General Software

First Looks: AccuRender and LT Toolkit for LT

1 Jun, 2003 By: Dave Pitzer

Add-ons expand AutoCAD LT.


AccuRender 3.3 for LT
Rendering in AutoCAD LT
pros: Superb renderings.
cons: None significant.
price: $495

LT Toolkit
Use AutoLISP in LT
pros: AutoLISP unlocked.
cons: None significant.
price: $295

drcauto
161 2 9957 2200


Much of what you sacrifice in AutoCAD LT over more expensive-and more powerful-standard AutoCAD lies in two areas: 3D functionality and programming interfaces, especially the popular AutoLISP programming language. Of course, not everyone wants or needs these features, and their absence helps make AutoCAD LT the value it is.

Drcauto broke the LT 3D barrier in 1999 with LT3D, an AutoCAD LT add-on that brought a full library of true 3D functions to LT (see "First Looks," Cadalyst, December 1999, p. 35). As we go to press, drcauto announced !SlingShot Max 2004, which adds a variety of new commands to AutoCAD LT 2004. AutoCAD LT 2004 versions of both AccuRender and LT Toolkit are in the works.

AccuRender 3.3 for LT. Drcauto continues to bring AutoCAD LT closer to big-brother AutoCAD. It now offers a fully operational version of AccuRender, the popular third-party AutoCAD rendering program from Robert McNeel & Associates. Installing the AccuRender add-on is straightforward and takes less than ten minutes.

AccuRender and LT Toolkit for LT
With AccuRender 3.3 for LT from drcauto, you can render high-quality images inside AutoCAD LT.
I've used AccuRender inside AutoCAD for several years, and it's my favorite rendering engine for 3D models produced inside AutoCAD. I was anxious to see how it worked in AutoCAD LT and what, if any, differences I could find. I built a model of a ball bearing using drcauto's LT 3D tools and commands and then opened AccuRender to render the model (see figure at right). All of the normal AccuRender tools are available-a large material library, a variety of lighting options, and the ability to move around in the model in 3D space (similar to AutoCAD's Orbit command) and make panoramic animations. I noticed no differences between this AccuRender and the version I'm familiar with. If you need high-quality rendering capability within LT, this is the way to go.

LT Toolkit. Do you want AutoLISP with your AutoCAD LT, along with a package of productivity enhancements? You get both with the LT Toolkit. Productivity enhancements include layer control and quick viewport routines. For example, you can control your current layer, create a new layer, freeze, thaw, lock layers by pick, and so on. Other commands let you easily set your viewpoint and UCS using minimal keypresses. This is a nice package of tools.

The crown jewel of LT Toolkit is its ability to load and run AutoLISP files. I ran several AutoLISP routines written for AutoCAD in AutoCAD LT. I could see no difference between drcauto's LT AutoLISP enabler and AutoCAD's. AutoLISP is the most popular programming interface for AutoCAD, and now you can have AutoLISP in LT.

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About the Author: Dave Pitzer


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