CAD Manager's Newsletter (#163)

13 Dec, 2006 By: Jeffrey Rowe

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Today's edition of CAD Manager's Newsletter is the last of 2006. We'll take a break for the holiday season, returning in the New Year with the January 10, 2007, edition. We thank our authors and all our loyal readers for another successful year and wish you all the happiest of holidays.
 — Cadalyst staff

Autodesk University from 37,000 Feet

Airborne analysis of the AU 2006 conference in Las Vegas.

As has been my custom for many years, I'm writing my AU (Autodesk University) summary while flying back to Atlanta -- what better way to kill a few hours than to capture what I've been thinking about during my visit to AU?

"Why write about Autodesk University?" someone may ask. That's easy: because there are so many CAD managers in attendance and I know of no better way to take the pulse of the CAD management community than to attend, teach some classes and observe the trends in the Autodesk user community.

Author's Note – Autodesk doesn't have a monopoly on user-focused technology events. Other software vendors, Solidworks specifically, also hold huge user conferences that you can take advantage of. The trend toward user conferences that present technical information and training (instead of just marketing) with an emphasis on solutions is a trend all CAD managers should celebrate and take advantage of!

Who Was There

I continue to marvel at how much bigger AU gets every year. This year's total attendance of more than 7,400 people represented a 40% increase over last year and, given how crowded the halls, meal lines and classes were, I believe that number to be accurate. As has been the case in past years, attendee demographics were heavily tilted toward engineers, architects and designers (many of whom are CAD managers) that represent all disciplines, industries, countries and backgrounds.

Some of the big trends in attendance I noticed this year were:

  • Many more IT managers were in attendance than last year.
  • There was much more interest in BIM/Revit this year.
  • Civil engineers were there en masse, and Civil 3D was still the hot ticket.
  • Mechanical users were focused on bigger models and higher-end tools.
  • Interest in programming was much higher than in past years.

Let me offer a few thoughts on each trend and explain why I think these trends are worth noting for all CAD managers, even those who aren't currently using the products in question. Read more>>


:: CAD Manager's Q&A

Are the new multicore processors and the upcoming Windows Vista operating system really going to run 3D application software better, or should I wait and purchase new hardware later?

Robert Green replies: As with most complex technical questions, the answer is "it depends." While there will unquestionably be much greater performance on dual/quad-core processing platforms, it will happen only with the right software. Therefore, whether you'll see the benefit -- and whether you should buy now -- really depend on the software you're running and how you run it. Read more>>

Submit your questions to Robert Green

:: Resources

Wide-Format Scanner Site
Softcover, the publisher of Scan2CAD, has launched to provide CAD users with comparison charts, news, views and advice on large-format scanners for CAD use, specifically scanning technical drawings for archiving, copying and printing and raster-to-vector conversion.  A free wide-format scanner comparison chart listing 31 different models suitable for CAD work from Colortrac, Contex and Graphtec is available from Softcover via the site.

Skills-Assessment and Training-Development Solution
L.A. CAD, a California-based provider of CAD services and products, has launched its Knowledge Trax software skills-assessment and training-development solution.  Knowledge Trax now encompasses the full spectrum of CAD-related Autodesk software, including infrastructure, building design and manufacturing applications. Knowledge Trax is a personalized assessment solution with online knowledge-management tools that enables organizations to evaluate their employees’ CAD-related software skills, identify and deliver appropriate training, and achieve better results from their training investments, the company reports. 

:: Events

Cadalyst'scomplete list of upcoming industry events is always available on our Web site

Institute of Industrial Engineers Courses
January 17-March 27, 2007
Norcross, Georgia
The Institute of Industrial Engineers offers courses on Six Sigma, Process Management, Statistical Analysis, Lean Enterprise and Lean Supply Chain Management on the student's schedule or during fixed dates at its Georgia headquarters. Read more

UGS Connection User Conferences
April 23-October 17, 2007
Various locations
UGS, in cooperation with national user group organizations, will jointly host UGS Connection annual conferences, including PLM World and PLM Europe, to connect users, developers and senior managers. Read more

:: What's New at

New! Hot Tip Harry Newsletter from Cadalyst
Cadalyst announces the latest addition to its line-up of e-mail newsletters, designed for AutoCAD power users and beginning programmers alike. Debuting January 16, 2007, Harry's Code Class: Tips for Programmers will offer insight and how-to for LISP, VBA and ObjectARX programming for AutoCAD. Best of all, Harry's Code Class is led by Harry himself (a.k.a. Contributing Editor Bill Kramer, author of Cadalyst's popular "Hot Tip Harry" column). Don't miss a single issue -- sign up for Harry's Code Class: Tips for Programmers today!

Get the Code!
Cadalyst's December code from Hot Tip Harry is now available for download. This month, each AutoLISP tip was developed by Harry himself, in response to user requests posted on Cadalyst'sHot Tip Harry -- Help discussion forum.

Cadalyst's December Web Exclusives Now Live Online!
The latest editions of all your favorite Cadalyst tutorials for AutoCAD and other popular CAD software, CAD Cartoon, Dialog Box (letters from readers) -- plus all the content from the December edition of Cadalyst magazine -- are now live on Check it out!

My Monitor's Bigger Than Your Monitor
The latest Cadalyst Quick Poll is live online. This month, we want to know about your screen real estate: Is your monitor sadly small, the envy of all the CAD world or somewhere in between? Take the poll (go to any page of and scroll down to find the Quick Poll in the margin), then watch for the results in Cadfidential in the January 2007 edition of Cadalyst magazine.

Time for a New Job?
If you're in the market for a new job -- or if you just want to see what's out there -- offers a Job Search that will help. Powered by Indeed, this search tool offers a state-by-state list of CAD-related job openings, or you can customize a search to find your own list of U.S. job openings based on the keywords and locations you specify. Check it out today! Use the Job Search button under the Resources section on any Web site page, or click here for a direct link.

Cadalyst Daily Update
For all the latest news and new products, subscribe to the Cadalyst Daily e-newsletter. Plus, every issue includes a feature you won't find anywhere else --hardware and CAD software reviews, success stories, AutoCAD tips and much more! Here's a sample of what you missed recently:

•   Autodesk Gets Platform-Neutral DWF Viewing into Vista: 'Working with Microsoft, we're liberating our customers from paper-based sharing and proprietary software' – but for now, only for 2D files

•   What Grounded the Airbus A380? Company management and CAD software both under fire in an interoperability debacle of jumbo proportions

•  AutoCAD Tips: Time-Saving Toggle Routines: Personalize your software with code to quickly switch a variety of variables.