Let me get this out of the way upfront, I LOVE GRIPS! I don’t think I would be able to function in AutoCAD if I lost my grips. Being able to point at a grip and see the length of a line. Grab a bunch of things, grab a grip, hit the spacebar and you’re moving them. THAT’S AWESOME!

So, what is my gripe with grips? Well, in 2011, AutoCAD introduced the “Dynamic Grip Menu”. The concept itself is great, I’m just not a fan of the implementation of it. There are a couple of problems as I see it. First, I don’t need something else that pops up in my drawing every time I stop moving my mouse. I use Civil 3D so it gets even worse. I grab an object, the Quick Properties is displayed. I select a point that has more than one possible object to select, the Selection Cycling pops up. I end up leaving my crosshairs sitting on top of an object, the Rollover Tooltips pop up. I leave my crosshairs nowhere near an object and the Civil 3D Tooltips pop up. It just seem that something is always popping up where I really don’t want or need any information.

Having all that stuff pop up is just kind of an annoyance and not really worthy of a blog post. The thing that I can’t stand about the new grip editing tools is that when your crosshairs are on a grip (don’t select it, just hover over it) a menu pops up. Now, you may be asking yourself, “What’s so horrible about that?” I’m a keyboard junkie. As I like to tell my students, if I could get rid of my mouse, I would. Using the keyboard to run AutoCAD is by far the most efficient way I know of. The problem is, when that menu is displayed, YOU CAN’T TYPE ANY COMMANDS AT THE COMMAND LINE!

I’s a menu just like any other menu. Bring up any menu you want in any program you have and type. Windows will try to find the command on the menu that corresponds to the key you just typed. I use this all the time to access my Object Snap Overrides (perhaps that would be a good blog post at some point).

Here’s a perfect example: I have a group of polylines that I want to erase. I use a crossing window to select them and when I finish selecting them, my crosshairs just happen to be right on top of one of the grips. Now, because I like to type commands, I’m going to type E to erase the polyline and then hit the space bar because, as we all know, the spacebar acts as an enter.

Grip Menu

Because the menu is being displayed, when I press the E key, Windows tries to find the menu entry that has a hotkey “E” assigned to it and, in this case, there isn’t one. Hitting the space bar just does nothing. So, now what use to be a very fast way of erasing objects is no longer a fast way to erase objects. If I had, instead, typed out the entire command ERASE, the E does nothing, but the R will activate the menu for removing a vertex. Trying to erase a polyline ends up only removing one vertex. Definitely not what I wanted to happen.

What to do? Personally I like to turn off the menu for the grips so that when I hover over a grip, I don’t get a menu. “But Brian! How do you add a vertex to a polyline then?” This is where the control key comes into play. When you select a grip that has multiple functions, simply press the control key and it will cycle you through all the options that are available for that grip.

In AutoCAD 2012, and even more so in Civil 3D 2012, there are more and more of these multi-function grips. Because of this, I would recommend that you run the software for a while until you get a good grasp on the grips that have this multi-function property and then turn off the grip menus.

Let me know what you think!