Tips & Tools Weekly (Vol. 11, No. 22)

18 Jun, 2006

What's New at

Congratulations to Harry's 2005 Winners!
Cadalyst sends well-deserved albeit belated congratulations to the winners of our 2005 Hot Tip Harry contest. Harry selected the top three tips from dozens of published tips throughout last year. Here are the cream of the crop:

  • Andrzej Gumula won $250 for Spell Check (tip 2032) from May 2005, which uses Microsoft Word to spell-check each text string in an AutoCAD drawing. Gumula lives in Katowice, Poland, and is a civil engineer and manager doing road design for KPI System. He enjoys music, movies, sports, bicycle trips and spending holidays in sunny places.

  • Jeffery Sanders of Tioga, Louisiana, won $500 for Get Excel Data (tip 2038) from June 2005, which pulls data into a drawing from an Excel spreadsheet. Sanders is manager of technical services for a worldwide electrical substation provider, managing the steel detailing department as well as working in the IT department. "I spend the majority of my time creating programs to automate steel detailing," he says. He also runs his own Web site, He is married and has four children. 

  • Lanny Schiele won the top prize of $1,000 for Hatch Maker (tip 2065), the October 2005 routine that automatically creates hatch patterns. Schiele is a systems programmer at TMI Systems Design in Dickinson, North Dakota, a manufacturer of laminate casework. Schiele writes code in VB.NET, VB, VBA and AutoLISP. He is married and enjoys camping, hiking, hunting, cooking, music and beachcombing.

Click here for information about Cadalyst'sHot Tip Harry Challenge 2006. Prizes include a copy of AutoCAD 2007 and a trip to Autodesk University in Las Vegas!

Cadalyst Hosts "Success with 3D" Web Presentation
Cadalyst will host "Success with 3D," an exclusive Web event for the manufacturing community. Sponsored by Autodesk, the 45-minute presentation will discuss how to successfully deploy 3D design software. It will bring together Cadalyst contributing editors Robert Green, Jeff Rowe and Bill Fane, as well as product specialists from the Autodesk Manufacturing Solutions Division and Larry Schester, mechanical design supervisor at Gefit Liverrnois Engineering. Mark your calendar for this Friday, June 23, at 10 a.m. PT (1 p.m. ET). Click here to learn more or register for the event.

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:


. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Downloadable 3D CAD Parts Models
Design engineers now have access to more than 18,000 3D CAD models from parts maker J.W. Winco that they can download into all major CAD applications, eliminating the need to recreate 3D models from scratch. Users can generate 3D CAD models that are customized to their equipment needs and order the parts online. The offerings are a result of collaboration between J.W. Winco and Catalog Data Solutions, a provider of 3D Internet solutions for industrial suppliers. 2D drawings are also available for download to support procurement and documentation.

TurboCAD Community Wiki
A new wiki is online for TurboCAD users. The site explains that TurboCAD has so many features that no single user can know them all, but participants can pool their collective knowledge for the benefit of everyone. Site users believe that a wiki is a better way to archive the solutions than a mailing list or discussion forum. Named after WikiWiki, the Hawaiian word for quick, wiki sites let users continually edit online content, collaborating their way to an ultimate truth of sorts. The best-known wiki, and the best place to learn about them, is Wikipedia. Expands in Asia and Europe, an on-line buyers' guide and business-to-business vertical search engine, announced three additions to its Web site portfolio. The new international editions for Asia, Germany and The Netherlands can be searched by specific geographic regions or worldwide. Each site contains the full catalog of product, service and company data, with the German and The Netherlands sites translated in the respective languages.

> Back to Top

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

This Week's Software Tips

Get the Code for June!
Cadalyst’s June code from Hot Tip Harry is now available for download. This month's $100 winner is Edit Text from Leonid Nemirovsky, which lets you specify text objects to display for editing. Congratulations also to May's $100 winner, Pedro Ferreira, for the tip Erase Inside a Closed Pline.

More Follow-Up to “Shortcut to Windows Explorer from AutoCAD
Following up further about how to navigate to Windows Explorer from AutoCAD, which we last discussed in the June 12 edition, Rich Fuglewicz writes that the correct command to use is Explorer (not Explore, as we reported). Cadalyst Contributing Editor Bill Fane tells us that the command is defined in AutoCAD's ACAD.PGP file and could be changed to Explore (the command indicated in the previous tip) -- or anything you desire, using Notepad, "making everybody right," Fane says.

And for those readers who expressed pleasure when we provided a command to use instead of the previously provided LISP routine for the same task, here's a faster-yet solution, from readers Gordon Wittenberg and David Marsh: Simply press the Windows key + E on your PC keyboard! 

Follow-Up to Osnaps Tip
Responding to the osnaps tip in "Zooming for Multiview Solids Drawings in AutoCAD," also in the June 12 edition, Randy Fisher writes, "Rather than researching to try to determine the binary number for the osnap setting that works for you, merely select the settings that work for you from the Osnap window and then close the window. Using the Osmode command will then reveal the binary number that represents the binary number for the current settings. This will be the number to code into your LISP routine."

Quickly Erase Superfluous Layers to Tidy Up Old Drawings
Sam Styles, CAD manager at Historic Royal Palaces in the United Kingdom, writes: "I manage a library of thousands of old CAD drawings, which are sometimes difficult to work with as they have so much excess info in them. I have written a extremely small and simple LISP that will easily erase the layout tabs and when used with commands such as PURGE and LAYDEL. It very quickly tidies up a drawing to be used for something else.

"Load the LISP the usual way and run by typing Elt on the Command line. It will erase the last-viewed layout, and then you can invoke Elt the usual way by pressing Enter again and again, erasing all the layout tabs and clearing the drawing very quickly. I hope others find this as useful as I have!"

(defun C:ELT ()
(command "layout" "d" "")

Shortcut to Folder Shortcuts
Robin DeRoo sends this tip for fans of folder shortcuts. "One can be lulled into the Windows restriction of not being able to add folders to the Folder pane of an open File dialog box. Not so in AutoCAD. Open a drawing to bring up the Select File dialog box and navigate to where the file is located. Right-click in the Folder pane and add the folder shortcut. Next time you need to get to that folder quickly, it is right there on the Folder pane waiting to be used. This method sure saves a whole lot of 'mousing' around."

Express Tool Favorites
Benjamin R. Young reminds readers about two of his favorite AutoCAD commands, both of which he says have been in Express tools for quite some time but were removed from the Express pull-down menu in AutoCAD 2006. "I use these commands, Overkill and Laytrans, almost daily.                                            

"Layer translator (Laytrans) allows you to move and combine layers from one drawing to a previously used set that you prefer. This is great for architectural drawings that have 100 different types of wall layers and you don't need them all. I use a DWT file as my standard, then move the original layers over to the ones I want them to be on, based on my DWT file.  This command features a straight-forward dialog box and saves me time whenever I start a new project.

"After that I run Overkill to remove redundant objects in that same drawing, because now those 100 wall layers are seen as one, and there are probably a lot of lines drawn on top of each other.  It can optimize segments in plines, combine lines that overlap and also join lines that abut end-to-end.  You can set it to ignore things such as linetype, layer, color and so forth, but I normally leave those off. Be careful, though -- this is a very powerful command, and can get you into trouble if you turn on all the options.

This Week's SolidWorks Tips
SolidWorks training developer SolidProfessor sends the following tips this week for Tips & Tools Weekly readers:

  • Fill Patterns: Explains how to fill a specified area with a pattern.

  • 3D Drawing View: Shows how to rotate models in the Drawing environment.

Send us your tip or shortcut for your favorite CAD software. If we publish it, we'll send you a “Cadalyst: CAD the Way You Want It” t-shirt.

> Back to Top

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Books & Training

Deconstructing the Elements with 3ds Max, second edition (408 pages, $49.95), by Pete Draper, is available from Focal Press, a division of Elsevier. The book takes a tutorial approach to teach the essential techniques that 3D artists need to create computer graphics environments by recreating the earth's elements of earth, air, fire and water. The publisher reports that no extra plugins are required; the book and its companion DVD reportedly include everything users need to perform the exercises. The book's editorial content is updated to be current with Autodesk 3ds Max 8.

> Back to Top

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

The Week's New CAD and Related Products

Hardware: DualHead2Go and TripleHead2Go
Matrox expands support for its external multidisplay upgrade modules. Read more

General Software: FARO LS
Company releases eight specialized software packages for its laser scanner products. Read more

General Software: AcroPlot Repro
New CADzation tool is designed to enhance printing of PDF and DWF files on large-format plotters. Read more

Visualization: NRP Entourage
Entourage Arts releases three new volumes of hand-rendered images. Read more

Visualization: AccuRender v4
Robert McNeel & Associates updates rendering software with a built-in interface to Piranesi painting technology. Read more

Visualization: VCollab 2006
Visualization Collaboration Technology introduces a multidisciplinary platform for CAD, CAM and CAE visual collaboration. Read more

AEC: Green Building Studio v2
Web service makes detailed comparisons between different building design and equipment measures. Read more

AEC: progeEARTH introduces software for civil/survey CAD. Read more

GIS: Autodesk MapGuide Enterprise 2007 and MapGuide Studio 2007
Autodesk delivers commercial versions of its open-source Web map publishing software. Read more

GIS: FME 2006 GB
Safe Software releases data-translation application that uses the Microsoft /3GB switch to increase memory resources. Read more

MCAD: VariCAD 2005 v3
New release of 3D/2D mechanical CAD system includes better support for Linux operating systems. Read more

MCAD: ProductCenter v8.5.1
PLM software from SofTech adds database option for Microsoft SQL Server 2005. Read more

MCAD: Synthesis v17
Company introduces new release of its automated 3D parametric CAD software for elevator configuration. Read more

MCAD: Aesthetica JT Open Data Import Module
Icona Solutions introduces a module to transfer of 3D product model data for automotive vehicle fit-and-finish quality studies. Read more

MCAD: Cost Management Analytics
New software from Akoya designed to help manufacturers reduce product costs. Read more

MCAD: Kubotek Spectrum
Kubotek USA pumps up its multi-CAD viewer. Read more

ESI Group releases simulation technology for welding assembly. Read more

MCAD: RFQ Tools launches online tools designed to simplify RFQ process. Read more

ASCON Group releases its 3D mechanical design software in English. Read more

CAM: thinkcompensator
think3 technology automates tooling design modifications needed to compensate for springback. Read more

Facilities Management: SmartPlant Operating and Maintenance
Intergraph releases operations and maintenance component for SmartPlant Enterprise. Read more

Facilities Management: ARCHIBUS/FM v16
New release includes improved AutoCAD interoperability, task security and expanded Web capabilities. Read more

> Back to Top

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Mark Your Calendar

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

GibbsCAM 2006 Roll-Outs
June 19-29, 2006
Various locations
Gibbs and Associates will hold a series of factory roll-outs throughout the North America introducing GibbsCAM 2006. Read more

"Success with 3D" Web Presentation
June 23, 2006, 10 a.m. PT
Cadalyst hosts "Success with 3D," an exclusive Web event for the manufacturing community. Sponsored by Autodesk, the 45-minute presentation will discuss how to successfully deploy 3D design software. It will bring together Cadalyst contributing editors Robert Green, Jeff Rowe and Bill Fane, as well as product specialists from the Autodesk Manufacturing Solutions Division and Larry Schester, mechanical design supervisor at Gefit Liverrnois Engineering. Read more

2006 Best Firm to Work For Summit
September 28-29, 2006
Chicago, Illinois
ZweigWhite hosts this event designed to help AEC leaders learn the essential elements for attracting and retaining the best employees in order to maintain their firm's continuing growth and success.