Tips & Tools Weekly (Vol. 11, No. 16)30 Apr, 2006
What's New at Cadalyst.com
Cadalyst Daily Update
For all the latest news and new products, subscribe to 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 in the past week:
- Google Launches Free Version of SketchUp: As predicted by some, the Internet giant makes the 3D modeling tool available to all, but says it “has no intention of getting into the CAD space.”
- Q&A: Design Turns Green, Part I: In anticipation of an upcoming PBS series, Autodesk's Phil Bernstein talks about sustainable architecture.
- PTC Acquires Mathsoft: Company also announces new Windchill/Arbortext integration that extends PLM to include technical documentation.
- First Look Review: ViewSonic VP2330wb: 23" color LCD monitor offers excellent display at a reasonable price.
- HP Launches Four Intel-based Workstations: Two are dual-core Xeon-processor desktop models, two are mobile.
Harry's Hot Tip Challenge 2006 Just Got Better
Cadalyst readers whose Hot Tip Harry tips are selected for publication in 2006 will each receive a Cadalyst t-shirt, and the author of the best tip each month will receive $100. Now sponsored by Autodesk, the Hot Tip Harry Challenge 2006 is offering even bigger prizes. All authors of published tips this year will be entered into random drawings for a copy of AutoCAD 2007 and a trip to Autodesk University 2006 in Las Vegas! So send Harry your favorite routines for AutoCAD and related products (AutoLISP, VBA and more) and you could be taking home a hot prize! Visit Harry on Cadalyst.com for details.
New Report Concludes Paper Persists in AEC
Cyon Research last week released a white paper discussing the management of reprographics in architectural and engineering firms. According to Managing AEC Print Workflow -- A Look at Oce Repro Desk Professional, the architectural industry still relies on paper documents for delivery to construction or production sites. Despite extensive IT resources committed to file management in the design process, the authors point out, careful tracking of the designs ends when the plots go out the door. The paper presents solutions and discusses other logistical and interoperability issues involved with design document printing and delivery.
Nemetschek Adds Spanish-Language Telephone Numbers
Nemetschek North America recently made available two telephone numbers for Spanish-speaking VectorWorks customers. From the United States, call 877.202.8937; from outside the United States, the number is 443.542.0730.
Vegetable Garden Design Application Takes Root on Web
For green-thumbed CAD aficionados, Plangarden introduced what is reportedly the first vegetable garden design application that runs on the Web, requiring no software to download or install. Vegetable gardeners can easily and quickly create a visual layout of their garden and populate it with vegetables. And because the application is Web-based, users can choose to make their virtual gardens viewable to others in the Plangarden community and to exchange gardening advice. During its three-month beta period, more than 800 home gardeners, small farmers, and educators signed up and tested the new application. New features and capabilities are reportedly added almost weekly to accommodate subscriber requests. Users can sign up for a free 45-day trial. A one-year subscription is available for $20.
This Week's Software Tips
Another Approach to Quick-load LISP
Wayne Terry writes in follow-up to last week's tip about quickly loading seldom-used LISP code.
"I prefer to load seldom-used LISP routines from the keyboard. Using the following routine, I can easily load any routine simply by typing its name. The drag-and-drop approach in the original tip has its benefits if you already have the LISP routines in a location that can be "seen" by AutoCAD, but it's far easier just to type the name of a routine and rock."
(defun C:LO ()
(setvar "CMDECHO" 0)
(setq TXTa (getstring "\nENTER NAME OF LISP ROUTINE TO LOAD: "))
(setq TXTp (strcat "\n" TXTa " HAS BEEN LOADED...... "))
(setvar "CMDECHO" 1)
Printing with Multiple Page Setups and Sheet Set Manager
Brian Strandberg sends us this tip for AutoCAD users that offers an easier way to use page setups with Sheet Set Manager.
"Sheet Set Manager makes it easier to print multiple sheets, but it can be troublesome to use with created page setups on multiple sheets. Most of my page setups are created to print Window. I make this easier to use by creating an xref of the border I am using for the set. By inserting the xref’d border at 0,0 on all sheets, I can be sure that my window can be used for all page setups." Click here to download instructions.
Insert Blocks Automatically
Sandberg also sends these quick tips for inserting blocks. This routine takes the last block name to be inserted and lets you insert copy after copy at a given scale without error trapping. Press Escape to quit.
(progn (setq is (getreal "Insertion Scale: "))
(while (/= a nil)
(command "insert" (getvar "insname") "Pscale" is pause is is pause ))))
If you want every block inserted at the same rotation angle, just prompt for an angle and replace the last pause:
(defun rtod (x) (* x (/ 180.0 pi)))
(setq is (getreal "Insertion Scale: "))
(setq ra (rtod (getangle "Rotation angle: ")))
(while (/= a nil)
(command "insert" (getvar "insname") "Pscale" is "Pr" ra pause is is ra))
Different Takes on Xrefing Title Blocks
Take 1. Ivanhoe Tejeda writes in follow-up to last week's advice for improving plots and layouts in AutoCAD.
"Christopher C. Centers wrote, 'It's never a good idea to work up your borders and title blocks in your model space.' I agree with this statement. However, now that we can create layers that will not plot, you need not use the Defpoint layer as a crutch. Also, instead of deleting the viewport, use the Tools pull-down menu and select Options to make changes to the display. I believe it is best to check off all of the layout elements except Display Layout and Model Tab, which should remain on.
"Now when you switch to the Layout tab, AutoCAD will not create the viewport automatically, and you will not see a paper background. It's then common practice to xref the border at x=0, y=0, create a new layer, name it viewport (or similar), set the layer to Do Not Plot, make it current and proceed to create floating model space viewports."
Take 2. Matthew Samario has some strong feelings about xrefing titleblocks because of problems it presents during file updates. Having just made his way through 162,000 drawing updates, he recommends an approach that allows automated titleblock changes using a LISP or VBA routine.
"I never understood why drafters want to xref borders and title blocks. If you xref a border or titleblock so it's the same for all your drawings, the titleblock text is not xrefed because it's unique to each drawing -- it is individual text placed in each drawing. Anyone who has ever done automatic updating using Visual LISP, VBA, etc. will tell you it's not so easy to find this individual text on each drawing. As a programmer, you have to hope the drafter used some unique layer for this text and was consistent about it so you can accurately find this text by relative location and/or layer.
"Another problem is the xrefing itself. If you xref objects so they automatically update when a change is made, then if a titleblock ever needs to change, there is a good chance it will change in size or format. In this case, the individual text usually has to be adjusted to line up with the new titleblock. The xref concept is now useless, because you still must go through every drawing to adjust the individual text to line up with the new titleblock.
Instead, place a titleblock block reference in each drawing. This titleblock block will use attributes to contain what was the individual text data. If you need to update the titleblock, you will have to update all the drawings, yes, but there is a plus side. If you know Visual LISP or VBA, it takes next to no effort to write a short program to find the old titleblock and read all the attribute data and then transfer the data to the new titleblock with attributes."Samario sends a simplified LISP routine (no error trapping, just straight to the point, he says) that replaces one titleblock with attributes with another titleblock. The new titleblock and old titleblock can have the same block name or use different names. The LISP may seem a little lengthy but, he notes, this approach is still far easier than trying to process individual text objects by layer and/or relative location. Click here to download.
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Deals & Freebies
Freeware Tools for AutoCAD
A developer of CAD software is offering free tools for use with AutoCAD. According to KitoX.com, its KitoX Toolset application consists of command sets that make drafting work faster and easier.
Opportunities & Honors
Designs on a Better World
The Shahneshin Foundation is accepting poster entries for its Shrinkage Worldwide Awards, which are intended to reward designers who promote a sustainable future. Submissions are welcome from all disciplines, including architecture, industrial design, digital design, and urban planning. The entry fee is $40 ($25 for students), and the deadline for submissions is September 15, 2006. The Shahneshin Foundation, based in Zurich, Switzerland, is a nonprofit, international, independent center for design, education, research, and promotion of future-thinking through educational and promotional events.
Gemvision Software Wins Award
Gemvision’s Rhino-based Matrix 3D Jewelry Design Software has received the 2006 Business Product of the Year award from the Technology Association of Iowa. The association announced the winners of its 2006 Prometheus Technology Awards on March 7. Gemvision was also a finalist in the category of Technology Company of the Year. Gemvision provides technology products for the jewelry industry worldwide.
Books & Training
Basic 2005 Book
A new Visual Basic book promises to help less-experienced developers quickly learn to use VB 2005 effectively and to assist seasoned VB developers who have yet to make the jump to .NET in transitioning seamlessly without wasting time covering familiar ground. The Book of Visual Basic 2005: .NET Insight for Classic VB Developers(528 pages, $39.95), by Matthew MacDonald, is published by No Starch Press. It is available by preorder directly from the publisher as well as from Amazon.com and other booksellers. A PDF version is available now from the publisher.
VectorWorks 12 Training Books
Several new training workbooks for VectorWorks 12 are available from Nemetschek North America. The workbooks include VectorWorks Fundamentals, VectorWorks 3D Modeling and Rendering, VectorWorks Architect, VectorWorks Landmark and VectorWorks Fundamentals Teacher’s Edition. The company reports that each training guide offers a mixture of step-by-step instruction and real-world context and comes with a CD containing exercise files and tutorial projects.
The Week's New CAD and Related Products
For all the latest new products, delivered daily to your desktop, subscribe to Cadalyst Daily e-newsletter. Here are last week’s highlights:
General Software: Brava! Enterprise
Informative Graphics software centralizes content viewing for hundreds of file formats. Read more
General Software: 3Data Expert v7.1
DeskArtes updates software for 3D printing, rapid prototyping and simulation software data transfer and manipulation. Read more
General Software: MagicTracer v1.5
Elgorithms releases raster-to-vector conversion program for Windows. Read more
General Software: ProgeCAD 2006 Professional v6.1.8
Update from ProgeSOFT includes more than 50 improvements. Read more
Visualization: trueSpace v7.1 and V-Ray v1
Caligari pairs two new products to offer high-end graphics and rendering. Read more
Visualization: Shade v8.5
Software from e frontier supports new Intel-based Macs and 64-bit Windows computers. Read more
AEC: Archicad v10
Graphisoft launches updated version of its BIM solution. Read more
AEC: SPECTEXT v6.1
CSRF’s software includes updates to ICC International Building Code. Read more
AEC: GEOPAK Drainage Library
Axiom’s latest e-learning tool comprises three courses on designing a drainage system. Read more
GIS: Spatial Express
LizardTech software enables storage of MrSID and JPEG 2000 images natively in Oracle spatial database. Read more
GIS: H2OMAP SWMM Designer
MWH Soft releases software for simulation, analysis, design and optimization of sanitary, storm and combined sewer systems. Read more
MCAD: Automation Studio
Updated version from Famic Technologies includes extended symbol libraries with manufacturers' components. Read more
MAGMA introduces a module to enable autonomous process and casting optimization. Read more
MCAD: Rhino v3.5
McNeel releases free updated version of its NURBS modeling software for Windows. Read more
MCAD: FARO PowerGAGE
FARO Technologies releases measurement device for CAD-to-part analysis. Read more
Mark Your Calendar
Cadalyst'scomplete list of upcoming industry events is always available on our Web site.
The Fast Track to PLM
Various dates through May 2006
UGS’ Fast Track to PLM seminar series addresses the need for midsize companies to understand and participate in innovation. Read more
Autodesk 2007 Technology Tour
Various dates through June 2006
Avatech Solutions invites existing and prospective Autodesk product users to participate in free half-day introductory workshops. Read more
Cimmetry Certified Road Show
May 9, 2006, Montreal, Canada
June 6, 2006, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
June 8, 2006, London, United Kingdom
Cimmetry Certified is a VAR certification program focused on improving the level of Cimmetry partners’ technical and business expertise to sell, service and support AutoVue collaborative visualization software. Read more
San Diego ESRI ArcGIS
May 9, 2006
San Diego, California
Join ESRI and the greater San Diego GIS community at a regional user meeting. The format includes concurrent sessions and user presentations. Get your questions answered. Read more
FISHER/UNITECH Open Houses
May 10-30, 2006
FISHER/UNITECH will hold a series of open houses scheduled throughout the month of May that will showcase the company’s Dimension 1200 3D printers. Read more
Autodesk 2007 Engineering Software Solutions Seminar
May 11, 2006
The seminar is hosted by Applied Software and will be broken into three engineering fields including building solutions, infrastructure solutions and manufacturing solutions. Read more
Managing a Versioned Geodatabase
May 31-June 2, 2006
ESRI’s instructor-led classes help you stay current on software and learn new skills that will optimize your GIS workflow. Read more
ICEM User Conferences
June 1-2, 2006, Berlin, Germany
June 14-15, 2006, Dearborn, Michigan
July 4-5, 2006, Tokyo, Japan
ICEM conferences will feature the latest developments in both ICEM Surf and the new ICEM Shape Design software suites, as well as the software’s real-world applications. Read more