There was a time when I thought I could run circles around anyone’s AutoCAD knowledge. Little did I know that I knew a very limited scope of AutoCAD; only what I needed to know. AutoCAD functionality in recent years has had incremental changes, most small changes but many impact workflows for the better. Today’s discussion is around AutoCAD Viewports. You think you know them. Do you really? I bet you know exactly how to use them in a very specific way. What if I told you that 100 step process can be reduced to 2 steps?

This “new” workflow was introduced back with the 2018.1 release of AutoCAD (August 2017). This update included various improvements including support for 4k monitors. Yes, this is a workflow that is six years old. First, let’s document the process using the existing workflow.

  1. Switch to Layout tab in drawing
  2. Create viewport at appropriate size for intended model space contents
  3. activate viewport
  4. pan and zoom inside viewport as needed to display required model space content
  5. set the scale factor for the viewport
  6. lock the viewport
  7. deactivate the viewport

There is nothing there that is difficult or hard to master. But it can be time-consuming. Some firms would create an XREF drawing with nothing more than the frames of these various views. That way, you could standardize for a project what area of the modelspace was page1, page2, etc. Some folks would create LSP routines or even Macros to repeat the process across various drawing types that would represent that same area (floor plans, mechanical plans, etc). In other words, we would create efficiencies where the software may have been inefficient.

Let’s take a look at the new workflow now that we have some context.

  1. Stay in Model tab in drawing
    • create a named view
      • Define a window of model space
      • Give it a name
  2. Switch to Layout tab in drawing
    • insert named view
      • right click to change scale before clicking to place view

If reading the above two lists is a bit unclear, I’ve done a short video demonstrating the two workflows.

Old Viewport Workflow:

New Viewport Workflow:

As you can see, the two lists are similar but different. The results are the same; a locked viewport showing the required content at the appropriate scale. However, getting from point A to B is much quicker. In fact, if you take the XREF frame idea, we can now standardize the named views as well across drawing types. I hope this helps!