Dialog Box April 2008

31 Mar, 2008 By: Cadalyst Staff

Readers have their say.

For your letter to be considered for publication, please include your full name and daytime telephone number. Letters are subject to editing for length and clarity. Send letters to:

Cadalyst Dialog Box

Hats Off to 3D Implementation Guide
My hat is off to Robert Green -- good work for "The Realist's Guide to 3D Implementation, Part 1." It is very difficult, but necessary, to get to a true virtual representation of the product to be built. The entire enterprise needs to be prepared. I have lived through a successful transformation in a very large company, and I'll just echo your thoughts that it is largely about the people. The reality is that not every designer or engineer can think in 3D. Some very good designers will not make the transition. So find out early where the aptitude is and where it's not. Next, the ultimate customer for the design -- the people who will manufacture and sell the product that is being designed -- will not have CAD extertise (nor should they), so how will all of the 3D data be consumed? Most companies frankly, don't get the bang for the buck for their investment in 3D CAD and PLM. That is another reason companies fail at the transition. Plan early on to address this part of the equation. I think the most important step in PLM is effectively extending 3D data outside of engineering. That is where the real value is, after all.
—Doug Halliday
Rochester Hills, Michigan

Looking for AutoCAD Sessions
I am wondering if there are any conferences scheduled for Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, that deal with AutoLISP programming and other AutoCAD how-tos?

—Bruce Ducharme, drafting process specialist
Loewen, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

Editors Respond
You can check our online calendar of events, which we update every week.

You might find some good options doing a Google search to see what pops up. Another option would be to locate some AutoCAD resellers in your area (via and checking with them about classes, etc. There might also be an Autodesk users group in Winnipeg that could link you with some good resources. Check with universities and colleges also.

There are also many, many books (check and Web sites on both subjects if you can't find in-person instruction.

If you haven't done so already, please take a look at for AutoCAD tutorials and AutoLISP-related resources (such as our "Hot Tip Harry" column and our Tips & Tools Weekly or Harry's Code Class e-newsletters).

Dancing Ads and Other Annoyances
You may not care to hear my comments about the Web site; if not, stop here and delete this message. If you want my opinion, read on.

I love the information you present on your site and look to be enriched by reading it. I respect your contributing writers and editors but ... Please stop all the distracting animations. I can appreciate the need to advertise, but when I'm reading an article on your site, I narrow the window to show just the article so as not to be annoyed by the activity on the sidelines. And this can't be good for your advertisers.

Even if you reduce the number of dancing ads, I believe it would go along way in making a visit to even more enjoyable. Anyway, just my two cents.

—Sal Brusco, CAD manager
CENTRIA, Moon Township, Pennsylvania

Editors Respond
We do appreciate your opinion and that you took the time to contact us. We don't ignore this concern -- we actually do impose some limits on our advertisers regarding how much animation (and other annoyances) their ads can include. I'm sure you've noticed how awful ads can be on some other sites, where characters jump off the page at you, obscure the content until you click Close, or the ads pulse like strobe lights, etc. Yet, we also know that what we judge to be "tolerable" can give someone else a migraine.

We have forwarded your comments to our publisher. She is very open to reader feedback and has made several changes in response to it. Please keep in mind that in the case of Cadalyst, advertising is what keeps us afloat and able to offer our content and services to readers at no charge. (Further restrictions on advertising could compromise that advertising base.)

Again, please know your comments will be heard and taken seriously. We appreciate your readership.

How to Use a LISP Routine
I read this TR.LSP routine in the March 3 addition of Tips & Tools Weekly:

"Text Rotate: Shawn Samaniego offers TR.LSP, a routine that aligns any string of text to a line (nonpolyline) and also aligns blocks and other miscellaneous objects. He writes: 'For those of us who still operate in AutoCAD 2006 and earlier, I have used this TR.LSP routine. I use it so much that I have included it in my ACADDOC.LSP.' "

I would really like to use it, but I don't know how. Can you give me detailed instructions on how to load this routine so it works automatically and what command I use to set the routine in motion when I am working on a drawing? I am fairly new to AutoCAD so elementary instructions would be appreciated.

—Elizabeth Henderson, AutoCAD technician
MCW/AGE Power Consultants, Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada

Editors Respond
We have an oldie-but-goodie article on our Web site, "Learning to LISP" by Bill Fane, that should help. It makes references to Autodesk R12 and R13 (!), but perhaps you will be able to glean what you need.

Also, further resources for seeking assistance are on Cadalyst's Get the Code! site. Once you figure out how to make LISP routines work for you, Get the Code! has more than 1,600 routines, hatch patterns, etc., to check out. You might also like to subscribe to our Harry's Code Class free e-newsletter.

Teaching Science and Technology
I have read your editorial titled "A Sobering Reality," and I agree with you 100%. I am currently in my 48th year of teaching and have seen the outcome of eliminating the technology and science curriculum in different states of employment. Please continue the effort to emphasize science and technology.

—Bob Ray
Computer Graphics, Sherman, Texas

After reading your editorial, I think you missed a very important point. "Perhaps more collaboration between competing companies to provide comprehensive, hands-on CAD training curriculum in all colleges and universities could spur more ..." Why wait until college? By the time most students have reached the point of attending college, they have decided what type of major (maybe not exactly, but they have a range) to go for. In high school, you have more of a chance to influence a person to decide, "maybe I might want to do something like this." Even if the person would not attend a college to get an engineering degree, perhaps they might decide that being a draftsman or designer is something they can do, rather than them just assuming that they'll work some labor job.

—Roland Hannula
by e-mail

The reader you wrote about this month in your editorial is right but only tells a small fraction of the reason. I often discourage young people from pursuing a career in engineering because to tell them anything else is lying to them and likely damaging their earning potential.

I am 46 with more than 25 years experience in engineering, and I will be lucky to finish my working life in this field. In case you haven't noticed, our jobs are going to China, India, and Russia, among other places. Don't tell me there is a shortage of engineers in this country; that is pure BS. What employers really mean when they say that is there is a shortage of qualified engineers willing to work for what they can pay a Chinese or Indian person to do the job offshore.

The best advice you can give young people who are considering a career in engineering is to forget about it. Instead, tell them the truth ... that they can make about the same money (often these days, more money) in HVAC, plumbing, electrical, or other skilled trades, and they will not have to worry about their jobs being outsourced. In addition to that, they will have to invest significantly less time and money into their education and will, in the end, have a more stable, rewarding life.

—Rick Thompson, design engineer
Alliance Winding Equipment, Fort Wayne, Indiana

I enjoy reading your comments in the Editor's Window page of Cadalyst. It is also fast becoming my most favorite tech magazine as well. Now that I am retired, I spend a great deal of time volunteering in the school district. My volunteering covers everything from speaking engagements to curriculum advisor. Mentoring, tutoring, and building science projects can also be included in there. It is an enjoyable time for me to impart some knowledge of things to the younger generation. Therefore, I get a chance to see and to interact with the kids and, of course, the teachers too. Those encounters add to my own knowledge base as well.

Yesterday in the Las Vegas Review Journal newspaper, I was reading about the decline in overall student participation in engineering and other scientific endeavors and something important was stated in that article. As far as math is concerned, there are two schools of thought that have been fighting for dominance in the educational system we use here in the United States. In the first instance, the older tried-and-proven method of math drilling, memorization, and practice sessions in homework and in class has been used for many generations.

In the second instance, the new method proceeds fast through the math conceptualization but lacks enough built-in practice sessions to reinforce it. All schooling is based on learning things and not just ideas. Memorization is a great part of learning, and if you put that aside you are going to have trouble filling out schools in engineering and science. Somehow, a much too liberal idea of teaching ideas or concepts instead of real learned skills, is showing its ugly face. We are losing the industrial edge and world leadership of innovation that can only come from solid backgrounds in education. This country is fast to assimilate new ideas without first proving whether they are better than the ones they are replacing. We need to return to the better ways of educating our children. ... New does not necessarily mean better.

—Richard Williams
Las Vegas, Nevada

An interesting past two editorials. While it is one thing for a totally socialist government to finally begin acknowledging the people that it has oppressed for the past 200+ years by creating incentives for even the poorest ("Beyond Borders," Cadalyst, February 2008), it is something else altogether here in this country.

I can understand the viewpoint of the person who wrote you bewailing the cuts our glorious government has made to specific science programs, it belies the fact that our government is the major problem. As our government becomes more and more socialistic (and God help us if the Democrats win in November) and top heavy with lawyers looking to preserve the future for themselves by creating a socialist dependent entitlement mentality constituency of useful idiots, the real Americans who have provided the engine that has driven this country to be the greatest the world has ever known, are flushed down the toilet of political expediency. This has occurred via treaties such as NAFTA and giving most-favored-nation status to communist China. Anybody who denies the loss of well-paying, middle-class jobs to offshoring is either a liar, an unindicted coconspirator, on drugs, or all three. As the public schools system has dumbed down the curricula and basically been nothing more than an indoctrination system to inculcate the failed premise of socialism/communism, more and more Americans have come to believe that government just has to be involved and is the solution to all of our problems, instead of recognizing that a socialist government is the problem, not the solution.

However, until our government is scourged of the parasitic lawyers making our laws (and I blame both political parties for selling out this country), and people with common sense are elected to reverse 50 years of socialism, I will agree with the writer you quoted. Why?

Because people have to have jobs that pay a decent wage to survive. Americans aren't going to live like illegals, 10 or 15 to a two-bedroom apartment, so those with abilities are going to train for jobs that pay the most. Unfortunately, the scumbag lawyers running this country into the ground have no use for engineers, scientists, or other technically inclined people unless they are card-carrying schills for socialism such as that bozo Hanson at NASA, hence engineers and scientists often make far less than people in other occupations with fewer skills. So, why bother learning calculus, statics, dynamics, strength of materials, CAD, stress analysis, etc., when the rewards for doing so are low pay and potential unemployment, when one can become a lawyer, politician, or other nonproductive moneymaker and earn considerably more than an engineer or scientist?

As much as I despise Parade magazine, it does have one feature that shows what is wrong with America in such a way that it is impossible to deny: the annual salary survey. One glance shows that America has very little use for those providing what keeps this country going, while rewarding nonproducers (actors, musicians, lawyers, investment and hedge fund managers, etc.) far out of proportion to their value to society. Add in the reliance on duh gubmunt to do the providing, and it's a no-brainer to take a job outside of the engineering/scientific world.

So, until the people of America wake up, cast off the yoke of socialism/egalitarianism, toss the parasitic lawyers out of all of our government (local, county, state, and federal), and start undoing 50+ years of socialism, our country will continue to slide into the toilet of dependency on gubmunt, good-paying tech jobs (including CAD) will continue to be outsourced offshore, and soon we will be too stupid to match the foreign competition ... but we will have our iPods and other useless techie-toys so we can listen to crappy music and dance hip-hop as our country is stolen from us by the parasites we have so stupidly elected.

—Mike Martin
Sonoma, California

Vista 64 -- a Bit of a Problem
We recently purchased a new computer with Vista 64 installed. We did not realize all the problems associated with going to the 64-bit operating system. AutoCAD 2008 runs extremely well; however, none of our add-ons will work at all. We use StructPro from Digital Canal for our structural details. Currently, it does not have a 64-bit version of its product. It might work on one this summer, if there is enough demand. I also upgraded my civil software from Eagle Point; it does not support 64 bit. So now I have purchased seats that cannot be used on our newest computer. We could drop $350 and purchase Vista 32 so AutoCAD will load as a 32-bit application, which seems a little backwards.

I also own TurboCAD, which I purchased to convert drawings prior to purchasing the AutoCAD 2008 upgrade. The new version 15 does not support Vista 64.

I think the 64-bit problem is one that needs to be addressed. Your reviews should to tell if the product is 64-bit compatible, and the CAD community needs to push for add-on companies to keep pace with AutoCAD.

—Randy Arp, PE
L.E. Stiffler, Engineer, Foley, Alabama

Can't They All Get Along?
I have a question that has bugged me for years. So here it is: Autodesk spends millions of dollars on developmental programs that will make AutoCAD interact with other companies' programs, so why can't it make one version of AutoCAD talk to another? Seems to me to be much more important and useful to talk among versions, than across platforms! Yes, I know about SaveAs, but why should I have to use SaveAs when a simple Open would do the same? If a certain function doesn't migrate, it won't migrate as a SaveAs either, so why have to SaveAs when you should just be able to Open. This would be a good one to actually ask Autodesk.

—Danny Comsa
Anahiem, California

Looking for Linetypes
I am trying to simply create a couple of linetypes that are particular to what I do with AutoCAD. I have Release 2006, 2004, 2000, and 14. I called AutoCAD and they can't help me. Do you know how or where I can simply come up with a way to program or create a couple of dash-dot type linetypes, one of which needs to have a square block in it. Is there a Web site for this where I don't have to pay? I did find a place that sells a linetype program for over a hundred bucks but its hard to justify 100 bucks to create just a couple of linetypes. Your help and consideration is very much appreciated.

—James Slusher
Slushco Design Group, Harlan, Kentucky

Editors Respond
Cadalyst has a couple of resources that might help, both free. Our Get the Code! library holds 1,600+ AutoCAD custom routines and hatch patterns. We found an AutoLISP routine that sounds right up your alley: Linetype Generator by Darren Marker, from February 2001. It creates a complex linetype based on your choice of characters.

If this doesn't work, Cadalyst has a discussion forum to assist: Hot Tip Harry-Requests. You can post your request there and chances are good that the moderator or one of the other participants will have some advice or a solution.

Cadalyst Discussion Forums are accessible at Use requires registration, but it's free. (Please note there will be a delay of a day or so while we approve your registration, then you will receive an e-mail requesting verification of your e-mail address before you will be able to post.)

Really Enjoying the Tips and Tools Newsletter
Hey I'm really enjoying the new Tips and Tools I get delivered right to my desktop. I've already downloaded several of the tips and am making good use of them. I'm now looking into the Imagenation v8.2 software you listed in the CAD and Related Products that could be a big help to our company. Once again, keep up the great job.

My tip of the day: Swim against the stream when needed -- dead fish always go with the flow.

—Louis Duenweg
Siskiyou Telephone, Etna, California

Terrific Tool Patette Tip
Thank you for providing the tips in "Creating Tool Palettes in AutoCAD" in the CAD Manager's Toolbox. I knew how to create tool palettes by adding blocks and tools one at a time, but this batch method was so quick and easy that I immediately made myself two new palettes from my block library after reading this article.

—Jennifer Grande
Collins, New York

About the Author: Cadalyst Staff

Cadalyst Staff

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