AEC Tech News (#286)

17 Feb, 2011 By: Cadalyst Staff

Utility Design Software Simplifies Standardization

Southern California Edison implements Autodesk application to improve consistency and reduce design and ordering time.

By Cyrena Respini-Irwin

As one of the nation's largest electric utilities, Southern California Edison serves nearly 14 million people across a 50,000-square-mile service area. Despite its massive size, SCE struggles with the same industry-wide issues that challenge its smaller counterparts: The power grid is becoming more complex. Experienced personnel are retiring, and taking their knowledge with them. And engineering and construction standards, which must be adhered to consistently across the organization, are never static.

In hopes of streamlining workflows where standards and design intersect, SCE implemented Autodesk Utility Design software in its Transmission and Distribution Business Unit, deploying it to more than 600 internal users. The software combines distribution network planning, design, and analysis into one environment.

"Design standards — everything from using the proper symbology to picking the right size conduit — is very important to a utility," said Alan Saunders, senior industry manager (Utilities) for Autodesk. Saunders explained that the difficulty of achieving the reliability and consistency that standards provide is compounded when a utility's workforce is widely dispersed. "This type of design work is typically done in a number of offices across the [utility's] territory," he said, noting that that could be 30 to 50 offices in SCE's case.

Prior to this Utility Design implementation, each SCE office would rely on paper-based standards references. "Designers would have a set of binders at their workstation," said Saunders, and when those standards were updated, it would be difficult for management to be certain that the changes had reached all the utility's designers. Read more »

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Cyrena Respini-Irwin is Cadalyst's senior editor.

Circles and Lines Tutorial: AutoCAD for Mac Is Back!

After an 18-year absence, Autodesk reintroduces native AutoCAD for the OS X platform.

By Lynn Allen

I remember 18 years ago when Autodesk made the announcement that it would no longer be developing AutoCAD for the Macintosh platform. I also remember the myriad sad architects and other Mac users that were distraught about this decision. Nothing could thrill me more than to see AutoCAD back on the Mac and that void filled for Mac lovers everywhere.

It isn't as if users haven't been using AutoCAD on their Macs. In fact, plenty of people have been using Bootcamp, Parallels, or VM Ware Fusion to do exactly that. But it just wasn't the same; it wasn't the true Mac experience. They were essentially living in the Windows world on a Mac — definitely not the same. They wanted the Mac experience with a native Mac application, and that is exactly what they can get now. This new version is not a port — it is the real deal running natively on Apple Mac OS X (pronounced "ten," not "X," if you want to maintain Mac coolness).

For starters, Mac users might have a Magic Mouse or Magic Trackpad. They also rely heavily on their keyboard trackpads (for those who use laptops) or Magic Trackpads. The Magic Mouse will completely stump Windows users, because it has no physical right-click button or scroll wheel for zooming and panning. (We shudder at the thought!) The good news is that you can choose to use your favorite Windows mouse with your Mac, so no worries there.

AutoCAD for Mac supports Gestures (no, not those types of gestures!). Gestures are one- or multiple-finger motions made across a trackpad or Magic Mouse. For example, they might use a two-finger swipe across the trackpad to pan or the infamous pinch to zoom. A simple swipe up and down the Magic Mouse does an easy zoom — no wheel needed! And who doesn't love the four-finger swipe (Exposé) on the trackpad to view all your open files; I really wish Windows had that one! Read more »

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Autodesk Technical Evangelist Lynn Allen writes the Circles and Lines column and is the voice behind Cadalyst's AutoCAD video tips.

Mark Your Calendar: AEC Events


Webinar: Low-Energy Building Design with GRAPHISOFT EcoDesigner
March 1–8, 2011
Various times
This webinar will discuss how GRAPHISOFT's EcoDesigner software can aid design decisions by providing precise forecasts about the annual total and specific energy consumption, monthly energy balance, and carbon footprint of a project. Spanish and English versions of this webinar will be offered. Read more »

2011 FIATECH Technology Conference and Showcase
April 18–20, 2011
Chandler, Arizona
The conference agenda will comprise three educational breakout tracks: People and Process, Productivity Improvement Tools, and Academic. Read more »

Revit Technology Conference (RTC) 2011, North America
June 23–25, 2011
Huntington Beach, California
This inaugural event will focus on BIM (building information modeling) and the whole ecosystem that supports it. Attendees can share ideas and insights with an international community of peers, explore the latest trends and technologies, and cultivate business and professional contacts. Read more »

For a complete list of CAD meetings, conferences, training sessions, and more, check out our calendar of events on Are you hosting an event that you would like to include in our calendar? Submit details at least two weeks in advance to


What’s New at


Cadalyst Webcast: MCAD Smackdown! Direct vs. Parametric Modeling
On February 24 at noon ET, join Cadalyst and some of the mechanical CAD industry's most knowledgeable (and opinionated) voices for a good-spirited debate of one of today's existential technology questions: When, why and how do you use direct and/or parametric modeling to best support your business? Learn more and register today!

Visualization Goes Beyond Appearances
Creators of OXO gadgets unlock the marketing power behind digital rendering. Read more »

Seeing Is Believing: Visualization for CAD
Cadalyst Labs Report: Experts and newbies alike are using the power of visualization to communicate ideas throughout design workflows. Read more »

CAD Manager's Toolbox: Disk Mirroring for Free
RoboCopy is a powerful, fast way to move files between offices. Read more »

Don't Get Lost in CAD-to-BIM Translation
Get everyone on the same page by mapping out the inputs and outputs for your next project — in very specific terms. Read more »

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AutoCAD Tips!

Lynn Allen

In her easy-to-follow, friendly style, long-time Cadalyst contributing editor Lynn Allen guides you through a new feature or time-saving trick in every episode of her popular AutoCAD Video Tips. Subscribe to the free Cadalyst Video Picks newsletter, and we'll notify you every time a new video tip is published. All exclusively from Cadalyst!

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