Tips & Tools Weekly (Vol. 11, No. 34)

24 Sep, 2006

Untitled Document

What's New at

Calling All CAD Managers!
Cadalyst reminds all CAD managers to be sure to participate in Robert Green's 2006 CAD Manager's Survey. As always, participants are assured that data will not be shared with anyone and your personal identity will not be disclosed. Green says, "My only goal is to report on the state of the CAD management environment to you, my readers, in the November issue of Cadalyst magazine."

Time for a New Job?
If you're in the market for a new job -- or if you just want to see what's out there -- offers an online Job Search that will help. Powered by Indeed, this 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. Check it out today! Use the Job Search button under the Resources section on any Web site page or click here for a direct link.

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:

GIS News and Information
Cadalyst's sister Web site is a complete online resource for all things GIS, including GIS and mapping, civil engineering, surveying, GIS news and more.


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Kubotek Announces Redesigned Web Site
CAD software creator Kubotek USA redesigned its Web site in an effort to simplify navigation and enhance features. An expanded customer-experience section shows how customers are using 3D solid modeling, surfacing, drafting and layout capabilities with data exchange and model-editing technologies for imported geometry.

New Domain for Lenny's SolidWorks Resources
Tips, tricks, free macros and links are among the help available to SolidWorks users at the new Web site of Lenny's SolidWorks Resources. The site is hosted by Leonard J. Kikstra, a drafter/designer since 1981 and a SolidWorks user since 1998.

IT Resources for HPC Users, Engineers and Developers
NextComputing added an IT Resources section to its Web site to provide informative resources for designers and executives involved in GIS, HPC (high-performance computing), CAD/CAM, geophysical technology, and other industries. The company says it created the resources section in response to developers and engineers involved in HPC tasks, imaging, 3D rendering, number crunching, and others who expressed a need for an informative portal that addresses the technology inherent to their industries. NextComputing is a provider of high-performance mobile workstations and servers.

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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.

Follow-Up to Layer Control
Reader John Damman has more to add to the Layer Control debate that began in the August 21 issue. He finds that unloading, not detaching, the offending xrefs helps a great deal. The lman, or layer state, remains intact while eliminating (even temporarily) unwanted xrefs without adding more layers.

Follow-Up to Editing Text Objects
Michael E. Beall wrote in, commenting Tip Patrol that Tips & Tools Weekly has had "wonderful content -- gold stars all around." Regarding the September 11 issue, where the Tip Patrol states that you can use the Alias Editor in Express Tools to edit aliases, he offers an additional option. When he attended CAD Camp a couple years back in Columbus, Ohio, Matt Murphy recommended editing the ACAD.PGP file using the feature in the core AutoCAD or LT structure found under Tools/Customize/Edit Program Parameters. Scroll to the bottom of the PGP file and add your alias edits to the bottom of the list.

Beall says he is an avid proponent of AutoCAD's Express Tools, but this alternative approach allows his AutoCAD LT peers to take advantage of this editing tip as well.

Rename Those Layers
When reader Brian Benton receives AutoCAD files from outside firms, he says it's often difficult to incorporate them into his company's CAD layering system so that they plot nicely and not too dark and blotchy or light and invisible. He states, "Often we spend time matching properties on every line, text, hatch, etc. Others open the layer manager and reset all the layers manually. Instead, I use the Rename command."

"To begin, I save a copy of the original file as a backup, just in case there's a problem later on. Then, I purge all unused layers and rename the outside files' layers to our standard layering conventions. This is usually simple because most companies use some sort of logical system for layer names. I then insert that file into our template file that includes all our standard layers. The outside file's layers then take on all the attributes (linetype, color, etc.) of the predefined layers in our template file, and I only had to edit the names. All done!"

"Now the file plots with our drawings and we can read it. Changing the names of the layers in Rename is easier than in the Layer Manager because it's not as bulky. On the other hand, if you want to see linetypes and color while changing the names, you can do the same thing with the same results by changing their names in the layer manager. You can also use Rename to change the names of blocks, dim styles, line types, text styles, UCSs, viewports and views."

NOTES FROM CADALYST TIP PATROL: Another solution would be to use the old Express Tools layer translator, Laytrans, which is useful when receiving data from consultants or other outside parties. It lets you save the settings so that when the next file comes in from the firm in question, all that's necessary is to first import the settings that were used on the prior file for an instant match.

On the other hand, translating drawing properties between companies can be tedious as well as time consuming. Purging unused layers can turn out to be a problem when the drawing is returned to that particular company. One alternative: Talk with said company in an attempt to establish mutually beneficial CAD standards. If such an agreement cannot be reached, then, based on your current release of AutoCAD, you can use the standards checker included with latest versions. Keep in mind that if these drawings are to be returned to the company, your layering conventions and other standards are secondary and your clients' needs are primary.

Zoom, Zoom, Zoom
Shawn Crites offers some ideas on how to use the Zoom command in toolbars and menus: The standard Zoom Window toolbar button and menu item has the macro '_zoom_w that always initiates the Window option. You can make the macro more robust by removing the _w at the end (leaving simply '_zoom). This gives you the following options when you click the button or menu item:

  • Zoom a window by picking two points. This operates as if the command had the _w option except for the Command line prompts.
  • Type the entry of the various zoom scale options, then press Enter for absolute zooms, a number with an x for relative zooms or a number with xp specifically for zooming viewports to scale relative to paper space.
  • For other zoom options, use the right-click context menu (if enabled) or type the first letter of each option, then press Enter. Note that L for Left also works but is missing from the context menu.

Also, did you know that '_zoom_a for Zoom All zooms to your plotted paper size, which is nice for seeing a little area outside your border? However, this doesn't work if objects are drawn outside the area -- it then acts similarly to Zoom Extents.

NOTES FROM CADALYST TIP PATROL: This procedure is beneficial for those who don't use a wheel mouse. You can make adjustments in paper space via the Properties box. Very seldom are any of the other zooming features needed. For those that are, the Zoom toolbar is readily available. The wheel mouse has become the ultimate tool for navigating AutoCAD drawings.

For more about this approach, see "AutoCAD Tip: Easy Zooming with Mouse Wheel" by Tip Patrol member Billy Wooten.

Your Favorite Tools
During Peter Bagwell's normal workday, he often starts new AutoCAD drawings using a variety of templates. Depending on which template he opens, he prefers to use different toolbars. Therefore, each template contains a little box that lists the toolbars and other notes he might use for a drawing. He begins by turning on the toolbars needed, erasing the box and saving the drawing as a new name.

NOTES FROM CADALYST TIP PATROL: One tipster suggests that Profile setups (under Options) are another useful tool for toolbar placement and selection, eliminating the need for a note box. Refer to AutoCAD's Help file for instructions.
Another tipster states that he also has templates set up for the necessary layer color and linetypes. He uses an extensive array of tools for these tasks, but prefers to have them available through LISP routines and the MNL method.

MicroStation Tip -- Your Mouse and View Control
In this tip, from Axiom's Web site, you'll learn how to change the view control settings associated with your mouse wheel. This tip assumes you are using MicroStation V8 and that your mouse has a wheel. Click here for more.

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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Deals & Freebies

Free White Paper Describes Market Trends
Catalog Data Solutions, a provider of online product selection tools, released a white paper titled "Convergence of Market Trends Creates New Online Opportunity for Manufacturers and Distributors." The report, a free download for those who register, details key trends in the manufactured products market that have converged to create opportunities for manufacturers and distributors to drive revenue growth, lower costs and increase customer loyalty.

Free SolidWorks 2007 Update Training
iKnowledge Systems announced it has partnered with SolidWorks to make SolidWorks 2007 Update training available free to current SolidWorks subscription customers. The new 2007 update course, presented in the company's software application, is all SolidWorks users will need to make the transition to the newest release, according to the company. The course provides instruction on Sketching, Parts and Features, Sheet Metal, Drawings, Assemblies, eDrawings, System, PhotoWorks, Toolbox, Utilities, ScanTo3D, FeatureWorks, Routing, Design Checker and Animator.

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Books & Training

E-learning Training Library for Bentley PowerCivil
Axiom released a new addition to its GEOPAK series of e-learning solutions. GEOPAK PowerCivil library introduces Bentley's civil engineering solution that streamlines workflow and automatically updates data as it is modified. The five courses cover coordinate geometry, relationship modeling and exploring design modifications with coworkers, contractors and clients. The program provides an interactive learning environment wherein students can progress at their own pace.

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The Week's New CAD and Related Products

Visualization: TurnToolBox Version 3
Latest release of TurnTool's online interactive 3D program is cross-platform ready.  Read more

Visualization: Foreground Plants -- Palms
Realworld Imagery offers architectural entourage collection that includes 52 plant partials from more than eight species.  Read more

AEC: CATenary/PlanPro
New civil engineering tool draws sag tension hyperbolic cosine curves in 2D or 3D within AutoCAD.  Read more

CAD Schroer updates its electrical design application to include dynamic links between components.  Read more

MCAD: 3DSearchIT for SolidWorks
Geometric Software Solutions' geometry-based search engine enables collaboration across all product lifecycle phases.  Read more

Company integrates D-Cubed component into computer-aided manufacturing system to improve gouge detection for tool path validation.  Read more

MCAD: Federation Express Program
Federation Software offers trial installation of data-handling software for PLM systems.  Read more

CAE: Coupled Hybrid Inverse Solver
Formulation handles complex folding and CAD 2D straight bends.  Read more

CAE: Engineering Toolkits
Analytical design tools from Maplesoft aid mechanical and vehicular dynamic simulation.  Read more

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Mark Your Calendar

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

Webinar: Extending the Value of ERP for Custom Product Manufacturers
October 12, 2006
The webinar will address the challenges that custom product manufacturers face and recommended solutions to help them deal with product complexity while responding to customer-specific orders more rapidly, accurately and efficiently. Read more

SAP Business Forum 2006
October 18, 2006
Chicago, Illinois
Part of the SAP Business Innovation Series, this complimentary event will include sessions with SAP experts who will answer and discuss attendee questions and concerns. General Colin Powell, USA (Ret.), former U.S. secretary of state, will deliver the keynote speech. Read more

Future Industrial Applications of Additive Fabrication
December 1, 2006
Frankfurt, Germany
This eighth annual conference will coincide with the EuroMold 2006. Experts from several countries will share their knowledge and expertise to help attendees make important decisions related to new business, research and investment opportunities and challenges. Read more

Primavera 23rd Annual Conference
December 3-6, 2006
San Diego, California
The Primavera Annual Conference is an annual educational forum for the company's software users to update their product knowledge, network with their project management peers and meet Primavera employees. Conference offerings include hands-on learning, project profiles and educational and technical tracks. Read more

World of Concrete 2007
January 22-26, 2007
Las Vegas, Nevada
The program for this year's World of Concrete conference includes more than 130 seminars and a Women in Concrete luncheon and forum, which will bring together more than 200 women working in the concrete construction industry. Read more

SPAR 2007
March 26-27, 2007
Sugar Land (Houston), Texas
Subtitled "Capturing and Documenting Existing-Conditions Data for Design, Construction and Operations," this conference aims to illuminate the business case for using advanced dimensional control work processes enabled by new technologies (such as 3D laser scanning) to achieve safety, cost, schedule and quality values for capital projects. Read more

ESRI Business GeoInfo Summit
April 23-25, 2007
Dallas, Texas
This fourth annual conference will brief C-level executives, managers and developers on geospatial analysis and business intelligence capabilities for the enterprise. Read more