Tips & Tools Weekly (Vol. 12, No. 26)

23 Jul, 2007

What's New at

AEC Quick Poll: What Are Your CAD Standards of Choice?
What has your AEC firm selected as its primary CAD standard? What are other AEC firms doing? Visit the Cadalyst AEC Quick Poll to cast your vote, then bookmark the page and check back for results beginning August 1.

Cadalyst Online PlanRoom
Have you checked out the Cadalyst Online PlanRoom? This free, easy-to-use, time-saving service can help you store, manage, and share project plans and large-format drawings -- all securely over the Internet. Powered by Visit PlanRoom today!

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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Free Outsourcing White Paper
Arena Solutions and Symphony Consulting have released a new white paper titled "Manufacturing Outsourcing: Seven Common Pitfalls to Avoid" that is free to those who register. Directed primarily at small- and mid-size original equipment manufacturers that want to become more competitive through manufacturing outsourcing, the paper discusses the challenges associated with outsourcing and the importance of putting in place the appropriate strategy, processes, people, and tools in order to succeed. 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: 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 code, 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.

Add Notes to Dimensions
Robert Seigworth has taken DIMNOTE.LSP, written originally by Mike Lapinski (published in Cadalyst's November 1999 issue) for adding notes to dimensions, and modified it to suit his needs. (Download new DimNote files here.) Robert says, "This code is easy to modify and use. It operates with a dialog box that enables the user to select note (REFERENCE or REF., +/-, TYPICAL or TYP., CLEARANCE or CLR., etc.) to add on to a dimension. It also lets you select the placement of it either beside or below the dimension text. I have included a bitmap icon to insert on a toolbar."

NOTES FROM CADALYST TIP PATROL: Our Patrol agrees that this is an excellent update to an old tip and that it works as described. One tester was able to get the routine to work on all of his versions: AutoCAD 2002/2006/2007. He adds other information: "As this routine is used, monitor the changes in the Properties dialog box of the dimension being changed (in the Textoverride line). Once you learn these options, you can make changes through the Properties dialog box. I suggest learning how to do this both ways."

Another patroller reminds you to place all of the components in your (pathed) LISP folder so that AutoCAD can access the files.

Regapps Purge in ACAD 2008
Brock Narum
shares this observation with fellow tip readers: By typing Purge at the Command line, you can purge registered applications (regapps) from your drawings. This isn't in the dialog box of the Purge command. But, by using the Command line version of Purge, you can't purge Multileader Styles as you can from the dialog box.

Also, keep in mind that the Command line version doesn't purge regapps using the All function; you have to purge regapps separately.

NOTES FROM CADALYST TIP PATROL: Yes, our Patrollers agree that Purge is a great way to slim your drawing down. One comments, "Unfortunately, like Narum states, registry applications aren't as easy to get rid of. Beware though: Purge removes many unused items, such as layers, linetypes, and blocks. Be sure that you won't need any of these items in future edits."

For more information, Avatech Solutions offers a good tip about purging on its Tech Tips site. Look for the tip titled, "AutoCAD: Remove Unused Information from Your Drawing."

Enterprise CUI Revisited
Leonid Nemirovsky
(visit his AutoLISP Web site) sheds a bit more light on the Enterprise CUI in AutoCAD 2007/2008: “In our company, we usually have Custom CUI (partial menu) for every project, making the Enterprise CUI option very important.

"First of all, it's read-only, so end users can't accidentally change it. Second, if there are any updates to the custom CUI, users don't have to reload it on each computer. Updating means just closing and reopening AutoCAD. The result is the same as loading good old MNS files on users' computers, but the procedure is a bit different. To begin, the CAD manager creates a project profile and attaches a partial custom CUI (or a partial menu and AutoCAD compiles it to a CUI), so it can be easily updated if needed. Then, at each end user's computer, create a new profile and set it to Current (with all path settings, etc.), save workspace as new to match profile. Next, select Tools / Options / Files / Customization Files / Enterprise Customization File and browse to the appropriate CUSTOM.CUI. Choose Apply and close the dialog box.

"The new partial menu appears in front of the main AutoCAD menu. You can leave it there or move it as needed. I prefer to leave it as it appears so that I can tell with a glance if the partial menu attached is read-only or is a regular menu."

NOTES FROM CADALYST TIP PATROL: In addition to the above information, one patroller adds more details: Basically, the Enterprise CUI file is a customized menu file that's created and monitored by the CAD manager. It's usually kept on the server and is read-only. The purpose of this file is to establish drafting standards based on the particular project being worked on. The drafter loads this file (full or partial) to access these established standards. Certain features of this file can be transferred to an existing CUI file on the user's computer. Creation of an Enterprise CUI file is usually done via opening an existing CUI file and modifying it to whatever company standards are chosen. Once this file is modified, it is saved with a new name. Enterprise is a suggestion, but almost any name can be used. Check out this primer from Moss Designs (PDF file), which gives a brief explanation of the Enterprise CUI file. You can also find more information via the AutoCAD Help menu.

Follow-up: Zoom to Page Layout
Shawn Crites wrote in concerning the Zoom to Page Layout tip in the July 16 edition that offers code to help Zoom out. He reminds users: "Zoom All is the option that will accomplish this (unless objects are drawn outside the page layout area). If objects are drawn outside the page layout area, Zoom All acts similar to Zoom Extents except that the page layout is always included as if it were an object."

In addition, reader Martin Kriewall adds, "No matter what size drawing I'm working on, I like to have some clear space around my titleblock. To do this, I've modified my Zoom Extents button and added 'zoom 0.95x' onto the end of it. This way when I use my Zoom Extents icon, no matter what size of drawing I'm working on, it zooms to the extents and then brings it in a little so I have a small area of clear space around my drawings. I've also added a little code at the end to do a quick save. So whenever I Zoom Extents, which usually happens after I make some minor changes, I know my drawing and the changes are saved." Here is the code for zoom extents:

'_zoom _e '_zoom 0.95x _qsave

MicroStation Tip: Fading Images
In 2004, is there a way to fade or screen an image back, as you can in AutoCAD, other than adjusting contrast and brightness?

Yes. In the Raster Manager there are two settings: display gamma and plot gamma. Display gamma controls how the image is shown on the screen, and plot gamma controls plotted images. Set these to higher numbers (between 1.5 and 3.0 provides agreeable results) to make the image lighter.

Have you tried Transparency? Just double-click on your image area in Raster Manager and on the Color tab, click Transparent On and adjust the slider for All Colors.

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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Deals & Freebies

Free Demo Civil Engineering Software
CATenary/PlanPro, which draws a 2D/3D catenary curve in AutoCAD, has recently been upgraded. The software uses conductor weight and line tension to draw a hyperbolic cosine curve. Other tools in CATenary/PlanPro can take surveyed points and create plan and profile drawings; assist in estimating conductor lengths, creating ruling span sag charts, evaluating clearances between line and ground, and crossing line conductors; and other tasks. A free demo is available for download.

Free Download Available for Real Architect 2007 is offering its Real Architect 2007 architectural drafting program free. According to the company, the software runs with AutoCAD LT 98 through 2007. Users also can download an electronic installation guide, jump-start guide, and complete manual. Read more

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Opportunities & Honors

Student Award Winner Designs Online
Nemetschek North America announced the winners of the Storefront/Control Group Student Design Awards 2007 and the opening on August 2 of a month-long exhibit showcasing the contest's best projects at the Storefront for Art and Architecture in New York City. An online exhibition will be accessible through Second Life. Read more

VectorWorks User Wins Design Contest in Italy
Nemetschek North America's customer Helm & Melacini Architects won a competition that involved designing a bell tower for San Giovanni Bosco Church in Belluno, Italy, using VectorWorks Architect. The Diocese of the Catholic Church in Belluno, Italy, sponsored the competition to design the church bell. Read more

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Books & Training

CAD Management Guide by Robert Green Now Available
Expert CAD Management: The Complete Guide (288 pages, $34.99) has been published by Sybex, an imprint of Wiley Publishing. The book, authored by contributing Cadalyst editor Robert Green, includes a CD with sample resources and a video presentation to help readers learn and enhance their CAD management skills. Expert CAD Management is available to U.S. residents via Robert Green’s web site and internationally through Barnes & Noble, Borders, and Amazon.

H. Edward Goldberg's AutoCAD Architecture Tutorial Published
Prentice Hall (Pearson Education), in cooperation with the Autodesk Design Institute Press, has published AutoCAD Architecture 2008: A Comprehensive Tutorial (604 pages, $66.67) by H. Edward Goldberg. The book reflects on the program's recent name change from Architectural Desktop to AutoCAD Architecture (ACD-A) as well as the changes included in the new release. Read more

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The Week's New CAD and Related Products

General Software: Bluebeam PDF Revu v5.5
Built-in PDF text editing tools add, delete, and modify text for permanent text changes. Read more

General Software: CellManager for MicroStation V8
Axiom utility includes the ability to open and manipulate multiple cell libraries simultaneously. Read more

General Software: Anark Core Platform
CAD transformation platform facilitates repeatable transition and distribution of CAD data throughout the enterprise, even as data undergoes ongoing revisions. Read more

Visualization: CINEMA 4D Exchange for After Effects CS3
Free Maxon file exchange plugin available for both Macintosh and Windows operating systems. Read more

Visualization: Rendering and Ray Tracing Software
Mercury Computer Systems solutions enable users to conduct photorealistic 3D rendering and real-time 3D ray tracing. Read more

Visualization: AutoVue v19.2
New release from Cimmetry supports formats for EDA, manufacturing, AEC, oil and gas, and plant design communities. Read more

AEC: Design2Cost
Nemetschek software helps designers, contractors, and prefabrication companies to calculate costs. Read more

AEC: Architectural Design Software
DataCAD update includes Smart Entities for creating walls, doors, and windows.
Read more

AEC: Attolist Collaborative Database Management
Web-based, proprietary service helps automate RFI and submittal process for AEC professionals. Read more

AEC: Newforma ProjectCenter Fourth Edition
Solution includes expanded search to identify BIM building objects by their property descriptions in DWF, DWG, and IFC files. Read more

GIS: Google Maps Mashup Service
AfterCAD software as a service enables businesses to publish branded 2D and 3D objects in Google Maps. Read more

CAE: PhotoToMesh v2
Ransen Software's Photo-to-CAD/CAM Mesh Converter creates 3D meshes from photographs or other digital imagery. Read more

CAE: Rapidform XOR2/Redesign
INUS Technology software allows users to create native CAD models for SolidWorks, UGS NX, and Pro/ENGINEER from point cloud data. Read more

CAE: Optical Communication Design Suite v4.7
Software from RSoft Design Group incorporates MMSE DFE EDC and advanced D(Q)PSK models. Read more

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Mark Your Calendar

Springback and Die Compensation Course
October 25-26, 2007
Les Diablerets, Switzerland
ESI Group, a supplier of digital simulation software for prototyping and manufacturing processes, will sponsor a three-day course on the springback phenomenon in sheetmetal forming. The course, designed for CAE engineers, model designers, and experienced tooling engineers in the forming industry, spans a range of topics from understanding springback, die compensation, geometry update, and material modeling to solver implementation. 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

In her easy-to-follow, friendly style, long-time Cadalyst contributing editor Lynn Allen guides you through a new feature or time-saving trick in every episode of her popular AutoCAD Video Tips. Subscribe to the free Cadalyst Video Picks newsletter, and we'll notify you every time a new video tip is published. All exclusively from Cadalyst!

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