Tips & Tools Weekly (Vol. 11, No. 30)

20 Aug, 2006

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What's New at

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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 this week:


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Sheet Metal Guy Blog
Sheet Metal Guy offers a new Weblog for users to share quick thoughts, breaking news, brief tips, reviews and intelligent commentary. An RSS feed allows readers to add their comments along with links to their own blogs. is hosted by Joe Bucalo, the company's founder and president, who explained, "I just want to share my sheet metal knowledge with sheet metal people who need to get their job done."

Vision Numeric Engraving Tool for CATIA
Vision numeric announced the release of Type3, a typographic engraving tool to complement Dassault Systemes' CATIA program. Type3 Graphic, Type3 Graphic&Wrap and Type3 Gateway are based upon CATIA V5's Component Application Architecture and reportedly enable V5 users to include typographic art early in the product lifecycle. Vision numeric develops and markets artistic CAD/CAM software to facilitate communication and advertising through industrial parts.

New Beta CAD Search Engine Launched
eDocHelp Publications has launched a beta version of a new Web site for general public use and is seeking feedback from the CAD community. According to the company, the free, independent, objective site, called, contains 42,000 CAD and graphics resources in its indexes. Users can filter their searches to specific resources such as tutorials and then search within the results to further narrow the search. The site comes with a CAD & Graphics Help Desk and Knowledge Base. Users can browse the Help Desk, submit questions and comments, rate FAQs and email them to colleagues. eDocHelp Publications is a provider of online help and technical writing services.

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This Week's Software Tips

Do you have a favorite tip or shortcut that you use every day in your CAD software? One that saves you time? Makes life easier? Share it with other readers and, if we publish it, we'll send you a “ Cadalyst: CAD the Way You Want It” t-shirt.

Followup to Two Leader Line Tips
In response to the Two Leader Line Tips in the July 17 edition, Paul Hildebrandt wrote that holding down the CTRL or the CTRL-SHIFT keys in Architectural Desktop 2006 also activates the ortho and grid snap, making placing the leader kind of tricky. If you hold down the ALT key, then you can place the leader anywhere you want.

Layer Control
M. Newman, a building services engineer in Dublin, Ireland, read the July 24 edition's tip for wildcards in layer control and offers more layer name options.

"I'm an obsessive champion for Command line routines because I'm not fond of the waiting involved with some of the newer dialog boxes' loading time. Several years ago, I began to prefix my layer names with - (minus sign) and use script files to repetitively create all of my layer sets. I automate most recurring tasks rather than recycle old drawings that may or may not have the data states I require. This placed all my layers above the 0 layer in the old Layer Manager, making them easier to find where multiple xrefs were loaded. As AutoCAD updates its Layer Manager look with each upgrade, my display order remained constant once I set MAXSORT reasonably high.

"I also created specific layers for each of my xrefs, with the format Xr_@, with @ replaced by the specific xref name, generally shortened to a single character. For example, G for ground floor plan, 1 for first and 2 for second. Placing each xref on a separate layer means that when the layer is frozen, the xref is frozen without having to alter the xref's layer state. When layer filters were introduced, I created three filters to cover all eventualities of layer filtration that concerned me:

CVP: X*,-*,0
Current viewport = Thawed
All others setting set to default.

"This lets you see only the layers thawed in the current viewport, layout space and model space that are not xref layers -- see naming protocol above.

FVP: *
Current viewport = Frozen
All others setting set to default.

"This lets you see only the layers frozen in the current viewport (invisible on screen) and then thaw them in the current viewport individually.

LNP: *
Plot = Don't plot
All others setting set to default.

"This shows only the layers that won't plot so that they are visible on-screen and you don't waste precious paper.

"Combined with Invert filter, Apply to Object Properties toolbar and Show all Xref dependent layers, I can filter just about anything."

NOTES FROM CADALYST TIP PATROL: AutoCAD allows for so much flexibility that it's possible to customize any drawing habits to your personal preference. If this tip works for the user, great! On the other hand, I'm sure others may comment on the complexity of this solution and offer their own layer customizing techniques.

On another note, you don't need to place each xref on its own unique layer. For years now, I've placed all of my xrefs on layer 0. If I don't want to see the xref, I simply unload or detach it from the current drawing file. I can even use the Command line by typing -XR to unload it instead of using the xref dialog box.

Layer Tip
Thanks to Vladimir Michl of Xanadu for sending in the following tip for AutoCAD. The best way to place dimensions automatically to a predefined layer is to use palettes or use reactors. For the full tip, click here. You can find many other CAD tips at

NOTES FROM CADALYST TIP PATROL: For those who don't want to deal with AutoLISP routines or reactors, I recommend the tool palettes or Designcenter.

Copy More Entities
Frequent tipster Leonid Nemirovsky (visit his AutoLISP Web site) sends this code to improve Express Tools. He says: "I had a discussion with some of my co-workers and a couple of them were against using AutoCAD, claiming that Microstation is a better program because it can copy multiple xref entities at one time. To show them up, I wrote a simple routine that improves a bit on Express Tools -- now AutoCAD can do the same thing:"

(defun c:nob(/ mark key ent1 ent)
(setq mark 1)
(= mark 1)
(initget "Yes No")
(setq key (getkword "\nTo copy nested objects press ENTER and select, or N
to quit: "))
(= key "No")
(command "regen")(exit)
(setq ent1 (car (nentsel)))
(redraw ent1 3)
(setq ent (entget ent1))
(entmake ent)

NOTES FROM CADALYST TIP PATROL: The prompting is a little unorthodox.

The following revised code is a little cleaner with less confusing prompting.

(defun c:nob (/ ent1 ent)
(setq ent1 T)
(princ "\nSelect a nested object to copy, press enter to exit: ")
(while (setq ent1 (car (nentsel)))
(if ent1
(redraw ent1 3)
(setq ent (entget ent1))
(entmake ent)

MicroStation Tip -- AccuSnap -- I Love It; I Hate It; I Love It!
Learn more about AccuSnap, a new feature in MicroStation V8. Axiom offers many Microstation Tips on its Web site.

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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The Week's New CAD and Related Products

Hardware: ThinkPad T60p
Lenovo and Novell announce Linux-based mobile workstations.  Read more

Hardware: NextDimension FlexTop
Portable graphics workstation now supports Next-Generation AMD Opteron processors. Read more

General Software: Deep Exploration CAD Edition 4.1 and Deep Server 4.1
Right Hemisphere's new PGM releases offer support for Google SketchUp, UGS JT formats.  Read more

General Software: PhotoModeler 6 Beta Version
Eos Systems previews new version offering Google Earth export capabilities and more.  Read more

General Software: trueServe
Caligari's software server enables companies to host privately owned 3D collaborative-shared spaces.  Read more

Visualization: RenderPipe AV5.5
ARTVPS upgrades 3D rendering solution for architectural and interior design industries.  Read more

AEC: AutoTURN 5.1
Vehicle swept pattern software from Transoft Solutions now compatible with AutoCAD 2007, MicroStation V8 XM.  Read more

AEC: JetStream v5.1
New version of NavisWorks' architectural design review software offers support for AutoCAD 2007.  Read more

MCAD: Seemage 3.2
Upgrade of product-delivery system said to enable better quality, faster documentation, improved customer support. Read more

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Mark Your Calendar

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

ASQ’s Design and Construction Division’s Annual Conference
August 29, 2006
Tucson, Arizona
The Design and Construction Division of the American Society for Quality (ASQ) will be holding its Annual Conference in conjunction with the Energy and Environmental Conference, which will take place August 27-30. Read More 

ESRI User Group Meetings
Various September dates
Various California locations
ArcGIS user groups provide a forum for ESRI users to share their experiences, exchange best practices and learn about new technology. 

SolidWorks World Australia Conference
September 18, 2006
Sydney, Australia
The first SolidWorks World Australia Conference will serve as a platform for local users to network, exchange ideas and find new business opportunities. Read more

AUGI Manufacturing User Groups Bedford and Waltham Chapters Quarterly Meeting
October 3, 2006
Tyngsboro, Massachusetts
M2 Technologies partners with Autodesk User Group International (AUGI) to sponsor these new chapters’ first quarterly meeting. Attendees can take part in a seminar on Autodesk Inventor 11 and discussion with fellow users, as well as food, drink and door prizes. Read more

Meridian Systems’ Tenth User Conference
April 24-26, 2007
San Diego, California
Enterprise project management software provider Meridian Systems’ tenth user conference is intended to facilitate increased product satisfaction and knowledge sharing across its customer base. Read more

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