By Alexander Martinez, an engineer and CAD software user
Today I got the news that the ZWCAD 2011 became available. There are many interesting features in this new version, including tables – one for which I have been waiting for years. I immediately contacted my local sales rep to ask for a copy so that I could take a look at this new function.
To my surprise, I was pleased to find out that the new table feature in ZWCAD 2011 really will help me save a lot of time. As an engineer, I have to produce detailed drawings together with documentation. In previous versions, I found it tedious and time-consuming to create tables. I had to draw a lot of horizontal and vertical lines to create the frame of the table and then insert text or mtext into each cell, one by one. Then, it was even more difficult to edit the table, such as merging two cells – something that was almost impossible to do with the older versions. For many years, it was a real pain for me.
Now with the new table feature, it is easy to create tables in ZWCAD. There are two ways to create table: you can either create a new empty table, or construct one from an existing Excel file. This is exciting news for me, because I prefer to use Excel to process large amounts of information in my drawings.
If the table is not very complex, I don’t use Excel to create the table. Instead, I use another way, which is to say, from an empty table. First, I customize the table style to my liking using the TABLESTYLE command. Here I can set almost any properties for the table that I like. For example, I can set table direction to be up or down. I can set different styles for the title, data, and header rows. For each one, I can set a series of properties, which I access easily through the three tabs shown in figure 3 below.
When I need to make big changes to tables, I am more likely to edit them in Excel. Here I find another command useful, TABLEEXPORT. With this command, ZWCAD converts the table in the drawing to an Excel file. I edit the data in the spreadsheet, and when I have finished the modifications, I import the Excel XLS file back into my drawing with the TABLE command.
Of course, sometimes I need to make modifications to the table, such as editing text cells. It is easy for me to accomplish this in ZWCAD 2011 through the new Table editing toolbar. It provides me with many operations fundamental to tables, such as adding and removing rows and columns, merging cells, and formatting text.
Here are a couple of tips you might find useful when working with tables in ZWCAD 2011:
Tip 1: In figure 4 above, you can see that when a table cell is being edited, it highlights the row number (1) and the column letter (B). If you don’t like the highlighting, you can turn it off by setting system variable TABLEINDICATOR to off.
Tip 2: After I create a table, I sometimes need to adjust the height between rows or width between columns. What I do is just drag the grip (shown as a blue square in figure 5) around the selected cell . Try it yourself, it is fun!
I was very excited to try out on the new table feature in ZWCAD 2011, and now I cannot wait to upgrade my software. I did find, however, that a few functions are not supported for now, such as Insert Formula, but that’s OK; nothing is perfect at the beginning. I am confident that ZWCAD will be improved step by step, and will surprise us pleasantly in subsequent releases.