Tips & Tools Weekly (Vol. 11, No. 27)

30 Jul, 2006

Untitled Document

What's New at

Lynn Allen's Circles and Lines, Hot Tip Harry, Learning Curve, Bug Watch and all your other favorite AutoCAD columns can now be found online on Cadalyst's AEC, Manufacturing and GIS Web sites. Just link to your site of choice and look under AutoCAD Tips in the left column.

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 recently:

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


Web Site Offers Free Microsoft Word Help
A new Web site called ClearHelp offers free assistance for users of Microsoft Word 2002 XP and 2003. The site, which touts "software help that actually helps," intends to answer users' questions in plain English and is geared for all users of MS Word, from the occasional user to the more advanced. Among the extensive list of topics covered are tables, layouts, graphics, autotext entries, document management, smart tags and editing tools.

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

This Week's Software Tips

Tip Tip-Off
In regard to "Express Tools and Transferring Layer States" in the July 10 edition, it has come to the editors' attention that the tip was published originally as the May 2006 Power Tool in Michael's Corner, authored by Michael Beall, which we did not credit, and we apologize. The sheer number of AutoCAD tips and LISP routines available via the Internet and elsewhere makes it nearly impossible for us to check whether tips submitted to Cadalyst as original work truly are original. On the other hand, we're happy to pass along an excellent tip you found elsewhere as long as we include proper credit to the original source. In fairness to all readers and tip developers, we ask going forward that if you submit a tip to Cadalyst that you assure us upon submission that the tip is your original work or, if that's not the case, that you include the original source.

Follow-Up to Arc-to-Circle Change-Up
We had a bit of a mix-up with Derek Beals' code in the July 10 edition with ARC_MEND.LSP. The correct code is in the download, but the text of the tip showed the code for another of Derek's routines, MATCH_SCALE.LSP, that was published in a previous edition. Use ARC_MEND to change an arc to a circle by finding the arc properties, then erasing it and drawing a circle. Use MATCH_SCALE to match the scale of another object.

Draw Pipe Ends
Frequent tipster Leonid Nemirovsky (visit his AutoLISP Web site) sends the following routine to draw pipe ends that look 3D. Simply select ends of two parallel lines that represent the pipe, counterclockwise in most cases, depending on the direction of the angles, and you are done:

(defun c:pend (/ mode pt1 pt2 pt3 r rad)
(setq mode (getvar "osmode"))
(setvar "orthomode" 0)
(setvar "osmode" 1)
(princ "\nSelect points COUNTERCLOCKWISE....")
(setq pt1 (getpoint "\nSelect first point: "))
   (if (= pt1 nil)(exit))
(setq pt2 (getpoint pt1 "\nSelect second point: "))
   (if (= pt2 nil)(exit))
(setvar "osmode" 0)
(setvar "orthomode" 1)
(setq pt3 (polar pt1 (angle pt1 pt2)(/ (distance pt1 pt2) 2)))
(setq r (distance pt1 pt3))
(setq rad (/ r 1.6))
(command "arc" pt1 "e" pt3 "r" rad)
(command "arc" "" pt2)
(setq last (ssget "l"))
(command "mirror" last "" pt3 pt2 "n")
(setvar "osmode" mode)

NOTES FROM CADALYST TIP PATROL: The Tip Patrol was divided on this AutoLISP program. One Patroller states that it works so well that he'll be using it in his work. He suggested, though, that we remove the (setvar "orthomode" X) lines. If you end up needing to reset your polar settings each time, delete the code lines that are red and you will be set. Another Patroller agrees that the routine runs and does what it says, but suggests an alternative that doesn't use AutoLISP. First, build a one-autocad-unit X one-autocad-unit pipe-end wblock. Second, place it in the My Blocks folder. Third, use the x and y values on insert to size the block as necessary. Then make it a layer-zero block with color and linetype BYLAYER too. Last, build it (or turn it into) as a polyline so that even if the block were accidentally exploded, it still wouldn't be three little line segments. Thanks for the great feedback, Cadalyst Tip Patrol!

Two-Fer: Erasing Layouts
Ray Hester of Australia sent in these two tips for erasing layouts.

Erasing Superfluous Layouts (Not Layers!). You can select or deselect multiple layout tabs the same way you do so with multiple files in Windows Explorer -- by holding down the CTRL or Shift keys while selecting with the mouse.

To delete all the layouts, hold down CTRL and select the first tab and then hold down Shift and select the last tab. If working in other than the Model tab, the current layout will already be highlighted.

With the mouse pointer over one of the highlighted tabs, right-click and select Delete.

AutoCAD won't delete the Model tab and always creates a new Layout1.

Whether your layout contains a viewport or not depends on your settings in the Options dialog box. If you don't want one created, go to the Display tab and uncheck "Create viewport in new layouts" in the Layout elements area.

Erasing Layouts. This takes Sam Styles' idea in the June 19 edition a little further and deletes all layouts by pressing one button.

AutoCAD won't delete the Model tab and always creates a new Layout1. Whether it contains a viewport or not depends on your settings in the Options dialog box. If you don't want one created, go to the Display tab and uncheck "Create viewport in new layouts" in the Layout elements area.


(defun c:elt ()
  (vlax-for item (vla-get-layouts
        (/= (vla-get-name item) "Model")
          (vla-delete item)))

NOTES FROM CADALYST TIP PATROL: This is another handy AutoLISP program for cleaning up architects' drawings.

Stretch Associative Dimensions with Tracking
Murray Clack reminds AutoCAD users of the Tracking option that eliminates having to create construction lines. Traditionally, AutoCAD users draw construction lines and offset them in order stretch their associative dimensions so they can get a specific dimension value. You can use AutoCAD's TK (Tracking) option instead:

  • Click on the desired associated dimension to activate its grips.
  • Click on the desired extension line grip that needs to be Stretched, such as the Defpoint.
  • Enter TK at the Command prompt.
  • When prompted for First tracking point: click on the other extension line grip (other Defpoint).
  • Drag the cursor in the desired direction to stretch the dimension.
  • At the Command prompt, enter the desired length you want the dimension to be and then press the Enter key twice.

"This tip saves you a lot of steps," Murray says. "Once you get the hang of using the TK trick, you'll practically be able to do it in your sleep."

NOTES FROM CADALYST TIP PATROL: A very good use of AutoCAD's TK (Tracking) feature.

Classic Clean-Up
Kelley Marshall continues the conversation started in the June 19 edition about cleaning up drawings and adjusting settings. "Most people overlook Filter and Qselect commands. Qselect is a newer, less-advanced version of Filter. Both let you select objects in the drawing by setting specific parameters such as: all text less than 1/8" high on such-and-such layer containing the letters PQ. Then you set select all objects or window an area, etc., and those that match your parameters are selected."

"After selecting, you can use the Change command or the properties tool palette or whatever command you want. Note that selection has to be made before or after the command depending on the method you are using to change objects. Often these two commands can be used in place of many AutoLISP routines that have been written to do the same or similar functions. These are one of most powerful selection tools in AutoCAD and the most under-used. Filter has been around since at least Release 12 and still works the same way as it did then."

NOTES FROM CADALYST TIP PATROL: Qselect doesn't let you do nearly as much as Filter and doesn't allow for a lot of variable such as selecting text of varying sizes, but they both still work well. The old Filter as well as the newer Qselect are generally under-used.

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. Please submit only tips and tricks that are your original work or provide the original source so we can include proper credit. By submitting code to Cadalyst, you grant Cadalyst the right to print and distribute your code in print, digitally and by other means. Cadalyst and individual authors retain all rights to the code, and it is not to be used for commercial purposes.

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.

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

Deals & Freebies

New truePlay 3D Software Released
Caligari announced that a new version of truePlay, the company's free Web player for sharing interactive 3D objects, scenes and worlds, will be available the first week of August. The new version reportedly has enhanced navigation control and a new user-friendly default scene that allows users to load saved scenes, go to the Web site to access scene templates or travel into truePlay’s shared space, a photorealistic, simulated 3D space that enables users to interact, learn and work in real time. Caligari produces 3D modeling and animation software.

"Free for Schools" Program Launched in North America
progeSOFT.US has announced the Free for Schools program, in which the company will donate progeCAD 2006 Professional to any educational institution in North America. Elementary, secondary and high schools and technical, community, city and private colleges and universities can include progeCAD 2006 Professional within their CAD curriculum and CAD design labs. The program also allows students to use progeCAD 2006 Professional at home for nonprofessional use. ProgeCAD software supports the AutoCAD DWG design file format, version 2.5 through 2006, and provides support for AutoCAD menus, scripts, blocks and AutoLISP. progeSOFT develops CAD products for the general, mechanical and architectural industries.

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

Books & Training

Cadapult Releases 2007 Civil 3D Training Book
Cadapult Software Solutions released its newest training book, Digging Into Autodesk Civil 3D 2007 (356 pages, $74.95). This revision of the 2006 Civil 3D book includes some new exercises along with updates to incorporate the changes in the 2007 version of Civil 3D. The exercise-based book takes the reader through a complete project using Autodesk Civil 3D, beginning with importing GIS data and survey points, continuing through creating surfaces and parcels and concluding with road design, grading and exporting points for staking. Though intended for three-day instructor-led training, the book also can be used for self-study.

Bentley LEARN Offers Online Infrastructure Training
Bentley LEARN is an online companion program that is available to all Bentley SELECT subscribers. The subscription program provides unlimited OnDemand training for a fixed annual fee. Courses include lectures, hands-on courses and feature clips from Bentley Institute. Some subjects of learning are the use and administration of MicroStation, ProjectWise, and the company's portfolio of building, civil, geospatial and plant solutions. To measure progress, those who take OnDemand eLearning courses are credited with Bentley Learning Units. Bentley Systems provides software for the lifecycle of the world's infrastructure.

Axiom Adds Online Training Courses
Axiom released the GEOPAK Survey library, the newest addition to the company's GEOPAK series of e-learning courses. Composed of five courses that cover surveying tasks for any type of site, GEOPAK Survey library covers creating, editing and modifying survey data. Students learn field collection of raw data, processing data and importing the data into MicroStation files. Axiom reports that upon completion of this library, students are able to generate precise survey data that can be used by the entire project team. Axiom is a provider of MicroStation software utilities.

Urban Hydrologic Modeling Textbook
MWH Soft, a provider of environmental and water resources applications software, released the Comprehensive Urban Hydrologic Modeling Handbook for Engineers and Planners($140). The book covers the various aspects of surface water hydrology including hydrologic processes, analysis, and design. Topics covered in the book are an introduction to hydrologic processes and basic modeling principles, with special emphasis on the urban environment; precipitation; initial abstractions and infiltration; evaporation; surface runoff; flow routing; urban water quality; urban drainage controls; and comprehensive watershed management.


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

The Week's New CAD and Related Products

Visualization: 2.5D Moving People Middle Eastern Volume 1
New library from ArchVision includes images for 3D rendering and animation.  Read more

Top Systems upgrades parametric design solution.  Read more

MCAD: Seat Design Environment
VISTAGY releases solution dedicated to automotive seat design from start to finish.  Read more

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

Mark Your Calendar

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

Advancing GIS for Infrastructure eSeminar
August 9, 2006
11 a.m. EDT
Bentley Systems live eSeminar will discuss the fusion of GIS technologies and engineering applications for infrastructure design and management. Read more