CAD Manager's Newsletter (#401)

13 Mar, 2018 By: Robert Green

Spring into Standards, Part 1: Start Crafting Standards for the Modern CAD Ecosystem

The CAD environment has changed, making CAD standards a much more complex — and perplexing — challenge than in the past. It's time to rebuild your standards to reflect this new reality.

It all used to be so simple: You worried about basic parameters such as layers, linetypes, and text styles. You documented your CAD standards, printed them out, and distributed them. Networks were uncomplicated, smartphones were in their infancy, and only standards enforcement was a real problem. Well, it's a different world now.

Spring into Standards

Welcome to CAD standards in the collaborative, distributive, building information management (BIM)-enabled CAD environment we now reside in. Things aren't so simple anymore, and CAD managers are worried about far more than just file-formatting standards. In this edition of the CAD Manager's Newsletter, we'll begin a series that takes a fresh approach to managing standards in the modern CAD ecosystem, using the same process I use with my clients. Here goes.

Diagnostic Questions

Before you embark on the process of revising your standards environment, it pays to take in the bigger picture and consider all the factors that will impact the project. The best way to do this is to answer some diagnostic questions — and take a bunch of notes along the way. Let's get started:

  • Which software products are affected? Don't think only about your CAD tools; consider analysis applications, rendering/video tools, model coordination tools, etc. Ultimately, it isn't just CAD that you are standardizing, it is everything that connects to CAD via file sharing.
  • What file formats will you need to deliver? Your clients may not care about how you capture renderings or which structural analysis tool you use, but they may require you to deliver projects in certain file formats and versions, and those requirements will affect your CAD standards.
  • How will you standardize the software itself? How will the software be deployed, configured, and updated over time? How will you keep everyone on consistent versions? (After all, how can you expect people to use the software in a standard manner if the software itself isn't standard?)
  • What best practices should be included? You may only be contracted to deliver SolidWorks models or AutoCAD files at the end of the project, but what are the most efficient ways to produce those deliverables? What types of component libraries, families, and blocks should be used, and where will they be deployed from? Your CAD standards will need to reflect these best practices.
  • Where will all your information be stored? Gone are the days when everything resided on a locked-down server in your IT data center. Will you use cloud file sync/share utilities, such as Dropbox or OneDrive? Will you use vendor-specific cloud services, such as Autodesk's A360 products? If you don't standardize your file storage, users will start storing files wherever they please, and an expensive loss of control could result.
  • Who will have access to everything, and from which devices? How will you control project teams and permit remote users to access CAD files with tablets or online-only client utilities? Who will have the power to modify and delete files? Remember that as cloud-based file-sharing services become more common, these types of questions involve more than just your internal network, so your CAD standards must reflect this new reality.
  • How do you communicate/train it all? How will users know what the standards are? How will you train them? Will you have standards for the training itself? As standards become more complex, the need to communicate them clearly becomes ever more crucial.

Run though these diagnostic questions as many times as it takes to capture your thoughts, so you'll be ready to start building a standards plan. Avoid the temptation to skip forward without undertaking this key phase, because what you don't consider today will almost certainly cause you problems tomorrow. Read more »

Tools and Resources

Live with Robert Green: Demystifying GPUs for CAD Workstations
In this live, 30-minute web presentation by Cadalyst, CAD management expert Robert Green will shed light on the often confusing and misunderstood role of professional graphics processing units (sometimes called GPUs or graphics cards) in CAD workstations. We'll examine which types of GPUs are appropriate for various software applications, workflows, monitor resolutions, and mobile workstations. Along the way we'll define key terms related to frequency, memory, frame rates, and software protocols so you can read GPU specifications with confidence. We'll also answer the questions, "What are integrated graphics?" and "When are they appropriate for CAD?" and explore the differences between GPUs for CAD applications versus those for gaming/virtual reality. If you've ever been mystified by GPU terminology or wondered what to specify for your users, this webinar is for you.

A live, 30-minute Q&A will follow the presentation. Bring your questions about CAD workstations or any other CAD management concern for a personalized response from Robert Green! Register now for this live, 30-minute web presentation, which will be held March 21, 2018 1:30 PM EDT.

CIMdata Publishes Ebook Discussing Digital Twins
CIMdata, a product lifecycle management (PLM) strategic management consulting and research firm, is offering registered users a free ebook titled "Digital Twins: Changing the Way We Engineer, Validate, Market, and Operate our Products." This publication explains how digital twins can address current business challenges and meet market trends in engineering, and includes examples from the industrial equipment industry.

ASCENT Rounds Out Autodesk Guidebook Lineup with Three New Titles
ASCENT — Center for Technical Knowledge has announced the completion of its 2018 Autodesk Courseware Roadmap containing 73 learning guides, including three newly released titles. New ASCENT Autodesk 2018 learning guides include Autodesk BIM 360 Glue User Fundamentals, Autodesk Fusion 360 Introduction to Sculpting with T-Spline Surfaces, and Autodesk Advance Steel 2018 Fundamentals.

What's New at

AutoCAD Video Tips: Become a Master of the AutoCAD Cursor!
We stare at the AutoCAD cursor all day long — but is it really set up the way that works best for you? Join Lynn Allen as she shows you how to master all things related to the cursor, including a new AutoCAD command that completely changes its appearance. You'll even learn a couple of ways to play a friendly prank on your coworkers! Watch the video »

Herrera on Hardware: Navigate the Evolving Choices for
CAD Workstation CPUs, Part 1

The differentiating metrics and decision criteria are shifting as market players and technologies change. Read more »

Celebrating 400 Issues of the CAD Manager's Newsletter:
An Interview with Robert Green

Marking a major editorial milestone, Cadalyst editors interview the author for a behind-the-scenes look at the newsletter and how CAD management has evolved over the decades. Read more »

AutoCAD Video Tips: Importing PDFs into AutoCAD — Data Integrity and Image Files
In this final installment of Lynn Allen's series on importing PDF files into AutoCAD as objects, you'll learn about some of the bad news — data integrity — as well as find out how you can control the location of the imported raster images (PNG files). Watch the video »

SOLIDWORKS World 2018, Part 2: Focus on 3D Printing
Hardware providers had a heavy presence at the annual user conference, where they promoted 3D printing as the answer to product development needs ranging from prototyping to production parts — but the potential user base isn't entirely convinced yet. Read more »

About the Author: Robert Green

Robert Green

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