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Thread: Choose a default color for the grid (and use Custom Tools for other formatting magic)

  1. #1
    Sketchpad Developer
    Join Date
    Oct 2010

    Choose a default color for the grid (and use Custom Tools for other formatting magic)

    A user had a question today: his printer prints very lightly, and the light gray grid lines are hard to see on his students' printouts.

    The answer is interesting, and very easy to use once you've set it up. So I thought I'd describe it here.

    Though there's no setting for grids in Sketchpad's Preferences, there is a fairly convenient workaround: Use a custom tool to make a coordinate system with the grid color you want.

    First, here's the one-time tool creation:
    1. Create a coordinate system and change the grid color to exactly the way you want it.
    2. Select the origin, axes, unit point, and grid.
    3. Press the Custom Tools icon and choose Create New Tool. Name the tool Dark Grid, or use another name of your choice.
    4. Save the sketch in your Tool Folder, giving it a name that makes sense to you. (I like "Custom Formats" myself.)

    Don't have a Tool Folder? Go to Help | Reference Center and find "Tool Folder" in the index, or go to Help | Using Sketchpad and find the Sketchpad Tip that describes how to create and use your Tool Folder.

    You only have to do the tool creation (steps 1 - 4) one time. Now that you have made your tool and put it in the Tool Folder, it will always be available to you.

    Here's what to do to use your new tool:
    1. Press (and hold if necessary) the Custom Tool icon and choose the tool you created.
    2. Click in your sketch to determine the origin point.

    Don't forget to change back to the Arrow tool; you don't want to click several times by mistake and find yourself with six coordinate systems by accident!

    This description works for coordinate systems defined by an origin and one or two unit points. If you sometimes want a coordinate system based on a unit distance and sometimes based on a unit circle, you'll have to make a custom tool for each of these constructions also.

    Finally, I promised magic. I lied, it's not magic, but it's still pretty cool.

    You can make similar custom tools for many other objects. For instance, maybe you like to use thin dashed blue lines in a particular way in your constructions, and you want to do it all without having to bother setting the line style correctly every time you make one of these. Open the "Custom Formats" sketch (or whatever name you used for it in step 4 above), construct one such line, select the line and its two parental points, create a new custom tool, and name it "Thin Dashed Blue Line." Save your sketch.

    Now every time you start Sketchpad you'll have both of these tools in your list of custom tools: Dark Grid and Thin Dashed Blue Line.

    As with the grid tool, if you want to be able to construct thin dashed blue lines either as lines through two points or as perpendicular lines, you'll need two tools, one for each particular construction method.

    Final tip: Sketchpad checks the Tool Folder at two different times: (a) when you launch Sketchpad, and (b) when you choose a Tool Folder. If you think you've saved a tool into the Tool Folder but it's not available from the Custom Tool icon, try restarting Sketchpad.
    Last edited by Stek; 12-04-2012 at 06:28 PM.

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