AutoCAD has always had several ways to insert a block into a drawing including:
- Typed “Insert” command
- “Insert” command on the Ribbon
- Tool Palette configured with blocks
- Copy and Paste
- Design Center (which was the main method of using blocks from other drawings).
AutoCAD 2020 has added another method with the new Blocks Palette. The command is found on the View Tab > Palettes Panel.
The Blocks Palette is a typical AutoCAD palette and uses the same controls as all other tool palettes with the ability to auto-hide, dock to either the left or right of the design screen and be set to a transparent state. The significant difference is the Blocks Palette brings together many of the above listed methods for placing a block into a single, comprehensive palette.
The first thing you notice about the palette layout is the three tabs representing the accessibility of various blocks, Current Drawing, Recent (used) and Other Drawing.
The “Current Drawing” tab, obviously, lists the blocks found in the current drawing. The “Recent” tab will list the blocks which you have recently used. Control the number of blocks in this list by setting the “BLOCKMRULIST” system variable. This variable is in the Windows registry and can be set from 1 to 100 (the default value is set to 50). You can manually remove blocks from this list one by one. The Other Drawing tab will list the blocks in any drawing you select using the file selection dialog, which is mentioned later.
The familiar Insertion Options are at the bottom of the palette and minimized if desired. One new choice has been added; “Repeat Placement” allows you to insert multiple occurrences of the selected block at one time. The “Insertion Point” choice is always selected when you start AutoCAD, other options are remembered only during an AutoCAD session.
A block filter is provided at the top of the palette which can be used to sort the block list(s). The traditional Windows “*” and “?” specification keys can be use in the filter string. A drop-down list of used filters is available, but it is reset once the AutoCAD session is ended.
The three dots (red arrow) are used to open a file dialog box which is used to select the drawing of blocks displayed on the “Other Drawing” tab. The block view mode selection drop-down list is located in the top right corner of the palette.
Information about a block is presented by hovering your cursor over the block. This information is available in any view mode however, if the view mode is in any view mode except “small icon” and “list”, some of the information will be displayed graphically. The information available can be seen in the screen capture below.
The two methods of placing a block from the palette are the same as before. If you left click and drag a block from the palette to your drawing, all insertion options are ignored. If you left click and let go, the configured options and the command line options are respected. Additional placement options are available if you right click on a block entry. These options vary depending on which Block Palette tab is active. The screen capture below is with the Recent tab selected.
A couple of changes have been made to the AutoCAD 2020 Ribbon block Insert command. The two commands, at the bottom of the block insert preview box, if selected, will automatically open the Blocks Palette. The small icon, indicated by the red arrow, can be used to size this preview box.
In AutoCAD 2019, the select “More Options” would have opened the classic Insert Block dialog box and has been eliminated. This classic Insert Block dialog box is still available in AutoCAD 2020 by typing the command “CLASSICINSERT” at the command prompt.
When using the Other Drawing tab, you will notice the first block is noted by an “*” and is the complete drawing selected for block display. Placing this block is similar to using the Wblock command to create a block of an entire drawing, then placing it into another drawing as a block.
Blocks are an important and integral part of AutoCAD and now you have just one more fantastic way of finding, sorting and inserting them into your drawings.