CAD Manager's Newsletter (#330)

24 Sep, 2014 By: Robert Green

Push the Panic Button on CAD System Translations

If your company intends to use a risky translation-based workflow, examine it carefully — it may be up to you to raise the alarm.

In the "good old days" of 2D CAD there were only a handful of software systems that were widely used, and the need to translate between them didn't arise often. This resulted in a stable CAD environment where only one system was in use in an office and the CAD manager had firm control of file versions and tools.

Fast-forward to today, and we have multiple flavors of Autodesk AutoCAD and Bentley MicroStation, many mechanical modeling tools, building information modeling (BIM) tools from several manufacturers, civil engineering add-ons from a variety of vendors and — if all that isn't enough — there are more and more cloud-based tools that compete with all the above. At some point, the translation issues between all these tools will creep into your projects — and cause a CAD management train wreck, if you aren't careful.

In this edition of the CAD Manager's Newsletter, I'll share a strategy for raising the issue of CAD translation with your management teams so you can alert them to serious problems that jeopardize the successful completion of projects. Along the way I'll point out some tips for communicating this strategy with your management and IT teams to make the argument that less is more — at least when it comes to CAD systems. Here goes.

Step 1: Know Your Outputs

Consider the following scenarios:

If an architectural firm signs a contract to deliver a BIM-coordinated model to a client using Autodesk Revit 2015, then it is perfectly clear what tool they'll need to use. Similarly, if a machine design shop signs a contract to deliver a working machine with SolidWorks 2013 model files as the final documentation, then there's no question about which program they'll require to create the model. And if a civil engineering firm signs a contract to deliver final documentation to a Department of Transportation (DOT) office in MicroStation v8 DGN format — well, you get the idea.

The non-negotiable fact with all these scenarios is that the company in question has entered into a contract that specifies how final digital files will be delivered. But what if your company isn't using Revit 2015 yet, doesn't own SolidWorks, or doesn't have a clue about how to work with MicroStation? Do you see a train wreck approaching?

Communication Tip: Immediately point out to management teams (especially project managers) that the company has entered into a contract requirement that can't be fulfilled based on current company knowledge and/or tools. Your job is to make sure they understand the position they've put you in and that while you may not know the answer now, an answer must be found for the project to be completed.Read more »

:: CAD Manager's Toolbox

Creating Training Videos Just Got Easier

When creating training videos for clients, I often receive a variety of video and audio files created on PCs or Macs, or even captured from broadcast equipment. Between the various video formats (MP4, MOV, WMV), differing resolutions (1,080p, 720p, legacy 1024, etc.), and the possible need to mute or export audio from the video files, it often took me hours to figure out how to set everything up in the editing program Camtasia before I could even get started.

I've recently started to use Any Video Converter (AVC) by Ultimate Multimedia Solutions to convert formats, make resolutions consistent, and process audio with a lot less hassle. 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 prize!

:: Resources

Trimble Expands Spatial Data Offerings with New Data Marketplace
Trimble has added a data marketplace service to its cloud-based InSphere geospatial information management platform. The InSphere Data Marketplace allows professionals to search, locate, and obtain free and premium aerial and satellite imagery; terrain, elevation, and topographic maps; and more. A free trial of InSphere is available.

:: Events

One-Click 3D Model Creation with the NextEngine Multidrive
September 25, 2014
11 a.m. PT
Viewers of this webinar will learn how to fully automate the scanning of 3D objects using the NextEngine Multidrive. Read more »

Current and Future Trends in Industrial Machine Design, Part 2
September 30, 2014
2 p.m. ET will present this webinar, in which speakers from industrial machinery manufacturers will address design challenges, keys to success, and more. Read more »

New Tools to Scan and Model As-Built Ducting (and Other MEP Systems)
October 1, 2014
1 p.m. ET
WorkFlow 4.0 will sponsor this webinar, which will demonstrate the new square duct modeling tools in EdgeWise MEP (mechanical, electrical, and plumbing) design software. Read more »

SSI Americas ShipConstructor User Conference
October 7–9, 2014
Mobile, Alabama
Guest speaker and Autodesk technical evangelist Lynn Allen will present productivity techniques that are certain to improve attendees' everyday drawing experience. Read more »

Aras Community Event (ACE) 2014 Europe User Conference
October 21–22, 2014
Frankfurt, Germany
Sponsored by Aras, this international conference on enterprise product lifecycle management (PLM) strategies brings together PLM experts, users, and decision makers throughout Europe. Read more »

Trimble Dimensions User Conference 2014
November 3–5, 2014
Las Vegas, Nevada
Those who attend this conference will discover how they can transform the way they work by integrating advanced positioning technology, field and office applications, and real-time communications. Read more »

Additive Manufacturing Users Group (AMUG) 2015 Education and Training Conference
April 19–23, 2015
Jacksonville, Florida
This event is open to owners and operators of all additive manufacturing technologies. 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

Create Offset Surfaces in SolidWorks
Infinite Skills trainer Matt Perez shows how to create an extended surface for an asymmetrical 3D solid body, and how to then use the technique to create complex geometry and cutouts. Watch the video »

SolidWorks 2015 Covers More Users with 3D Umbrella
The product development software portfolio from Dassault Systèmes is designed for mechanical engineers — and their diverse collaborators. Read more »

Vectorworks 2015 Release Highlights Mobile Options
The first 64-bit version of the portfolio for AEC, landscape design, and entertainment design features a new mobile app and automatic sync of file changes to the cloud. Read more »

'Digitalization,' Systems-Level Design Are Keys to Manufacturing Success
At its annual media event, Siemens PLM Software executives share industry perspective, company strategy, and software updates. Read more »

HP's Revamped Z Workstation Family Targets Power-Hungry Professionals
The latest lineup of desktop and mobile models emphasizes horsepower for design simulation, engineering analysis, and other demanding tasks. Read more »

:: About the Author

Cadalyst contributing editor Robert Green performs CAD programming and consulting throughout the United States and Canada. He is the author of Expert CAD Management: The Complete Guide. Reach him via his web site.

About the Author: Robert Green

Robert Green

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