Management

Tips & Tools Weekly (Vol. 11, No. 33)

18 Sep, 2006


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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 recently:

  • Dialog Box -- Readers Have Their Say: Hot off the press for September, Cadalyst readers and Web site visitors pick our brains and tell us what's on their minds.
  • Sliced Bread or Otherwise: Can a method for presenting 3D data be considered an invention? According to the U.S. Patent Office, in the case of QuadriSpace, yes.
  • Going with the Flow: Healthcare company turns around a part redesign in a matter of days instead of months, thanks to CFD software.

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Resources

New Forum for PDMS Users
A new online community for users of Aveva's PDMS (Plant Design Management System) is available to those who register. PDMS is most commonly used to model offshore oil and gas platforms and refineries in 3D. In addition to tips and tricks for using PDMS, the site offers downloads, announcements and a chat area. The new forum, which boasts more than 670 members worldwide, aims to be the one-stop place for everything PDMS-related.

Autodesk Civil 3D Community Site
Autodesk's Civil Engineering Community is designed for professionals who wish to network with peers and stay abreast of industry trends and news. Users can share templates, participate in discussion groups, access training materials and receive invitations to participate in Web presentations to learn more about the latest Civil 3D features. Autodesk intends for the site to evolve over time according to the participants’ needs.

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This Week's Software Tips

Do you have a favorite tip or shortcut that you use every day in your CAD software? One that saves you time? Makes life easier? Share it with other readers and, if we publish it, we'll send you a “ Cadalyst: CAD the Way You Want It” t-shirt.

Convert Image into AutoCAD 2D Polylines
Rod Mertin wrote in with this tip: You can vectorize and insert images into your drawings as blocks of 2D polylines. Whether this is a scanned paper map or a logo, you can insert them as AutoCAD objects rather than as an image.

Convert your image to a Windows Metafile using a WMF converter, such as Total Vectorize (free for 30 days). Then use the Wmfin command to bring this file into AutoCAD. You can then explode the block into 2D polylines or re-edit it.

Be sure to purge this block if you do explode it, because it could be large. Also, text converts to polylines and solid hatches are usually ignored. Always save your work and make a copy before using untested methods. 

NOTES FROM CADALYST TIP PATROL:
Another option is Scan2CAD from Softcover International. You can use the software free as a TIFF editor, which it does extremely well. You can clean up TIFFs, thicken and thin lines, smooth an image and even autorotate it. You can then insert it into AutoCAD as-is and use it as a background, or trace over it after scaling.

Something to keep in mind on this topic is who owns that original design. You or your company should own the rights (or obtain them) before reusing a copyrighted image. 

Rest Your Eyes
Drafter Bryan Nakkan offers suggestions on how to rest your eyes: "After drafting for more than 20 years and using AutoCAD for the previous ten, I use many keyboard shortcuts (assigned by a preloaded AutoLISP routine) and screen toolbars so I’m not focused on the screen for long periods of time. Looking at the keyboard breaks the focal length of my eyes and they don't get too tired. Be sure to take a visual break and look out the window from time to time. It all helps." 

NOTES FROM CADALYST TIP PATROL:
Our Patrollers agree. No matter how you input information, it’s important to get out of your chair and stretch every hour or so. Look out at the trees in the distance to give your eyes a break from the computer screen. For your eyes’ health -- and for your own well-being -- you need to take breaks. 

Set of Dimensions
Isak Mishaeli shares a program that he wrote some years ago: Often, you need to move a line of dimensions to another point as a drawing is developed. This routine moves a set of continued dimensions as one selection set, by picking only one dimension in the set. Download MDL.ZIP in this week’s set of code. 

NOTES FROM CADALYST TIP PATROL:
This LISP routine works nicely and as outlined. 

MicroStation Tip: Centering Text Placement
Question: Is there a way to place text that is centered between two snap points without using dimensioning? Read the answer here. Axiom offers many MicroStation Tips on its MicroStationTips.com Web site.

Tips & Tools Weekly software tips for AutoCAD are reviewed by Cadalyst staff and the Cadalyst Tip Patrol before publication. Use tips at your own discretion, please, and watch later editions of this newsletter for updates and corrections. Many thanks to our volunteer Cadalyst Tip Patrol members: Don Boyer, Mitchell Hirschklau, R.K. McSwain, Don Reichle, Kevin Sawyer, Ivanhoe Tejeda, Billy Wooten and Ben Young.

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Deals & Freebies

Location Planning Module for VectorWorks
CAD software developer Nemetschek North America announced the availability of a new module that automates the process of creating location plans for environmental graphic designers. All VectorWorks 12 users can download the Location Planning Module free. Technology within the module reportedly allows designers to import EPS, DWG/DXF, image and PDF files; create sign tags and add sign data and messages; choose signs quickly from an editable catalog of sign types; update drawings with preformatted sign schedules; export data in the sign schedule to database programs and more.

Free Trial Raster-to-Vector Conversion
A trial program from Softcover International allows unrestricted evaluation of Scan2CAD Pro ($469), a raster-to-vector converter. At the end of the 14-day trial period, Scan2CAD's vector save, batch processing, command line and OCR font training will be disabled, but its professional raster editing tools will remain available indefinitely as a free raster editor for CAD. Scan2CAD automatically converts scanned drawings, schematics, profiles and maps into DXF files for editing in CAD or cutting in CNC.

Free Beta Release: CAD/BIM Building Product Data
CADalytic Media released a beta version of SpecifiCAD, which delivers building product data to the user's desktop within the CAD/BIM (building information modeling) environment. SpecifiCAD can be used in all design phases, including conceptual design, the construction document phase and the facility management phase. The tool connects designers to McGraw-Hill Construction Network for Products content. When a designer selects a CAD/BIM object, SpecifiCAD (working in the background) delivers relevant thumbnails of building product data.

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Opportunities & Honors

BE Conference Call for Papers
Organizers of Bentley’s 2007 BE Conference are accepting submissions for presentations on various AEC topics for BE Conference 2007, April 29-May 3 in Los Angeles, California, and BE Conference Europe (dates and location to be announced soon). Presenters will receive full conference fee waivers. Applications are due November 30, 2006.

Deadline Extended for Poster Submissions
Responding to requests from designers in numerous countries, the Shahneshin Foundation had extended the deadline for poster entries for its Shrinkage Worldwide Awards, which are intended to reward designers who promote a sustainable future. Submissions will be accepted until September 29, 2006, from all disciplines, including architecture, industrial design, digital design and urban planning. The entry fee is $40 ($25 for students). The Shahneshin Foundation, based in Zurich, Switzerland, is a nonprofit, international, independent center for design, education, research, and promotion of future-thinking through educational and promotional events.

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The Week's New CAD and Related Products

Hardware: Seiko Teriostar LP-1010
Paradigm Imaging Group to distribute large-format, high-speed networked printer.  Read more 

Hardware: CyberTablet M17
Adesso 17" display functions as both PC monitor and PC tablet.  Read more

Hardware: NextDimension FlexTop
Portable workstation now offers dual PCI-X 64-bit/100-MHz slots.  Read more 

Hardware: Engineering Paper Rolls
Kelly Paper offers variety of widths for wide-format plotting.  Read more

Hardware: Intel Core 2 Duo-Based Mobile Workstations
Eurocom upgrades notebooks with dual-core processing.  Read more

General Software: VectorWorks Version 12.5
Nemetschek updates product line, which now runs natively on Intel-based Macintosh systems. Read more 

General Software: Pages 3D and Publisher 3D
Updates from QuadriSpace offer support for Google SketchUp SKP files. Read more

General Software: XVL Studio Option for U3D
Lattice Technology's file generator enables its users to embed 3D data in Adobe PDF files.  Read more 

General Software: DesignCAD v17
Latest upgrade from IMSI/Design is tailored for home users.  Read more 

General Software: Kinnosa Enterprise Document Management
New version from Empresa Solutions comes with new name for eChange (MOTIVA).  Read more

General Software: Bluebeam PDF Revu Version 4.7
Solutions create PDF files from CAD applications.  Read more 

General Software: Vextractor
Latest release updates the raster-to-vector transformation software.  Read more

General Software: DirectConnect
Autodesk releases downloadable upgrades for its suite of data translators and introduces versions for CATIA, AliasStudio users.  Read more 

Visualization: VTour version 1.1 and ImageModeler 4
Users of REALVIZ photo-based software applications can now create georeferenced 3D scenes for Google Earth.  Read more

Design Visualization: Texture Pack 2
Spiral Graphics releases free collection of metal and stone textures.  Read more 

AEC: Imagenation 8 Svp1
Service pack streamlines view, markup and print processes.  Read more

AEC: InfoSWMM Conduit Storage Synthesizer (CSS)
Conduit storage synthesizer module calculates stage-storage relationships for gravity-pumped systems.  Read more

AEC: Success Design Exchange
U.S. Cost tool works inside Autodesk Revit to streamline data communication between 3D CAD models and cost estimating.  Read more

MCAD: AutoVue v 19.1 Client-Server, Web Edition for Linux
Cimmetry Systems software facilitates collaboration for technical engineering departments.  Read more

MCAD: Tecnomatix Production Management
Shop-floor and PLM integration solution from UGS is designed to facilitate product launches and regulatory compliance.  Read more

MCAD: XVL System Toolkit
Lattice Technology's software enables users to apply batch processes to XVL 3D data.  Read more

CAE: Fluent Connection 1.1
Software operates within UGS NX, Pro/ENGINEER Wildfire or SolidWorks to check CAD models for simulation-related problems.  Read more

CAE: Mesh Booleans for AutoCAD
SYCODE launches a mesh Boolean modeling plugin.  Read more

CAE: RF Module for COMSOL Multiphysics
New software enables simulation for RF, microwave and photonics component design.  Read more

CAE: STAR-CAD Series v4.10
CD-adapco updates CAD- and PLM-embedded simulation tools.  Read more

CAM: BMS Touch
CNC touchscreen control software guides Biegemaster sheet-metal folder.  Read more

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Mark Your Calendar

Cadalyst's complete list of upcoming industry events is always available on our Web site.

V-STARS Photogrammetry User Group Meeting     
September 28-29, 2006
Nort Sur Erdre, France
Manufacturing clientele from France and Belgium will convene at this meeting to update their knowledge and data acquisition techniques using V-STARS photogrammetry. Read more

Webinar: New Dimensions in Technical Documentation
October 4, 2006
Right Hemisphere and Tata Consultancy Services will lead this one-hour exploration of best practices in delivering interactive content. Read more

V-STARS Photogrammetry User Group Meeting     
October 10-11, 2006
Munich, Germany
GDV Systems GmbH has organized a V-STARS User Group event to be hosted by BMW AG Munich. The meeting will include lectures and workshops, and a tour of BMW’s research laboratories and MAN Nutzfahrzeuge, a manufacturer of large trucks in Munich. Read more 

COFES India Summit
November 17-18, 2006
New Delhi, India
This invitation-only event will concentrate on engineering software issues and the economic and political opportunities currently facing India. Read more 

2006 Structural Engineers Building Conference and Expo
November 29-30, 2006
Washington, DC
This conference will explore the changing roles of structural engineers. Conference attendees can choose from sessions including project management and business strategy, virtual building tools and market opportunity. Read more


AutoCAD Tips!

Lynn Allen

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 free Tips & Tools Weekly e-newsletter and we'll notify you every time a new video tip is published. All exclusively from Cadalyst!
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