Tool Palettes Improve Your Drawing Efficiency


The new ZWCAD 2009 is an upgrade based on ZWCAD 2008i that has made great strides in a variety of areas. One of the most exciting is the brand new function called the Tool palettes.

Tool palettes contain tabs with content, such as predrawn shapes (blocks) and commands. The palettes offer an efficient way for organizing, sharing, and placing blocks, and using other tools.
ZWCAD 2009 comes with four palettes, and you can make your own. The defaults are the Modeling palette (illustrated below) , the Modify palette, the Draw palette, and the Command Tool Samples palette. 
The Tool palettes let  you draw boxes, spheres, and other objects by simply dragging their icons from the palettes into the drawing.

What I find most delightful, however, is that I can customize the tools on the palettes. There are two ways to do this. One is to copy (or cut) an existing tool from one palette, and then paste it to another. The other method is to drag blocks from Design Center onto a palette.

Tutorial: Adding Blocks From the Design Center
Let's take interior plans as an example. The doors, jambs, sinks, and other details are used frequently for interior designs. You could draw them with tools on the Commands palette, like Line and Hatch. But you save a lot of time by using blocks, and by using Design Center to create a library of frequently used blocks.
Let's walk through the following steps:
1. Use ZWCAD 2009 to start a new drawing, and then create door, jamb, and sink entities as blocks.
2. Save the drawing as “ Interior.dwg” for this tutorial.
3. Start Design Center, and then open the “Interior.dwg” drawing in the Folders tab.
4. In the tree under Interior.dwg, click Block. Notice the blocks icons, which can be dragged into the drawing.
5. Instead, drag them onto the Tool palette. 

6. The new palette can be used to quickly draw a toilet room with two doors, a sink, and other details. Notice that ZWCAD 2009 prompts you for the “insertion point”, “X & Y scale factor” and “Rotation angle” of these new tools (blocks). 
Another example is the many trees and bushes that are found in landscape designs. Create a variety of trees as blocks. Drag the blocks from Design Center onto the Tool palette, and then use these tools to create a park, such as the one illustrated below. 
Another approach is to drag objects from drawings onto Tool palettes. You then use the new tools to create objects that have the same properties as the object you dragged onto the  palette, such as color and linetype.


Tutorial: Rearranging Tools and Tool Palettes
Once tools are placed on the Tool palette, you can rearrange them by dragging them around and by sorting them. You can add text and separator lines between tools on palettes.

You can move palette tabs up and down the list of tabs (through the right-click shortcut menu). And you can delete tools and palettes you no longer need.


Q: What’s difference between Design Center and Tool palettes? I can just as easily drag blocks from Design Center into the drawing.

A: Yes, Design Center is similar to the Tool palettes, because you can double-click blocks on the Design Center, and then drag into the drawing. But here is the difference: when you close ZWCAD 2009 and then launch it again, the Tools palette immediately displays the blocks you stored on them; you save the step of searching for drawings in Design Center to find the blocks again.

Tool palettes are powerful tool in ZWCAD 2009, and when combined with Design Center, your drawing efficiency increases. This is another example of how ZWCAD advances and becomes better for you.

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