CAD Manager's Newsletter (#318)

26 Mar, 2014 By: Robert Green

Advocate for Internet Access for CAD Tools

Are you battling with your IT department over a necessary resource? As CAD software becomes increasingly Internet-enabled, these conflicts are intensifying — so start talking.

I recently received a letter from a CAD/building information modeling (BIM) manager who is having serious problems performing his job because of the actions of his company's IT department. I know that IT issues are a day-to-day frustration for many CAD managers, but this particular letter made me realize that the growing impact of IT on CAD poses an imminent threat — one we all must address.

In this edition of the CAD Manager's Newsletter, I'll explore this issue and give you some talking points to start a conversation with your IT leadership so you can be ready for these problems, rather than be victimized by them. Here goes.

CAD Is No Longer an Island

Like it or not, our CAD users are becoming more and more dependent on tools that reside outside our company's internal network. The types of systems we use may vary, but they typically include the following:

  • FTP access sites for file uploading and downloading.
  • Remote access of workstations for technical support.
  • Remote log-on sessions to run compute-intensive tasks, such as rendering or analysis, on powerful remote workstations.
  • Enterprise data management (EDM) and product data management (PDM) systems for CAD/BIM models and files.
  • Cloud-based services on vendor-supplied servers.

Whether you use one, several, or all of these Internet-based resources in your day-to-day CAD system, the fact remains that using CAD is no longer something that you alone can control. And when you must reach out over the Internet to complete your CAD tasks, IT becomes a crucial part of your workflow. Read more »

:: CAD Manager's Toolbox

Conduct Usability Studies for CAD/BIM Systems

I recently participated in a usability study for a web site and was struck by the idea of using a similar technique for evaluating CAD/BIM processes. I will be formalizing my thoughts on this process later, but for now I'll share the steps involved in collecting usability data and explain how to act on the feedback you receive.

Step 1: Configure the software on a test machine and set up your test user.

Step 2: Explain the task the user will be attempting to complete (drawing a detail, creating layers, modeling a stairwell, etc.) so he or she has a good feel for the task.

Step 3: Turn on a screen/voice recording tool such as Camtasia so you'll have a record of the user's comments and actions within the software.

Step 4: Walk the user through the task, and prompt them to comment aloud about the experience — particularly when they feel confused or lost. The goal here is to capture the user's thoughts and reactions about their learning experience so you'll be able to review the process later. Read more »

Do you have a question or tip for the CAD Manager's Newsletter? Send it to me at If I use your tip in the newsletter you'll receive a cool Cadalyst prize!


:: Resources

SolidWorks World Proceedings Posted for Viewing and Download
Dassault Systèmes has made available the proceedings from SolidWorks World 2014, which took place in February. Anyone can view and download presentations and also view photos, general sessions videos, an exhibitor list with contact information, and more.

Symmetry Solutions Offers Certified SolidWorks Online Training
SolidWorks reseller Symmetry Solutions announced it will offer online SolidWorks training throughout North America. Users can get core SolidWorks classes via a virtual classroom, with classes held in a series of four-hour blocks.

3D Systems Launches New 3D Printing Seminar Series
A new training series from 3D Systems (3DS) will consist of more than 300 events between March and June 2014 at 3DS reseller locations worldwide. Resellers will demonstrate many 3DS products, spanning industrial-grade to desktop 3D printers, printing materials, and scan-to-design and inspection tools for engineers and designers.

Updated Vectorworks Guide Published
Nemetschek Vectorworks has published a new training guide for users of Vectorworks software. Vectorworks Essentials Tutorial Manual, Sixth Edition ($75), written by trainer Jonathan Pickup, discusses the Vectorworks interface; tools and commands; 3D modeling; organizing information; and using worksheets.

:: Events

Solid Edge University 2014
May 12–14, 2014
Atlanta, Georgia
Those who register for Solid Edge University by March 28 can save $50 on their registration fee. A three-for-two deal is also available. Read more »

North American Revit Technology Conference
June 19–21, 2014
Chicago, Illinois
This fourth annual, three-day event will offer an opening plenary session and keynote address and multiple concurrent sessions. 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

:: What's New at

Dell Prepares for the Diverse Future of Workstations
Whether customers want to stick with desktop workstations, adopt a mobile machine, or move to a virtualization solution, the hardware developer has an answer ready. Read more »

Three Ways to Get the Most Out of Your CAD Workstation
Hardware configuration may not be a top-of-mind concern, but making educated choices when you choose your next workstation can substantially improve your productivity. Read more »

Upgraded GPU Gives Airline Designers a Comprehensive View of the Cabin
Switching to an NVIDIA Quadro K6000 graphics processing unit (GPU) improves model viewing and rendering at Zodiac Seats. Read more »

Cyon Research Wants to Know About Your CAD Use
Cyon Research, organizer of the Congress on the Future of Engineering Software (COFES), has launched its 2014 Survey of Users of Engineering Software. Read more »

About the Author: Robert Green

Robert Green

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