Tips & Tools Weekly (Vol. 11, No. 38)

22 Oct, 2006

Untitled Document

What's New at

Where Do You Look for Training?
The latest Cadalyst Quick Poll is live online. This month, we're taking your pulse about where you look for CAD software support: In-house contacts, your reseller or vendor -- or is the Internet your main back-up? Take the poll (go to any page of and scroll down to find the Quick Poll in the margin), then watch for the results in Cadfidential in the November edition of Cadalyst magazine.

New Cadalyst Column Offers Training Tips
A new software training column is available now from Cadalyst magazine: Author Matt Murphy writes Lesson Plans, offering training basics and great how-to advice for anyone who strives to make the most of software tools. Check out the October installment, "Does Traditional Teaching Work?" -- a look into how you can move away from formal learning and toward more-effective informal methods. Cadalyst's Lesson Plans series is also available online.

Visualization Software Round-Up
If you're in the market for visualization software, you'll want to take a look at October's Cadalyst Labs Review, "Make It Real -- Visualization Software Brings Designs to Life." Reviewer Ron LaFon discusses how today's visualization software can mimic reality with amazing results, offering an overview of software from Abvent, ASGvis, auto-des-sys, Luxology, NewTek, Robert McNeel and Associates, and Okino Computer Graphics.

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:

  • PTC Acquires ITEDO, IsoDraw Products: Software reuses 2D and 3D design data to generate technical illustrations for instruction manuals, parts catalogs and other downstream publishing.

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CIMdata Releases Two New Reports
CIMdata consulting and research firm made available for purchase its PLM Market Analysis -- 2006 Report: Actuals through 2005, Forecasts through 2010 ($5,000), which concludes that consumption accounted for $18.1 billion in 2005 -- growth of 8.8% from 2004's $16.7 billion. The report comes in two modules. Module 1 addresses the overall PLM market with emphasis on the collaborative product definition management (cPDm) segment; module 2 provides greater detail on revenue distribution and trends for major geographic regions.

CIMdata is also offering a free white paper titled Service-Oriented Architecture for PLM -- An Overview of UGS' SOA Approach. The paper provides a description of service-oriented architecture (SOA) and its benefits, discusses how it is used to enable product lifecycle management (PLM) and examines how UGS is adopting SOA throughout its product suite. Because of SOA's benefits, providers of business solutions and applications are incorporating it into their product suites, CIMdata states.

CAD Publisher Launches TeamDWF

The online news journal announced the launch of TeamDWF, a Web-based publication that covers the use of Autodesk's DWF publishing technology for collaboration. The site's publisher, Randall S. Newton, said, "End users, third-party developers and a variety of vendors are interested in this technology. The online publishing marketplace is ready for a DWF-specific Web site."

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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.

Busted Browser: IE 7 and DWF at Odds
Cadalyst has discovered that Microsoft’s just-released Internet Explorer 7 is causing problems with Autodesk’s DWF format. Autodesk blogger Steve Shepard reports that DWF Viewer, Design Review and TrueView are not compatible with Microsoft Internet Explorer 7. Uninstalling Internet Explorer 7 and reverting to Internet Explorer 6 does not restore Autodesk functionality, because the supporting libraries from Internet Explorer 7 are left in place. Microsoft does offer a Blocker Toolkit so system administrators can disable automatic delivery of IE 7.

Purging RegApps: A Correction and a Question
In last week's discussion about purging RegApps, we made an editorial goof. The last sentence stated, "Purging RegApps has known detrimental effects on the drawing or applications used." It should have said, "There are NO known problems with purging RegApps." We apologize for the confusion.

Reader Bob Seigworth wonders why this is the first time he's heard of purging RegApps. We simply don't know. We searched Autodesk's Web site and found just one reference to purging RegApps. Perhaps it's just not something that's universally used. Perhaps an Autodesk source or another reader will write to give us some perspective.

Follow-Up to Redir Command
Frequent tip contributor Leonid Nemirovsky (visit his AutoLISP Web site) offers an addition to the October 16 Redir tip. To avoid problems with changing xref paths in the files received from clients or subcontractors, he usually puts all xref drawings in a special folder, then goes to Tools / Options / Files / Project / Files / Search Path and adds that folder. AutoCAD always finds these xrefs without any redirection or changing file paths, thus preventing potential headaches, he says. If you have a number of clients, create extra profiles because you can add only one search path for project files per profile.

Follow-Up to Viewport Lock
In reference to the tip about globally locking and unlocking viewports in the October 2 newsletter, reader Roberta Pennington wrote : "While the LISP routine seems like an excellent visual reminder for locked and unlocked viewports, out-of-the-box Architectural Desktop has three simple steps to make all viewports on a paper space tab lock."

  • Select a viewport.
  • Right-click and choose Select Similar.
  • Right-click, highlight Display Locked and select Yes.

"Mind you, the four keystrokes don't save you much time, but it further uses the right-click menu that Autodesk has developed over the last few releases." 

Three other readers sent in additional code solutions. Note that these routines have not been checked by our intrepid Tip Patrollers.

Justin Manson reports that he has determined why the Vpal and Vpau commands don't work in the original routine we published. Regarding the following line of code, he says, "There should be two closed parentheses above this line and not one, which therefore requires one closed parenthesis below it and not two." The code should look like this:

(command "mview" "lock" "off" VPLST "")

You'll also want to make the same update to the "lock on" line:

(command "mview" "lock" "on" VPLST "")

And, these lines


should read


Problems in the original code supplied did not stop the code running, Justin notes. He adds one last suggestion: "It's worthwhile adding a line of code to unlock the layer where your viewports reside, as well as just below the line that starts "(defun."

(command "-layer" "unlock" "THENAMEOFYOURVIEWPORTLAYER" "")

Debra Denton offers up her own variation on the theme. "Here's a LISP routine that works on all viewports on all layouts. LOCKVP and UNLOCKVP are the C: functions defined in the routine." Download LOCKVP.LSP with this week's code.

Alan Butler shares these LSP files as possible options. Download VIEWPORTLOCKUNLOCK.LSP.  

Follow-Up to Length-y LISP
Jeffrey Paulsen states that "the three routines that were posted in the October 9 edition ignore polylines. We use TOTLEN.LSP. It includes the lengths of polylines as well as arcs and lines. Another nice thing about it is that it shows the lengths in both architectural and engineering units." Download TOTLEN.LSP with this week's code. Again,  keep in mind that this routine has not been reviewed by our Tip Patrol.

Extreme Trims
Franklin Belizaire reminds fellow readers that the Extrim command trims multiple lines or an object line with a single click. "Normally when you trim several lines, you must click on every single one of them, but after typing Extrim at the Command prompt, you just click on the line you want to keep and then anywhere on the side you do not want to keep."

Another command that he uses a lot is Chspace, which brings any objects from model space to paper space and from paper space to model space without having to cut and paste and scale. Just type Chspace at the Command line, click on the object you want to change into the other space and press Enter twice. Voila!

NOTES FROM CADALYST TIP PATROL: Also known as Extended or Cookie Cutter Trim, Extrim was formerly an Express Tool from Release 2000, but it's now included as a standard AutoCAD command. Autodesk offers more information about the Extrim command on its Web site.

One of our Patrollers uses Chspace quite often, he reports, especially for the proper rotation of north arrows for civil engineering construction plans. However, another Patroller says that because AutoCAD is loaded through a CAD Launcher, his computer crashes if he tries to use Chspace.

Rectangle that Expands Around Text
Reader Perry Medina finds that AutoCAD tables are easy to expand. Just start a table with only one row and one column. When you add text, the rectangle expands. You can resize it using grips as needed. Make the background color one that plots white in your CTB, then you have something similar to masking. By keeping the one-cell table on top of all other objects, nothing will be visible under the box, Perry says.

NOTES FROM CADALYST TIP PATROL: Even with the drawing background color set the same as the table fill color, it still doesn't produce the same see-through effect as textmask. Pasting a color over itself darkens that color. Plotting may be somewhat different. Users will have to feel their way through when printing with such differences.

Imperial to Metric and Back Again
Leonid Nemirovsky offers this tip: You can use blocks created in Imperial units in metric drawings and vice-versa if you set the INSUNITS system variable correctly. When you drag a block from AutoCAD DesignCenter or just insert it using the Insert command, specify a drawing units value as follows:

0          Unspecified (n o units)
1          Inches
2          Feet
3          Miles
4          Millimeters

For example, if you have blocks in Imperial units and need to insert them into a drawing created using metric units, set INSUNITS to 4.

NOTES FROM CADALYST TIP PATROL: To develop a better understanding of the system variable INSUNITS, try inserting a block of one drawing unit into a drawing of another unit, such as a block constructed in inches into a drawing constructed in millimeters (1 inch = 25.4 millimeters). Another option is to go to and download a program called CONVERT.EXE. Registration is free.

Note that there are a lot more than four settings to INSUNITS. Go to Help and type in Insunits for the full rundown.

MicroStation Tip -- Editing Library Cells is Easy
In this tip about editing cells in MicroStation cell libraries, Eiren K. Smith, Axiom's vice-president for technology, details how to streamline this usually time-consuming task. It is one of many MicroStation tips on Axiom's Web site.

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 Tool Download for Saving 3D Content
PLM software provider Dassault Systemes is offering 3D PrintScreen, a free tool to save 3D XML content from any OpenGL application. Users can save on-screen visible 3D shapes and textures and incorporate models into technical documentation. Once launched, the 3D PrintScreen application is always active and available on demand. This application reportedly is compliant with all applications reading 3D XML files, nonintrusive and low CPU-consuming.

GS Offers MSC.Patran Replacement
UGS, a provider of PLM software and services, has released a Femap software upgrade for all users of MSC.Patran from MSC.Software. Femap is the CAE component of the UGS Velocity Series portfolio. The offer, available through December 29, 2006, allows Patran users to upgrade to Femap for approximately the same amount that they are currently paying for Patran maintenance, according to UGS. The upgrade allows users to switch to a more robust and efficient simulation environment, the company reports, while maintaining current design and analysis processes through Femap's CAD and solver interfaces.

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Opportunities & Honors

BE Conference 2007 Call for Papers
Bentley Systems issued a call for presentations for its 2007 BE Conferences. For the first time, BE users from around the world are invited to submit an application to present a best practices session at either of the 2007 BE Conferences. Conference fees will be waived for presenters. Presentations are sought on architectural, engineering and construction and GIS/geospatial topics. The deadline for submissions is November 30, 2006. The 2007 BE Conference will be held April 29-May 3 at the Los Angeles Convention Center in California. BE Conference Europe will be held at the Hilton London Metropole in the United Kingdom, June 10-14.

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Books & Training

Dimension Offers Free 3D Printing Curriculum
Dimension 3D Printing Group has made a 3D printing curriculum available to help educators integrate real-world 3D printing technology into their existing engineering and design programs. Developed in coordination with educators and industry experts, Dimension 3D Printing Learning Modules are included free to educators with each new Dimension 3D Printer purchase.

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The Week's New CAD and Related Products

Hardware: LCD Monitors
Viewsonic releases six adjustable desktop models, ranging from 17" to 22". Read more

Hardware: Océ DNA
Service aims to reduce print operations costs through document needs assessment.  Read more

General Software: KitoX Tools BC for BricsCad
New version of command set features a constant insertion point rule.  Read more

General Software: ScanOS Version 3.1.4
IDEAL's large-format scanning software now available for Contex scanners. Read more

AEC: VersaCAD 2006
Archway Systems releases universal binary version of VersaCAD 2006 for Macintosh computers.  Read more

MCAD: KeyCreator and REALyze Upgrades
Kubotek products now feature model repair capabilities.  Read more

AM: DeskProto
Delft Spline Systems' subtractive rapid prototyping software enables creation of prototypes in-house using a desktop milling machine.  Read more

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Mark Your Calendar

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

The Power of Adobe Acrobat 8 Seminar
Various 2006 dates
Various locations
Attendees will learn how Adobe Acrobat 8 can be used to improve workflows, and can choose from 90-minute breakout sessions designed for AEC/manufacturing, creative/marketing, general business/IT, legal and education/e-learning professionals, as well as a developer briefing. Read more

Webinar: OneSpace 2007: CoCreate Sneak Peek
October 23, 2006, 2:45 p.m. MT
October 26, 2006, 10 a.m. MT
This webinar offers attendees a preview of the 2007 release of CoCreate Software's OneSpace suite. Read more

Webinar: Enterprise Product Data Management
October 25, 2006
Synergis Technologies' Synergis Software division is hosting this free Webcast, titled "Enterprise Product Data Management: Why It's Important to You." MCAD industry expert Jeff Rowe and Synergis Software co-presenter Scott Lamond will cover the significance of data management and the positive business impact PDM can deliver to small, medium and large organizations. Read more

Design Productivity Seminar
November 2, 2006
Long Island, New York
IronCAD partner Magnacad Design is sponsoring this seminar highlighting techniques that increase productivity for electromechanical designers. Seminar topics include industry globalization, cost cutting and design cycle planning. Read more

Autodesk 2007 Manufacturing Solutions Premiere
November 8, 2006
Garden Grove, California
Hagerman & Company is hosting a free technology event for Southern California mechanical design professionals. Hagerman & Company sales and design engineering staff will give presentations on the latest solutions from Autodesk. Read more

Webinar: Autodesk Map 3D 2007 for Landscape Architects
November 15, 2006
This webinar will demonstrate how Autodesk Map 3D 2007 can help Landscape Architects initiate site design through simple mapping analysis, connecting to point data and creating more visually appealing 3D renderings of project design areas. Read more

MIT Manufacturing Conference
December 6-7, 2006
Cambridge, Massachusetts
The Manufacturing Conference is part of the MIT Industrial Liaison Program's Technology and the Corporation conference series. Presentations for the day-and-a-half event will provide insights into the experiences and approaches used by such companies as Cisco Systems, Caterpillar and HP. Read more

Convergence 2007
February 20-22, 2007
Durham, North Carolina
Geomagic's global users' conference brings together Geomagic software users from around the world to share knowledge and mark the company's first decade in business. Convergence 2007 centers on two days of workshops where expert users, technology partners, and Geomagic innovators will present best-practice advice for using the company's software suite. Read more