Tips & Tools Weekly (Vol. 11, No. 41)

13 Nov, 2006

Untitled Document

What's New at

Cadalyst Awards Autodesk Trip to LISP Code Contributor
Cadalyst unveiled the winner of a trip to Autodesk University 2006, the first of two grand prizes to be awarded in its Hot Tip Harry 2006 contest, sponsored by Autodesk. Charles Allred, a steel detailer from Utah and one of many contributors to Cadalyst's Hot Tip Harry column this year, was awarded airfare, lodging and a week-long pass to Autodesk University, to be held in Las Vegas, Nevada, November 27-December 1.

Get the Code!
Cadalyst's November code from Hot Tip Harry is now available for download. Michael Kolomiyets earned $100 for this month's top tip, Word Wrap Editor, a text data-manipulation power tool that lets you select a group of text objects and force them to fit into a particular column size.

CAD Manager's Survey Results are in!
CAD managers this year are demanding more authority -- and more money -- according to the results of Robert Green's CAD Manager's Survey 2006. Check out the details in his November CAD Manager column.

Cadalyst's November Web Exclusives Now Live Online!
The latest editions of all your favorite Cadalyst tutorials for AutoCAD and other popular CAD software, CAD Cartoon, Dialog Box (letters from readers) -- plus all the content from the November edition of Cadalyst magazine -- are now live on Check it out!

Does Management Support Your CAD Department?
The latest Cadalyst Quick Poll is live online. Your company's management is always looking at you -- so we're turning the tables to see what CAD users think of management. Take the poll (go to any page of and scroll down to find the Quick Poll in the margin), then watch for the results in Cadfidential in the November edition of Cadalyst magazine.

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:

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NVIDIA Launches CAD Performance Drivers
NVIDIA, a provider of programmable graphics processor technologies, has made NVIDIA MAXtreme 9 D3D (Direct3D) and POWERdraft 2007 immediately available. The new performance drivers were developed in collaboration with Autodesk for 3ds Max 9 software and AutoCAD 2007. MAXtreme 9 and POWERdraft 2007 are currently available as free downloads at the NVIDIA Web site. The MAXtreme 9 D3D performance driver enhances 3ds Max 9 user productivity by allowing professionals to control the application's viewport display quality and real-time rendering speed. POWERdraft 2007, a performance driver for AutoCAD 2007, provides 3D hardware acceleration for Quadro FX graphics solutions running under Windows 2000/XP.

Program Review Report from CIMdata
CIMdata, a consulting and research firm, announced that a new program review report is available for free downloading. In the report, titled "UGS' Velocity Series Portfolio -- PLM for Mid-Sized Companies," CIMdata provides an introduction to the business problems faced by mid-sized companies and how they can benefit from Product Lifecycle Management. It also reviews UGS' Velocity Series Portfolio that can help mid-sized companies address those problems.

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This Week's Software Tips

Send us your tip, code 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, and each month Cadalyst editors will randomly select one published tip and send $100 to its author. Please submit only code and other tips that are your original work, or provide the original source so we can include proper credit. By submitting code to Cadalyst, you grant Cadalyst the right to print and distribute your code in print, digitally and by other means. Cadalyst and individual authors retain all rights to the code; any published code is not to be used for commercial purposes.

Cycle Through Drawings
R. Paul Cooper reminds us that when working in AutoCAD with only one monitor, you can CTRL+TAB to cycle through drawings. It works great for cutting and pasting blocks, notes and the like. Remember to set up AutoCAD to work with multiple drawings.

NOTES FROM CADALYST TIP PATROL: This shortcut is an oldie-but-goodie. Note that if you have more than, say, four drawings open, you might find using the Windows pull-down list to be more efficient.

Create PLT Files from Other Formats
Milton Fitzgerald found that his customers are going back to using the old PLT file standard for printing. He had difficulty setting up the different CAD programs to make PLT files. This is how he solved his problem:

  • Complete the drawing in the preferred format. For example, if a customer wanted MicroStation DGN files for his own use and PLT for his subcontractors, he would then convert the DGN files to AutoCAD DWG files.

  • From AutoCAD, he would choose Plot and check the box for Plot to File. He did not use the Publishing command.

You don't need to have the latest and greatest software to do this. Milton is currently using AutoCAD 2002 and MicroStation J. He went this route because the requested file format (MicroStation DGN) didn't always give him the proper results when creating a PLT from MicroStation, even after using the Preview option.

With AutoCAD, this was a simple task: He was able to teach the whole department how to do this -- and even for some of the older DOS users, the PLT files worked and looked great. The worst problem they ran into was converting fonts and linetypes to get the now converted AutoCAD files to look like the MicroStation hardcopy prints.

NOTES FROM CADALYST TIP PATROL: Our Patrollers prefer to use PDF or DWF file formats to solve this problem. The viewers are free and everyone is familiar with them. But if, like Milton, you need to output PLT files from CAD drawings, this approach might be just the ticket.

Layers, Continued
Milton Fitzgerald continues with more information on layers. He says, "I've noticed a lot of layer-related questions and options regarding the use of layers. Not once has anyone mentioned that the Layer Tools pull-down menu was moved to the Format tab in AutoCAD 2007. By the way, most of the Express Tools Layer commands are still there, with the exceptions or changes that have been pointed out over this year.

"If you prefer to work with icons, simply place your mouse above any icon, right-click and a list of icon-related toolbars should show up. Look for Layers II, and a new set of Layer Tools shows up."

NOTES FROM CADALYST TIP PATROL: The above is a good tip. Just a reminder that it's for users who use full AutoCAD, not LT users.

MicroStation Tip – Transparency on Elements
Question: Is there a way to adjust the transparency, say 50%, when placing Shape / Smartline or Create Region? Also, is it possible to print it out just as is without tweaking the pen table or anything?

Answer: If you're looking for filled shapes displaying on your screen with transparency, it's best to use a pen table with a RIP driver or use MicroStation V8 XM Edition, which does support transparency on elements.

Another option is to use a raster image file of the color desired. Clip Bound & Mask to the desired area. Make the raster image transparent and then plot.

Axiom offers many MicroStation Tips on its 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

Adobe Offers Free Trial of New Acrobat Connect
Adobe announced the January 2007 planned release of the Adobe Acrobat Connect hosted service, reportedly the first Web conferencing and collaboration solution to offer "always-on" personal meeting rooms. Acrobat Connect enables professionals to connect online using a Web browser and Adobe Flash Player software. The Acrobat Connect hosted service is immediately available as a free trial through the end of the current calendar year. The commercial release of Acrobat Connect, initially in English, is expected to be available for a subscription price of $39 per month, or $395 per year, per personal meeting room.

Seemage Offers Trade-Up Deal to ITEDO Users
Seemage, a product information delivery firm, announced on Tuesday a trade-up offer for users of ITEDO Software's IsoDraw, IsoView and IsoCompose. License holders of any ITEDO tools currently on maintenance are eligible for the special offer. Users can benefit from a 40% discount on license and maintenance on Seemage Publisher, which manipulates any 3D CAD model to create product illustrations and procedures; Seemage MockUp, which enables users to create interactive content; and Seemage Viz, which visualizes 3D design information in the product environment. The offer is in effect until January 31, 2007.

Luxology Announces Special modo Offer
Luxology, an independent technology company developing 3D content creation software, announced the Power of Two promotion, which offers modo at a discounted price of $695 (regular price is $895) to LightWave 3D, Softimage|XSI, 3ds Max and Maya users. modo, which was developed to work in conjunction with other 3D software, is a 3D modeling, painting and rendering software designed to accelerate the creation of models, associated color and normal maps and high-quality renderings.

Draft IT Version 2 Free Offer
UK CAD software developer CADlogic has released Version 2 of Draft IT, a free 2D PC CAD system. The company reports that the new Draft IT is significantly faster than its predecessor and just as easy to use without training. Draft IT is a full CAD system that allows users to create, print and save drawings without restriction on time or usage. Draft IT assists the user at all stages of drawing creation with a variety of visual drawing aids. CADlogic also offers two enhanced versions of the program: Draft IT PLUS (£10 plus tax) and Draft IT PRO (£49 plus tax).

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Opportunities& Honors

Bentley's Aish Receives ACADIA Award
Bentley Systems announced that Bentley Building's director of research, Robert Aish, was presented the 2006 ACADIA (Association for Computer-Aided Design in Architecture) Society Award at the association's recent conference. The award recognizes extraordinary contributions and service to the ACADIA community. ACADIA was formed for the purpose of facilitating communication and critical thinking regarding the use of computers in architecture, planning and building science.

Z Corporation Receives Popular Science and NASA Awards
Z Corporation's newly released ZScanner 700 was recognized by Popular Science magazine as a winner of the publication's Best of What's New Award. The ZScanner 700 is the first handheld, self-positioning 3D scanner that can digitize 3D surfaces in real time for reverse engineering, packaging design, digital archiving and other applications. The ZScanner 700 also has been chosen as NASA Tech Briefs' October 2006 Product of the Month and is a candidate for Product of the Year, which will be selected in December. In addition, Z Corporation was recently named the 2006 Bronze Medal recipient of the Northeast Shingo Prize for Excellence in Manufacturing, a recognition of the company's prowess in the practice of lean manufacturing. The Shingo prize is administered by the Greater Boston Manufacturing Partnership at the College of Management.
Pinion Security Software Earns SC Magazine Awards
Pinion Software, a provider of technical rights management solutions, announced that its security software Pinion Desktop Packager -- Workgroup Edition received a 5-star rating (the highest overall ranking) and "Best Buy" award from SC Magazine. The IT security magazine evaluated the software in a lab review of document security and digital rights management software products. Pinion Desktop Packager safeguards high-value CAD files and other technical information inside and outside the corporate firewall. Products were judged on their technical features, ease of use, performance, documentation, support and value for money.

BE Career Network Opens Student Design Competition
The BE Careers Network launched the 2007 BE Awards of Excellence student competition. Four winners will receive BE Awards and scholarships during BE Conference 2007, to be held April 29-May 3 at the Los Angeles Convention Center in California. The competition is broken into two categories: college/university and middle school/high school. Students and student teams in the college/university competition can complete a project design of their choosing in one of three areas: architecture, engineering or water. A winning project will be selected in each category. The students and student teams participating in this year's middle school/high school competition are being asked to design a school of the future. They must complete their projects using Bentley's MicroStation PowerDraft, which is available to them free of charge through the BE Careers Network. The student competition is judged by an independent panel of experts from academia and industry.

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Books and Training

Butterworth-Heinemann, a division of Elsevier, announced the publication of The ASHRAE GreenGuide, ($79.95, 416 pages) by ASHRAE Press. The guide for making a building's heating, cooling and energy needs as "green" as possible is updated with improved graphics, more references and resources, and improved organization to better reflect the actual steps of the building process. The book is organized around the recommended practices of the U.S. Green Building Council and its LEED (Leadership on Energy and Environmental Design) program to help designers and builders ensure the most-up-to date compliance and accepted practice.

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The Week's New CAD and Related Products

Hardware: STINGER IIi
ROMER CMM features quick-change probes.  Read more

Hardware: NextDimension with 17" Monitor
NextComputing's new offerings work with the company's mobile engineering workstation.  Read more

Hardware: Quad-Core Intel Xeon Workstations
Dell enhances systems with faster processing speeds, lower power consumption.  Read more

General Software: Acrobat 8
Adobe's updated document management software is now shipping.  Read more

General Software: Version 4.0 of FARO Scene, FARO Scout, FARO Scout LT  and FARO Record
Improvements to point-cloud management software include export of objects in DXF format.  Read more

General: InventBetter Suite 2007
GEOMATE's collection of programs helps users evaluate all possible design options before committing to a final solution.  Read more

Visualization: VTour 1.1 for Macintosh
REALVIZ releases its 3D environment creation software for the Macintosh platform.  Read more

MCAD: Autodesk AliasStudio 13.5
Industrial design software includes new DWG/DXF translator.  Read more

CAE: Version 2 of FLUENT for CATIA V5
Fluent's new release will extend the software's PLM-embedded analysis capability.  Read more

New version of VISTAGY's software features expanded support for end-to-end composite product development process.  Read more

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Mark Your Calendar

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

Webinar: SolidWorks Formula for Success
November 16, 2006
This SolidWorks-sponsored webcast offers attendees a live interview with a U.S. engineering company that has moved from 2D to SolidWorks and DriveWorks. Read more

ESRI ArcGIS User Group Meetings
Various December Dates
Various California, Hawaii and Nevada locations
ArcGIS user groups provide a forum for ESRI users to share their experiences, exchange best practices and learn about new technology. Read more

V-STARS International User Group Meeting
January 24-26, 2007
Melbourne, Florida
Geodetic Systems will host its 5th International V-STARS User Group conference with round tables, presentations and Q & A sessions for attendees to learn about advances in non-contact measurement technology and industrial photogrammetry. Read more

Automation Technology Egypt 2007
March 8-11, 2007
Cairo, Egypt
This exhibition focuses on such topics as instrumentation, process, electronics, international industrial control and automation technology. Read more

August 5-9, 2007
San Diego, California
This 34th International Conference and Exhibition on Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques will explore the products, systems, techniques, ideas and inspiration that are creating the next generations of computer graphics and interactive techniques. 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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