Moving Objects an Exact Distance

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Moving objects with the mouse can sometimes give imprecise results. Here are some methods of moving objects that are fast and accurate.

Before we begin I want to point out that when entering dimensions in SoftPlan you can either use " or the plus(+) key for inches and ' or the minus(-) key for feet. So for instance to enter 6'-4" you could either type in 6'4" or 6-4+. Using the + and - keys to represent inches and feet saves from having to take your hand away from the numeric keypad when entering dimensions.

Type in the Distance on the Keyboard:

You can move objects by typing in the distance and direction using your keyboard.

 

  1. Select the Move command

  2. Left Click on the object you want to move

  3. Type in the distance you want to move it

  4. Use the Left, Right, Up, and Down arrow keys to indicate the direction you want to move the object

  5. Use the Home key on the keyboard to end the Move

Using the Home key prevents you from accidentally moving the object when you are terminating the move. If you were to left click to end the move it is very easy to accidentally move the object away from where you wanted it.

Use the Keyboard Arrow Keys:

You can move objects using the Left, Right, Up, and Down arrow keys. Each press of the arrow key will move the object 1/8" in the direction of the arrow.

 

  1. Select the Move command

  2. Left Click the object you want to move.

  3. Use the arrow keys to move the object. You can hold down the arrow key to move the object until you release the key. The display at the top of the screen shows how far you have moved the object.

  4. Use the Home key on the keyboard to end the Move

You can only move the object horizontally and vertically if cursor lock is activated. You can move the object in one direction and then repeat the process to move it in another direction.

If you unlock the cursor lock, using the F12 key, you can move both horizontally and vertically in the same operation. But be aware that if you move the object both horizontally and vertically in the same operation then the distance display at the top will be measuring a diagonal distance between where the object originally was and where it has moved to.

Use the Between command:

Image of Between

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I use the Between command all the time. It allows you to set the distance between two parallel objects without having to draw dimension lines. This can be useful in cases where you want to define the distance between objects but don't want to draw a dimension, edit the dimension, then delete the dimension.

In fact, Between works very much like dimensions. To activate the Between command either use the Keyboard Shortcut 'B' or on the Dimension Tab select 'Set Distance Between'. You then select two parallel objects. A dialog box pops up and a temporary dimension is drawn between the objects. The dialog box displays the current distance and you enter the new distance in the 'New' box. In the right side of the dialog box will be arrows you can select to define how the objects will be moved to achieve the desired distance. If the objects are oriented vertically, or at an angle up to 45 degrees, you will see left and right arrows. If the objects are oriented beyond 45 degrees, for example horizontally, then you will see up and down arrows.

After you enter in your new distance you then select the appropriate arrow to define which object is to move. So if you select the left pointing arrow then the object on the left will move and the other will remain where it is. If you select the right arrow then the right object moves. The same principal applies when you see the up and down arrows.

In between the arrows you will see a double arrow. If you select the double arrow then both objects will move the same distance. For example if you have two objects 2' apart and you enter a new distance of 3' and you select the double arrow each object will move 6", half the distance between the original 2' and the new 3'.

The between command is especially useful in cases where you want to define the distance between two objects but there are other objects between them that would get picked up if you were to draw a dimension line.

Use Dimensions:

Dimensions can be used not only to tell you how far objects are apart from each other but also to define that distance. To move an object using a dimension follow these steps:

  1. Draw a dimension between the two objects.

  2. Edit the dimension.

  3. Use the arrow keys on your computer to define which object is the one that moves to achieve the desired distance. For instance if you want the object on the left to be the one that moves then you would edit the dimension then press the left keyboard button or the left arrow in the dialog box. As with the Between command you can also use the double arrow in the dialog box to move both objects half the distance.

Another method of adjusting dimensions is to double click on a portion of the dimension, type in the desired distance, and then hit Enter twice. Where you double click on the dimension determines how the dimension is applied. If you double click on the dimension number then both objects will move half the distance. If you double click on the dimension line to one side of the dimension number the object on that side of the dimension number is the one that will move.

Note that Temporary Dimensions were introduced in V2012...

Use Temporary Dimensions:

To use Temporary Dimensions you have to have Temporary Dimensions turned on in your system options. The setting can be found at File-->System Options-->System Options-->Setup Options-->Display Temporary Dimensions. Temporary dimensions are automatically drawn between objects when you move an object with the mouse or the keyboard arrow keys. Move an object with the mouse then left click to set the move. As you are moving the object you will see dimensions that are automatically drawn between the moved object and other objects around it. After you set the object you can edit the Temporary Dimension just as you can with a normal dimension. Temporary Dimensions are only visible until you execute another action and then they disappear. Note that Temporary Dimensions were introduced in V2012 and are not available in earlier versions.

Bill is the owner and maintainer of SoftPlanTuts.com

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