Management

Tips & Tools Weekly (Vol. 13, No. 2)

14 Jan, 2008


This Week's Software Tips

Plot Xrefs
Carol Hardy's engineering company tends to remodel or repair existing equipment; therefore, designers use existing AutoCAD drawings from an inserted image (drawing sheet) but have had difficulty printing the xref. To overcome this problem, Hardy and coworkers devised this solution: "Our base is put on a light-colored layer to serve as a background for our new work. We've had inconsistent luck plotting these images. I have created a layer strictly for xref'd images along with a plot style for these sheets. I maintain the color layer as 9 for the xref'd image but have screened back this color on the CTB plot style file used for image bases. This CTB color 9 is changed from 25 to 40, screened back on the Table tab of the Plot Style Manager as needed with a new project that plots images lighter or darker."

NOTES FROM CADALYST TIP PATROL: Image plotting from AutoCAD is often problematic. Users (especially contractors) should note that some firms do not permit modification of CTB files. Often, only the CAD manager or IT personnel have permission. Diplomacy, as well as technique, may be required.

AutoCAD also provides several Plot Style tables with various levels of screening (from 25% to 100%). A new feature of AutoCAD 2008 allows fading of locked layers. How this translates to a hard-copy printout will probably vary based on your particular setup. Another approach to consider is creating a DWF file of your base drawing and attaching it as an underlay. Similar to a locked layer, this too can be faded.

Create MicroStation Layers in AutoCAD
Leonid Nemirovsky provided this LISP routine that creates 255 layers in AutoCAD using the MicroStation Style with Color by Layer, where color and layer number are the same: Layer 1 with color 1, layer 2 with color 2, and so forth through layer 255 with color 255.

(defun c:lm ()
(setq i 1)
(command"layer" "m" i "c" i "" "")
(setq i (+ i 1))
      (while (<= i 255)
        (command"layer" "m" i "c" i "" "")
          (setq i (+ i 1))
      )
(princ)
)

NOTES FROM CADALYST TIP PATROL: This routine will work well with MicroStation V8 and XM; prior releases allow a maximum of 63 levels. The While sequence in the LISP code is a good example of an extensive listing setup. (FYI: Layers in AutoCAD are the same as Levels in MicroStation.) AutoCAD will still have a layer 0 in its drawing; there is, of course, no layer 0 in a MicroStation drawing.

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

Follow-Up: Hatch to Correct Scale
Bill Fane, author of Cadalyst's "Learning Curve" tutorial for AutoCAD, sent some follow-ups to the Hatch to Correct Scale tip in the January 7 edition: "This is a clever tip, and it can be pushed even further so it includes text sizes, title block/border insertions, plotting scale, and anything else that is scale dependent, all based on Dimscale. In fact, you can even set up Dimscale to select from a list of approved drawing scales."

For those who have migrated to AutoCAD 2008, Bill notes that new annotative objects features now handle all this automatically. Upcoming editions of "Learning Curve" will address the topic in detail.

Kate Morrical wrote to say that the Hatch tool itself can be used with the same results. She said, "The properties of a Hatch tool include Layer, Pattern, Scale, and Auxiliary Scale (which may be set to Dimscale), and others. This allows hatches to be created on the correct layer at the correct scale every time, with the only caveat that the pick points method of selection must be used, not select objects."

Follow-Up: Generate Drawing Title                      
Len Nemirovsky sent another addendum to the Generate Drawing Title tip, originally published in the December 10 issue, about using a field as an attribute in the title block for the drawing name.

"You also can accomplish this process via sheet sets, using standard or custom properties of the sheet set or individual sheets in the set. Using this approach, there's no need to open drawings to make changes. For example, Total Sheet Count can be set and changed in the Sheet Set Properties dialog box (custom fields), etc."

MicroStation Tip: Text Style Indicators
In MicroStation's Text Styles dialog box, you may notice that some text style names have a little arrow next to them and some text styles do not. The little arrow next to the name means that the text style definition is coming from a Dgnlib (text style library). A text style name without the arrow was defined in the active design file rather than the definition being read from the Dgnlib. The blue arrow means that the text style in the Dgnlib has been modified and is now out of sync with the definition in the active design file. If you do use the Update from Library command, they'll turn white again.


This tip is one of many available from Axiom on its MicroStationTips.com Web site.

Submit Your Tip 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, and Billy Wooten.

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Resources

SolidWorks Labs Adds Design Gallery, Second Life Island, and More
SolidWorks Labs, an online community for SolidWorks 3D CAD software users, has more than doubled its free experimental software offerings since its February 2007 launch, according to SolidWorks. New offerings include a SolidWorks Labs Gallery, iPhone support for Drawings Now, CB Model Pro, a Showcase Widget, a WatchIt Widget, a SolidWorks Island in the Second Life virtual world, and others. Read more

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Deals & Freebies

Open Design Alliance Delivers Public DRX SDK
The Open Design Alliance (ODA) announced that its DRX Software Development Kit (SDK) is now available at no cost for public download. The DRX SDK is a new development platform that allows end users to create extensions for DWGdirect-based applications. Read more

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Opportunities & Honors

VectorWorks User Wins Three AIA Awards
Raymond Beeler Architect PC won a 2007 AIA Westchester/Mid-Hudson Chapter First Honor Award and a 2007 AIA Long Island Chapter Archi Award for the Syosset Public Library Expansion. The firm also received an Archi Award commendation from the AIA Long Island for its Baldwin Public Library Expansion. The Pelham, New York, firm used VectorWorks Architect for the entire design and development of the project.

Autodesk Wins National Television Academy Awards
Autodesk 3ds Max and Autodesk Maya have won Technology and Engineering Awards from the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, in the Gaming category of Visual Digital Content Creation Tools and Their Impact. This category award recognizes pioneering efforts and breakthroughs in the gaming world. 3ds Max and Maya received the awards on January 7 at the 59th Annual Technology and Engineering Awards ceremony held in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Objet Geometries Wins Growth Excellence Award
Based on its recent analysis of the global rapid prototyping equipment market, Frost & Sullivan recognized Objet Geometries with the 2007 Frost & Sullivan Growth Excellence of the Year Award. The company broke into and gained significant share in the world rapid prototyping equipment market, which is dominated by well-established companies that pose significant barriers to entry for new vendors.

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Books & Training

Bricscad V8 Reference e-Book Updated
upFront.eZine Publishing made available Customizing Bricscad V8 ($41.20 with electronic delivery; $46.20 on CD, shipping included), the reference book for Bricscad customers using the new version 8. The 400-page e-book contains step-by-step tutorials for learning how to customize and program the CAD software.

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The Week's New CAD and Related Products

Hardware: Quadro FX 3700
New NVIDIA graphics board reportedly delivers as much as two times the performance of the previous product generation. Read more

General Software: Grid Computing Toolbox
New toolbox from MapleSoft enables users to run Maple computations in parallel, taking advantage of all available hardware resources. Read more

General Software: Everest Professional
Altima Software product provides AutoCAD users with specific search, compare, archive, and file-navigation capabilities. Read more

General Software: SYCODE DWG DXF Converter, IGES STEP Converter, and Mesh Converter
DWG DXF Converter converts AutoCAD DWG, DXF, and DXB file formats; IGES STEP Converter converts between the IGES and STEP neutral file formats; and Mesh Converter converts between various mesh file formats. Read more

General Software: nPower Power Translators
Power Translators products now available for the Autodesk Maya and AliasStudio platforms for rendering and animation. Read more

MCAD: SpaceClaim LT and LTX
SpaceClaim 3D design products are for designers, architects, and engineers who already have efficient and cost-effective 2D tools and hobbyists who want to take advantage of affordable 3D design software. Read more

MCAD: Tecplot Focus 2008
The new version features Python scripting, an open-source, object-oriented programming language that integrates with other languages and tools and comes with various standard libraries. Read more

MCAD: ParaCloud Modeler v1
New release converts Microsoft Excel spreadsheets into parametric modelers for McNeel's Rhino 3D design software. Read more

MCAD: GStarICAD 2007
GreatStar Alliance release is based on IntelliCAD software and features support for AutoCAD, including interface and file-format compatibility and support for ARX-based applications. Read more

MCAD: T-FLEX CAD v11
Top Systems' parametric 2D/3D design software allows users to customize the interface and offers a range of functions for 2D drawing and 3D design. Read more

CAE: Tecplot 360 2008
Computational fluid dynamics (CFD) and numerical simulation visualization software features Python scripting for additional analysis (FFTs, splines, statistical functions) and more scripting flexibility. Read more

CAE: Optimizer
Intelligent design-optimization tool for Vector Fields' Opera software automatically finds the best solution to a design problem. Read more

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Mark Your Calendar

Autodesk Inventor Workshops
Various January Dates
Various U.S. Locations
Avatech Solutions invites mechanical design professionals to participate in free introductory workshops using real-world design projects. Attendees will move 2D geometry-based objects over to 3D models using the latest Autodesk Inventor software. Avatech will host sessions at their state-of-the-art computer training labs across the country. Read more

Daratech PLANT 2008
January 28-30, 2008
Houston, Texas
daratechPLANT is for business development executives in engineering, operations, maintenance, and information technology; project engineers; and others looking to network with, and learn from, their peers. It brings together experts in the areas of business development, asset creation, lifecycle management, instrumentation, real-time operations and plant maintenance. Read more

AUGI CAD Camp
February 21, 2008
Seattle, Washington
Presented by the Autodesk User Group International (AUGI), AUGI CAD Camp is a regional one-day training and networking event for Autodesk users. AUGI CAD Camp format includes both classroom instruction and peer-to-peer networking opportunities. Read more

CIMdata 2008 PLM Vendor Forum
March 27, 2008
Ann Arbor, Michigan
The CIMdata Vendor Forum provides a one-of-a-kind opportunity for PLM solution providers to come together to examine the industry's performance, gauge its progress, and set the vision for its future. Read more

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

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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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