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BricsCAD Journey – Part 4: Exploring the Interface

During this stop on our BricsCAD journey, we’ll explore the user interface. The appearance of the BricsCAD application window varies slightly depending which profile you selected. The main user interface elements, however, apply across profiles even if the tools differ. And, if you’re coming from AutoCAD, like me, the interface should look comfortingly familiar.

User Interface Elements

I won’t cover all the user interface elements. Instead I’ll focus on the differences that are most noticeable to me as a former AutoCAD user.

Menus, toolbars, and the ribbon

Many CAD users want nothing to do with the ribbon because it can take up significant drawing space. They prefer, instead, to access their tools from the command line or from menus and toolbars. Others, like myself, are willing to give up screen space in exchange for easy access to relevant tools on the ribbon.

User Interface Ribbon

Command line

If you’re a veteran- or power-user, you likely rely heavily on the Command line. In fact, you may prefer it over menus, toolbars, and the ribbon. You’ll notice the Command line is docked at the bottom of the display by default. If you prefer, you can drag and dock it at the top or sides. And, of course, you can drag it to the drawing area or even another monitor as a floating palette.

As a former AutoCAD user, you may notice the Command line doesn’t have clickable options. Instead, BricsCAD automatically displays all the Command line options in an easy-to-access list displayed in the upper right corner of the drawing area. No need to right-click! If you prefer the option list in another location, you can drag it, even to another monitor, while you’re in the command.

A right-click menu enables you to control the behavior of the Command line.

User Interface Command line

Dockable Panels (aka Palettes)

You may not think of the Command line as a dockable panel (palette), but it is. Other dockable panels include Properties, Sheet Sets and, of course, Tool Palettes. Dockable panels are special because they can be docked or floating and easily resized. And, unlike dialog boxes, they can remain open while you’re using other commands. In BricsCAD, dockable panels have another special power that may surprise most AutoCAD users. They can be combined to create  tabbed panels! Simply open your favorite dockable panels and then drag one panel to the center of another one. When the blue box appears, let it drop.

User Interface Palettes

Voila! Multiple panels, stacked on top of each other, consuming minimal space!

 User InterfaceStacked Palettes

If you’re ambitious, or maybe crazy, you can stack all the dockable panels!

User Interface Multiple Palette Tabs

Lookfrom

The name, LookFrom, might not be familiar to you former AutoCAD users, but the functionality probably is. It’s the navigation control in the upper right corner of the drawing window that lets you look at your model from different sides. Pass your cursor over the LookFrom tool and select the side from which you want to view your model. A right-click menu offers relevant controls.

User Interface LookFrom tool

Layouts

I promised to point out the “most noticeable” differences as I travel through the land of BricsCAD. In general, drawing layouts look and act as you may expect coming from AutoCAD. I did, however, notice this little icon next to the Model tab. While this is barely noticeable, it’s certainly worth a mention!

User Interface Layout Manager Icon

Selecting that icon opens the Layout Manager where you can view, add, copy, remove, and reorder layouts in a single location! Easily select and manage multiple layouts. And, you can even search for character strings to easily find relevant layouts. A handy tool for working on drawings with many layouts!

User Interface Layout Manager

Customizing the user interface

To assist you in making a transition from AutoCAD to BricsCAD, I’ll share a few basic steps for modifying the BricsCAD interface.

You can easily create your own custom workspace in BricsCAD to meet your needs. If you use the default AutoCAD 2D workspace, for example, follow these steps to create a similar environment.

  1. At the Command line, launch the WORKSPACE command, enter SA for the Save As option and then enter a name for your new workspace. I named mine Heidi’s UI.
    The new workspace is now active as indicated on the status bar at the bottom of the display and the toolbar at the top of the display. It’s simply a copy of the original workspace but we’ll change that!
    User Interface Creating a new workspace
  2. Right-click on a toolbar or dockable panel to access visibility controls for UI elements. To make your BricsCAD interface look more like default AutoCAD, turn off Properties and the Menu Bar. And, turn on the Ribbon. In the BRICSCAD flyout, you can turn on/off individual toolbars. Or you can close them individually from the toolbars themselves. If you want to close all of them at once, as I do, there’s an easier way.
    User Interface Displaying UI Elements
  3. Launch the TOOLBAR command at the command line and enter A for All. Then enter H to Hide all of them.
  4. Drag the Command line to make it float on the drawing area and resize it to take up less space.
    User Interface Simple UI with ribbon

Even if your optimal workspace is different from the example I shared, you can use a similar process to create an environment that’s just right for you. In a future post, I’ll show you why you may not need to! It’s called “the Quad” and it’s very Cool! Maybe we should rename it “the Qool”!?!

What’s Next?

I hope you enjoyed this brief exploration of the BricsCAD User Interface. If you missed the first few stops on my BricsCAD Journey, you can find them here!

Join me at the next stop on my journey as we explore new methods for accessing commands.

Want to read more?

Here is an overview of all the articles of Heidi’s journey:

1) First impressions
2) Download and install
3) Welcome to BricsCAD
4) Exploring the interface (Current article)
5) Command access
6) Exploring trial levels
7) Exploring each workspace

Heidi Hewett

As User Success Manager, Heidi brings her passion for learning to Bricsys, where she will work to help our customers understand the fastest path to success with BricsCAD products. During her 26-year tenure at Autodesk, Heidi worked as a Training Specialist, a Senior Applications Engineer and as a Technical Marketing Manager.

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