Tips & Tools Weekly (Vol. 12, No. 44)

10 Dec, 2007

Dear Readers: Tips & Tools Weekly will take a break for the next few weeks and then resume publication on January 7. We at Cadalyst wish you and your families a healthy and happy holiday season and thank you for being such loyal subscribers this year. See you in 08!

This Week's Software Tips

Congratulations November Winner!
Cadalyst awarded the November $100 Tips & Tools Weekly prize to Faith Merriman, who submitted the Delete Filters tip published in the November 26 edition. Faith was selected in a random drawing of all authors whose original tips were published in the newsletter last month. Send us your original tip now for a chance to win!

Quick Text Alignment
Josue Torres
offers this quick text tip: "In AutoCAD 2008, you can justify single text lines inside an mtext box. For quick selection of all the text within, I use Ctrl+A, then I select the desired alignment."

NOTES FROM CADALYST TIP PATROL: We agree on the usefulness of the basic Ctrl+A command in the Mtext Editor for AutoCAD 2008. It also works for multiline text. Caution: This feature does not exist for AutoCAD 2006/LT and earlier.

Generate Drawing Title
This AutoCAD tip from Karen Tomajko uses a field in title blocks to generate the drawing title.

"My title blocks all contain multiple attributes for date, revision, and the like. In the spirit of keeping good CAD standards, I have inserted a field for my drawing title as follows. Using this field, the drawing title and drawing name remain identical, and the title is automatically updated when I save my drawing.

"While in the Mtext editor, right-click and choose Insert Field from the pull-down menu. This brings up the Field dialog box. Choose the Filename and Title case with no file extension. Ensure that your font style, size, etc., are correct in the editor, then choose OK. When your title block is inserted into a drawing and you save it, the title block area that you have specified is updated with the drawing name. It's that easy."

NOTES FROM CADALYST TIP PATROL: The Attibutes tool is powerful, yet underused. Using the Mtext editor, the Insert Field command, and Field dialog box as outlined may streamline (and encourage greater) atttribute use. Just make sure that others who use these drawings are as up-to-date as you are. Also remember that drawing titles are usually descriptive (i.e., Massaponax Interceptor Pumping Station or Sliding Hill Intersection), while the drawing number is, as implied, a sequence of numbers and sometimes letters that can be listed and accessed through the company's server. Even with good and careful folder management, how many Millwork Details drawings might be on your computer or server? It's more likely that the drawing's name is something like A3.01-3902-R1 MILLWORK DETAILS.DWG. It's probably not really one's intention to have this text populated into the title block without further editing.

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

Follow-Up: Revise All Attribute Blocks
The Gatte command tip published in the December 3 edition sparked another suggestion for ways to revise attribute blocks. Alvin Hoffpauir proposes the use of the Battman or Bedit command. After using the Battman command, you can update all blocks by clicking the Sync button.

Kathryn Morrical also reminds us that most of AutoCAD's block-related Express tools don't work with dynamic blocks -- Gatte, Blockreplace, and Bcount are just a few examples.

Follow-Up: Faster Map Loading
Edward Renfrow offers another suggestion for the December 3 tip on Faster Map Loading: Insert the image onto its own layer and just freeze the layer off. Turning it off will still allow AutoCAD to calculate the regen, but frozen layers don't regen.

MicroStation Tip: Easily Reselect V8 Elements
Bored of having to reselect the same elements over and over again, especially when you have carefully selected a group of components and then click on the view window deactivating the selection? Key in the function Choose Previous, and your previous selection will be activated!

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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Electronic Building Plan White Paper
The Alliance for Building Regulatory Reform in the Digital Age at FIATECH, with funding from the American Institute of Architects and Avolve Software, published Best Practices in Electronic Plan Submittal, Review, Tracking, and Storage as well as an Elected Officials Guide companion piece. The papers can be downloaded from the FIATECH Web site.

What to Know before Purchasing a Wide-Format Scanner
Anyone thinking of buying a wide-format scanner for capturing technical drawings and maps may face a growing array of choices and confusing claims from manufacturers. An independently authored article reportedly looks at the claims the scanner manufacturers make for the products available today, concentrating on the core issues that CAD users need to understand when buying a large-format scanner for scanning AEC and CAD technical drawings for archiving, copying, printing, and/or raster-to-vector conversion.

SCAN-TO-PDF: Benefits and Considerations
A growing number of CAD users with wide-format scanners now scan directly to a PDF file (scan-to-PDF). All scanning software supplied with the major large-format scanners now can save scans as PDF files. The Scanners4cad Web site offers an informational article that attempts to throw some light on popular misconceptions about PDF files and discusses the benefits and disadvantages of the PDF file format for storing scanned images.

Virtual-Architec, Cadsoft Launch Online Envisioneer Consortium
Virtual-Architec and Cadsoft have launched the Envisioneer User Consortium, an online gathering place for Envisioneer clients who want to promote their drawing and training services and/or display their portfolio of work. The online community features a searchable list of Envisioneer users from around the world and a gallery for displaying client renderings and animations, as well as a marketplace for buying and selling training videos and 3D content.

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Deals & Freebies

Avatech Offers New Revit Tools to AEC Community

Avatech Solutions launched five new Revit Architecture productivity tools. Room Renumber, Door Mark Update, Change Case, RevitCity Browser, and an updated Revit Earth Connector for Google Earth, are available for immediate download and are free of charge.

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Opportunities & Honors

CMSC 2008 Call for Papers
The CMSC Society announced its call for papers for the 24th Coordinate Metrology Systems Conference (CMSC), which will be held next July in Charlotte-Concord, North Carolina. Metrology users from leading manufacturers and science laboratories are invited to submit abstracts for white papers illustrating their successful application of 3D coordinate measurement systems.

3D Collaboration & Interoperability 2008 Call for Speakers
Longview Advisors, organizer of the fourth annual 2008 3D Collaboration & Interoperability conference, is looking for skilled engineering users to share their experiences in CAD interoperability and collaboration with 3D CAD and manufacturing data. The conference and exposition will be held next May in Denver, Colorado.

Aedas Receives BIM Experience Award
Autodesk announced presented Aedas, an international design firm based in Hong Kong, with a Revit BIM Experience Award for its use of Revit Architecture software to create buildings around the world, including a new 83-story high-rise residential tower in Dubai that incorporates more than 10,000 frames of glass on a modularized twisting facade.

Oce Announces Winners of Design Competition
Oce announced the winners of the company's Oce Best Design Competition for Autodesk University. Winners were selected from a pool of qualified entrants who submitted designs via Oce's Web site in the categories of AEC, manufacturing, geospatial, and plant. The winners represent the most visually impressive designs in each category.

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The Week's New CAD and Related Products

Hardware: ScanCENTRAL Wide-Format Systems
IDEAL's color scan, copy, and print models come with an adjustable stand for single-footprint configuration. Read more

General Software: Microspot DWG Viewer
Viewer opens AutoCAD DWG files created on Windows PCs and allows users to open layouts as well as models and show, hide, or gray individual layers. Read more

Visualization: Combustion 2008
New release from Autodesk includes Colour Warper tool for performing primary and selective color correction as well as precise fine-tuning with multiple levels of adjustment in a single pass. Read more

MCAD: FormatWorks 2008
Latest Capvidia release features automatic repair and healing capabilities to ensure correct model definition in SolidWorks. Read more

Software from Zuken enables users to perform version control at the parts and component level as well as store parts information in the PCB design. Read more

MCAD: Moldflow Structural Analysis v1.1
Latest version enables users of ANSYS and ABAQUS products to map 3D simulation results directly to structural-analysis models. Read more

MCAD: SolidWorks 2008 Keyboard Shortcuts Card
Sheet Metal Guy offers tool that lists default shortcuts for commonly used commands. Read more

MCAD: GeomCaliper for Pro/ENGINEER v2.1
Geometric tool includes reporting mechanism for thickness analysis results that can capture multiple critical regions along with their static image snapshots in one report. Read more

Updated FEA software includes a behind-the-scenes representation of the CAD model and full 3D display of 2D axisymmetric and planar model results. Read more

CAE: STAR-CD v4.04
CD-adapco integrated CAE platform is designed for multiphysics simulations. Read more

CAE: CFD-ACE+ v2008
Latest version of ESI Group's CFD software enables coupled simulations of fluid, thermal, chemical, biological, electrical, and mechanical phenomena for a variety of applications. Read more

CAM: CAMWorks 2008
Software from Geometric Technologies incorporates advances in 3-axis functionality as well as new features and cutting strategies for 2.5-axis milling, turning, and wire EDM. Read more

CAM: Fab It! 2008
Numerical Innovations' CAM Software for small and midsize manufacturers includes more than 150 editing features for printed circuit board design. Read more

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Mark Your Calendar

SolidWorks World 2008
January 20-23, 2008
San Diego, California
The SolidWorks World 2008 International User Conference & Exposition promises general sessions, more than 150 in-depth training sessions, 200 new products in the 9,000-square-foot Product Design Showcase, and more than 100 innovative solutions in the most expansive Partner Pavilion yet. A full conference pass is $995 with a $100 early bird discount through December 14. Read more

3D Collaboration & Interoperability Conference
May 15-16, 2008
Denver, Colorado
Industry leaders from manufacturers in automotive, aerospace, heavy equipment, high-tech, electronics, and other discrete industries, along with representatives from government and the defense community, will meet to share presentations and interactive panel sessions about real-world user experiences and solutions in 3D collaboration and CAD interoperability. Read more

24th Coordinate Metrology Systems Conference (CMSC)
July 21-25, 2008
Charlotte-Concord, North Carolina
The CMSC is the only North American conference dedicated solely to users of portable, high-precision measurement technology used to inspect manufactured and assembled components on the factory floor. Each year, the CMSC community convenes to gather information and attend white paper presentations delivered by their peers. Read more

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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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