Tips & Tools Weekly (Vol. 17, No. 14)

23 Apr, 2012 By: Cadalyst Staff

This Week's Software Tips

HP All-in-One Video TipAll-in-One CAD Tip #2: AutoCAD Sheet Sets, 3ds Max Workspace, Dusty Hardware
Check out these great tips for organizing AutoCAD sheet sets, maximizing your 3ds Max screen real estate and helping your hardware perform at its best. Sponsored by the HP Z1 All-in-One Workstation. View the video.

They're Not Antiques, They're Classics!
Some tips just never get old. Is there a classic tip that you still rely on today? Use the "Submit Tip" button below to tell us about your favorites from the past, so we can dust them off and share them with your fellow CAD users!

Manage Annotative Objects
Frequent tipster Danny Korem offers some advice about using annotative objects while working in AutoCAD. "I'm so accustomed to seeing annotative objects these days that old-school methods seem confusing and clumsy, and I look at hundreds of drawing files, layouts, and viewports every week." View the complete tip and post your feedback.

Use Formulas in AutoCAD Tables
Mike Thorne, a design CAD operator, shares an AutoCAD tip about using tables. "Using a table is a good way of implementing dynamic text on a grid, such as in a profile." View the complete tip and post your feedback.

Move Around Drawings by Finding Text Strings
Civil designer Sam J. Lucido discusses using AutoCAD's Find command to help fix errors in your drawing annotations. "The Find command can replace incorrectly spelled words or text strings in a drawing." View the complete tip and post your feedback.

Embed Excel Files in Drawings
Tipster Lyle Hardin addresses ways to embed spreadsheet data into an AutoCAD file. "This tip explains how to embed a linked Excel spreadsheet into a drawing permanently. We had a client who could not open our drawings that had linked Excel spreadsheets in them, even though we supplied the spreadsheets." View the complete tip and post your feedback.


April 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 April 2012 Hot Tip Harry batch at once.

Adjust Dimension Text Masking
When you enable text masking on a dimension in AutoCAD, it's named Fill Color in the Properties dialog. There is no way to change the masking factor, however, to enlarge or reduce the amount of masking applied, until now: Michael Partenheimer has written a routine to do just that. View the complete tip and post your feedback.

Draw Chain
Jay Thomas is back this month with a creative AutoCAD routine that draws chain. This routine includes a dialog box, slide library, and several drawings. View the complete tip and post your feedback.

Rotate Text to Match View
If you work with UCS rotated views in AutoCAD, you may run across text and/or mtext entities whose rotation angle is just a bit off for one reason or another. This routine by Tommy Shumpert will set the selected text to zero (0) rotation regardless of the current view angle. View the complete tip and post your feedback.

Perform Multiple Fillets with Radius Zero
Kent Cooper created this update to an AutoCAD tip submitted more than a decade ago. The original tip allowed you to perform a single fillet with radius zero, after which it restored the original radius value to the built-in Fillet command. Kent's version allows for the same functionality, except you can perform as many fillets as you need with a zero radius. View the complete tip and post your feedback.

Convert Regular Polygons to Circles
This AutoCAD routine from Kent Cooper is pretty specialized, but if you can use it, it will undoubtedly save you a lot of time. It converts regular polygons to circles. What is a regular polygon, you ask? It's a polygon whose sides are all equal in length and whose vertices are equidistant from the center. View the complete tip and post your feedback.

Create a Circle Tangent to Three Entities
The third AutoCAD routine from the prolific Kent Cooper allows you to construct a circle tangent to three objects. It uses the Circle command's 3P option along with the Tangent object snap, but streamlines these into a nice command. 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 in the latest version of AutoCAD by Contributing Editor Brian Benton. Use all tips at your own discretion, please. We're sorry, but Cadalyst staff cannot provide assistance with technical problems. Please refer to Cadalyst's LinkedIn and Facebook communities for assistance with AutoLISP and other AutoCAD customization questions.

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Autodesk Releases Free Mobile Simulation App for iOS Devices
Autodesk ForceEffect Motion, a new mobile simulation app for developing and testing mechanical systems with moving parts, is now available in the App Store for iOS-based devices. Autodesk ForceEffect Motion enables users to evaluate their designs by importing an existing image or creating a freehand sketch and adding functional mechanical joints, actuators, constraints, and supports.

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Deals & Freebies

DataCAD Discounts Subscription Edition of AEC CAD Program by $100
Customers who purchase a first license or upgrade license for DataCAD 14 Subscription Edition before May 31, 2012, will save $100. With the discount, users who own DataCAD 13 can upgrade for $595; those who own DataCAD 5–12 can upgrade for $695; and those without a copy of DataCAD can purchase the first license for $1,495 and additional licenses for $695.

Global Force DIRECT Offers Free Trial of BIM Software Suite
Technology sales and marketing organization Global Force DIRECT is offering registered users a free 30-day, fully functional trial of the 4M 3D BIM (building information modeling) suite. Designed for AutoCAD users transitioning to BIM, the DWG-compatible software suite offers multi-discipline applications for design, analysis, and visualization, and doubles as a complete CAD solution supporting a variety of formats.

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Opportunities & Honors

Nemetschek, MAXON Seek Entries for 2012 Rendering Competition
Professional and student designers can submit entries to the 2012 Inspired Visions Global Rendering Competition until August 16, 2012. The annual competition, which is sponsored by Nemetschek Vectorworks and MAXON Computer, recognizes top architects and designers from around the world, and their abilities to visually render Vectorworks models with Renderworks or CINEMA 4D.

Club Revit Knowledge Challenge Open until May 16
The Club Revit Knowledge Challenge is open to all Club Revit members who want to benchmark their skills and prove their value to their employers and peers. Each challenge has 24 questions and competitors have one chance, lasting 30 minutes, to answer them all. A combination of high scores and fastest times will determine the winners. The challenge is powered by the KnowledgeSmart online testing engine.

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Mark Your Calendar

Combining Point Clouds with Imagery to Classify Objects
April 25, 2012
11:30 a.m. ET
This webinar from Trimble will explain how to utilize point cloud data together with imagery to streamline object-based analysis of geospatial data. Read more

Meet Renderworks
April 25, 2012
2 p.m. ET
At this 30-minute overview presentation from Nemetschek Vectorworks, attendees will hear about how Renderworks rendering software integrates with the Vectorworks interface, explore the main features of Renderworks, and learn how the integration of the CINEMA 4D engine enables designers to directly translate their renderings into CINEMA 4D. Read more

BIM Collaboration for Revit, MicroStation, Bentley Architecture, and Vectorworks
April 26, 2012
9 a.m. PT
This one-hour online training session from Cadventure will focus on CadFaster|Collaborate, a cloud-based collaboration plug-in that enables sharing, markup, and co-viewing of building information models in real time. Read more

Visualize, Process, and Manage Point Cloud Data
May 9, 2012
11 a.m. ET
This complimentary webinar from Bentley Systems will explain how the company's point cloud software solution enables point cloud processing and management for infrastructure workflows. Read more

Meet Vectorworks Architect
May 31, 2012
2 p.m. ET
Wes Gardner of Nemetschek Vectorworks will host this 30-minute overview presentation about Vectorworks Architect software. Attendees will learn about the software's capabilities and functions, such as customized wall styles and smart parametric objects, and about collaboration in a BIM workflow. 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

Cadalyst Poll: How Much Did You Spend on Your CAD Workstation?
Do you ever wonder how much money your peers spend on their CAD systems? Simply scroll to the bottom of the Cadalyst home page and vote in the latest Cadalyst poll to find out! You can even bookmark the results page and come back later, to see how the results change as more voters weigh in.

CADspeed Blog Post:
How Much RAM Should You Buy for a CAD Workstation?

Start with the minimum RAM recommendation for your primary software, then get a feel for how much more memory you'll get with incremental spending. Read more

Autodesk Strives for Consistency, Cloud-Centricity in 2013 Product Lineup
Updated components for AEC, manufacturing, and entertainment suites are integrated with each other — and with the Autodesk 360 cloud computing platform. Read more

First Look Review: CadTempo 5.2
Automatically track and chart time spent using popular CAD applications, Microsoft Office, and more. Read more

All-in-One CAD Tip #1: AutoCAD Ribbon, Civil 3D, CAD Management
Learn how to customize the AutoCAD ribbon, share Civil 3D data, and more effectively manage your CAD team. Sponsored by the HP Z1 All-in-One Workstation. Read more

About the Author: Cadalyst Staff

Cadalyst Staff

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