Prompts and Numeric Input

At the top left of the screen are the Action and Input palettes. They are designed to guide the user though the execution of a tool by giving short instructions of what to do next, presenting essential options, giving numeric feedback, and allowing the user to type numeric input values in place of graphic input through the mouse.


Action Palette

The Action palette shows the active tool’s icon on its left side. Next to it, at the top of the text area is the title of the tool followed by a brief description of what the tool does. For example:

Reshape: Reshapes an object by moving faces.

Below this description are instructions for what happens next. Depending on what state the execution of the tool is in the instructions may change. All tools require mouse clicks for their execution. Therefore the first instruction below the title is “Click” followed by a description of what happens with the next mouse click in the project window. For example, for the Reshape tool:

Click: Select planar (flat) face to reshape.

Additional instructions may be presented below the click instruction. Those are usually options that can be used by holding down the shift, control, or command key while clicking. Again, for the Reshape tool this is:

Shift + Click: Select multiple entities.

If all of the options do not fit in the palette, the text at the bottom of the palette will parade through all of the options available. The small dots under the active tool indicate how many “pages” of information there are.


Once a tool is executing and an interactive operation is performed, the instructions may change. For example, with the Reshape tool, after the face is picked, the extrusion of the face is dynamically updated between the first and second mouse clicks. During that time, the click has a new meaning and new options apply. Those are now shown in the palette:

Click: New face location.

Tap Shift: Toggles Keep Edges option.

Tap Command: Toggles Perpendicular option.

Note, that “Tap” means hitting and quickly releasing the key, not pressing the key and holding it down. In contrast, “Shift + Click” means holding the key down while clicking.


Input palette

The Input palette contains two areas with numeric input fields. The first area, on the left, shows the x, y, and z values of the cursor position as it is mapped from the screen onto the current reference plane or to a snapped point. The x, y, and z values may be read out in four different ways, which is determined by the menu to the right of the three fields:

3D: x, y, and z are shown as absolute values in the 3D world space. That is, they are shown relative to the origin of the world coordinate system.

3D Delta: This option is only available if a point has been clicked during drawing. The x, y, and z values are shown as values relative to the previously clicked point and are expressed as 3D world coordinates. This allows the user to see, for example, how far from the last point a line was drawn.


Plane: x, y, and z are shown as values relative to the coordinate system of the currently active reference plane. This plane may be the XY plane, the YZ, or ZX orthogonal plane or an arbitrarily oriented custom plane. The X axis is displayed in red, the Y axis in green, and the Z axis in blue. The values shown in the Input palette are measured along these axes.


Plane Delta: As for 3D Delta, this option is only available if a point has already been drawn. It shows the x, y, and z values relative to the previously clicked (drawn) point in the coordinate system of the current reference plane. Plane and Plane Delta are useful options for example, when inserting a window into a wall. First, you define a reference plane on a vertical face (the wall), with the plane’s origin at the lower corner of the wall. Then, you use the Insert option of the Rectangle tool. Then, you choose Plane. As the mouse is moved over the face, the coordinate readout shows the x and y distance of the cursor relative to the lower corner of the wall. Now an opening can be drawn precisely at a desired offset from the wall corner. While the rectangle is interactively drawn, switch to Plane Delta. Now the x, y, and z values of the current point are shown relative to the first clicked point of the rectangle. Note, that the rectangle Length and Width are also shown in the Input palette, as described in more detail below.

The second area of the Input palette displays numeric fields that are specific to the current operation. For example, drawing a rectangle shows two fields, Length and Width. Extruding a shape shows one field, Height. Tools that do resort to graphic input during their execution will not display any fields in this area. The behavior of the numeric input fields in this area is slightly different from the x, y, and z input fields. If the user types a value and hits the tab key, this value is locked until the return key is hit, or the mouse is clicked.


For example, start drawing a rectangle by clicking on the reference plane. While the second point is interactively drawn, the Length and Width fields show the current dimensions of the rectangle. Now, type a value in the Length field and hit the tab key. This advances the focus of the text input to the Width field and locks the length of the rectangle to the type value. Notice that the width of the rectangle is still determined by the mouse value, while the length stays the same. Now, type a value in the Width field and hit tab. Now, both length and width are defined and locked and the rectangles shape will not change anymore. Hit return or click with the mouse to finish the input.


Note that just hitting the tab key without typing a value in the text fields will not lock the values. Anytime the return key is hit during interactive input, it is interpreted as a mouse click, accepting the values in the Input palette instead of the cursor’s mapped 3D location.