Tips & Tools Weekly (Vol. 12, No. 10)

19 Mar, 2007

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What's New at

Cadalyst Labs Review: Workstations on the Rise
Ron LaFon examines the latest dual-core systems from @Xi Computer, Polywell Computers and Velocity Micro and finds they yield some of the fastest, most capable workstations to date. LaFon also previews quad-core processors for CAD applications. Read more

CAD Manager Column: Building Your Workplace Action Plan
Cadalyst's Robert Green offers advice for improving productivity and decreasing frustration by analyzing -- and fixing -- problems. Read more

Cadalyst Daily Update
For all the latest news and new products and updates about the newest features on, subscribe to the Cadalyst Daily e-newsletter. Plus, every Monday we bring you a full-length feature article you won't find anywhere else -- hardware and CAD software reviews, success stories, interviews, event reports, AutoCAD tips and more!

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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; published code is not to be used for commercial purposes.

Send a Drawing in MS Word
Check out a tip from Danny Comsa from the March 12 edition of Cadalyst Daily e-newsletter. Danny outlines a time-tested procedure for sharing a tidy rendition of your design with anyone who otherwise lacks the tools for easy DWG review. This process even allows reviewer mark-up. Read more

Subscribe to Cadalyst Daily today and we'll deliver the latest CAD news and new products to your desktop each workday.

Write Sequential Numbers
Azfar Mahmood offers this AutoLISP routine (SEQNO.LSP, SEQNO.DCL) to write sequential numbers in three different directions: top to bottom, bottom to top and left to right. He explains, "Simply drag the crosshair in a particular direction. The text appears on-screen with the supplied suffix and prefix, plus the number incrementing by one with each instance. When you reach your desired number or exceed the number, you can remove them simply by dragging the crosshair against the selected direction and the numbers decrease. Press ESC or Enter when you reach the target. If you zoom out and can't see what's on screen, during the crosshair movement you can also monitor the desired text with the help of the status line counter."

NOTES FROM CADALYST TIP PATROL: "This routine does what it says, but with a few quirks. With accelerated mouse movement, which is fairly common these days, it’s very difficult to stop your drag on the desired number. When this happens, you have to erase the unwanted additional entries. The routine doesn’t let you drag in any direction either than that specifically stated: You must enter the direction in the dialog box and then the direction is fixed. A suggestion would be to structure the dialog box to default to the last entered values, such as prefix and suffix, upon running and also to specify the increment value to something other than 1."

Wrap Your Routines
Ed Jobe offers a menu that provides wrapper functions for many VBA routines. He says, "The code (COMMANDWRAPPER.LSP) is not a complete LISP function, but a portion of an MNL file that automates creating 'C:' style defuns for my VBA routines. When I add a new VBA subroutine, all I have to do is add the text name to an array. The MNL uses (vl-vbaload) to load the DVB containing the subs. The RunMacro method is used rather than (vla-runmacro) because many of my subs make use of PickFirstSelectionSet, which is cleared when called from LISP. You can change the constructor to use VbaRun if you wish. The main point here is to minimize maintenance so as not to have dozens of defuns."

NOTES FROM CADALYST TIP PATROL: Our expert LISP Patroller says, "This is an effective use of multiple programming formats, such as LISP, VBA and VL. I prefer to keep my routines as separate, individual files so I can easily access them for updates. I also tend to use the AutoLoad feature for my LISP routines via hotkeys. But that is purely the way I do things. This routine functions well and can be useful for those who know the various programming languages."

Publish to Web
Frequent tipster Leonid Nemirovsky (visit his AutoLISP Web site) reminds users that if you "need to send drawings for quick client review and you don't have Acrobat Professional, use AutoCAD's Publish to Web option from the File pull-down menu. This lets you quickly deliver a set of drawings to clients in HTML format."

Mtext Tips
Len also shares these small AutoLISP routines "to start annotations with Mtext on the proper layer and at the proper text size based on DIMSCALE settings and typical standards for text heights. You can adjust layer names, colors and text heights according to your own standards and desired settings."

Mtext Tip 1

(COMMAND"LAYER" "M" "N-TXT-LT" "C" "2" "" "")
(setq scf (getvar "dimscale"))
(setq ht (* 0.125 scf))
(setvar "textsize" ht)
(command"mtext" PAUSE "W" "0")

Mtext Tip 2

(COMMAND"LAYER" "M" "N-TXT-MED" "C" "7" "" "")
(setq scf (getvar "dimscale"))
(setq ht (* 0.18 scf))
(setvar "textsize" ht)
(command"mtext" PAUSE "W" "0")

Mtext Tip 3

(COMMAND"LAYER" "M" "N-TXT-HVY" "C" "6" "" "")
(setq scf (getvar "dimscale"))
(setq ht (* 0.25 scf))
(setvar "textsize" ht)
(command"mtext" PAUSE "W" "0")

NOTES FROM CADALYST TIP PATROL: Tip Patrol reviewers agree that these three Mtext tips work fine. For users looking to add further functionality, one Patroller reminds users that the Mtext command offers various suboptions, such as justification, text size and the like, so ideally additions such as these should terminate after the Mtext command so users can access all the suboptions. "It would also be better to reset current layer, color and the like back to the settings at initiation time," he adds.

Follow-Up: AutoCAD Dimensioning
James Vermillion points out a discrepancy in the March 12 edition. Instead of using the /X feature to stack text above and below the dimension line, it should of course be \X. He also reminds fellow users that \P formats a new line in the dimension, either above or below.

Follow-Up: Chspace
Kevin Land corrects another March 12 tip by letting us know that in AutoCAD 2006, the Chspace command only works in paper space. Our apologies for the error.

MicroStation Tip: Take Your Cell Library to Other Dimensions
Question: How do you convert a MicroStation V7 3D cell library to a V7 2D cell library, and vice versa?

Answer: Easy! Just use MicroStation's Export function. Click here for details.

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

ESRI Offers Free GIS and Mapping Software
ESRI released ArcGIS for AutoCAD, a free AutoCAD application that allows CAD users to visualize and query GIS data within the CAD environment without conversion. ArcGIS for AutoCAD accesses dynamic georeferenced ArcGIS Server map services and displays the maps in the AutoCAD drafting environment. ArcGIS for AutoCAD requires ArcGIS Server v9.2 and AutoCAD 2007.

BE Conference Offering Early Registration Discount
Bentley Systems announced that registration is open for BE Conference 2007, to be held April 29 - May 3 in Los Angeles, California. Those who register by March 23 will receive a discount that reduces the Learning Program fee by $200 -- from $995 to $795. The BE Conference offers keynotes on future technology and business trends, courses and accredited learning, best practices sessions, technology updates, a products and services exhibition, the BE Awards of Excellence, and the first BE Executive Symposium.

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Books & Training

AutoCAD Training for Architects and Interior Designers
Fairchild Books published Digital Drawing for Designers: A Visual Guide to AutoCAD ($70.50) by Douglas R. Seidler. Written for architects and interior designers, the book examines the relationship between hand drawing and digital drawing in AutoCAD. According to the publisher, instructions are conveyed using the language and concepts of manual drawing that all designers know, enabling them to translate them to the digital environment.

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The Week's New CAD and Related Products

Visualization: AutoVue 3D Pro - SME v19.1
Cimmetry launches native visualization software for SolidWorks, Inventor, AutoCAD Mechanical and Solid Edge. Read more

Visualization: Vue 6 Easel, Esprit And Pro Studio
E-on Software provides updated versions of its software for the creation, animation and rendering of natural 3D environments. Read more

GIS: Cadcorp SIS Pictometry Viewer
Free application enables imagery viewing within Map Modeller, Map Editor and Map Manager. Read more

MCAD: MD Solutions v2
Multidiscipline simulation software from MSC.Software enables model interaction, applying effects of one environment simultaneously to another. Read more

ESI Group releases updated virtual sheet metal manufacturing software for tool and die design. Read more

CD-adapco upgrades computational fluid dynamics tool. Read more

CAE: Nastran v9 Windows x64
Noran Engineering's FEA software is designed to run on 64-bit Windows operating systems. Read more

CAM: GibbsCAM 5-Axis Module
Gibbs and Associates releases new option that supports 5-axis simultaneous milling. Read more

CAM: GibbsCAM Machine Simulation
A new option allows for the entire machine tool motion of a CNC program to be validated in an accurate simulation. Read more

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Mark Your Calendar

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

Web Seminar: Die Design
March  22, 2007
2:00 p.m. EDT
This web seminar will demonstrate the capabilities of Cimatron's DieDesign, such as helping you produce progressive dies at incredible speed, use one integrated solution from quoting and strip design to final production and save time generating accurate quotes. Read more

Webcast: Design Automation Made Easy
March 29, 2007
1:00 p.m. EDT
This Webcast sponsored by SolidWorks will demonstrate how your company can benefit from using the design automation tool DriveWorksXpress. Learn how to save time by avoiding repeating the same tasks over and over again and make sure the results of what you do are accurate. After the presentation viewers will receive a link to a free download of the new version of DriveWorksXpress. Read more

2007 Abaqus International Users' Conference
May 22-24, 2007
Paris, France
SIMULIA, Dassault Systemes' brand for realistic simulation, will host the 20th Annual International Abaqus Users' Conference, which will feature presentations by more than 50 companies and 16 technology partners on their use of simulation technology to accelerate research and product development. Invited keynote addresses from Airbus and AVL will highlight the three-day event. 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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