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Any utility to permit you to input various units at command prompt

edited March 2017 in 2D Drafting

Since I am based in the U.S. we work almost exclusively with English units in drawings. But, sometimes we need to incorporate imported equipment that only gives the dimensions in Metric units. Of course, I can manually convert to Metric. Another option is to draw the items on an new drawing, with the units defined as Metric.

My preference would be to have the option to specify the units at the command prompts. So, creating a circle, 1 meter radius would be;

  2Point/3Point/TanTanRad/Arc/Multiple/<Center of circle>:  0,0
  Diameter/<Radius>: 1m

Is there perhaps a utility that will permit me to enter units that my drawing is not set to use? I am not talking about just a special CIRCLE command, but for everywhere the user is able to type in a dimensional value. I also realize that such a utility cannot probably be a simple LISP routine, since it must have access to nearly every user input screen. So, perhaps there does have to be a compromise. In my case, I suspect Circle, Rectangle, Line, and Offset would be the main places I would use alternate units. So, perhaps re-defining just those command would be sufficient most of the time.

(Hopefully the formatting of the message will work. I spent over 5 minutes on my command line prompt formatting. It seems that the forward slash after the word Diameter on the command prompt is incorrectly interpreted)
-EDIT By formatting my command line prompts as code (with the required empty line before it) solves the formatting problem. It colored the keywords as code, but that does not interfere with its readability.


  • If you enter dimensions unitless, drawing units are used. If you add a unit, the entry is automatically converted to the drawing units.

  • edited March 2017

    In my case, the drawing does need to be set for Inches, and always is But, I occasionally need to add items for which I only have metric units given to me. So, I would prefer to be able to, for example, draw a 1 meter diameter circle as 1m diameter, rather than 39.37 diameter (inches units assumed).


  • edited March 2017

    Hi Joe,
    Please do the following: in the Settings dialog, go to Drawing / Drafting / Drawing Units / Length Units click the tree-dotted button at the right hand side of the field and check the length units you want to use. These options are saved in the registry and therefore apply to all drawings.

  • Maybe you could make an icon to toggle m/inch setting.

  • edited March 2017

    I tried this just now, and if you go through these steps, here is what happens;

    1. Start a drawing with units [INSUNITS] set to inches [#1],
    2. Draw a circle, 39.37" diameter. (almost exactly a meter)
    3. change INSUNITS to #6, Meters.
    4. Draw a circle with a diameter of 1. The new circle is much smaller than the 1st one, at 1 meter. [edit, perhaps I should say it this way, The new circle is now 1 meter, but is MUCH smaller than the 1st circle.]
    5. The original circle is 39.37 Meters in diameter.

    So, this process does not permit me to change units for just drawing one object, because all the other objects in the same drawing are now assumed to be in the new units.


  • Changing the value of INSUNITS has no effect on the entities in the drawing. As a matter of fact a DWG uses Drawing Units (DU), which are not specified. The user can decide what 1 DU is. As long as you do not insert external objects (blocks, xrefs, ...) there is no problem. However It is important to set INSUNITS to the intented unit, because this allows to correctly scale the drawing when it is inserted in another a drawing which uses a different unit (on condition INSUNITS in the other drawing is set correctly). The value of INSUNITS also allows to enter dimensions in a unit that is different from the DU. Please follow the instructions in my previous post to specify such alternative units. If your DU = inch and INSUNITS = 1, and you type 1m when prompted to enter a distance, the distance will be multiplied by 39.37.

  • Louis,
    I believe Joe is working on a V14 version; specifying (alternative) units as you describe, has only become available within the V16 life cycle...

  • Hi Joe
    Sorry for not asking what version you are working on ...

  • I see what you mean and it does not work like I thougth. Alternate units seems only to apply to dimensioning.
    I would use a drawing with INSUNIT set to inch and another one set to mm. create your stuff in the correct drawing and then bring it over.
    I dont think there is a way to draw a line in inch in a mm set drawing by typing that you mean inch.
    Correct me if im wrong.

  • If you are using V14, alternate units are not available. As you suggested an option might be to have two drawings open, one in inch and another in mm or m each with INSUNITS set accordingly. When you then copy entities from one drawing to another, the copies should be pasted correctly scaled.

  • edited March 2017

    I should have posted my version, especially since it is several releases old. I have already been using the approach of creating a new drawing, set to metric units. Then, drawing the object, finally copy/paste, or use it as a block to transfer it to the English unit version.

    Even if the Drawing Units solution did not work for me, I want to thank you all for your effort.


  • Same dilemma here.

    I don't care much about the internal units.
    If I set INSUNITS from Millimeter to Meter,
    (all Objects already existing in file would loose their scale btw)
    all new BIM inserts like Windows or Doors are marked scaled.
    I have often problems when I import DWGs again with scaled Blocks into my other Apps.

    What I want is to input values into dynamic dims when creating objects, in Meter (*).
    What I don't want is :
    - a need to either type in an additional unit term like "m" or "cm"
    - a need for additional zeros for Millimeter input.
    - loosing any precision or accuracy by INSUNTITS settings
    So I miss what is other wise called a "Working Units" option.

    Another problem is that the (preferred) NumBlock input in Germany has a comma,
    while Bricscad expects a point. On Mac, opposed to Windows, changing input language
    works globally and not separate for each App and faking language settings will also
    change other letters positions on the keyboard. Holding ALT is tedious too.
    So an optional variable to convert "Num+," input to "." in Bricscad would be nice.

    Beside renouncing of the NumBlock input completely, I would be fine with "cm" as
    "input" units, to avoid the need of point

  • @Michael Mayer:
    It seems you have misunderstood how these alternative units work. The INSUNITS setting should always match the intended drawing units so that BricsCAD can use this setting to determine correct conversion factors.

    For example:
    DU: mm
    INSUNITS: 4 (=mm)
    User input: '10cm' => 100 drawing units.

    Two alternative suggestions:

    1. There are USB Num Pads with both a '.' key and a '000' key.
    2. It may be possible to remap the ',' key in the Num Pad of your keyboard.
  • I think I have understood the INSUNITS.
    I just don't trust to set them to my liking.

    Setting these is nothing you can do on the fly like I can do everywhere else.
    Like switching from Meter to Centimeter temporary. Your geometry stays
    in internal Units.

    All BIM Tutorials are in Millimeter although this is the most tedious form of
    numerical input for common building dimensions.
    I am afraid I would loose a lot of accuracy if I go Meter and and draw my
    geometry in a fraction of 1/1000 (in internal Units)

    All referenced Blocks for BIM Plugin sources are in Millimeter.
    All metrical Template Files are delivered in Millimeter.
    So if INSUNITS set to Meter, all Blocks will be added in file scaled 0,001.
    In some Software I get problems with scaled Block when importing.

    So I fear that there are some reasons behind that i Bricscad everything
    is used to be in Millimeter.

    When doing numerical inputs, I'm not willing to neither input extra Units
    nor extra trailing Zeros.
    I don't really care about internal file units.
    I don't really care what the software does to insert Sources in correct scale.
    I do care that importing Software is able to recognize the geometry scale.

    And what I really want is something like
    "Custom Numerical User Input Units" just for all input fields, or better,
    when I had set PROPUNITS, Bricscad keeps these for inputs
    and does not switch to internal Units when I start typing.

    So if you say,
    it is totally normal that Blocks get inserted in different scales,
    everyone sets INSUNITS to its liking without to care,
    it will not harm ....
    I will set my INSUNITS to Meter and create my own Template Files.

    temporary solution to get a Point for NumBlock Comma on MAC is
    holding ALT (tedious).
    Changing Language or mapping the key is a workaround at best,
    with a price of lots of other quirks.
    (All my other Software, except Bricscad and Microstation works fine
    with comma decimal input)

  • @Michael Mayer:
    There are quite a few countries where ACE drawings are in mm. For your own templates you should look at what is the norm in your own country and not follow what BricsCAD offers here. Scaled block references are pretty normal.

  • Thanks Roy,
    I will create a custom template with suitable INSUNITS.

This discussion has been closed.
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