Options in the Tools drop down menu (shown below) are here. The options are:

 

Tools items

Distance

This command asks for a start point for a distance measurement and a second end point. The distance is reported both in the command area and on the screen at the cursor point. When a third point is added, the perimeter of the indicated area is calculated. Although it may appear during the operation that you are adding entities or selecting them, these do not form part of the design. 

Tip: We suggest that you set up your drawing toolbars such that the measure option is available at all times; it is a 'cannot do without' tool. Our favourite location for the icon for the distance command is on the left toolbar #2

 Distance The distance command is used here in a drawing constructed using Imperial units. The base drawing unit is decimal feet. 
 
Distance icon
 

Area

The area command has many uses. Like the distance command, when accurate measurements are required, it should be used in conjunction with osnaps

 Area calculation Here we show how to use the area command to work out the are in sq ft and volume of mulch required to cover a garden bed.

Area tool

Calculate mulching area

 Area Another movie showing that the Area command is most useful when calculating quantities in a metric gCADPlus drawing with meters as the base unit
 

Area mark​

As distinct from the Area command, this tool is used to write the actual value for an area calculation into the design. It saves typing the Area command and writing down the value and typing it into the design with the single line text command.

 Distance This movie shows the use of the MarkArea tool. 
 
 
Area mark

Activate the command either by typing areamark or selecting it from the Tools drop down menu. Select a closed entity such as a polyline, circle, rectangle or ellipse, indicate the units that you are using for the design, meters (M), millimeters (MM) or feet (ft) and the value will be placed where you indicate.

In order for flexibility, the value to be shown in square units, is placed with the MTEXT command. This allows superscripts for area notation to be used. If you are working with mm as your base unit, use the Properties box and edit the value - to convert from square mm to square meters, shift the decimal point by a factor of 6 (6 decimal places). Leave the special characters in place.

In the example below, an ellipse has been used to define a grassed area and the AreaMark command used to calculate the total of the grass required. Once labeled with the area value, the ellipse was removed.

AreaMark

Selection

The Tools drop down menu has several other menu options that aid entity selection. When an entity is selected, it is highlighted in the color magenta (unless you have selected a different highlighting color). The Esc key or right click and click Unselect all removes the selection.

Selection options

Select by current layer and select by polygon are useful options. Our "Isolate layer" command offers a variation on the selection technique. It turns off everything other than a nominated layer by by providing a dialog box for selecting the layer.

Isolate layer

Here is a link to some comprehensive information on selecting entities: http://plus.gardencad.net/?q=content/selection

Select by current l​ayer

A really useful option that selects every entity on the current layer. The figure below shows those entities on layer zero, leaving entities on other layers unselected.

Select by current layer

Tip: Select by polygon requires you to select the start point of the implied polygon.

draw order There are times when it is difficult to select the entity you want because one entity lies above another. gCADPlus allows the draw order to be altered and this makes selection and this movie shows how to do that. 

Draw order

gCAD+ provides a DRAWORDER tools to allow control over the stacking order of entities. One (entity) object can be set to lie under or above another if required. Options are: send to the back, bring to the front, and for more subtlety, send above or below an entity.

 draw order A movie that show how to control the stacking order of objects on a single layer..

draw order Another movie dealing with the DRAWORDER option.

draw order Here we show that incorrect draworder settings can spoil the presentation of a design. We alter the stack order of some concrete hatching to correctly display some parking pads.

 draw order For fine control over the 'layering' of entities, try the 'Send object above' and 'Send object below' options.

Send object above

 draw order Another movie dealing with the DRAWORDER tool.

Drafting Settings

A variety of precision tools are available in gCADPlus to help you produce quick, accurate drawings without performing tedious calculations. Although all your work is based on a coordinate system, you can establish settings that cause you to snap to locations on the screen, to specified locations on objects, or to points relative to other locations or objects.

Drafting settings can be reached via the Tools drop down menu, by right clicking in the drawing editor and choose Drafting Settings or by clicking on a toolbar icon. The three tabs available in the Drafting Settings command are shown below.

Grid Tracking Osnaps

Grid

The grid is a pattern of equidistant dots that extends over the drawing. Using the grid is similar to placing a sheet of grid paper under a transparent drawing. The grid serves two purposes; first, it helps you align objects and visualize the distances between them; and, second, the grid can be used as a snap device, or frame that entities may drape themselves on. The grid makes coordinate points "visible". gCADPlus allows you to set cursor snap to the grid nodes. The cursor will then move exactly from node to node as you move the mouse.

Grid settings

At any time you can turn the grid visibility on/off by pressing F7, or turn grid snapping on/off by pressing F9.

To use a grid, do one of the following:

  • Choose Tools> Drafting Settings.
  • Right click on the screen and select Drafting Aids and the Grid tab.
  • Select Grid from a toolbar.

The grid can be a useful aid when applying dimensioning.

F7 toggles the grid on and off

Polar Tracking

There are often occasions where designers require lines to be at 90 degrees (orthogonal) to one another. gCADPlus and has a 'drawing aid' called Polar Tracking, to assist in constructing such lines. The tracking option can be turned on and off with the F8 key allowing for quick access to the ORTHO mode. Alternatively, select the ORTHO option in the status line at the bottom of the screen.

Via the Options dialog box, it is also possible to track at different angles and adjust the step value that shows as the cross hair cursor is moved.
It is important to be aware of the status of the ORTHO setting as you are drawing.

Osnaps

Object snaps (entity snaps) can be used at any time the program asks you to nominate a point. Use an entity snap to locate the new entity accurately at a point on a properly defined geometric point on an existing entity. For example you might start a new line at the precise center of a circle and use an entity (object) snap to do that.

Used wisely, entity snaps can take all the hard work out of drafting. Certainly, one should avoid zooming in on points and placing the start (or center) of a new entity by eye - let the software work for you, not the other way around.

Putting it another way, entity snaps enable you to quickly select exact geometric points on existing entities without having to know the exact coordinates of those points. With entity snaps, you can select (say) the end point of a line or arc, the center point of a circle, the intersection of any two entities, or any other geometrically significant position whenever the software asks for a point location. The location does not even have to be an entity. You even use entity snaps to draw entities that are tangent or perpendicular to an existing entity.
You can work with entity snaps in one of two ways:

  • Enable a running entity snap that remains in effect until you turn it off by choosing an entity snap when no other command is active or,
  • Enable a one-time entity snap for a single selection by choosing an entity snap when another command is active. You can also use a one-time entity snap to override a running entity snap.

When using entity snaps, the program recognizes only visible entities or visible portions of entities. You cannot snap to entities on layers that have been turned off or to the blank portions of dashed lines.

When you specify one or more entity snaps, an entity snap target box is added to the cross-hairs. In addition, an icon appears adjacent to the cross-hair indicating the active entity snap. When you select an entity, the program snaps to the snap point closest to the center of the target box.

The following snap modes are available;
SnapCenter, SnapNear, SnapEnd, SnapMid, SnapNode, SnapQuick, SnapQuadrant, 

SnapTangent, SnapPerpendicular, SnapNear, SnapInsertionPoint, SnapPoint, SnapIntersection.

The flyover cursor can also operate and provide an appropriate marker when the geometric point has been found.

Tip: Do take some time to become comfortable with entity snaps settings and the various methods of using them; unless you have a sound understanding of their operation, they can be counterproductive.

Function keys

F3 toggles turns object snap on or off.
F8 toggles ORTHO on and off
F9 turns snap to the underlying electronic grid on and off
Background color​

gCADPlus allows complete control over the background color of both the model space and (layout) paper space environments.

We recommend leaving the model space background black (or a dark color) because it is kinder on the eyes and the layout background white. Then, when you switch from the model to a layout or paper view, it is immediately obvious which space you are in so there is no danger of inserting (say) a symbol in the wrong space.

Change bac​kground color

It is possible to change the colour of model space background, the colour of the cursor etc. The tool to do that is accessed from the Tools drop down menu>Drawing Parameters. Alternatively, use View > Background Color.

Change background color

BackgroundHere is a movie that illustrates how to change the background colour of model space and layout space.

Background colours

Drawing ​parameters

It is possible to change a large number of environmental variables that apply to individual drawings. The figure below shows the dialog box that pops up when the Drawing parameters option is chosen from the Tools menu.

Drawing variable 1

Drawing colors

The movie below shows how to change the background of model space from the default black to a white background.

Background Change the background colour of the model space drawing editor from the default (black) to white as shown in the image below.

Drawing Settings

Drawing description

It is a good idea to give each and every drawing a description. Simply choose the description field and type a description. Hit the enter key to embed the description.

description

User strings

GCADPlus uses String 0 to store the path and name of the plant data file that is associated with a particular drawing.

User string 0

Global parameters

Global variable affect the way in which your particular copy of gCADPlus behaves with each and every drawing, not just the current drawing. The dialog box that controls global variables is called up from the Tools drop down menu and is shown below.

Options

Background You have control over the manner in which gCADPlus behaves by changing settings under Global Parameters.

 Background A second movie in which changing settings under Global Parameters is discussed.

Selection mode

it is our view that the option "shift to add" should be turned off. We commonly want to select several entities at once and (say) move them to another layer. It can be frustrating to always remember to hold the shift key down while you do that. We prefer to hold the shift key down when we want to remove a selection from the selection set.

Shift to add

Enabling grips

It is our view that grips should be enabled. If they are, then any time you select an entity, the grips will show and the handle can be used to edit the entity. The figure below shows an example of what can happen when grips are not enabled. the end of an arc needs to be moved, but the grip is not visible. The user must use an osnap setting to find the end of the arc.

Grips not enabled

Make raster

This enables the whole or part of a drawing to be printed as a raster file. Several different formats are supported - BMP, jpeg etc. and by altering the resolution setting, you have control over the size of the image. The default setting will generate an image file some 4000 pixels wide.

Make raster We export a high resolution JPEG and PDF from a design in which transparency of symbols is used.

Make raster

Here is the resultant image as a jpeg. In this design, the upper canopy species have been deliberately left lightly drawn.

Raster export

A darker print can be created by changing the colour of the trees layer.

Plug-Ins

gCADPlus uses a number of external plug-ins to add functionality. Foremost among these is the dwg plug-in to give AutoCAD compatibility, but there are several others shown in the figure below.

Plug-ins

Several plug-ins allow for alteration of settings.

Plug-in settings

Tip: If you are having difficulty importing an AutoCAD drawing, try turning off the tick boxes shown in the dialog box below.

Plugin settings

Plant data​base

gCADPlus users can access their personal plant database tool (SppDb) while using gCADPlus via this option.

SppDb

Merge PDF​

The merge PDF tool enables the generation of a single PDF file that shows the client showing the main features of the design in a convenient way.

  Examine design This movie shows the use of the Merge PDF tool.

Merge PDF

Setout marker - setout points

It is a good idea to keep the needs of your landscape construction team uppermost when designing.

 Examine design   This movie shows how the point marker tool is used to input sets of markers for setout actions - a metric example.

Examine design  This movie shows the creation of a set of point markers to mark the edge of a new garden bed in an Imperial (USA) design.

Setout points

Isolate layers

Isolate layers  This handy tool 'pops up' a list of layers - simply select a layer to turn off all bar the layer selected.

Isolate layers

Using Entity (Object) Snap

Object snaps (entity snaps) can be used at any time gCADPlus asks you to nominate a point. Entity snap is used to accurately locate the new entity at a point on a properly defined geometric point on an existing entity. As an example, you might start a new line at the precise center of a circle. Using an entity or object snap enables this to be done. 

About entity snaps

Entity snaps enable you to quickly select exact geometric points on existing entities without having to know the exact coordinates of those points. With entity snaps, you can select (say) the end point of a line or arc, the center point of a circle, the intersection of any two entities, or any other geometrically significant position whenever the software asks for a point location. The location does not even have to be an entity. You can use entity snaps to draw entities that are tangent or perpendicular to an existing entity.

Alternative ways of working with osnaps

You can work with entity snaps in one of two ways

  • Enable a running entity snap that remains in effect until you turn it off by choosing an entity snap when no other command is active or,
  • Enable a one-time entity snap for a single selection by choosing an entity snap when another command is active. You can also use a one-time entity snap to override a running entity snap.

When using entity snaps, the program recognizes only visible entities or visible portions of entities. You cannot snap to entities on layers that have been turned off or to the blank portions of dashed lines.

When you specify one or more entity snaps, an entity snap target box is added to the cross-hairs. In addition, an icon appears adjacent to the cross-hair indicating the active entity snap. When you select an entity, the program snaps to the snap point closest to the center of the target box.

The following snap modes are available:

SnapCenter, SnapNear, SnapEnd, SnapMid, SnapNode, SnapQuick, SnapQuadrant, 

SnapTangent, SnapPerpendicular, SnapNear, SnapInsertionPoint, SnapPoint, SnapIntersection.

The flyover cursor can also operate and provide an appropriate marker when the geometric point has been found. Different markers are displayed for each type of entity snap.

Sustainability calculator

gCADPlus incorporates a custom tool for assessing your design in terms of sustainability. The tool is accessed via the Tools menu (Tools>Sustainability calculator) and poses a series of questions for you to consider about those aspects of the design that impinge on sustainability.

Sustainability calculator This movie provides a brief overview of how the calculator is used.

Sustainability calculator

Language switching

It is possible to change the base language used in gCADPlus using the Tools>Language sequence. A number of languages are available. Note that although the base CAD commands have been translated, the automated tools in the gCADPlus drop down menu are not yet translated.

Language switch

French language

We still have some work to do in the various dictionaries, especially in the gCADPlus drop down menu.

URL entity

Use this tool to enable text in a design to link to an external a URL web address. Typical use might be to link to a manufacture's web site for a piece of landscape hardscape that has been specified for a design.  Text in a title block in layout space might also link to the designer's web site. Note that only Windows text can link to a URL, CAD text cannot be linked.
 
Tip: When setting a URL, make sure that you include the http:// in the URL.

Tools