Tips & Tools Weekly (Vol. 11, No. 20)5 Jun, 2006
What's New at Cadalyst.com
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Cadalyst Daily Update
For all the latest news and new products, subscribe to Cadalyst Daily e-newsletter. Plus, every issue includes a feature you won’t find anywhere else – hardware and CAD software reviews, success stories, AutoCAD tips and much more! Here’s a sample of what you missed in the past week:
Designing the Big Boom: Helicopter pilot calls on mechanical engineering background to create safer approach to producing controlled avalanches
First Look Review: XL2CAD: Highly recommended tool from DotSoft saves time by automatically converting Excel data into AutoCAD entities
Cadalyst's New Job Search Now Live!
Our new search tool offers a state-by-state list of CAD-related job openings, or you can customize a search to find your own list of U.S. job openings based on the keywords and locations you specify. Use the Job Search button on Cadalyst's Management, Manufacturing, AEC or GIS Web site or click here for a direct link.
Autodesk Launches Sustainability Web Site
In addition to sponsoring "design: e2 (The Economics of Being Environmentally Conscious)," the PBS television series scheduled to air this month, Autodesk has unveiled its Sustainability Center Web site. The new site will serve as a resource on the role of technology in sustainable design and will profile industry leaders who are putting sustainable design into practice. The 2005 Autodesk Green Index indicated that the use of sustainable design principles has grown 50% since 2000 and estimates that it will increase 100% by 2010.
Report: Solid Growth in Additive Fabrication
Wohlers Associates published its recent findings on the state of the rapid prototyping and manufacturing industry. Wohlers Report 2006 ($475 U.S.; $495 elsewhere) estimates that the market for additive fabrication (also known as rapid prototyping) grew 14.6% to an estimated $808.5 million in 2005, up from $705.2 million generated in 2004. Growth was 33.3% and 9.2% in 2004 and 2003, respectively. These totals include all products and services for additive fabrication worldwide.
Kellysearch.com Expands Supplier Network
Kellysearch.com, an online buyers' guide and business-to-business vertical search engine, announced that users now have access to all product, service and company information from EDN, Purchasing's Metal Supplier Search, IAN Magazine and many of the publications within the Reed Construction Data group. Users can now begin procurement cycles within these markets on Kellysearch.com.
This Week's Software Tips
Follow-Up: See and Control Layout Position and
Size While in Model Space
Chris Noble and Brian James Lottis wrote to Tips & Tools Weekly regarding the tip from Jean Cosyn in the May 22 edition, which is designed to help align multiple drawings and multiple layouts. Another approach to this, they say, is to use AutoCAD's Change Space express tool. Run the Chspace command (or select Change Space from the Layout submenu in Express Tools), and it automatically moves the polyline to the correct location in model space and scales it correctly.
Lottis also reminds readers about the Hot Tip Harry routine submitted by Murray Clack in February 2001: VPLIM.LSP automates this process, but only for rectangular viewports.
Shortcut to Windows Explorer from AutoCAD
Shawn Samaniego sends EXPLORE.LSP, a routine that opens Windows Explorer through AutoCAD and automatically routes you to your drawings file path. "I don’t know what's better — changing the alias to WE (for Windows Explorer) or changing the LISP to read WE rather than assigning an alias. In this case, I have the LISP respond to WE."
(defun c:we () (startapp "explorer" (strcat "/n,/e," (getvar "dwgprefix"))) (princ) )
Continuous Middle Button Osnap
Isak Mishaeli writes, "I often need a middle button osnap more than once in a single command, and using Shift + middle button is a bit difficult. Instead, I use a tool button that works much like a radio button, changing the MBUTTONPAN system variable value from 1 to 0 continuously. The button macro is:
[_Button("Mid button control", "mbutton.bmp", "ICON_16_BLANK")](progn(setvar "mbuttonpan" $m=$(if,$(=,$(getvar,mbuttonpan),1),0,1))(princ))
Click here to download Mishaeli's MBUTTON.BMP icon.
Fresh Batch of Tips for AutoCAD 2007
Justin Werner sends a couple of tips he hopes will help users who have recently upgraded to AutoCAD 2007:
Set the OSOPTIONS variable to 0 to be able to pick the objects inside a hatch, as was possible in previous releases. "I believe the  default is set to 1 and doesn't let you select them."
Set the IMAGEFRAME variable to 2. "This is great! Now you can grab/edit an image you've brought into AutoCAD and the border won't plot. Previously, your only option was to toggle between 0 and 1, and this was a pain."
Frequent tipster Leonid Nemirovsky (visit his AutoCAD Web site) sends this quick tip for 2007 as well:
- To create complicated 3D solids with different plane faces — for example, transition from Pipe to Square Box, first use 3D Faces, but make them triangle-shaped. After that, convert them to surfaces by using the Convert to Surface button on the 3D Dashboard. Then use the Thicken command, select all and give them some thickness, such as 3/16". Control direction of thickening using -3/16 or 3/16.
This Week's SolidWorks Tips
SolidWorks training developer SolidProfessor sends the following tips this week for Tips & Tools Weekly readers:
Foreshortening: Learn how to foreshorten diameter and radial dimensions that are too large to fit on the drawing sheet.
Lofts: Learn the difference between the loft and sweep features.
Send us your tip or shortcut for your favorite CAD software. If we publish it, we'll send you a “Cadalyst: CAD the Way You Want It” t-shirt.
Deals & Freebies
Take a Survey, Get a Free PLC Report
Participants who take part in the Product Lifecycle Collaboration Benchmark study will not only learn where they stand relative to others, they will receive a free copy of the completed results. The survey, conducted by technology research firm Aberdeen Group and software provider Right Hemisphere, will attempt to determine whether product lifecycle collaboration is delivering on its promise. Questions include: What approaches to product design collaboration, value chain collaboration, and leveraging design data in downstream processes are companies successfully using? The sponsors promise individual responses will be kept strictly confidential.
Free Rendering Software
The creators of Indigo Renderer have made the application available free to anyone who finds it useful or interesting, they say. The unbiased ray tracer's many features include Monte-Carlo path tracing or Monte-Carlo Metropolis Light Transfer for unbiased light transfer, Reinhard tone mapping or linear tone mapping, progressive rendering and per-object kd-tree spatial partitioning for fast ray tracing. Users are encouraged to post renderings on the Indigo forum.
Free Access to Oce Client Tools
Oce is offering free Client Tools downloadable software that creates high-quality, print-ready files from AutoCAD DWG, DWF and other file formats. The company reports that the use of Client Tools eliminates the need to create plot files and saves time through batch processing DWF and DWG files.
Free Textures and Viewer
Software developer Spiral Graphics has released a royalty-free collection of 127 seamless floor and wall textures in standard JPEG previews and in the specialized Genetica procedural texture format, which includes embedded effect maps for use with bump and specular channels, among others. Genetica Viewer, a texture rendering application, is also now free to allow artists to make use of these and other textures saved in Genetica's texture format.
Opportunities & Honors
Bentley Names Awards of Excellence Winners
Bentley Systems, a provider of infrastructure lifecycle software, has bestowed its 2006 BE Awards of Excellence, which honor the work of Bentley users in improving the world's infrastructure. Winners were announced May 22 at BE Conference 2006 in Charlotte, North Carolina; click here to view the full list. An independent panel of jurors selected the winning projects from more than 260 nominations. Cadalyst Editor-in-Chief Sara Ferris was a judge of civil engineering entrants. The annual BE Conference offers professional training to Bentley users.
Entries Sought in Global 3D Design Contest
Dimension 3D Printing Group has launched its third annual Extreme Redesign: The Ultimate 3D Printing Challenge. The design and 3D printing contest will award $2,500 or $1,000 scholarships to high school and college student winners based on design creativity, usefulness, part integrity and aesthetics. CAD students worldwide are encouraged to enter. Notebook computers will go to teachers of first-place winners and to the teacher with the most student entries overall. Dimension is a manufacturer of 3D printers and a business unit of Stratasys.
Books & Training
Upcoming Pro/ENGINEER Wildfire Book Release
Textbook publisher CADCIM Technologies announced the June 12 release of Pro/ENGINEER Wildfire 3.0 for Designers (800 pages), by Sham Tickoo, Purdue University Calumet, and CADCIM Technologies. Written for both novice and advanced users, the book first introduces Pro/ENGINEER Wildfire 3.0 concepts and definitions, then progresses to cover features such as sketching, editing, dimensioning and transforming the features. The textbook explains concepts such as bidirectional associatively, geometric constraints and assembly constraints and explains in depth the application's new sketcher palette.
MicroStation VBA Instruction for Designers
Bentley Institute Press has published Learning MicroStation VBA (930 pages, $90). The combination textbook and workbook explains the VBA basics, including the editing environment, modules, visual interface and MicroStation Object Model, through advanced topics such as Windows API and interacting with other applications. An accompanying CD includes all source code referenced in the book, procedures, addenda, a comprehensive object model listing and other example files. To purchase the book, call (toll-free, United States and Canada) 800.225.2613 or (elsewhere) 203.805.2613.
New NX4 Book
Basic and Intermediate NX4 Modeling, Drafting and Assemblies ($99 U.S., $127 elsewhere), just released by Design Visionaries, is a newly revised version of the publishers' previous book Practical Unigraphics NX3 Modeling, Drafting and Assemblies. The methods outlined in this book reportedly are tricks of the trade that come from thousands of hours of actual use of the software to design some of the most difficult products in the world. Topics include fundamental and intermediate curves; design, detail and surface features; direct and master modeling; and "how to make NX4 run great." Design Visionaries provides engineering-related products and services.
The Week's New CAD and Related Products
Hardware: GEI 4636
GEI Wide Format Solutions introduces a large-format printer with optional wireless scanning. Read more
Hardware: PLT-20 KANTANA
Kira introduces a paper laminating system for creating 3D design prototypes. Read more
Hardware: MicroScribe 3D Laser Systems
GHOST 3D releases laser scanner systems that can digitize 28,000 points per second in real time. Read more
Hardware: Washable Wireless Keyboards
Unotron introduces wireless computer keyboards that withstand submersion in water and repeated disinfectant use. Read more
Hardware: 3DBOXX 8300 Series Workstation
BOXX Technologies introduces personal workstation with eight dual-core Intel Xeon processors. Read more
General Software: ViewCafe v4
Spicer adds live document conferencing to its collaboration toolkit. Read more
General Software: CADVault v4.1
CADLock's digital rights management software now supports AutoCAD 2007. Read more
General Software: CAD Import.NET Library
Soft Gold releases library for AutoCAD users and software developers programming in .NET environment. Read more
Visualization: VTour v1.0.1
REALVIZ releases a software patch update that improves the creation of Web-compatible products and includes an updated Spi-V3d viewer. Read more
Visualization: Power Translators Pro
Translators from nPower Software will import large CAD models and assemblies into Autodesk 3ds Max and VIZ. Read more
Visualization: modo 201
Luxology introduces 3D modeling, painting and rendering software designed for 3D artists. Read more
Visualization: Tecplot 360
Product combines engineering plotting with advanced data visualization for analyzing, presenting and publishing analysis results. Read more
Visualization: M-Color v9.1
Motive Systems ships a compatibility upgrade of its presentation plotting software for AutoCAD. Read more
Visualization: Strata 3D CX v5
Strata upgrades visualization software with more tools for integration with Adobe applications. Read more
AEC: ArchiOffice V8
Company updates integrated office- and project-management application. Read more
GIS: PinPoint EDM Technology
Leica Geosystems adds electronic distance measuring technology to its TPS400, TPS700 and TPS800 total stations. Read more
MWH Soft releases updated software module for designing water-distribution systems. Read more
MCAD: rapidformXO Verifier and BentelerLaserGauge
INUS Technology and Benteler collaborate on shape-based inspection solution. Read more
MCAD: OSLO v6.4
Lambda Research's lens design software can place multiple INT files on any optical model surface. Read more
CAM: ESPRIT 2007
DP Technology's software incorporates ESPRIT FX for CAD to CAM feature exchange. Read more
AMT3D launches service to create online, interactive 3D models for AEC projects. Read more
Mark Your Calendar
Cadalyst's complete list of upcoming industry events is always available on our Web site.
Improving Global Design Collaboration for Manufacturing
June 7, 2006, 2-3 p.m. ET
Delphi and CAD industry experts will discuss the importance of standardizing design methodology and demonstrate its impact on global collaboration, efficiency and time-to-market. Read more
June 20-21, 2006
Robotics Trends’ RoboBusiness Conference and Exposition focuses on the business development and technical issues involved with the commercial application of mobile robotics and intelligent systems technology. Read more
Your Ideas 2007 -- Building Solutions
June 27, 2006 (Santa Rosa, California)
June 28, 2006 (Reno, Nevada)
June 29, 2006 (Walnut Creek, California)
Ideate will give a presentation about the benefits of BIM (building information modeling) and successful project workflow highlighting the latest from the Autodesk Revit software family. Read more
Your Ideas 2007 -- Infrastructure Solution
June 27, 2006 (Santa Rosa, California)
June 28, 2006 (Reno, Nevada)
June 29, 2006 (Walnut Creek, California)
This forum will take a close look at how innovation in technology and the newest applications from Autodesk can help government and private organizations. Read more
in Technology International: Taking the Lead in the
July 9-11, 2006
Las Vegas, Nevada
This conference from Women in Technology International is designed for professionals who want to connect to others, update business and technical skills, and expand their professional network. Read more
International FIG Congress
October 8-13, 2006
Under the motto “Shaping the Change,” attendees and experts will discuss the contributions of surveying in the present and in the challenges of the future. Read more
October 10-12, 2006
Trade fair and conference for geodesy, geoinformation and land management. Read more
October 14-18, 2006
The SWUG (Southwest Users Group) meets annually to exchange knowledge, discuss new ideas, explore resources and support the development of diverse GIS interests and education. Read more
Americas 2006 Technology Conference
October 23-24, 2006
Clear Lake, Texas
ISEIT focuses on the business and technical challenges of building and maintaining engineering assets. Read more
ESRI Homeland Security GIS Summit
October 23-26, 2006
The 2006 ESRI Homeland Security GIS Summit is organized for the professionals who establish priorities and set directions for their organizations and work to improve systems for public protection and business continuity. Read more
Autodesk Technical Evangelist Lynn Allen guides you through a different AutoCAD feature in every edition of her popular "Circles and Lines" tutorial series. For even more AutoCAD how-to, check out Lynn's quick tips in the Cadalyst Video Gallery. Subscribe to Cadalyst's Tips & Tricks Tuesdays free e-newsletter and we'll notify you every time a new video tip is available. All exclusively from Cadalyst!