Tips & Tools Weekly (Vol. 11, No. 26)

23 Jul, 2006

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What's New at

Now Tell Us the Truth
Cadalyst wants to find out just how young (or not) CAD users are these days, so we're taking a poll. CAD users, go to any Cadalyst Web site and scroll down the page to find our latest Quick Poll. (Click here to link directly to the CAD Management site.) We'll publish the results in Cadfidential in the September 2006 edition of Cadalyst magazine. By the way, we'll never ask your weight -- we promise.

Exclusive Cadalyst Content at Your Fingertips
You might already know that all the content from each issue of Cadalyst magazine can also be found on But did you realize that Cadalyst posts Web-exclusive articles online nearly every day? Plus, each month we post new tutorials for all your favorite CAD software -- and so much more!

Now you can find this online-only content more easily than ever. Just visit the home page of your favorite Cadalyst Web site (Management, AEC, Manufacturing or GIS) and look under the Web Exclusives heading for all the latest feature articles, hardware and software reviews, tutorials and much more that you can't find anywhere but on

Check Out Cadalyst's Job Search!
Our job 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. Use the Job Search button on Cadalyst's Management, Manufacturing, AEC or GIS Web site or click here for a direct link.

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Report Forecasts 14% Growth for PLM Over the Next Five Years
ARC Advisory Group reported last week that it expects the worldwide market for PLM software and services to grow at a compounded annual growth rate of 14.2% over the next five years. In its report, Product Lifecycle Management Solutions: Worldwide Outlook Market Analysis and Forecast Through 2010 ($4,900), the firm indicates that the market was $6.9 billion in 2005 and will grow to more than $13.3 billion in 2010. Click here for Cadalyst's full story.

Report Gauges Importance of Collaboration Among Product Developers
Seemage, a developer of technology for presenting interactive product data, announced the release of a research report by leading analyst firm AberdeenGroup, Product Lifecycle Collaboration Benchmark Report: The Product Profitability "X Factor"? The Seemage-sponsored report revealed that companies are pursuing collaboration to reduce time to market and increase product innovation to achieve corporate goals for profitable growth. It is available free for download to users who register an e-mail address. Click here for Cadalyst's full story.

New Report Reviews Mechatronics Use in Auto Development
In its new report, Electro-Mechanical Product Development: The Mechatronics Requirement for Automotive Competitiveness, market researcher CIMdata reviews new product-development advances that employ mechatronics in the automotive industry. Mechatronics, which CIMdata reports is rapidly becoming critical to this industry, is the blending of designs using a combination of mechanical components along with new software-driven electronics. The report presents the business reasons for implementing mechatronics and provides examples to illustrate the impact of mechatronics solutions today and what should be expected in the near future. It also highlights the unique problems with mechatronics and the risks associated with its implementation in a company's product-design process. Click here for Cadalyst's full story.

Research Finds Trend Toward Industry-Focused Electro-Technical CAD Applications
Cambashi, an engineering IT industry analysis and market research consultancy, reports that it recently completed a study of the market for ET (electro-technical) design software in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The results of the study indicate an overall software sales market valued in 2005 at 97 million euros (approximately US$120 million), representing a growth of some 7% over the previous year. A similar rate of growth is expected for 2006, the company reports. Click here for Cadalyst's full story.

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This Week's Software Tips

Follow-up: Explorer Redux (But, Not Again)
In reference the Explorer Debate on how best to open Explorer when in AutoCAD, Kelly Perison offers this additional option: "If there's a particular folder I’m going to browse a lot, such as the Drawings folder for a project, I make a shortcut of that folder on the Desktop. From there, I right-click and open its properties. In the Shortcut Tab on the Shortcut Key box, I enter a keystroke (usually a letter or number, something vaguely related to the project). It automatically becomes a CTRL + ALT + keystroke shortcut that's available anytime. I use these as well as the Explorer command, with the DWG prefix for the target, as a toolbar button to navigate to my DWG directories."

Follow-up: Two Leader Line Tips
In regards to this tip in the July 17 edition, numerous CAD users wrote in with additional notes and solutions.

  • Randy Herter states that "there is another way to get multiple leaders with multiple arrowheads from one note. First, select the Dimension Leader and select the grip at the arrow end of the leader. Next, right-click and select Copy and then pick where you want to place the arrowhead. You can also use your Shift + right-click osnap overrides to place the arrowhead exactly where you want them. As for as I know, this has been around since AutoCAD 2002."

  • Don Lorenzi says that if you want to add more versatility to copying dimension leaders, or any other line or object remember to simply right-click. "Select your dimension line (or other object), select the arrow grip and start to move it and right-click. Choose whether you want to move, mirror, rotate, stretch, scale or copy. Take the action and press Enter twice or ESC to exit. People often forget about how usefulness the right-click is."
  • "While the ability to copy objects during grip editing has been around for several releases now," says Michael Grutter, "when used with leaders, the newly created objects are not attached to the Mtext annotation of the original leader. This causes the leaders to be left behind if the annotation is moved. That's why I wrote this simple routine that creates additional leader objects and attaches them to annotations." Further details about its operation are included in the file.
  • John Damman reminds AutoCAD 2006 users that once you select the end arrow grip, type C (for copy) and then press Enter. You can also copy an unlimited number of arrows to specific locations (osnaps).

Arc Length
Danny Comsa offers a nonprogramming routine to make an arc a certain length. This usually requires a program routine because the Arc command gives chord length, not arc length. Draw an arc through the points desired. Use the LE (Lengthen) command and T (Total), then give the length required. Voila! You have an arc in the shape that you want and the length you need.

NOTES FROM CADALYST TIP PANEL: In AutoCAD 2006, there's an LE set to the Qleader command and the alias for Lengthen is LEN. Also, when you type T for total and enter the desired length, be sure to select toward the end of the arc that you want to increase.

Use Wildcards to Rename
Mitchell Hirschklau shortens xref names by renaming them because they're easier to read in the toolbar box and it's easier turn them on, off and freeze via the old Layer command using the old AutoCAD wildcards.

"The old command line Layer (-Layer) command let you use wildcards in layer control. For example: -LA OFF A-ELEC-* (Enter, Enter) Or: -LA F A-WALL-*-FILL (Enter, Enter). "As you know, with attached xref layers, the xref name becomes the prefix for the added xreferenced layers, such as Baseplan-3499-1F|A-ELEC. The longer the xref filename, the more typing us old dogs have to do. 

"I've long since learned to rename xrefs in order to shorten their names for my convenience. It's often still quicker for me to type: -LA OFF BASE|A-WALL* then use the toolbar or the pop-up Layer Properties Manager.

We often use a recent project (usually in the same building) as the basis for the next. Our xrefs are generically named (i.e., BASE, ROOF, TITLE, etc.) but pointed to a specific project drawing (i.e., P:\2006\3499-PSA\ConDocs\Rev-1\BasePlan-3499-R1). This lets us resave the old project as a new one, redirect the xrefs to the new path (via the xref manager dialog box) of new project's BASE plan and the like, and thereby cut down on a good deal of layer control housekeeping. After all, the old project's Reflected Ceiling sheet and viewport are already Layer controlled for the Reflected Ceiling, aren't they? Why reattach xrefs and redo the viewport (or general drawing) layer control again if you don't have to!"

What, No Layer Options?
Isak Mishaeli offers this tip for Express Tools Layer Manager users. "Layer options don't show up in AutoCAD 2007 Express Tools menu. Also, there isn't a Layer toolbar. The Express Tools: Layers toolbar is now Layers II toolbar and the Layer Manager icon is not part of the toolbar. But the Layer Manager option still exists, and it becomes a built-in command. If you use the Lman command, you get the Express Tools Layer Manager dialog box. To use it easily, I use the original ET button, with the command line as follows: ^C^C Lman;"

NOTES FROM CADALYST TIP PANEL: Technically, this is true, but Lman is still part of Express Tools and according to 2007 Help, “LMAN, -LMAN, LMANMODE and -LMANMODE are no longer part of the Express Tools. Use the Layer Properties Manager dialog box in AutoCAD to achieve the functionality of these commands. For more information about the Layer Properties Manager dialog box, see the AutoCAD Help system. This could be a sign that Autodesk is getting ready to remove LMAN in a future release, so it may be wise to start using Layer States Manager as described above.

File Search Made Simple
If you're constantly searching for files, Don Boyer has an easier way than Windows' traditional Search capabilities. Within AutoCAD, go to File/Open and you'll get a dialog box. In the upper right-hand corner you'll find the Tools button and under that, Find. Specify the directory or drive you want searched, type in the file name (use a wildcard if needed) and the relevant file(s) are listed. Select the file you want, and you are shown to the directory where it's located. This works for Reference files and the Insert command as well, he says.

MicroStation Tip: Full Path Plots
Axiom's MicroStation Tip Corner offers a question and answer section for users. A recent tip shows you how to include the full path of the design file in plots by enabling the Plot Border option in the Plot Options dialog box.

  • Open the Plot dialog box by selecting Print/Plot from the File menu or by pressing Ctrl + P on your keyboard.
  • Select Options from the Setup menu.
  • Click on the checkbox next to the Plot Border option and click OK.

This plots the full path and the date and time the plot was created on the bottom left corner of your paper.

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

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.

Tips & Tools Weekly software tips for AutoCAD are reviewed by Cadalyst staff and the Cadalyst Tip Patrol before publication. Use tips at your own discretion, please, and watch later editions of this newsletter for updates and corrections. Many thanks to our volunteer Cadalyst Tip Patrol members: Don Boyer, Mitchell Hirschklau, R.K. McSwain, Don Reichle, Kevin Sawyer, Ivanhoe Tejeda, Billy Wooten and Ben Young.

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Opportunities & Honors

PTC Names Winners of 2006 Design Competition
PTC last week announced the winners of the Annual PTC Awards Design Competition and the PTC Partner Advantage Awards. Skoda Auto received the Design award for Best Overall entry for an automotive manual gearbox designed using PTC Pro/ENGINEER and Windchill. Recipients of the 2006 PTC Partner Advantage Awards were IBM for Strategic Partner of the Year and Geomagic for Software Partner of the Year. Click here for Cadalyst's full story.

GlobalSpec Honors Engineers of Deep-Water ROV
A team of engineering professionals from the Deep Submergence Laboratory of Wood's Hole Oceanographic Institution, whose work in developing an ROV (remotely operated vehicle) prototype resulted in the first deep-water photographs of the sunken luxury ocean liner R.M.S. Titanic, was presented with the 2006 GlobalSpec Great Moments in Engineering award late last week. Recipients of the award were members of the 1986 Jason Jr. engineering team, which proved that operations by human-occupied submersibles near deep-water wrecks could be carried out safely and effectively, and an ROV could approach and investigate wreckage with the submersible remaining at a safe distance. Click here for Cadalyst's full story.

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The Week's New CAD and Related Products

General Software: Imagenation 8
Spicer upgrade facilitates enterprisewide file review and mark-up of hundreds of document formats.  Read more 

General Software: Seemage 3D PDF Plugin
Tool supports creation of 3D PDF files.  Read more 

AEC: ChiefSymbols Library CC19
Cardiff Consultants adds 57 new 3D retail environment models for use with Chief Architect.  Read more 

AEC: Toolkit Max 2007
Extension software from drcauto supports AutoCAD LT 2007 and AutoCAD 2007. 
Read more 

GIS: NAIP Imagery
GlobeXplorer adds more than 2,000 counties in more than 30 states to its online archive.  Read more 

Visualization: Casual People v10
ArchVision launches RPC library of people in casual, summertime clothing. 
Read more 

MCAD: Nonlinear Optimization Module for TracePro
New tool from Lambda Research assists optics designers.  Read more 

ITI TranscenData upgrades tool for product data quality analysis and 3D model comparison.  Read more 

CAM: Lib3D
Library of smart mechanical components for moldmakers is now integrated with VX.  Read more 

IRAI launches new circuit design and simulation tool.  Read more 

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Mark Your Calendar

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

COMSOL Users Conference 2006
October 22-24, 2006 (Boston, Massachusetts)
October 26-27, 2006 (Las Vegas, Nevada)
These two conferences combine hands-on training along with presentations from users and COMSOL technical staff.
(Boston) Read more
(Las Vegas) Read more