by using the DWG file format. Using the DWG file format is important because almost all the products that Autodesk develops can either create or read a DWG file, and many other CAD-drafting packages on the market can at least read a DWG file, which makes DWG a popular exchange file format as well.

Reaching for AutoCAD Help

There will be times when you want to go to the source of all that is AutoCAD to find answers to your questions about using the program. Here are some ways of accessing AutoCAD's Help system:

  • At a blank command prompt, enter ?

  • From the Help menu, choose Help

  • Press the F1 function key at any time

  • From the command prompt, type HELP

Using built-in Help

Most of the time, AutoCAD's Help system is context sensitive. If you're in the LINE command and press F1 (or choose Help→Help), the Help system will launch and take you to information about the LINE command.

You can get context-sensitive help at the command line, too, by entering an apostrophe and then a question mark (that is, '?).

Tooltips

Tooltips are by far one of the most basic methods of getting help from a software program. AutoCAD is no different; tooltips are used throughout the user interface and provide information about a command button on a toolbar, an object in a drawing, or a control in a dialog box. To display a tooltip, you simply point the cursor at the command button on a toolbar or almost any other object and let the cursor hover over the object for a moment. After a brief period, a small box appears with text that explains what the object is or does in the case of a command button or control if it is clicked.

When a tooltip is displayed, and Press F1 for More Help is displayed in the tooltip; do as it asks and press F1 to find out more about the user interface element. The online Help system opens and displays a topic related to the object associated with the tooltip.

InfoCenter

InfoCenter replaces what was called the Info Palette and combines the functionality of the Communication Center in one place. The InfoCenter is located in the upper-right corner of AutoCAD on the title bar and allows you to search for information in the online Help system as well as get information from your favorite blogs or websites that post content in an RSS (Really Simple Syndication) file format. If you find a specific topic or entry of interest, you can flag it as a favorite, which allows you to easily go back to the topic at a later date.

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