CAD Manager's Newsletter (#195)

13 May, 2008 By: Robert Green

Creating Standards, Part 1

Build your standards and develop great support documentation at the same time.

The next several issues of the CAD Manager's Newsletter are companion pieces to my May Cadalyst column on CAD standards. If you haven't had a chance to read the article, click the link above to review it so you'll have the proper context for this newsletter.

In this installment I'll focus on a different way to build up your standards. I tackle this task differently from most CAD managers, but I believe that you can benefit from this approach.

What is a Standard?
A standard is really just a way to use software to get a desired result. Be it how to create standard layers in AutoCAD or naming protocols in SolidWorks assemblies or using the correct style in Civil 3D, a standard tells a user how to use the software to get good results.

I'll make the creative leap here that if a standard is a way to use software, then a good standard essentially doubles as a training tool. After all, why write a bunch of standards that people have trouble following when you can actually create standards documents that teach people how to follow the standards?

Capturing Your Standards
So if a standard is also a training tool, let's author our standards like a training document and we'll actually get two jobs done at once! First, let me discuss the process I use; then we can dig into some greater detail. Read more »

:: CAD Manager’s Toolbox:
     Managing Filing Standards

You don't have to put up with with paths that are too long, have confusing names, and are difficult to locate.

Ever since Windows XP was launched, CAD software vendors have had to work with Microsoft's suggested filing standards for user profiles. This means that CAD managers have to suffer with paths that are too long, have confusing names, and are often marked as System or Hidden so that the folders can't be easily located using File Explorer.

Here's an example of a folder encountered in my Inventor/AutoCAD 2008 installation:

C:\Users\Robert Green\AppData\Roaming\Autodesk\Autodesk Mechanical Desktop 2008\R17.1\enu\support\color

Now how much fun is it to work with this type of path? I like to configure my CAD tools so the paths do not use these crazy path names. Here's a little trick I use to manage files in these weird folders. Read more »

Do you have a suggestion/tip that should be in the CAD Manager?s Toolbox? Send it to me at and you might get a cool Cadalyst souvenir if I use your idea.

:: Resources

BIM Podcast Series
The Construction Specifications Institute (CSI) is launching an AudioCast series focusing on building information modeling (BIM). CSI is producing the "bimWITS" series in conjunction with the buildingSMART alliance. The free series, available to the public, will be posted to on the first and third Mondays of every month. Each 3-to-8-minute episode will address BIM best practices.

Get the Code!
Cadalyst's May code from Hot Tip Harry is available for download. This month's top tip, Xref Block Layer Cleanup from Michael Kolomiyets, is a reactor-based solution for handling layers from xref blocks.

:: Events

Las Vegas AUGI CAD Camp
May 20, 2008
Las Vegas, Nevada
AUGI CAD Camp promises to enlighten and inform through educational sessions, a wide variety of courses, and opportunities to network with fellow attendees and browse the exhibit area. Don't forget to enter the Top DAUG Competition. Read more »

Autodesk Experience Virtual Event
June 3, 2008
10 a.m. EDT
Join informative sessions including What's New with AutoCAD 2009 Tips & Tricks with Lynn Allen. Learn how to hone your AutoCAD skills and witness how the latest release of AutoCAD can make you more productive than ever. Read more »

GeoWeb 2008
July 21-25, 2009
Vancouver, BC, Canada
The GeoWeb 2008 conference reflects the breadth, evolution, and growing maturity of the GeoWeb and is one of a few conferences focusing exclusively on the convergence of GIS and the Internet. The GeoWeb 2008 conference welcomes both public and private organizations to meet, discuss, and learn about today's most innovative geospatial technologies. Read more »

For a complete list of CAD meetings, conferences, training sessions, and more, check out our calendar of events on