Tools to Simplify CAD Management

12 Jun, 2013 By: Cadalyst Staff

Cadalyst's contributing editors share a few of their favorites.

As you likely know firsthand, CAD management is a constant challenge. Fortunately, there are a host of helpful tools that can ease the burden, and many are available at low or no cost (read "100 Fabulous Freebies for CAD Users" for some great suggestions).

In this special edition of CAD Manager's Toolbox, three of Cadalyst's contributing editors discuss their favorite tools that can make your job a little easier.

Navigate to Frequently Accessed Projects Instantly

"Most recent versions of AutoCAD — and vertical products such as Civil 3D — include a proprietary shortcut bar in file selection dialogs, known as the Places List," says R.K. McSwain. "It's the leftmost panel shown below.

"This is a great place to store shortcuts to your favorite projects. I see users browsing to the same places over and over, which wastes so much time, when they could be using this great tool instead.

"Start by right-clicking on and deleting the stock shortcuts you do not need, then start adding your own. Browse to the location you want to save, then right-click in the panel and choose Add Current Folder.

"One problem with the Places List is that the panel is light gray and the icon text is white, which makes the text somewhat difficult to read. Thanks to user Jay_B in the Autodesk Forums, we can now change this to text to black. To summarize Jay_B’s technique: Right-click on your Windows 7 desktop and choose Personalize. Click on Window Color, then Advanced Appearance Settings, followed by Selected Items, and finally change the Font Color to black. These screenshots illustrate the difference the new font color makes."

Capture Screenshots and Video

Brian Benton likes Snagit, a powerful screen capture tool. "Snagit can grab a screenshot of any size, or it can snap right to a window or dialog box. CAD Managers can use Snagit to capture screenshots of their CAD software in action to help other users find their way around the program. Screen grabs can also enhance e-mail communication with a client.

"Beyond that, once an image is grabbed, the Snagit Editor can manipulate that image. You can enhance it, add text and symbols, crop it, or add effects.

"Snagit is more than a still-picture tool; it has video capture tools as well. You can create a quick, short video explaining a procedure, or describing something to a client.

"Snagit is available for Windows and Mac OS. As I understand it, each license can be installed on two machines, but not used at the same time — so you can install it on your workstation and your laptop."

Benchmarking, VPN, and More

Curt Moreno shares several tools for a variety of workplace tasks:

  • "Performance Test from PassMark is a fantastic and easy-to-use workstation benchmarking tool.
  • ProXPN is the easiest-to-use VPN on the Internet. It makes all Internet traffic from the client computer secure with 2048-bit encryption and gives access to region-limited sites, such as the BBC's video on demand.
  • ShareFile by Citrix is a service that makes it easy to transfer massive files securely and control who can see them, how often, and for how long. It also notifies you when they are accessed.
  • Focus Booster isn't a CAD-specific tool; it's a Pomodoro Technique timer that helps me concentrate on being productive by breaking up my day. I use my 'between' time to handle personal stuff and get up to move around. It's a great time-management tool."

About the Author: Cadalyst Staff

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