CAD Manager's Newsletter (#275)

25 Jan, 2012 By: Cadalyst Staff

:: The Minimalist's Guide to CAD Software Upgrade Decisions

You can't put this chore off forever, so apply this methodology and make your evaluation as quickly as possible.

Author's Note: This is the second installment in "The Minimalist's Guide," an occasional series that shares ways to be a more efficient CAD manager. In each installment, my goal is to condense a complex process into a best practices overview document to help you save time and avoid common mistakes. I hope you'll find them useful.

It's a fact that sooner or later, an upgrade will be released for your CAD software. When that happens, you'll need to make a quick decision about whether implementing the upgrade will be worth the time, effort, training, and expense.

In this edition of the CAD Manager's Newsletter, I'll share my methodology for evaluating upgrades, which seems to work for every type of CAD software. Here goes.

Always Test the New Upgrade

Whatever else you do, you simply must put the new upgrade through some basic testing. Of course, if you have a product support subscription you will get your upgrade automatically, but if you don't, consider the following approaches:

  • Use a 30-day trial version to test
  • Get involved with beta-testing programs
  • Ask your software dealer for a limited-time loaner version.

All these methods can offer you a limited amount of time for testing. The beta version has an added advantage: You'll test new software before anyone else can!

By the way, these methods work great for exploring new software as well. So whether you're evaluating the latest upgrade to your ol' faithful program or just looking to kick the tires on an unfamiliar product, do what it takes to actually get your hands on the software.

Document the Evaluation Process

Make sure you build the following elements into your testing protocols:

Use your own data. Don't use test data supplied with the new software. Instead, use data that you already have, or create new tests using the same types of projects you would normally design. The goal is to see how the software works with a typical cross section of data you would normally use.

Note changes. Any differences in elements such as ribbons, toolbars, browsing interfaces, or content libraries may cause problems for your users. Sometimes an upgrade can seem like a downgrade when old familiar commands change! Read more »

:: CAD Manager's Toolbox: Dust Off Those Standards

Increase user compliance by whipping your wordy, outdated standards into shape.

I find revamping standards as much of a hassle as you probably do, yet every year or so I force myself to go through the process. I encourage you to start the year off right by evaluating your CAD standards — see what works, what doesn't, and why.

Here's how I tackle this chore:

Trim away the excess. If it bores you to read through your overly lengthy standards, you know your users will be bored too. Take a red pen to your standards and pare them down to the bare minimum!

Add an index. After you've made your standards as concise as possible, break the document into topical sections and provide a good index. If users can find what they need in the index, they're likely to read the section that applies to them. If not, they won't. 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

CTC Releases Free Trial of New Revit Family Browser
Software reseller CTC is offering registered users a free trial of BIMlist, a newly released browser for organizing, locating, and inserting Autodesk Revit families into a project. BIMlist also provides tools for searching, filtering, and previewing families stored on the user's network.

:: Events

Cleaning Dirty CAD Geometry in SpaceClaim
January 26, 2012
11:30 a.m. ET
In this webinar from SpaceClaim, attendees can learn how to create watertight models from dirty imported STEP and IGES files. Read more »

Deep Dive into FME Server 2012
February 2, 2012
8 a.m. PT
This webinar from Safe Software will explore FME Server's new functionality, highlight new resources available to users, explore FMEpedia, discuss FME Server in the cloud, and reveal what's coming up for Service Pack 1. Read more »

CIMdata PLM Certificate Program: Atlanta
February 6–10, 2012
Atlanta, Georgia
The CIMdata PLM (product lifecycle management) Certificate Program includes an intimate classroom experience, individual and team-based exercises, and individual evaluations of achievement. Additionally, the program provides participants with exposure to a team of CIMdata experts. 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

Complete Cyon Software Survey, Qualify to Win a Cadalyst Subscription
Do you use CAD, CAE, BIM, IPD, or PLM software? You can receive a free copy of the survey results and enter to win a free year of Cadalyst magazine! Read more »

CADspeed Blog Post:
WiFi for the CAD Workstation, Part 2: Setting Up a WiFi Network

Getting your wireless network wired up. Read more »

CADspeed Blog Post:
WiFi for the CAD Workstation, Part 1: WiFi-G and WiFi-N

The basics of wireless networking. Read more »

Autodesk Labs' Latest Preview Inspires Map 3D Users
A new software extension simplifies the process of searching spatial metadata on catalog servers. Read more »

Autodesk, Pitney Bowes Software Partner to Support Infrastructure Professionals
Under the new strategic relationship, the pair will provide solutions combining GIS, analytics, BIM, and asset management. Read more »

Get 'Em While They're Young
The latest efforts to shore up the nation's engineering base start with instilling a love for math, science, and technology long before students reach college. Read more »

About the Author: Cadalyst Staff

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