CAD Tech News (#23)

6 Aug, 2015 By: Cadalyst Staff

▶ First Look Review: Seneca Data VFX 9200

Burly workstation is designed for serious computing.

By J.V. Bolkan

The VFX 9200 is a substantial workstation, both literally and figuratively. The case is large (9.2" w x 18.4" h x 20.6" d), and weighs in at just over 27 lbs. The system also scored big numbers on our benchmark tests. Fortunately, the price isn't outsized — it's quite reasonable, considering all that Seneca Data has put into that beefy case.

The VFX 9200 series comes with either an Intel Xeon E5-1600 or an Intel i7-5820K 3.3-GHz CPU. Our review system was equipped with the latter, including the water-cooling option and overclocking to 4.5 GHz. As is becoming the norm in a workstation of this class, the primary storage drive is a 250-GB solid-state drive (SSD), which provides quick loading of core applications. At this price, you might not expect to see a pair of 1-TB Seagate hard drives in RAID 0 configuration in this machine, but they are included too.

If you need to expand beyond the impressive amount of storage available, there is plenty of room to add more: The system will accommodate a total of five storage drives. There are also two front-access drive bays behind the hinged front panel for adding optical drives.

Seneca Data's VFX 9200 is a large, sharp-looking workstation that offers abundant power for demanding CAD and simulation tasks.
Seneca Data's VFX 9200 is a large, sharp-looking workstation that offers abundant power for demanding CAD and simulation tasks.

Read more »

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J.V. Bolkan has been evaluating and writing about graphics technology for more than 25 years.


▶ VBA Lives On with AutoCAD 2016

It's still possible to customize AutoCAD vertical products with Visual Basic for Applications (VBA).

By Andrew G. Roe

Just as we can count on the annual release of a new version of AutoCAD software, I can count on hearing the same question pop up again and again: "I have some old VBA routines that worked great several years ago. Can I still run them in the latest version of AutoCAD?" With AutoCAD 2016 now released, the answer is still "Yes" — but with a few caveats.

As a refresher, Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) was introduced in AutoCAD Release 14, and enabled users to develop event-driven programs within AutoCAD sessions using a handy integrated development environment (IDE). VBA quickly gained popularity, as even novice programmers found they could write programs with graphical user interfaces (GUIs) and logical branching. Access to AutoCAD's object model provided easy ways to create and modify entities, extract data from drawings, and adjust drawing settings and properties.

VBA remained a popular development platform for several years, but Microsoft stopped distributing VBA licenses in 2007, favoring its .NET framework for more flexibility in development, deployment, and Web services. Autodesk removed VBA from the standard AutoCAD interface in AutoCAD 2010 and essentially stopped supporting it, but VBA has maintained a pulse.

Autodesk unofficially supported VBA with a downloadable VBA enabler for post-2010 versions, and sure enough, continued the trend with AutoCAD 2016. The plugin has allowed many AutoCAD users to continue using VBA routines, albeit with occasional complications. Because the long-standing VBA 6 was a 32-bit application, it ran as a separate 32-bit process on 64-bit AutoCAD, sometimes resulting in unstable behavior. Microsoft then introduced VBA 7, compatible with both 32- and 64-bit platforms, improving stability and essentially giving VBA another lease on life. Autodesk now offers this version for AutoCAD 2014 and later versions.

While still not recommended for complex programs, you may find cases where VBA makes sense, particularly if you have some legacy code you'd like to keep using. Even though .NET is more powerful and scalable, it carries some baggage. Those simple 10-line routines in VBA could require 50 or more lines of code in .NET, along with the hassles of managing external references and developing code in a separate environment. Read more »

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Cadalyst contributing editor Andrew G. Roe is a registered civil engineer and president of AGR Associates.


Herrera on Hardware: Why Workstation Ergonomics Matter
Modern machine design involves more than just speeds and feeds. Industry trends indicate that your next workstation will be easier to move, service, and forget about. Read more »

Conduct a Clash Test in Navisworks 2015
Use the Clash Detective tool to find places where one model crosses into another. Watch the video »

Create Stairs in Autodesk Revit Architecture
In this Infinite Skills tutorial, author Tim Dundr demonstrates how to create a staircase using Autodesk Revit Architecture. Watch the video »


Advanced Solutions for Aerospace Part Manufacturing
August 12, 2015
11 a.m. ET
This webinar from Siemens PLM Software will discuss how NX for manufacturing can help increase productivity and maximize competitive advantage. The integrated NX system for CAD/CAM/CMM enables efficient manufacturing of next-generation aerospace parts. Read more »

e-SPECS for Revit Live Webinar
August 13, 2015
2 p.m. ET
This InterSpec webinar will discuss the company's e-SPECS for Revit solution for automated and coordinated specifications with Autodesk Revit. Topics will include automated spec sections from Revit models, keynote coordination, building information modeling (BIM) validation reports, and more. Read more »

The Future of Making Things
August 13, 2015
Indianapolis, Indiana
This half-day workshop from Advanced Solutions will explore trends for all manufacturing industries. Read more »

Revit Technology Conference Asia 2015
September 10–12, 2015
Sentosa, Singapore
At the inaugural Asian Revit Technology Conference, all sessions will be presented in English. This conference will present opportunities to explore the latest trends and technologies, learn from some of the world's top instructors, and pick up tips and tricks from experts. Read more »

3D Printshow California
September 11–12, 2015
Pasadena, California
3D Printshow brings together key players from the 3D printing ecosystem, from engineers and product designers through to brands and makers. This event will explore how 3D printing is used. Read more »

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