Tips & Tools Weekly (Vol. 12, No. 25)

16 Jul, 2007

What's New at

Get the Code!
Cadalyst 's July code from Hot Tip Harry is now available for download. Michael Kolomiyets won $100 from Hot Tip Harry for this month's Top Tip, Complex Linetype Flip.

Visit Cadalyst's MCAD Discussion Forum
Moderated by MCAD Tech News author Jeff Rowe, Tech Forum: MCAD aims to bring together peers in the mechanical CAD field to discuss news, trends, and other topics of common interest. Subforums focus on topics relevant to users of specific MCAD software, including AutoCAD Mechanical, Inventor, Alibre Design, Solid Edge, SolidWorks, IronCAD, CATIA, Pro/ENGINEER, and AliasStudio.

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! Here's a sample of what you missed recently:

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SolidProfessor Introduces Interactive Newsletter
SolidProfessor has launched "Ask SolidProfessor," an interactive newsletter that offers tips and instruction to SolidWorks users worldwide. Pedro Santana, vice-president of SolidProfessor, said, "The topics we present are directly driven by questions submitted by readers, so we know the material is relevant to everyday users of SolidWorks." SolidProfessor creates self-paced multimedia training for users of SolidWorks and related products. Read 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 your tip, we'll send you a Cadalyst t-shirt, and each month Cadalyst editors will randomly select one published tip and award 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.

Congratulations June Winner!
Cadalyst awarded the June $100 prize to Paul Dempsey , who submitted the Attach Details to Site Plans tip published in the June 4 edition. Dempsey was selected in a random drawing of all original Tips & Tools Weekly submissions published last month. Send us your original tip now for a chance to win!

Zoom to Page Layout
Reader Robert L. Zipprich says, "I couldn't find a way to Zoom to the Page Layout, so I wrote a menu line to do it":

[_Button("ZOOM PageLayout", "ZPageLayout.bmp", "ICON_16_BLANK"")  ]^C^Czoom e zoom c (getvar "viewctr") 24 \

NOTES FROM CADALYST TIP PATROL: Our Patrol agrees that this button works as described, but adds that it only works for a drawing that is 24 units tall. "When working on an A-size sheet, there was space around the sheet and the edge of the screen. Performing a Zoom Extents zooms to the page layout size unless there are items outside of the drawing border. If you never do this, then you don't need this button. If you work on different size drawings, edit the macro to fit the height of the sheet you are using. I would also suggest making different buttons for each size you need."

Old School Tips and Tricks
Mitchell Hirschklau
, senior draftsperson at Parette Somjen Architects LLC and Cadalyst Tip Patrol member, offers a few old school tips:

"Many firms and users now use AutoCAD palettes as a way to easily access the specialized blocks that they've built. Often these are organized by discipline, such as furniture, electrical, ceiling, and the like.

"A similar 'old school' method (but one that is much more portable if you're the sort of user who frequently works away from your home site) is to create stand-alone drawings, one for each discipline, with all the blocks, layers, text styles, and dimensions styles that you might need for a particular purpose. Then, when you need to, you can insert (I prefer explode) your specific DWG and get to work. Of course, any layers, text styles, blocks, and such that are already defined in the drawing that you are inserting into will take precedence.

"The real advantage of this trick is that it's easily portable -- or e-mailable -- while palette customizations are less so. And, even when palette customizations are (with permission) transferable, this technique requires no customization time (other than accessing the file for insert) while the palette transfer requires time for CUI customization.

"Next, I often use prebuilt standard sets of details, sections, symbol legends, and the like. With these sets, I generally try to build them so I have tagged them (on the DEFPOINTS or other do-not-plot layer) with some descriptive information (such as the paper space viewport scale). But, I also set them up so that they are regularly spaced. For example, my standard Partition Details are spaced 8'-0" apart Left-to-Right (in model space), so if I need to add a P3 detail to a sheet which already has the P1 and P2 details (in paper space), I simply to these steps:

  • Copy my (for example) P2 viewport.
  • Make the new viewport active.
  • Using the old Pan command, I pan within the viewport the necessary distance (left, right, up, down, whatever).
  • By doing so, my new viewport, like the old one, already has the correct scale and has the correct layers on/off, etc.

"I find this generally much more efficient that creating, scaling, resizing, and layer controlling a newly created viewport.

"None of the above are particularly high-tech tricks (no LISP was harmed in their creation), however sometimes we can learn some useful techniques from the old school."

NOTES FROM CADALYST TIP PATROL: This are good "Old School" tips. In fact, this file may already exist on your company's server. The items in the tool palettes are probably referencing one file that holds all of the blocks. Check with the powers-that-be at your office to verify. If so, then you can copy that file to take with you. I recommend placing all relative blocks and the like in one file such as this to make it easier to set up Tool Palettes through the Design Center, and for ease of maintenance. It also keeps your Tool Palette File Paths simplified.

Follow-Up to Follow-Up: TileMode Toggle
One of our tip patrollers answers a reader's question in the July 9 edition and follows up with more information on the April 9 TileMode tip. "I'm afraid I didn't look closely enough at the suggested shortcut key/menu Toggle's DIESEL code:

 ^P'_.tilemode $M=$(if,$(and,$(getvar,tilemode),1),$(-,$(getvar,tilemode),1),$(+,$(getvar,tilemode),1))

"My excuse is that I already had a similar bit code to perform this task:


"If you assign the above, shorter example of DIESEL code to a shortcut key or a menu button, it permits the user to toggle between model space and paper space with a single keystroke or menu pick -- and no additional typing.

"If I understand the DIESEL code correctly, it essentially reads the state of the TileMode (set to 1 or 0) and increments it, for example if it's 1, it changes to 0, or the reverse. In my eagerness to promote these sorts of shortcut keys and menu toggles such as these examples for the DIMSE1 and DIMSE2, I didn't examine the actual code closely enough:


"I hope that the above, more functional code, answers the reader's question."

MicroStation Tip: Using Level Symbology to Plot Thinner Lines
There is a way to plot the lines in some reference files thinner, without changing the drawing and keep the other reference files the same. The easy way to handle this is to use Level Symbology. (The following directions are for MicroStation/J.):

  • From the Reference dialog box, select the reference file you want to plot.
  • Go to Settings / Level Symbology. This opens the Ref Level Symbology dialog box for that reference file.
  • Select the levels you want to make thinner, and then click on the Weight check box, under the Settings area.
  • Modify the Weight and click OK.
  • In the View Attributes for your active view, turn on Level Symbology. Enable the Level Symbology view attribute to see the level symbology you just set. That's it! This doesn't affect the actual element symbology, only how the element displays in that view. You can turn off the level symbology when you are done plotting.

If you use this procedure often, it would be good practice to set up this up in an unused view. This gives you a plotting view that you can modify however you want, without modifying the actual drawing.

Axiom offers many MicroStation Tips on its Web site.

Tips & Tools Weekly software tips for AutoCAD are reviewed by Cadalyst staff and the Tip Patrol before publication. Use all tips at your own discretion, please, and watch later editions of this newsletter for updates and corrections. We're sorry, but editors and Tip Patrol members cannot provide assistance with technical problems; please refer to Cadalyst's Hot Tip Harry-Help discussion forum.

Sincere thanks to our volunteer Tip Patrol members: Brian Benton, Don Boyer, Mitchell Hirschklau, R.K. McSwain, Kevin Sawyer, Ivanhoe Tejeda, and Billy Wooten.

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Opportunities & Honors

Autodesk Names Winners of Inventor Student Design Contest
Autodesk announced the winners of its Inventor Student Design Contest, which was launched in January 2007 through the company's Student Engineering and Design Community. Post-secondary students from around the world submitted designs created using Autodesk Inventor. The grand prize for the student contest, as well as Autodesk's June Inventor of the Month title, went to a team of students from the Warsaw University of Technology in Poland. Read more

Spatial Announces Second Annual 3D InterOp Model Contest
Spatial's second annual 3D InterOp Model Contest is accepting entries until September 28. Attendees of Spatial's 3D Insiders' Summit in Boulder, Colorado, October 2-3, will select three contest winners. Prizes include $5,000 for first place, $2,500 for second place, and $1,000 for third place. Contestants' submissions should demonstrate the innovative use of all of the relevant CAD system's design and documentation capabilities. Read more

CADalog Announces Second SU Podium Render Image Contest
CADalog's second SU Podium Render Image Contest will judge entrants' use of the company's SU Podium Google SketchUp plugin for image renderings. The contest, which began July 9 and will continue through July 30, will ask designers to render an exterior of a structure modeled in Google SketchUp. The first-prize winner will receive a SpaceExplorer 3D mouse from 3Dconnexion. Second- and third-place winners will receive 3Dconnexion's SpaceTraveler and SpaceNavigator, respectively. Read more

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The Week's New CAD and Related Products

General: Pixdim for Google SketchUp
New SketchUp plugin from Qualup facilitates 3D measurement of objects on digital photographs. Read more

General: DwgGrid for AutoCAD
Explorer-like browser from Engineered Design Solutions supports AutoCAD v14 and newer. Read more

AEC: CADWorx Plant Design Suite 2008
Software from COADE features tighter integration between CADWorx Plant Professional and CADWorx P&ID Professional. Read more

AEC: CADWorx fieldPipe
Leica Geosystems releases fieldPro-compatible technology for 3D plant piping design. Read more

MCAD: Electrical Designer eXtender Layout Module
ACERI launches new module that works inside AutoCAD Electrical 2007/2008 without any requirement for data translation and operates on Windows XP platforms. Read more

CAE: CloudWorx v3.3
Leica Release allows engineers to work with 3D point cloud data directly within AutoCAD. Read more

PLM: Parasolid v19
New version from UGS supports Windows Vista and features enhancements to modeling, editing, blending, and rendering functions. Read more

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Mark Your Calendar

Adobe and Maxon Power Integration Tour
July 17 – August 23, 2007
Various U.S. Cities
NVIDIA is sponsoring the multicity Adobe and MAXON Power Integration Tour. Integrating NVIDIA Quadro professional graphics solutions with Adobe CS3 and Production Suite with MAXON’s Cinema 4D, reportedly provides the high-performance pipeline artists and designers need to deliver compelling 3D motion graphics. Read more

Webcast: The Document Management Wake-Up Call
July 17 and 31, 2007
1:30 p.m. EDT
This free webcast featuring Cadalyst columnist and industry expert Robert Green is part of the summer-long Synergis Software Webcast Series. This session addresses the reasons why organizations face chaos without an automated document management system and how a simple ROI analysis will justify its cost. Synergis Software will demonstrate its flagship document management software, Adept. Read more

For a complete list of CAD meetings, conferences, training sessions, and more, check out our calendar of events on

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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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