Tips & Tools Weekly (Vol. 17, No. 18)

21 May, 2012 By: Cadalyst Staff

This Week's Software Tips

HP All-in-One Video TipAll-in-One CAD Tips: AutoCAD Reference Manager, Autodesk Design Review and CAD Network Maintenance
Three great CAD tips in one! Discover the power of the AutoCAD Reference Manager, learn how Autodesk Design Review can improve your workflow, and take the time to maintain your CAD network. Sponsored by the HP Z1 All-in-One Workstation, View the video.

Useful AutoCAD Utilities: AccuRender nXt
Leonid Nemirovsky of the Better Than Nothing AutoLISP site alerts readers to an AutoCAD utility that he finds useful. "When working in 3D, you are better off using AccuRender nXt. It is very inexpensive ($249 introductory price) and easy to learn — I like it a lot. It works inside AutoCAD and creates great renderings with very good resolution." Users can create photorealistic, still, panorama, and animation image files from 3D models inside AutoCAD using raytracing and radiosity technologies.

You can share your favorite AutoCAD utilities too! Use the "Submit Tip" button below to send in the product name, price, web address, a short description of what it does, and the reason(s) why you like it. Those we publish will get a prize.

Create Cutting Planes
Steven Matchett explains how to customize AutoCAD command macros to quickly set views in model space. "This tip seems more complicated than it really is; each of these custom commands is nothing more than a macro," said Cadalyst Tip Reviewer Brian Benton. "They have a preset series of command entries that will rotate your view and create a custom UCS, allowing you to work in a specific plane." View the complete tip and post your feedback.

Switch to a New Current Layer without Layman
Tipster Dave Alexander shares a way to label items in your AutoCAD drawing on the appropriate layer without having to change layers. "Make a toolbar or palette item that inserts a block or draws a new object and sets the correct layer for the item to a new layer that is based on the current layer." View the complete tip and post your feedback.

Double-Click Dimension for DDEdit
Long-time tipster Leonid Nemirovsky shares with us an AutoCAD customization tip that will enable double-click editing of dimension text. "This is a powerful tip, or at least it can be," said Cadalyst Tip Reviewer Brian Benton. "Imagine being able to edit or modify any object in AutoCAD with a double-click of the mouse!" View the complete tip and post your feedback.

Put BattMan in your CAD Utility Belt
Frequent tipster Danny Korem provides us with advice on handling edited attributed blocks in AutoCAD. "Need help with modified blocks that contain attributes? Call BattMan! (It stands for Block Attribute Manager.)" View the complete tip and post your feedback.


May 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 May 2012 Hot Tip Harry batch at once.

Create Dimensions Quickly with Osnaps
This LISP file contains three separate functions that the tip author, Dave Couch, uses for dimensioning residential and commercial site plans in AutoCAD — although the uses for these routines do not stop there. View the complete tip and post your feedback.

Remove Background Masking from Mtext
Leland Leahy's simple but powerful LISP routine will remove the background mask from all mtext in an AutoCAD drawing. View the complete tip and post your feedback.

Generate a Layer List by Selection
Matt Sibum's latest routine generates a list of layers on which a selection set of AutoCAD entities resides; this allows you to check a certain area of a drawing for layer compliance. View the complete tip and post your feedback.

Align MText Vertically or Horizontally
Another routine from Matt Sibum will allow you to align multiple blocks of mtext in AutoCAD — horizontally or vertically — all in one step. View the complete tip and post your feedback.

Find the Centers of Triangles
An expansion of Cadalyst CAD Tip No. 3830, this routine from Kent Cooper allows you to select a triangular closed polyline in AutoCAD. Moreover, this routine enables you to find any of the various "centers" of a triangular object. View the complete tip and post your feedback.

Offset Command with Running Options
In his second tip this month, Kent Cooper adds some features to a classic tip — an improvement on the AutoCAD Offset command. Kent's version allows for changing the offset distance without leaving the command, and also restores changed system variables and includes an error handler. 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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Report on Additive Manufacturing Industry Shows Growth of Nearly 30%
Wohlers Associates, an independent consulting firm, has published "Wohlers Report 2012" ($495), an analysis of additive manufacturing (AM) and 3D printing worldwide. According to the report, the compound annual growth rate of AM was 29.4% in 2011, and the sale of AM products and services is expected to reach $3.7 billion worldwide by 2015.

Fiatech Publication Addresses Digital Signatures in AEC Environments
Industry consortium Fiatech has released "A Practical Deployment Strategy for Digital Signatures and Seals in Fully Electronic AEC Processes," a free report that describes how to apply digital signatures to help streamline workflows and increase productivity in the AEC industry. The publication is intended for architects, engineers, construction personnel, and members of AEC industry regulatory bodies.

Alliance Releases First-Ever Consensus-Based BIM Standard for the U.S.
The National Institute of Building Sciences buildingSMART alliance has released a consensus-based standard governing building information modeling (BIM) for use in the United States. The National BIM Standard — United States (NBIMS-US) Version 2 covers the full life cycle of buildings, from planning, design and construction to operations and sustainment.

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Deals & Freebies

PTC Offers Free Trial DVD of 3D Product Development Toolset
PLM (product lifecycle management) and CAD developer PTC is offering a 30-day trial of Creo Parametric to registered users. The scalable product design toolset is intended to help users incorporate and modify both native CAD and imported 3D models. This trial includes Creo Flexible Modeling Extension (FMX) for switching between direct and parametric design approaches.

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Opportunities & Honors

2012 Fall BIMForum Presentation Proposals Due by June 29
This year's Fall BIMForum, which has a theme of facilities management, has issued a call for presentation proposals. Presenters are asked to demonstrate processes that allow for smooth transfers of data, share successful case studies, discuss what doesn't work, or elaborate on building and campus owners' needs. The event will be held October 10–11 in Tacoma, Washington.

Archway Systems Chair Wins Bentley Institute Lifetime Achievement Award
Bentley Systems bestowed the inaugural Bentley Institute Lifetime Achievement Award on Tom Lazear, chairman of Archway Systems, the longest-serving Bentley Channel Partner. The award was presented during Bentley's 2012 Be Together user conference, held May 15–17 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Lazear was recognized for inspiring students, architects, and engineers to explore and apply computer technology.

GrabCAD Launches Yacht Door Design Competition
GrabCAD, an online community of MCAD engineers, has launched a design challenge requiring competitors to model a door-damping device for shipbuilder Lürssen Werft. The top three designs will earn cash prizes totaling $4,000. The competition will close on June 5, 2012.

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Mark Your Calendar

The ROI of BIM, Vela Systems Field Management Software, and iPads
May 22, 2012
10 a.m. CT
This complimentary Fiatech webinar will present the case study of the Hunt Library project at North Carolina State University. The webinar will be presented by Will Senner, assistant project manager, Skanska USA Building. Read more

Moldex3D Advanced Molding Technology Seminar
June 7–8, 2012
Lowell, Massachusetts
This Moldex3D seminar will cover the latest injection molding technologies and trends and explain how to use the company's solution to improve product quality, cycle time, and return on investment. Read more

Capture 3D Measurement Innovation 2012
August 21–23, 2012
Costa Mesa, California
Capture 3D's fifth biannual Measurement Innovation Conference will focus on how companies are improving their design, production, and manufacturing with innovative 3D measurement technology. Topics will include 3D scanning, quality control, inspection, reverse engineering, and root cause analysis. 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

CADspeed Blog Post:
TurboCAD Pro v19 on 64-bit Operating System — A Case Study on Photorealistic 3D Rendering

The release of IMSI TurboCAD Pro v19 this spring marked the first version of this CAD platform available in a 64-bit version. Read more

First Look Review: Xi MTower PCIe Workstation
Beefy desktop machine delivers top CAD performance. Read more

All-in-One CAD Tip #4:
Xrefs in AutoCAD, Map 3D Polylines and Training Kickstarts

Three great CAD tips in one! Learn best practices for AutoCAD xrefs, discover simple tricks with lines in Map 3D, and kick off a CAD training program that will make a difference for your whole team. Sponsored by the HP Z1 All-in-One Workstation. Read more

About the Author: Cadalyst Staff

Cadalyst Staff

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