Tips & Tools Weekly (Vol. 12, No. 16)30 Apr, 2007
Come On, People! Where Will CAD Be In 50 Years?
New MCAD Discussion Forum Live Online
CAD Clinic: Civil 3D (April Tutorial)
Cadalyst Daily Update
White Paper: How PLM Supports Advanced Product Quality Planning
This Week's Software Tips
Send us your tip, code or shortcut for your favorite CAD software. If we publish your tip, 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 a $100 gift card 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) and tell us which software version you use. By submitting any tip or code, you grant Cadalyst the right to print and distribute that tip or 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.
Isolate Pesky Items
This can also work to isolate any object the CAD Standards Checker works with, such as layers, text styles, linetypes and dimension styles. If you’re not happy with the results, use the Undo command or quit before saving to get back to your original state.
If you have a lot of layers, text styles, linetypes and dimension styles and you don’t want to take the time to run all those through the checker, save your troublesome drawing as a DWS file. Then rename the troublesome items so they will stick out like a sore thumb and the checker can easily find them.
NOTES FROM CADALYST TIP PATROL: This tip works as described. One of our Patrollers notes he hasn't found a useful reason to employ the Standards command with any drawing files. He explains, "This is not to say that the tipster doesn't make some good points, but I use older methods to clean up drawings. The thought of having to clean up drawings may apply to drawings received from sources outside the architectural firm, but they shouldn't apply to drawings created in the office if everyone is following the CAD standards of the office."
Here are other options for cleaning up drawings, courtesy of the Tip Patrol:
Change AutoCAD Layer Names to MicroStation Level Names
Load the routine ALTOML.LSP (AutoCAD Layer to Microstation Level) and then at the Command prompt inside AutoCAD, type ALTOML to run the routine. This routine requires objects to be present in the drawing to run. It prompts you to input the level number 1 through 63. Then it prompts you to select an object on the layer to be converted. As each layer is converted to the MicroStation layering format, that layer is turned off. Next, it asks if there are any more layers to convert. If there are, then you must enter the next level number or, if there are no more layers to convert, all layers are turned on and all old layer names are purged. Note that you can convert objects on layer 0 (zero), but that layer can't be purged.
Within MicroStation, use the Reference command to import the AutoCAD drawing (DWG) into a new drawing (DGN). Notice that only the level 0 (zero) is remaining from the AutoCAD layer format into the MicroStation drawing. Now, use the Copy command in MicroStation, then unreference the AutoCAD drawing within the MicroStation drawing.
NOTES FROM CADALYST TIP PATROL: A very nice routine for those using AutoCAD and MicroStation, our Patrollers say! Some suggestions for enhancement:
"Type something like 150 kg/3^ (note the carat) then highlight the 3^ and pick the Stack button. Alternatively, you can achieve subscript entries by reversing the number and the carat symbol so sulphuric acid can be typed as H^2SO^4, but remember to highlight and stack the two subscript items individually. I don't put this on structural drawings too often.
"Using this approach, as far as I know, allows sub- and superscript text in the same style and font as your main body text. If you go deeper into Unicodes, you can adapt this approach for use in dtext also. You can also use any alpha or numeric characters you wish. Also, look through the Stack Properties Dialog section in the Help file for more information and options."
Follow-Up: LISP Overload?
Tip Patrol volunteer Mitchell Hirschklau continues the discussion: "I've been a computer-aided drafter for going on 29 years now. One of my oldest complaints about AutoCAD has been about what many perceive to be one of its greatest strengths -- the fact that you can add to it via LISP and the like. I recognize that this extensibility is indeed a wonderful feature. Few other software programs, CAD or otherwise, are as customizable.
"At the same time, I've always felt that the ability to add on to AutoCAD has allowed Autodesk to escape some responsibility for improving and fixing its software. We often heard from Autodesk that if something wasn't in the software (or didn't quite work the way you wanted), that you could always write code to "fix" it. Hmm. I've always felt, as do my employers, that I was a drafter, not a programmer.
"I'm very much in favor of educating users on the features that are already present, out-of-the-box, in the software. Customization should be used minimally to best support the user. If a user requires extensive customization, then fine, make it so. They should also know how to retrace their steps, recreate the customization and decustomize the set-up as well.
"I agree with Gill. Too many users would rather write macros or even LISP code to automate things that are already automated. If I had a dollar for every time I've been asked for a LISP program or to write a macro to do something that is already in the software. ... Sigh."
Patroller Kevin Sawyer says: "I have to agree to some extent with Gill that sometimes too much LISP programming can weigh down a CAD system by doubling up on built-in commands which more often than not do the job better and with more stability.
"As each version of AutoCAD is released, my first job is to look at which of our previous customized tools is part of the core program or an Express Tools add-on. During our last major upgrade to our in-house system, which basically involved starting from scratch with AutoCAD 2006 and building from there, I was amazed at the amount of dead wood that was on our system that had been integrated into AutoCAD years before -- hence, the decision to start over.
"Having said all this, I still think that the majority of tips Cadalyst receives use some form of LISP, VBA or macro programming aspect, as this is the area where users can make the most improvement. Most other tips are simply highlighting already documented items such as shortcut keys in AutoCAD, Windows, etc."
Follow-Up: Get Model Space Measurement
Michael Grutter's explanation was very thorough: "While Alan Harmon may have found a fluke in his installation where he is able to get 1:1 measurements between model and layout objects, the Tip Patrollers are not exactly correct that he must be using Dimensions instead of the Distance command. If you use the Distance command between two model space objects in a scaled viewport, you do get model space distances. If you pick all layout objects or a combination of model and layout objects, you get the scaled distance from the layout.
"Also, with dimassoc set to 2, the associative nature of the dimensions is not accurate if they are associated with polylines, blocks and solids. If any of these object types are edited (i.e., exploded, trimmed, redefined or solid edited), their handles are changed and the associativity is lost. The dimensions will move, just not to any predictable location.
"In most instances, if you've selected the object method of attaching a dimension and then fillet or chamfer perpendicular corners, the dimensions shorten to the ends of the original object (less the fillet/chamfer distance). The same can happen if you select endpoints by hovering over the actual corner of any two or more objects. The program may be selecting the wrong object endpoint which can also result in many hours of dimension editing if there is subsequent editing of the dimensioned objects."
Follow-Up: Paths to Drawings
"I use fields for plotting information such as plotted date, scale, drawing path, filename, layout name and so on. For the layout name I use ctab as the system variable name. You can make a stamp for inserting or include them anywhere on your drawing. My preference is to have them in the printable margin of my template files.
"In addition, you can insert fields into mtext, attributes and cells in tables. You can also assign information from existing object to a field. For example, you can select an object from the field category, pick a polyline or hatch pattern, select the area of the object, the unit and the format of your choice. The area field updates if you stretch or edit the object."
MicroStation Tip: Editing Placed Dimension Text
Answer: In MicroStation v8, using the word processor text editor, it's possible to edit dimension text by adding an italics property to some or all of the dimension text.
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: Brian Benton, Don Boyer, Mitchell Hirschklau, R.K. McSwain, Don Reichle, Kevin Sawyer, Ivanhoe Tejeda and Billy Wooten.
Deals & Freebies
CadFaster Launches CadFaster|QuickStep for OpenGL
Caligari Offers Pre-Release Bundle Pricing for trueSpace v7.5, V-Ray v1.5
Opportunities & Honors
MSC.Software Wins IBM PartnerWorld Beacon Award
Rios Clementi Hale Studios Wins AIACC 2007 Firm Award
SEE Electrical named Product of the Year by Polish magazine.
ESRI Publishes GIS in Education Book
The Week's New CAD and Related Products
Hardware: Quadro Plex Model IV
General Software: BeAnyWhere
AEC: ArchiOffice v8.5
MCAD: Lattice3D Reporter
Mark Your Calendar
MasterGraphics' Autodesk 2008 Product Solutions Seminars
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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!