Tips & Tools Weekly (Vol. 16, No. 25)

18 Jul, 2011 By: Robert Green

This Week's Software Tips

Hot Tip Harry Sniffs Out the Best Routines
When it comes to CAD code, Hot Tip Harry knows a good tip when he sees it! Use the "Submit Tip" button below to send us your LISP routines. If we publish your tip, you'll earn a $25 gift card you can use to purchase a T-shirt or other prizes in the Cadalyst Store.

Xrefing with Friends
Frequent tipster Danny Korem discusses some AutoCAD settings to consider when referencing other files and sharing them with coworkers. "When cooperating, life gets more complicated than when working solo — and it's true in AutoCAD as well." View the complete tip and post your feedback.

Finish with Zoom Extents
Tipster Frances Emerson shares a tip to help keep AutoCAD files neat and tidy by customizing the ACAD.LSP file. "Adding this setting will execute a zoom extents when you open your file," said tip reviewer Brian Benton. View the complete tip and post your feedback.

Acting Shift-y
Designer and Senior Technician Adam Luko shares with us some AutoCAD tricks you can perform with the Shift key. "Shift is a good multi-function key — it can help with more than just typing upper-case letters." View the complete tip and post your feedback.

Following are this week's reminders, tidbits, and miscellaneous updates from the Cadalyst Tip Patrol.

Aldrin Plania sent us a tip about using the Oops command in AutoCAD. We've had several Oops tips lately, and wanted to remind you of a couple of them:

Oops without Oops
Oops — On Purpose


July Tips from Hot Tip Harry

Hot Tip Harry, Cadalyst's mysterious purveyor of customized AutoCAD code, has dispatched another great bundle of tips from readers. View and download each of the latest tips using the links below, or get the entire July 2011 Hot Tip Harry batch at once.

Circle to Polyline and Polyline to Circle
Kent Cooper submits two complementary functions in this LISP file. The first one converts circle entities to polylines in AutoCAD; the second converts polylines to circles. View the complete tip and post your feedback.

Show and Hide Toolbars
Frequent tipster Leonid Nemirovsky created a function to display one or more toolbars on the drawing screen in AutoCAD, but he added a twist: as soon as the user picks a command from the toolbar, the toolbar itself disappears. View the complete tip and post your feedback.

Add New Lines to Existing Text Objects
A2T is a routine that allows you to add a new line of text to an existing text object in AutoCAD. At first glance, it may seem a bit trivial, but this routine from Alan J. Thompson uses the properties of the existing text entity — such as style, rotation, obliquing angle, and justification — and applies them to the newly created text entities. View the complete tip and post your feedback.

Restack Text Entities
This routine from Raymond Rizkallah can rebuild a paragraph of text entities in AutoCAD that are scrambled, with different line spacing and insertion points that are not aligned. View the complete tip and post your feedback.

Erase Block Components Safely
Leland Leahy's routine is an alternative to the normal Erase command — it filters out xrefs from the selection so that they are not erased. Proceed just as if you were using the built-in Erase command, and if any xref entities are selected, they will be omitted from the selection before the erase action occurs. View the complete tip and post your feedback.

Convert ATTDEF Entities to Text
This routine from Robert L. Zipprich cleans up the unwanted ATTDEF entities left behind when an attributed block is exploded with the regular AutoCAD Explode command. It achieves this by converting the unwanted entities to text. View the complete tip and post your feedback.

Submit Your Tip

Review Cadalyst's Tip Submission Guidelines, then Submit Your Tip for your favorite CAD software. If we publish your tip, you'll earn a gift card you can use to purchase a T-shirt or other prizes in the Cadalyst Store. Please remember to submit only code and other tips that are your original work (or provide the original source so we can include proper credit) and to 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.

Got Feedback? To share feedback about one of today's tips, navigate to the tip using the link provided above, then click Comment. The Comment tool is available to registered users of Cadalyst'sCAD Tips 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. 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 for assistance with AutoLISP and other AutoCAD customization questions.

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

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SPECapc Releases New 3ds Max 2011 Performance Benchmark
SPEC's Application Performance Characterization (SPECapc) group has released two versions of a new benchmark for evaluating systems running Autodesk 3ds Max 2011. The professional version of SPECapc for 3ds Max 2011 ($495) contains 58 tests for measuring modeling, interactive graphics, and CPU and GPU performance. The personal version ($20) generates a single number from a subset of those tests.

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Paul Aubin

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Deals & Freebies

Users Can Evaluate DansMark DWG-to-LISP Conversion Tool for Free
Registered users can download a free demo version of Drawing2Lisp_Converter.lsp ($20) to view a sample of the tool's functionality. The DWG-to-LISP tool, which was developed by Dan Flemming of DansMark Software Solutions, converts AutoCAD drawing entities directly into AutoLISP code.

Version 1.2 of Architectural Visualization Plug-In Free for LumenRT Users
E-on software, which develops 3D sky, light, and nature technologies, has announced the availability of a new update for LumenRT Review for SketchUp, a real-time 3D plug-in for visualizing architectural projects. Release 1.2 adds the ability to process larger models, including structures and cities, with greater speed. Current LumenRT users may download the update for free.

Esri Updates Free ArcGIS App
Esri has released an updated version of ArcGIS for the iOS platform that includes support for pop-up windows and access to ArcGIS Online basemaps. The ArcGIS app also promotes collaboration and information sharing: Maps in ArcGIS can now be shared via SMS, Twitter, Facebook, and e-mail. The app is compatible with both the iPhone and the iPad.

NewTek Offers 30-Day Trial of LightWave 3D Graphics Software
Graphics software company NewTek is offering a trial edition of LightWave 10, a 3D modeling, rendering, and animation solution. Version 10 features integrated support for 3D mice, such as those from device developer 3Dconnexion. The devices can be used in all stages of the creative workflow in LightWave 10, from creating assets with Modeler to controlling lights, cameras, objects, or timelines in the Layout module.

Users Can Try Latest PDXpert PLM Release Free
Visitors to the Active Sensing web site can download a free, fully functional trial version of PDXpert PLM 2010 Edition, Release 6.6 that offers part numbering, supplier control, and bill of materials management; document and file revision control; engineering change forms with workflow; flexible data import/export; and other PLM (product lifecycle management) software capabilities.

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Expert CAD Manager book by Robert Green

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Opportunities & Honors

NIBS Invites Comments on Proposed BIM Standard Changes
The National Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS) buildingSMART alliance has closed the submission period to develop Version 2 of its building information modeling (BIM) standard, the National BIM Standard—United States. All members of the industry may submit ballot item comments during the comment period (August 3–September 1, 2011) upon becoming a member of the Project Committee.

3Dconnexion Launches "3D Mouse of the Future" Design Challenge
Pointing device developer 3Dconnexion has opened a new global contest for designers, challenging them to create the "3D Mouse of the Future." Through September 2011, participants can submit their designs for a chance to win monthly prizes of 3Dconnexion SpacePilot PRO, SpaceExplorer, and SpaceNavigator 3D mice, as well as a grand prize of a custom CAD workstation.

Doug Mockett Hosts 26th Annual Furniture Design Competition
Doug Mockett & Company is now accepting entries for its Annual Design Contest focused on furniture parts, accessories, and hardware. An unlimited number of First Place awards will be given; winners will receive $1,000, an engraved trophy, and a royalty based on sales. The deadline is September 6, 2011.

Rapidform Developer Receives Kudos from South Korea
INUS Technology, a developer of 3D scanning software, has been named a "2011 Great Workplace" by the Korean Ministry of Knowledge Economy. South Korea's Ministry of Knowledge Economy recognizes companies that exhibit dedication to their employees through their vision, human resources, and company culture.

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Mark Your Calendar

From Point Clouds to CAD models with PC-DMIS Reshaper
July 20, 2011
10:30 a.m. CT
Hexagon Metrology will hold this free, live webinar on reverse engineering techniques using PC-DMIS Reshaper software, a standalone software product specializing in point cloud collection, processing, and meshing tasks. Read more

Extend the Reach of Your ArcGIS Investment with FME
July 28, 2011
8:00 a.m. PT
This Safe Software webinar will explain how to access any data directly within ArcGIS, regardless of its source system. Read more

7th International gvSIG Conference
November 30–December 2, 2011
Valencia, Spain
"Conquering New Areas" will be the theme for this open-source GIS (geographic information system) software conference organized by the gvSIG Association. Read more

For a complete list of CAD meetings, conferences, training sessions, and more, check out our calendar of events on Are you hosting an event that you would like to include in our calendar? Submit details at least two weeks in advance to

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What's New at

IMSI/Design Debuts First 3D DWG Viewer for iPhone
Engineers and architects alike can mobilize their designs with the free TurboViewer app, which was built from the ground up for the iOS platform. Read more

Have the BIM Truth Talk with Your Boss, Part 4
The final installment in this series discusses reader experiences with training personnel, IT obstacles, and other aspects of implementation. Read more

Turn Your Phone into a CAD Management Emergency Kit
Your mobile device can serve as a traveling toolbox if you stock it with the files you might need to install on a workstation. Read more

About the Author: Robert Green

Robert Green

AutoCAD Tips!

Lynn Allen

In her easy-to-follow, friendly style, long-time Cadalyst contributing editor and Autodesk Technical Evangelist 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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