Management

Tips & Tools Weekly (Vol. 12, No. 17)

7 May, 2007


What's New at Cadalyst.com

Get the Code!
Cadalyst'sMay code from Hot Tip Harry is now available for download. Andrew Siddeley wins $100 from Hot Tip Harry for this month's Top Tip, Command Library, a function that displays the names of command functions (with comments) in various LSP files.

Cadalyst May Print Content Now Live Online
A fresh batch of Cadalyst Labs reviews, CAD Central news, Cadalyst exclusive columns and much more is ready to view on Cadalyst.com.

Cadalyst's Exclusive AutoCAD Tutorials for May Now Live Online
The latest editions of all your favorite AutoCAD tutorials, including Steve Johnson's "Bug Watch," Lynn Allen's "Circles and Lines" and Bill Fane's "Learning Curve" are now available on Cadalyst.com.

New Quick Poll: How Many CAD Staffers in Your Company?
The latest Cadalyst Quick Poll is live online. This month, we want to know how many CAD users are on your staff, company-wide? Take the poll (go to any page of Cadalyst.com and scroll down to find the Quick Poll in the margin), then check out how you compare with your CAD peers in "Cadfidential" in the June edition of Cadalyst magazine.

Cadalyst Daily Update

For all the latest news and new products and updates about the newest features on Cadalyst.com, 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! Here's a sample of what you missed recently:

Cadalyst Discussion Forums for Every CAD Need
Cadalyst's online discussion forums are here to help you! Moderated by some of your favorite CAD experts, the forums deliver information and advice regarding general CAD topics and concerns, AutoCAD customization, MCAD, BIM and much more. Use requires registration, but it's free. Log on today!

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Resources

UGS Expands Seminar Series, PLM Report Available
UGS is expanding its Fast Track to PLM SMB (small to medium business) educational seminar series to help mid-size manufacturers understand how to improve NPD (new product development) processes by implementing a PLM strategy. In the recently published report Profitable Product Development for SME, Aberdeen Group reports that small to medium-size companies are enjoying significant performance advantages in hitting their NPD targets by employing PLM technologies.

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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.


Rotate Text

Uriel A. Rodriguez wrote ROTXT.LSP, which prompts you to select a section of text and then rotates it 180 degrees with one click. It sets your osnap mode to Insertion for the insertion point of the text. When it's done, it resets to the previous osnap modes, if any.

NOTES FROM CADALYST TIP PATROL: Our Patrollers tested this code in AutoCAD 2006 and 2007 and agree that it works as described. They offer a few programming suggestions:

Here are other options for cleaning up drawings, courtesy of the Tip Patrol:

  • Local variables should be declared.
  • The variable "mot" should be moved inside the (defun) so that it can be declared local also.
  • There's no reason to set and reset the osmode because there is no point selection. The selection of the entity does not use object snap.
  • There is no error checking in case a text or mtext entity is not selected, which can cause a hiccup. If you rotate a text or mtext entity by mistake, you can't just pick it again to rotate it back. You have to exit the command and rerun it.

Keyboard Remapper
John Blanchard has seen several keyboard remapping tips, but he says that none match what you can do with a keyboard remapper from http://www.szp-software.com/. Blanchard has used one of these remappers since he made the leap from DOS to Windows. He says, "You can make the right ALT key move you from wherever you are. You can use CTRL, ALT and Shift keys by themselves or in any combination. You can also make maps for other programs and change between them with a few picks or another remapped key using this code:

Right escape key ="{ESC}{ESC}(if (= 1 (getvar "tilemode"))(prompt "Must be a Tab.\n")(if (= 1 (getvar "cvport"))(command "mspace")(command "pspace"))){ENTER}"

"It does have one drawback," he admits, "When I go to try a new program at a seminar, I can't even use the standard keyboard."

NOTES FROM CADALYST TIP PATROL: One of our Patrollers has seen add-ons like this before and finds that they can be very helpful. Another Patroller agrees that it's easy to become reliant on your customizations. He adds, "This is not a tip I would adopt unless I created a TXT or DOC file to remind me of the changes made, and how to undo the changes in the future or how to make the changes to another computer." 

File Logging
Reader Brian Strandberg admits to being a forgetful person. To help him keep track of projects, he wrote this easy-to-use, file-logging program. He explains, "Place this code fragment in your ACADDOC.LSP and it will faithfully log the user, drawing name and the date and time the DWG was opened. You can then open the resultant file in Microsoft Excel or another spreadsheet program. I usually have a shortcut open it for me.

"If you place this code on each user's machine and place the log file on the network, you can get more useful information. 'Who opened this drawing last?' becomes a simple question to answer. Open the log file, search for the last time the drawing name was logged and you have it!"

Here's a sample log entry:
Bstrandberg P:\ldd\04103 Macadam Winter Garden\04103CV01-C01.DWG 04/12/07 8:25am

;----- Begin code fragment ------
(setq a (getvar "dwgname"))
(setq b (getvar "dwgprefix"))
(SETQ NEWDATE (MENUCMD "M=$(EDTIME,$(GETVAR,DATE),MO/DD/YY H:MMam/pm)"))
(setq bw_Fd (open "C:/temp/files.csv" "a")) ; Change file / directory as necessary
(princ "\n" bw_fd)
(princ (getvar "loginname") bw_fd) ; User name
(princ "," bw_fd)
(princ (strcat b a) bw_fd) ; Drawing name
(princ "," bw_fd)
(princ newdate bw_fd) ; Date time opened
(close bw_fd)
;----------- End code fragment ------------


NOTES FROM CADALYST TIP PATROL:
Our Patrollers agree that this works as advertised. If you only want to know who saved it last, it's easier to use Windows Explorer's View / Choose Details / Owner / OK. Another thing to keep in mind is that this spreadsheet file could become large with multiple users opening multiple files daily. If the file is saved on a network folder, that folder must have a drive letter or else it doesn't work. Keep in mind that the data saved is a record of people who opened the file. It does not state whether any changes were made.

Zooming In and Out
Reader S. Ramakrishna suggests setting Zoomfactor to 60 for quicker zooming. "Using the initial value of the Zoomfactor variable of 10 makes the mouse-wheel's forward and backward zoom speed very slow. Type ZOOMFACTOR at Command prompt and set the value to 60 and try again. This works really well and will speed up your work. This variable accepts an integer value between 3 and 100."

NOTES FROM CADALYST TIP PATROL: This is good advice, although recent software versions should be set at 60 as the default.

Copy a Layout
Frequent Tipster, Leonid Nemovsky (visit his AutoLISP Web site), shares this handy way to copy a layout: If there are more than one layout in paper space and you need to copy or move Viewport from one layout to another, first lock Viewports (to preserve scale ratio), then _copyclip (CTRL + C) or _cutclip (CTRL + X) desired viewports and _pasteclip them to another layout; they will look blank. Highlight them and in Change Property Dialog box under Misc., select Yes for the On setting.

NOTES FROM CADALYST TIP PATROL:
The Patrollers are in agreement that this is a good tip. One adds, "Also, if a user needs to copy an entire layout tab (viewports and objects) from another file, right-click the layout tab, click the From template option and browse to the file you want to copy a layout from."

Follow-Up: Keystroke Shortcuts in AutoCAD
Larry J. Emmert has a few keystroke shortcuts to add to Jim Stewart's list in the March 26 edition. He says, "These keystroke shortcuts can increase your productivity. The PGP (pigpen) can be adjusted for many different shorts. I've been using these since I found out about this function."

  • MM - match properties
  • CC - copy
  • LL - leader
  • BB - line break
  • PP - polyline edit

MicroStation Tip: Working with V7 files in V8
For those of you working in the V7 Workmode, you may have run into some quirks such as MicroStation V8 moving and scaling elements or shifting the global origin. Understanding how MicroStation V8 works will help eliminate these problems. Click here to read the full tip.

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.

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Deals & Freebies

3Dconnexion Updated Software Available to Download
3Dconnexion announced that its line of 3D navigation devices is now compatible with both 32-bit and 64-bit versions of AutoCAD 2008 and the 32-bit version of Autodesk Inventor 2008. Engineers and architects can control computer-generated 3D objects using 3Dconnexion's navigation devices when designing in these applications. The updated 3DxSoftware can be downloaded from the company's Web site.

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Opportunities & Honors

FIATECH's Technology Awards Presented
FIATECH, a consortium of capital project industry owners, engineering construction contractors and technology suppliers, announced the winners of the organization's CETI (Celebration of Engineering & Technology Innovation) Awards at an awards gala in Washington, D.C., on April 10. To see a description of each entry, as well as an electronic file of each submission, please visit the FIATECH Web site.

L.A. CAD Wins Fifth Consecutive Autodesk Award
L.A. CAD received its fifth consecutive Autodesk Platinum Club award, and sixth such award overall, at the Autodesk One Team Conference held last month in Las Vegas. The company received the award for achieving the highest individual user sales of the Revit series software among Autodesk resellers nationwide. In addition, L.A. CAD application specialist Troy Gates earned Autodesk's quarterly Shooting Star honor for his contributions in the Autodesk Revit solutions area during the fourth quarter of 2006.

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Books & Training

SolidProfessor Releases COSMOSWorks Designer Training
SolidProfessor released a self-paced, multimedia training course for COSMOSWorks Designer ($499.99). This addition to the SolidProfessors training library is intended to address the growing need by designers to take full advantage of COSMOSWorks capabilities included in the SolidWorks Office Premium product.

AutoCAD 2008 Instruction Available from ProSoft
ProSoft released the AutoCAD 2008 Fundamentals Exercise Workbook (586 pages, spiral bound, exercise dataset CD included), which provides detailed introduction to the tools, concepts and workflows a new user should master in order to become proficient with AutoCAD 2008. The workbook can be used as a self-training tool or for the company's 3-day instructor-led training class.

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The Week's New CAD and Related Products

Hardware: zp140 Composite Powder
Z Corporation releases composite powder for green 3D printing. Read more

General Software: Content and Document Management
LuraTech guarantees the ability to retrieve and render electronic documents despite the future technical landscape. Read more

Visualization: form.Z RenderZone Plus v6.5
auto-des-sys releases global illumination supported by final gather, ambient occlusion and improved radiosity techniques. Read more

MCAD: DELMIA Body-in-White v5.17
Software from Dassault Systemes integrates assembly processes from resource planning to process simulation. Read more

MCAD: SEE Electrical Harness PLM for CATIA
Software package from IGE+XAO Group enables design of electrical harnesses for aircraft and automotive markets. Read more

MCAD: FDM 200mc
Rapid prototyping and manufacturing system from Stratasys uses new ABSplus material. Read more

MCAD: MicroScribe X
New Portable coordinate measuring machine from Immersion Corp. is designed for high-accuracy needs of manufacturers. Read more

MCAD: CADSEEK Polaris
iSEEK releases geometric search engine that incorporates core shape algorithms and enables users to find similar individual parts from an assembly. Read more

CAE: Landing Gear
LMS Virtual.Lab solution enables simulation of landing gear models to assess multiple design alternatives and optimize aircraft designs. Read more

CAM: CAM350 v9.5
DownStream Technologies releases updated software that includes AutoImport templates, PADS ASCII Import option and ODB++ import. Read more

PLM: 3DLive
Collaborative intelligence solution from IBM and Dassault Systemes connects people live in 3D. Read more

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Mark Your Calendar

Transition to NX4 Training Class
May 14-16, 2007
San Jose, California
This class, presented by Design Visionaries, is intended for all users familiar with previous versions of UGS NX software. Participants will get up to speed with the latest and learn the new functionality in the newest version of NX. Read more

Webcast: Introduction to ArcGIS Image Server 9.2
May 24, 2007
9:00 and 11:00 a.m. PDT
Georeferenced imagery is an invaluable component of GIS applications, but it can be difficult to work with because it involves huge files and requires tremendous amounts of processing to get it into a usable form. This free online seminar by ESRI shows how ArcGIS Image Server 9.2 revolutionizes the way georeferenced imagery in a geographic information system is used on the Web or across local area networks. Read more

Basic NX4-Modeling, Drafting and Assemblies
May 28 - June 1, 2007
San Jose, California
After this class, presented by Design Visionaries, participants reportedly will be able to create machine parts from many industries, create come sculpted parts, do some analyses, draft parts to a basic level and create intermediate-level assemblies. Read more

Advanced NX4 Training Class
June 11-15, 2007
San Jose, California
Design Visionaries presents this class, which will leverage what participants already know and streamline their path to becoming advanced users. After this class, participants should be able to create complex parametric models and complex explicit models, aka “chunky solids”. Read more

Click here to view the complete calendar of events at Cadalyst.com.


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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