Transform – Scale, Rotate and Move in One Step

TRANSFORM is a command in Map 3D (which is also a component of Land Desktop and Civil 3D), that has been around since the mid-1990s as an ADE (Autodesk Data Extension) tool.  It can be a time saver for editing tasks that require moving, copying and rotating one or more objects to fit other objects.

It was originally intended as a tool for transforming a map of one scale and orientation to match another map, but like any powerful tool it should be used with extreme caution, especially for transforming many objects at once.  Map 3D has much better tools for working with maps of different coordinate systems, and for “rubber sheeting” one map to fit another.
I often use the TRANSFORM command for fitting text or other simple objects into existing spaces, and when creating blocks. Basically, it allows you to scale, rotate and move an object (or a set of objects, or even entire LAYERS) in one simple operation, by defining two points on the source object(s), and two corresponding points on the destination object(s).
The command can be found on the MAP menu, under the TOOLS section. You can also execute it on the command line: ADETRANSFORM.  It is not on any toolbars, but could easily be added to one or given an alias, using the CUI.
To see how this simple command works, draw two objects similar to the smaller and larger squares shown below (left).
  1. Issue the ADETRANSFORM command at the command line, or select Tools > Transform, from the Map pull-down menu.
    Once the command is executed, you are presented with two options at the command line:
    The default option is to transform all objects on one or more layers, by entering the layer name(s) at the command line (wild cards accepted).  However, I typically choose “Select” (“S”) to transform just one, or a few objects. The objects can be on different layers when you use the “Select” method.
  2. Enter “S” to select the object to transform, and then (in the example above) select the smaller square.

    Make sure your O-snaps are on, and set to include intersections.

  3. When prompted for the first source point, pick point “A” in the example above.
  4.  When prompted for the first destination point, pick the upper left corner of the larger square.
  5.  When prompted for the second source point, pick point “B”.
  6.  When for the second destination point, pick the upper right corner of the larger square.
The smaller square will move, rotate and scale to fit the larger object, as shown in the example above, on the right.
To better understand the versatility of this command, try it again.  Hit UNDO and reissue the command.  This time, pick the mid-points of the horizontal sides of the larger square as the first and second destination points.  Now you can see why I use this tool a lot to create blocks and symbols.
Obviously, with only two reference points this is hardly a precise way to scale one complex map to fit another. However, if you need to pop some text into a gap to label something, or re-scale a block to fit some new purpose, this command can quickly do the work of three, all in one step.

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