Tips & Tools Weekly (Vol. 12, No. 42)

26 Nov, 2007

This Week's Software Tips

Be Among the First to Sport a New Cadalyst T-shirt
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Hatch Macro
Richard Wenner
was messing around with the AutoCAD tool palette and found that a hatch didn't work the way he wanted. He explains, "In AutoCAD 2006, if you drag and drop a hatch to the palette, the only option you have is to pick an area for you to fill, not hatch. What I needed was to pick points with a certain hatch style with island detection, then use another style hatch to select objects. I came up with the following macros for these instances. I also included another macro that starts the Rectangle command with the user specifying two points, then hatching that rectangle with a user-specified hatch. (I used solid as an example.)

Use this macro to select objects to be hatched:


Use this macro for picking internal points:


Use this macro with rectangle and hatch combined:


NOTES FROM CADALYST TIP PATROL: Nice macros. A typical hatch in a tool palette hatches only an internal point. These macros could easily be modified to any hatch pattern, layer, scale, etc. We definitely recommend using these.

Delete Filters
Faith Merriman
found a hidden command in Architectural Desktop. She says, "To delete unwanted filters, just type in Filters. This command is not listed in the manual or reference books."

NOTES FROM CADALYST TIP PATROL: You are correct! Plus, the Filters command is not only an Architectural Desktop command, it's an AutoCAD command. We can't find a listing for this command in AutoCAD 2008 Help, but it works in 2007 and 2008. It doesn't exist in AutoCAD 2004. When invoked, a dialog box opens with every layer filter listed. Select the layers you want to keep and click the Delete Filters button. The filters that are left in the right column are deleted.

Customize Your Tool Palettes
A reader sent in a tip about how to add your own commands to your AutoCAD tool palettes, but the Tip Patrol offers a more direct solution.

Tool palettes have been around since AutoCAD 2004, but the way they're set up has changed through the years. To add commands to a tool palette in AutoCAD 2007 and 2008, begin by opening the tool palette.

  • Right-click on an existing palette and a dialog box opens.
  • Select the Create Palette option and name it whatever you want.
  • Right-click the palette again and select Customize Commands.

This brings up another window that lists every AutoCAD command. You can filter and sort this list by source (the CUI that the command is saved in). The commands are simply the buttons in a toolbar, menu, and palette. If you want any of these commands on your tool palette, select it, hold, and drag the command to your palette.

If you want to make a new command in AutoCAD 2007, click the New button; in 2008 click the New icon (it looks like a star). Give it a name and define the macro. The macro is the series of instructions to AutoCAD that executes the command. Look at other commands (such as the three in the previous tip) to help you determine the proper format. You could even copy a command and edit it. Click OK when finished. Alternatively, if you have already drawn an object, hatch pattern, or other entity, select it in the drawing, hold, and drag it to the tool palette. Another way is to open Design Center (Tool / Palettes / Design Center, or press Ctrl+2). Browse to a file that has the information you want. Select the item, hold, and drag it to the tool palette.

Note: The follow-up tips below have not been tested by the Cadalyst Tip Patrol.

Follow-Up: Invisible Xrefs
Reader Dan Abbott sent some follow-up to Marc McDonald's follow-up (November 12 edition) to the Invisible Xrefs tip (originally published November 5). Marc suggested that users xref files to the Defpoints layer; Dan urges readers to keep in mind two things:

  • If layer 0 is frozen or turned off, the items on the Defpoints layer are displayed but can't be selected.
  • If those items include any points, they are unaffected by the setting for Pdmode (point display mode) and always display as single pixels.

Follow-Up: DWG Demon Exorcism
The DWG Demon Exorcism tip in the November 12 edition spurred a few follow-ups.

Shawn Evjen sent in his Purge All routine. Shawn says, "It purges all standard purgeable items and returns a count of how many items were purged. Run the command by typing Pur, or set it to run within another command, such as Qsave, as I do. My Qsave command performs Zoom Extents, Audit, Purge All, and then a QSave at the end. I write my own code to keep file sizes down. I created this for use in AutoCAD 14, but currently use it with Architectural Desktop 3.3 and AutoCAD 2000."

(PRINC "\nPurge All")
(> TCNTR 0)
) )
(PRINC (strcat "\n" (rtos CNTR 2 0) " items purged from drawing"))
(COMMAND "PURGE" "ALL" "*" "y")

Chris Wade found that problems still can arise when drawings are created in programs other than AutoCAD. Wade explains, "Although the code below assumes that you are already in model space and only need what is in model space, it's the most reliable way to eliminate these problems. This routine is designed to work in AutoCAD 2006 and newer. For older versions, remove Regapps and the remainder of the stuff from the Purge command."

(command "._-purge" "a" "*" "n" "._-purge" "a" "*" "n" "._-purge" "regapps" "*" "n" "audit" "y")
(setq cdwg (strcat (getvar "dwgprefix") (getvar "dwgname")))
(dos_delete "c:\\nac.dwg")
(command ".saveas" "2004" "c:\\nac.dwg") ;Edit the C:\\ to a path that you have full read/write access to be sure to use \\ instead of single \
(dos_delete cdwg)
(command "-wblock" cdwg "" "0,0" "all" "") 
) ;_ end of DEFUN

Chris continues, "If you need both paper space and model space in the same drawing, then the following LISP routine cleans up the majority of the mess, but it does leave a bit of the problems; the one above is better if you only need model space. Please note that the routine below works only in AutoCAD 2006 and newer. It uses a command that is designed to explode all AEC objects, but has the nice side effect that it can help to clean up drawings made by programs other than Autodesk. This program does leave behind a file with the same name with -AECTemp added to it. Once you confirm that the new file looks correct, you can delete the one with the AECTemp extension. I also recommend using both routines on copies of the original file, just to be safe."

(defun c:ee2 ()
(command "._-purge" "a" "*" "n" "._-purge" "a" "*" "n" "._-purge" "regapps" "*" "n" "audit" "y")
(setq pth (getvar "dwgprefix"))
(setq fname (getvar "dwgname"))
(setq flen (strlen fname))
(setq fname2 fname)
(setq fname3 (strcat pth fname2 "-AECTemp.dwg"))
(if (setq fil(open fname3 "r"))
(close fname3)
(vl-file-delete fname3)

(command "filedia" "0")
(command ".saveas" "2004" fname3)
(vl-file-delete (strcat pth fname))
(command "-exporttoautocad" "B" "no" "F" "2004" "" (strcat pth fname))
(command ".qsave")

Similar to the exorcism routine, David Rodriguez came up with new toolbar button. David asks all the CAD folks to end their sessions with this tool. It zooms extents, audits the drawing, purges it, sets layer 0 to Current, and saves.

^C^C_z e audit y _purge clayer 0 qsave 

Follow-Up: Flag Those F Keys
In response to the tip on flagging the F keys to help remember what they are used for, Kellie Eubanks tells us that the mouse another handy tool. Kellie explains, "A lot of mice now have two or three buttons on the side, and I program these to F3 (osnap), F8 (ortho), and if there is a third button, I program it to a frequently used command such as Move or Copy. This makes it very easy and efficient to click them on and off as needed."

MicroStation Tip: MicroStation Trim Element Command
This short article on how to use MicroStation's Trim Element command includes tips about the Element Selection and PowerSelector tools. Axiom offers many Microstation Tips on its Web site.

Submit 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 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.

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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Handbook for Manufacturing and Production
IGI Global unveiled its Handbook of Computational Intelligence in Manufacturing and Production Management ($195), edited by Dipak Laha, Jadavpur University, India, and Purnendu Mandal, Lamar University, United States. The book aims to minimize the knowledge gap between researchers and production professionals by focusing on computational developments in forecasting, scheduling, production planning, and inventory control.

IBM Opens PLM Centers of Excellence
IBM announced the launch of a global network of nine Product Lifecycle Management Centers designed to help customers launch new products in shorter time periods. IBM states that the centers' lab-like environment offers clients access to IBM experts, which include more than 3,000 researchers, 9,000 software developers, and 1,000 consulting and technology practitioners, who help clients integrate all aspects of a product's lifecycle into other enterprise systems.

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Deals & Freebies

Turbo Squid Releases Tentacles Plug-in for Maya v8.5, XSI v6

Turbo Squid announced that its 3D application plug-in Tentacles is now available for Autodesk Maya v8.5 and SOFTIMAGE|XSI v6. Tentacles is a free Flash-based plug-in that integrates the entire Turbo Squid online library and purchasing process into a variety of 3D applications, enabling users to browse, compare, and purchase 3D content (including models, textures, and mocap data).

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Opportunities & Honors

SIGGRAPH 2008 Call for Papers
ACM SIGGRAPH announced an improved submission process for SIGGRAPH 2008 that aims to provide presenters with greater flexibility for sharing work through the creation of more thematic submission categories. The deadline for submitting abstracts for technical papers is now January 23, 2008.

FIATECH Seeking Nominations for CETI Awards
Did you or your company accomplish a significant technological research or deployment achievement in 2007 and you want the world to know about it? Submit it by December 14 for consideration in FIATECH's annual Celebrate Engineering and Technology Innovations (CETI) awards program. Established in 2006, the CETI Awards recognize and honor achievements related to the capital projects industry.

Glumac Receives Revit BIM Experience Award
Autodesk announced that Glumac, a mechanical, electrical, and plumbing (MEP) consulting engineering firm, received a Revit BIM Experience Award for its exemplary use of building information modeling (BIM) and dedication to sustainable design. The Revit BIM Experience Award honors commercial firms, educational institutions, and individuals for the use of the Revit platform to create complex designs, collaborate across multiple disciplines, and drive increased productivity and sustainability in the building design process.

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Books & Training

Design Visionaries NX 5 Training Guide
Design Visionaries released Basic and Intermediate NX5 Modeling, Drafting and Assemblies, by Stephen Samuel, Anuranjini Pragada, and Eric Weeks. The book teaches the basic modeling, assemblies, and drafting functionality of UGS NX 5 from Siemens PLM Software. The resource is a newly revised version of Design Visionaries' book titled Practical Unigraphics NX4 Modeling, Drafting and Assemblies.

Luxology Bundles modo 301 Evaluation Version with Video Training
Luxology announced that its modo 301 evaluation software including the modo in Focus video training album are available for immediate download for a combined price of $25. The company states that the evaluation software has full feature parity with the commercial version of modo and includes an unlimited 30-day license for both the PC and Mac.

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The Week's New CAD and Related Products

Hardware: Connex500 3D Printer
Based on Objet's PolyJet Matrix technology, the new model can print parts and assemblies made of multiple materials in a single build. Read more

General Software: TurboCAD Mac v3
Latest IMSI/Design release features updated DXF/DWG translators and additional 3D model and 2D floor plan content. Read more

General Software: ePaper
Collaboration and visualization tool from Enggsoft Group facilitates the visualization, distribution, and sharing of CAD drawings without the need to access native CAD software. Read more

General Software: Scan2CAD v7.6
Softcover raster-to-vector conversion software now supports Vista and reads, writes, and converts PDF (raster image only) files to DXF. Read more

General Software: deskPDF Professional v2.5
Docudesk software enables users to create PDF files from more than 250 applications, including various CAD/design programs. Read more

Visualization: CINEMA 4D v10.5
Latest release of MAXON's 3D animation software includes interface with Allplan BIM 2008 and features new DWG import filter and enhanced modeling and scene-lighting tools. Read more

AEC: ProjectWise Lifecycle Server v8.9.3
Bentley release includes support for Russian and Chinese languages as well as certification for both Oracle v9.2.8 and Oracle 10g. Read more

AEC: ArchT 2008 for AcceliCAD and IntelliCAD
Autodsys add-on product for AcceliCAD and IntelliCAD v6.2 and higher includes features previously available only in the AutoCAD version. Read more

AEC: StormCAD v8 XM
Newest Bentley release works with MicroStation and AutoCAD or as a standalone.
Read more

AEC: ArchT 2008 for AutoCAD 2008
New release from Autodsys supports all platforms based on AutoCAD 2008 and features added support for multilevel functionality via an enhanced styles toolbar. Read more

Newest release features a realistic rendering engine that supports Global Illumination, Radiosity, and Caustics options, as well as High Dynamic Range Imaging environment maps. Read more

MCAD: SEE Electrical Harness
IGE+XAO Group's electrical CAD package manages diagrams, wire, and parts lists in a Microsoft Windows environment for the design of electrical harnesses. Read more

MCAD: Frame Generator Customization Tool
Autodesk tool allows users to add custom structural profiles for use with Inventor 2008's Frame Generator Tool. Read more

MCAD: KeyCreator v7
Infotech's CAD/CAM solution upgrade features batch-translation capabilities for PDF and 3D PDF exports as well as expanded dimension-driven editing that allows greater use of angular dimensions to rotate faces on a solid model. Read more

CAE: PRELUDE v5 Inspect for CATIA V5
MDTVISION 3D metrology solution offers direct access to native CATIA V4 and CATIA V5 data and supports automatic integration of inspection data in Product Process Resource trees. Read more

CAE: Abaqus Student Edition v6.7
Dassault Systemes released unified finite-element analysis software from SIMULIA that features a customizable user interface for accelerated model building. Read more

CAE: STAR-CCM+ v2.10
CD-adapco unveils new version of CFD solution that integrates automatic surface repair with solution-efficient polyhedral meshing and introduces a Lagrangian multiphase flow capability. Read more

CAE: ToleranceCalc v5
GEOMATE's CAD-neutral wizard for 1D and 2D tolerance analysis reportedly enables users of any CAD application to learn how a product will perform when dimensional tolerances stack up. Read more

PLM: Teamcenter Express v3
New version from Siemens PLM Software features complete integration with Microsoft Office applications and enhanced integration with user's desktop. Read more

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Mark Your Calendar

PTC High-Speed Machining Seminar
November 28, 2007
Windsor, Ontario
"Staying Competitive in the Fierce Global Market," hosted by PTC, is a free, half-day event intended to help manufacturing engineers and machinists learn how to optimize toolmaking and high-speed machining to increase product quality, reduce scrap, and decrease production time and costs for any design. Read more

"Discover Simulation" Information Seminar
November 30, 2007
Oakville, Ontario
Atkinson Design presents this seminar to show how you can leverage your existing CAD and CAE solutions and gain additional value when paired with simulation solutions from MSC Software such as MSC SimOffice, a simulation solution for CAE experts as well as engineers who may not currently use simulation. Read more

December 11, 2007
Washington, DC
Colocated with AEC-ST Fall and EcoBuild Fall, FEDCon is the National Institute of Building Sciences' (NIBS') annual review of federal agencies' building and spending plans. The information-packed event takes advantage of NIBS' longstanding relationships with key agencies like the General Services Administration, the Naval Facilities Engineering Command, the State Department, and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Read more

NIBS FEDspec Meeting
December 12, 2007
Washington, DC
Also colocated with AEC-ST Fall and EcoBuild Fall and cosponsored by NIBS and Specifications Consultants in Independent Practice, FEDSpec is an essential meeting for federal and private sector AEC specifiers who work on federal projects. Read more

National buildingSMART Conference
December 13, 2007
Washington, DC
The first National buildingSMART Conference is cosponsored by NIBS' Facility Information Council (FIC) and its National Building Information Model Standard (NBIMS) Committee, and NIBS' newest program, the buildingSMART Alliance. This conference includes one of the three keynotes for the overall Ecobuild & AEC-ST event. Read more

FIATECH's 2008 Annual Technology Conference
March 31- April 2, 2008
New Orleans, Louisiana
FIATECH's Annual Technology Conference & Showcase aims to share and demonstrate emerging technologies that will significantly improve the capital projects industry, especially new solutions not currently in wide use in the capital projects industry but currently or imminently available. 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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