CAD Manager's Newsletter (#283)

23 May, 2012 By: Robert Green

Build a CAD Proving Ground, Part 2

Before you get started, take the time to prepare your infrastructure and user team for successful testing.

In the previous installment of the CAD Manager's Newsletter, I advocated the creation of a CAD "proving ground" to assist with the debugging and implementation of new CAD software. If you haven't had a chance to read through that column, you may want to do so now to gain the proper context for this installment.

To continue our discussion, I'll pass along some tips and suggested task sequence to help you select your test pilots and get your proving ground started. Here goes.

Prepare the Infrastructure

First things first: You have a lot of work to do before you start testing your new software. Your test pilot users will expect to encounter glitches and problems, but the goal is to get the software/network infrastructure working as well as possible before they begin their task.

I always recommend that you test and verify software in your proving ground with the same network systems, directories, licensing, etc., that you will use in production mode. You'll debug not only the software function, but the network technology as well. It makes sense to get it all done at the same time, right?

To set up the proving ground installation, you'll need to do (at minimum) the following:

  • Acquire software licenses and ensure that network licensing works.
  • Create required network folders and set correct permissions.
  • Organize standards type files (templates, families, content libraries, etc.).
  • Outline filing procedures, or install EDM/PDM (engineering data management or product data management) control software.
  • Create basic instruction documents for your "test pilots" (super users who will put the software through its paces).

When should you perform these tasks? Prior to any software testing.

Why? You wouldn't test an airplane before you built a runway and a hanger, so don't test software before you have the appropriate infrastructure ready! Don't waste time — either yours or your users' — by rushing to test before you're actually ready. Read more »

:: CAD Manager's Toolbox: What to Do When the Problem User Is the Owner

To help a stubborn owner see the light, communicate frequently and let the numbers do the talking.

I received an e-mail thanking me for my tip about dealing with problem users, and it posed a further question: What to do when the problem user is the owner of the company? I, too, have encountered this problematic character — the "hands-on CAD user/owner" — and I think sharing my strategy may help CAD managers working in small companies.

First, you must understand the following two rules:

  1. The owner is always right.
  2. When the owner is wrong, see rule No. 1.

You'll never get anywhere telling the person who owns the company that he or she is wrong. What you can do is show the owner faster ways to do things and emphasize that you can save them money if everybody does things the way that you propose. 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

Alliance Releases First-Ever Consensus-Based BIM Standard for the U.S.
The National Institute of Building Sciences buildingSMART alliance has released a consensus-based standard governing building information modeling (BIM) for use in the United States. The National BIM Standard — United States (NBIMS-US) Version 2 covers the full life cycle of buildings, from planning, design, and construction to operations and sustainment.

:: Events

PlanetPTC Live
June 3–6, 2012
Orlando, Florida
This event is intended for professionals involved in design, manufacturing, compliance, quality, embedded software, service information, and product lifecycle management (PLM). The PlanetPTC Live will include more than 200 customer best practice, case study, and product roadmap and update sessions, plus PTC University training. Read more »

Open BIM – Real Interoperability, Practical Collaboration
June 14, 2012
2 p.m. ET
This webinar from Nemetschek Vectorworks will address Open BIM — the use of internationally recognized open standards to exchange building information. These open standards include the use of Industry Foundation Classes (IFC) for building geometry and data. Read more »

RTC 2012 North America
June 28–30, 2012
Stone Mountain, Georgia
The second annual Revit Technology Conference (RTC) North America will feature hands-on lab sessions, networking events, and an exhibition displaying products, content, and services from a range of vendors. 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

CADspeed Blog Post:
TurboCAD Pro v19 on 64-bit Operating System — A Case Study on Photorealistic 3D Rendering

The release of IMSI TurboCAD Pro v19 this spring marked the first version of this CAD platform available in a 64-bit version. Read more »

All-in-One CAD Tip #5: AutoCAD Reference Manager, Autodesk Design Review and CAD Network Maintenance
Three great CAD tips in one! Disover the power of the AutoCAD Reference Manager, learn how Autodesk Design Review can improve your workflow, and take the time to maintain your CAD network. Sponsored by the HP Z1 All-in-One Workstation. Read more »

First Look Review: Xi MTower PCIe Workstation
Beefy desktop machine delivers top CAD performance. Read more »

All-in-One CAD Tip #4: Xrefs in AutoCAD, Map 3D Polylines and Training Kickstarts
Three great CAD tips in one! Learn best practices for AutoCAD xrefs, discover simple tricks with lines in Map 3D, and kick off a CAD training program that will make a difference for your whole team. Sponsored by the HP Z1 All-in-One Workstation. Read more »

About the Author: Robert Green

Robert Green

Add comment

Note: Comments are moderated and will appear live after approval by the site moderator.

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!

Follow Lynn on TwitterFollow Lynn on Twitter

Do you use social media — such as Facebook or Twitter updates, YouTube videos, or discussion forums — for work-related purposes?
Yes, I regularly use such resources for work-related purposes.
Yes, but on a limited or infrequent basis.
No, because my employer frowns upon or prohibits doing so.
No, because I don’t have the time or interest.
Submit Vote

Download Cadalyst Magazine Special Edition