CAD Manager's Newsletter (#281)

25 Apr, 2012 By: Robert Green

:: Mobile CAD, the Cloud, and Management Mayhem

Will the big changes in store wreak havoc with your workflows? They don't have to, if you keep a few basic principles in mind.

In issues 277 and 278 of the CAD Manager's Newsletter, I explored some of the trends associated with using CAD files on mobile devices (such as tablets and smartphones). The topic has proved to be a popular one; I've received a lot of comments, questions, and opinions on the subject.

In this issue, we'll explore the managerial uncertainty that mobile CAD and cloud implementations will bring us by responding to some reader feedback on the issues. Here goes.

A Cloud Is Integral

One e-mail I received asked this question:

"Does mobile CAD mean that all my CAD information must be on the cloud?"

While this question is open to interpretation, I'll say that for mobile CAD to work, at least some of our companies' CAD information must be available via an easily accessible Internet location. This statement prompts at least two related questions:

  • Does this mean that all project models, drawings, and calculations need to be available online?
  • Does this mean that the company must provide its mobile employees with the capability to view models, drawings, and pertinent design information via mobile devices?

The answers are No and Yes, respectively.

The unstated assumption in using mobile CAD devices is that the user will easily be able to find the CAD files (or other supporting files) that they need. This almost certainly means that the mobile device will pull required information from a server-based information repository — most probably a cloud server. (Let's not be too specific yet about where the cloud server is located; we'll tackle that in the "Public Cloud or Private Cloud" section.) Read more »

:: CAD Manager's Toolbox: How to Handle Problem Users When You're Not Their Boss

If there's a bad apple in your department who's causing trouble for other CAD users, try this approach to turn things around.

At some point, almost all CAD managers have to deal with problematic users. Whether it's by ignoring standards, producing low-quality work, or just being hard to get along with, problem users can suck all the joy out of being a CAD manager. Complicating matters further is the fact that you are often not the problem user's direct supervisor, so you have no official authority to address the problem.

So what can you do? Confront the user with the leverage you have as CAD manager, even if you aren't his or her boss! After all, if a problem user is generating errors, CAD efficiency will drop — and that certainly falls under the purview of the CAD manager.

Here's a guide for dealing with problem users that I've used successfully:

Keep it private (at first): Inform the user of the problem in private so they are not embarrassed in front of their peers. Assure the user that as long as he or she does the right thing from here on out, the subject will never come up again. Do, however, make the user aware that you are documenting the conversation in case the issue does come up again. 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

Autodesk Releases Free Mobile Simulation App for iOS Devices
Autodesk ForceEffect Motion, a new mobile simulation app for developing and testing mechanical systems with moving parts, is now available in the App Store for iOS-based devices. Autodesk ForceEffect Motion enables users to evaluate their designs by importing an existing image or creating a freehand sketch and adding functional mechanical joints, actuators, constraints, and supports.

:: Events

BIM Collaboration for Revit, MicroStation, Bentley Architecture, and Vectorworks
April 26, 2012
9 a.m. PT
This one-hour online training session from Cadventure will focus on CadFaster|Collaborate, a cloud-based collaboration plug-in that enables sharing, markup, and co-viewing of building information models in real time. Read more »

IMAGINiT Know It. All. Virtual Event
May 1–3, 2012
10:30 a.m. ET
At this online event, attendees will hear from IMAGINiT technical experts who will showcase enhancements in the Autodesk 2013 products. Read more »

Meet Vectorworks Architect
May 31, 2012
2 p.m. ET
Wes Gardner of Nemetschek Vectorworks will host this 30-minute overview presentation about Vectorworks Architect software. Attendees will learn about the software's capabilities and functions, such as customized wall styles and smart parametric objects, and about collaboration in a BIM workflow. 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 Poll: How Much Did You Spend on Your CAD Workstation?
Do you ever wonder how much money your peers spend on their CAD systems? Simply scroll to the bottom of the Cadalyst home page and vote in the latest Cadalyst poll to find out! You can even bookmark the results page and come back later, to see how the results change as more voters weigh in.

CADspeed Blog Post:
Hardware Requirements Released for AutoCAD 2013

Autodesk has released the platform and system requirements for AutoCAD 2013, which was launched on March 27, 2012. Read more »

Dell Announces Four New Tower Workstations
T7600, T5600, T3600, and entry-level T1650 offer innovations including front-accessible hard drives, an externally removable power supply, and automatic notifications of suboptimal system performance. Read more »

All-in-One CAD Tip #2: AutoCAD Sheet Sets, 3ds Max Workspace, Dusty Hardware
Check out these great tips for organizing AutoCAD sheet sets, maximizing your 3ds Max screen real estate and helping your hardware perform at its best. Sponsored by the HP Z1 All-in-One Workstation. Read more »

Autodesk Strives for Consistency, Cloud-Centricity in 2013 Product Lineup
Updated components for AEC, manufacturing, and entertainment suites are integrated with each other — and with the Autodesk 360 cloud computing platform. Read more »

About the Author: Robert Green

Robert Green

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