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Choosing an Editing Style in AutoCAD 2006

Editing objects is the flip side of creating them, and in AutoCAD 2006, you spend a lot of time editing — far more than drawing objects from scratch. That's partly because the design and drafting process is by its nature iterative, and because CAD programs make it easy to edit objects cleanly. When you edit objects in AutoCAD, you need to be just as concerned about specifying precise locations and distances as you are when you originally create the objects.

AutoCAD offers two main styles of editing:

  • Command-first editing
  • Selection-first editing

Within the selection-first editing style, you have an additional choice of editing that uses actual, named commands and direct manipulation of objects without named commands.

Command-first editing

With command-first editing, you enter a command and then click the objects on which the command works. This style of editing may seem backwards to you at first unless you're a longtime user of AutoCAD. Command-first editing works well for power users who are in a hurry and who are willing to memorize most of the commands they need to do their work. It's no surprise that command-first editing is the default style of editing in AutoCAD.

Selection-first editing

In selection-first editing, you perform the same steps — in the same order — as in most Windows applications: Select the object first, and then choose the command.

Selection-first editing tends to be easier to master and makes AutoCAD more approachable for new and occasional users.

Direct manipulation is a refinement of selection-first editing in which you perform common editing operations by using the mouse to grab the selected object and perform an action on it, such as moving all or part of it to a different place in the drawing. No named command is involved; the act of moving the mouse and clicking the mouse buttons in certain ways causes the editing changes to happen. AutoCAD supports direct manipulation through a powerful but somewhat complicated technique called grip editing. Grips are the little square handles that appear on an object when you select it. You can use the grips to stretch, move, copy, rotate, or otherwise edit the object. These grip-editing techniques can make selection-first editing almost as powerful as command-first editing.

Choosing an editing style

AutoCAD is fundamentally a command-first program. AutoCAD started out offering only command-first editing and later added selection-first methods; AutoCAD 2006 inherits this ancestral trait. Command-first editing has the following strengths:

  • It's the default AutoCAD editing style.
  • It works consistently with all editing commands — some editing commands remain command-first only.
  • It provides added object selection flexibility, which is useful when you work on complicated, busy drawings.

After you know how to do command-first editing, you can simply reverse the order of many editing operations to do them selection-first style instead. But if you don't get familiar with command-first editing in the beginning, you'll be completely bewildered by some very useful AutoCAD commands that work only in the command-first style, such as TRim and EXtend. (Commands such as these ignore any already selected objects and prompt you to select objects.)

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