CAD Manager's Newsletter (#254)

9 Feb, 2011 By: Robert Green

:: 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.

In the last edition of the CAD Manager's Newsletter, I opined that translating CAD geometry between BIM (building information modeling) and traditional CAD systems would become an increasingly common challenge for CAD managers. I've heard from a number of readers that they're struggling with this task, and would like some advice on how to deal with it.

In this edition of the newsletter, I'll give you an approach to translating that will work regardless of which CAD formats you use in-house or interact with outside your company. Along the way, I'll point out some action items for you and your company's project manager. Here goes.

Clarify Project Requirements — in Writing

Let's say that you're embarking on a new project that will require you to submit BIM information. Questions abound: What BIM software package will that be — and which version? Will you be required to create floor plans in separate 2D files? Will you need to provide files to government agencies in other formats? Will you need to archive plots using PDF or other raster formats? These are the questions that need to be answered and nailed down with specifics now, so nobody is surprised later.

And as you think about which file formats you'll need to supply, don't forget that over the duration of a multiyear project your software tools may have one or more major updates. This possibility makes it all the more important that clients specify the version of any file formats required. So do not accept, for example, that you'll deliver 2D files in AutoCAD format — instead, specify that you'll supply AutoCAD Architectural 2010 DWG-formatted files.

Finally, I can't stress enough that if it isn't written down, it doesn't count. At the end of the project you'll be required to provide digital information to your client based on the written requirements in the contract. If the contract simply says "Supply all information in BIM," then what "BIM" means is totally open to interpretation. My experience has shown that open interpretations lead to misunderstandings, hard feelings, and lawsuits — and nobody wants those. Read more »

:: CAD Manager's Toolbox: Disk Mirroring for Free

RoboCopy is a powerful, fast way to move files between offices.

Many CAD managers have to support multiple offices, and thus have to move and synchronize large numbers of files between servers. To make this task easier, consider using the powerful, free RoboCopy utility.

This Command line function was created as a server resource kit for XP (XP download available from Microsoft), then made into a native command in the Vista and Windows 7 operating systems. The flexibility of this utility allows for very simple — and fast — disk mirroring between mapped or UNC drives.

As an example, let's say you have a drive folder called Z:\Blocks for all your users in the Houston office. You'd like to share this with your users in the Helsinki office that use the Q:\ drive, and you'd like to make sure that all blocks edited in the Houston office are updated to the Q:\Blocks folder in Helsinki. Read more »


Do you have a question or tip for the CAD Manager's Newsletter? Send it to me at; if I use it in the newsletter you'll receive a cool Cadalyst prize!

:: Resources

Ecobuild America 2010 Presentations Available for Purchase
Most of the conference presentations from Ecobuild America 2010 are now available for download and online viewing. Access to the presentations for the remainder of 2011 costs $99.99. Once their purchase is complete, users can filter the presentations by track or browse through the listing.

Graebert Designs App Store for DraftSight Users
Graebert, a provider of CAD solutions for desktop and mobile devices, plans to launch a new applications store for the DraftSight 2D drafting package co-developed by Graebert and Dassault Systèmes. The Graebert Market for DraftSight is expected to open to buyers in April 2011. Developers can port their existing applications and plug-ins to DraftSight using the Graebert Developer Studio.

Siemens PLM Software Offers Teamcenter Webinar On Demand
"Getting Started in Product Data Management," a 45-minute webinar that includes a presentation and product demonstrations, is available on demand from Siemens PLM software. The webinar explains which product data management capabilities are important, and describes how to create a single source of product and process knowledge with Teamcenter.

:: Events

Webinar: Woodworking with Vectorworks Interiorcad 2011, Part 2
February 10, 2011
2 p.m. ET
This one-hour session will be led by Tom Pearce, owner of Coronal Studio, and Wes Gardner, an architecture industry expert with Nemetschek Vectorworks. The presentation will explain how to create cabinets and casework using Vectorworks interiorcad design software. Read more »

Webinar: Professional Hardware — the Key to Success for 3D Design and Visualization, Part 2
February 17, 2011
12-1 p.m. ET
This free webinar from Dell, Dassault Systemes SolidWorks, and ATI will feature an open panel discussion with industry experts discussing the positive changes new workstation hardware can provide designers and engineers working with CAD software. Read more »

Webinar: BIM and Single-Family Residential
February 17, 2011
2 p.m. ET
"BIM and Single-Family Residential: Using Technology to Lower Costs, Speed Construction, and Improve Performance" is a webinar that will focus on the use of building information modeling on smaller projects. Architects will describe the benefits and challenges using of using BIM for residential work. Read more »

Aras Community Event 2011 International
April 26–28, 2011
Dearborn, Michigan
At this event from product lifecycle management (PLM) software solution provider Aras, business and IT professionals from around the world can network and collaborate with other members of the Aras Community and gain insight about their enterprise open source PLM initiatives. 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

Your 3D Modeling Efforts Require Hardware Help
If you're modeling in 3D but don't have the right professional hardware, you're undermining your software investment and hindering productivity. The latest generation of professional workstations and graphics cards are delivering performance that not only will knock your socks off, but in many cases can be had for only a few hundred dollars more than consumer-grade counterparts. Want to know more? Have questions and need expert feedback? Join our webcast, Professional Hardware: The Key to Success for 3D Design and Visualization, on February 17 at noon ET.

On the Edge Solid Edge Tutorial: Open Large Solid Edge Assemblies Quickly
Assembly overrides and display configurations can save you time by limiting the number of components or level of detail displayed. Read more »

Solid Thinking Tutorial: Windows Explorer vs. SolidWorks Enterprise
Two project data management systems face off over project storage, managing revisions, and tracking an engineering change order. Read more »

First Look Review: RenderPRO12
Dedicated rendering module from Boxx is a compact, cost-effective alternative for users dreaming of a render farm. Read more »

Will BIM Make CAD Irrelevant? At Larson & Darby, the Answer Is 'No'
A transition to Autodesk Revit doesn't need to be an all-or-nothing proposition. Day to day, AutoCAD still gets the job done eloquently. Read more »

About the Author: Robert Green

Robert Green

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