Tips & Tools Weekly (Vol. 11, No. 42)

26 Nov, 2006

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What's New at

Dialog Box: Readers Have Their Say
Want to know what your fellow CAD professionals are thinking about? Check out Cadalyst's Dialog Box, the forum in which Cadalyst readers and Web site visitors pick our brains and tell us what's on their minds. You can view the November edition now on If you like being among the first to know about the latest content posted each month on (including the print edition and online exclusives), subscribe to the AEC or manufacturing edition of What's New at

Cadalyst Daily Update
For all the latest news and new products, subscribe to the 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:

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NVIDIA Performance Drivers Don't Extend to AutoCAD Extensions
The November 13 edition of Tips & Tools Weekly notified readers about new NVIDIA performance drivers available for AutoCAD 2007. In case you were wondering whether you can use POWERdraft 2007 with Architectural Desktop and other variants, reader Paul Dempsey sends this feedback: "I downloaded the software, as I am running Autodesk Architectural Desktop on a PC with a QUADRO FX card. I was of the belief that ADT was an extension of AutoCAD, utilizing and enhancing 3D design, which is where I thought the performance driver was aimed. After attempting to install the software unsuccessfully several times, I contacted NVIDIA. Sadly, the reply from NVIDIA customer care was, 'Unfortunately, PowerDraft 2007 is specifically designed for AutoCAD 2007 and will not work on any derivatives such as ADT.' " 

GlobalSpec Launches Redesigned Online Community
GlobalSpec, a specialized search engine, information resource and e-publishing company for engineering, industrial and technical professionals, has launched its online community, CR4 -- The Engineer's Place for News and Discussion. The site offers a collaborative environment for engineers, scientists, technical researchers and related professionals. CR4 provides visitors with open, industry-based forums where they can discuss engineering issues and seek answers to technical questions. Additionally, the site contains blogs from industry professionals, tracking news, trends and technological advancements. Registration is free and users are invited to participate in the forums and blog discussions.

Softcover Launches Scanners4CAD Web Site
Softcover, the publisher of Scan2CAD, has launched the Scanners4CAD Web site to provide CAD users with comparisons, news, opinions and advice related to wide-format scanners used to scan technical drawings for archiving, copying and printing and raster-to-vector conversion. Scanners4CAD tries to answer the question, "What's the best scanner for CAD?" With so much improved technology available, where do CAD scanning requirements end and reprographics needs start? A free wide-format scanner comparison chart listing 31 different Colortrac, Contex and Graphtec models suitable for CAD work is available on the site.

Digital Library of Technical Information
ASTM International announced a new version of its entire library of technical information in digitized format. The new information repository provides users access to ASTM literature spanning more than 100 years, including 945 special technical publications, more than 50 manuals, 13,000 journal articles and 40,000 papers and chapters. Flexible subscription options range from the complete ASTM library of books, journals, peer-reviewed papers and articles to a download of individual papers, chapters or books. Full text searching provides detailed search results. Searching by author, symposia, committee, author, abstract or title is also available. ASTM standards are accepted and used worldwide in research and development, product testing, quality systems and commercial transactions.

CAD Models Now Online for Veriflo Components
In an effort to help its customers improve efficiency, shorten design and production cycles, and reduce costs, Parker Hannifin is now providing online access to an expanded library of 2D and 3D CAD drawings of its products through an extension of its partnership with The company's new online offerings include millions of CAD models from its Veriflo Division, a manufacturer of precision valves, regulators and surface-mount components for the chemical, petrochemical and semiconductor industries.

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This Week's Software Tips

Send us your tip, code 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, and each month Cadalyst editors will randomly select one published tip and send $100 to its author. Please submit only code and other tips 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; published code is not to be used for commercial purposes.

Follow-Up to Cycle Through Drawings
A number of readers wrote to tell us about the new solution to cycling through drawings: AutoCAD's Drawing Tabs Bonus Tool.  With it, you can move from any drawing directly to another without having to cycle through all open drawings.  It also lets you save and close using the Drawing tabs.  It works only with AutoCAD 2007 and is not Vista-compatible. Download it from Autodesk employee Shaan Hurley’s blog, Between the Lines: Trick or Treat! Bonus Tool for AutoCAD 2007-Based Products.

Cadalyst Tip Patroller Kevin Sawyer offers up the option of typing Taskbar at the Command line and setting the option to 1 to turn on the feature that lists multiple AutoCAD tabs in the system area. Unfortunately, if you have a few drawings open, these tabs dynamically resize themselves and seeing each DWG filename can be a problem. Kevin recommends a product called DocBar (starting at $35) from Cadwerx, a dockable image or tab-based toolbar for managing open AutoCAD documents. (A free trial download is available.)

Filter Objects with SSX
Lee Guigar is a self-described old "DOS-hack" AutoCAD user who stays away from most toolbars and dialog boxes, and uses the Command line extensively. He points out that there’s a little-documented Command line LISP file that comes with AutoCAD called SSX.LSP, which lets users filter objects and the like based on several parameters. Even though the Quick Select (Qselect) command is now available, Lee says he loses speed and control with the new dialog box. He’s currently running Land Desktop 2004 and hasn’t had a problem with the program code for SSX.LSP.

Load SSX.LSP while opening a session, or afterward using (load"ssx")). Type SSX at the Select Objects prompt and press Enter. You can then select an object and have all relative filters set, such as entity type, color, layer, etc. By pressing Enter again instead of selecting an object or text entity, the command offers several filter options. You can also incorporate this AutoLISP file into other LISP routines for simplified user input.

NOTES FROM CADALYST TIP PATROL:Our Patrollers were of two minds on this one. One said, “I have AutoCAD 2006, and SSX.LSP still works. Now an Express Tool, it’s been around since Release 10. As explained by Lee, it allows the operator to choose specific features of an entity when building a selection set. Command line options are available for most commands that produce dialog boxes. Just precede the command with a – (dash). Sometimes AutoCAD commands include too many options, slowing you down with too many choices. That’s when scripts, LISP routines, VBA and Visual LISP become very handy for specific changes. If Lee is using the same filters each time, customizing this sequence could be very helpful.”

Our second Patroller said he prefers sticking with Qselect, and keeps it open on his desktop at all times.

Textmask Tidbit
Kellie Eubanks offers this information about Textmask: "Textmask is a very handy tool that works a lot like the Wipeout command, but instead of having to draw a closed polyline around the area that needs to be wiped out, you only have to select the text that you’d like to trim around or mask any items, so that your text shows without line work through it. Once you select said text, Textmask automatically trims or masks any linework that goes through the text. I find this is much quicker than trying to trim everything."

NOTES FROM CADALYST TIP PATROL: While one Patroller is in complete agreement with Kellie, another suggests trying Background Mask instead of Textmask. He says that this subroutine is better attached to the text than Textmask and is also used with the Draworder command to produce the desired masking effect. There are two drawbacks to this command: It only applies to Mtext and didn’t come out until Release 2005. Both features allow the user to achieve the expected result without modifying other drawing entities. For more information on the Background Mask feature of Mtext, read:

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 for Autocad Free at Autodesk University
iKnowledge Solutions announced the availability of free subscriptions to Autocad online learning. This offer is available only to attendees of Autodesk University (to be held in Las Vegas, Nevada, November 28-30) who stop by the booth and complete the registration. The promotion allows registered members to receive free access to seven courses: Dynamic Blocks, Fields and Attributes, 3D Conceptual Design, Visual Styles, Productivity Tools (Tips & Techniques), Plotting 101 and AutoCAD 2007 Update. Subscriptions are good until April 1, 2007. is an Internet-based learning management system for the engineering and manufacturing industries.

Free Upgrade to progeCAD 2007, a progeSOFT IntelliCAD authorized reseller, is offering anyone who purchases progeCAD 2006 after November 1, 2006, a free upgrade to progeCAD 2007 upon its release. The new version will include a new express toolbar as well as importing and printing of PDF files. Other major features will be announced upon the release of progeCAD 2007. Current users of progeCAD 2006 Professional can upgrade to the new version for a small fee. progeSOFT gives its clients free upgrades to minor version changes without charging an upgrade fee and charges an upgrade fee only when changing major versions, such as moving from progeCAD 2006 to progeCAD 2007.

Delcam Offers Free FeatureCAM Trial
Delcam is offering a free evaluation copy of its FeatureCAM feature-based CAM system. The evaluation version includes all the feature-based and knowledge-based programming options available in the 2007 release of the software, but does not allow programs to be saved or output. The newly designed Web site includes all the features provided previously, with easier navigation and expanded downloads, news, events and case studies. The site follows the style of other Delcam sites and offers information and forums on Delcam CAD/CAM products.

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Opportunities & Honors

Right Hemisphere Honored with MT2 Award
Right Hemisphere, a provider of PGM (product graphics management) software, has been honored for a third consecutive year by Military Training Technology magazine for its technology contributions to the military training community. Right Hemisphere was selected by the magazine's editorial board and a panel of independent experts to receive a 2006 MT2 Top 100 award in the "Up and Coming" category, which designates companies that are rising stars in the simulation and training industry. The annual MT2 Top 100 awards program is open to any company to apply. The magazine and its publisher, Kerrigan Media International, invite more than 300 candidates to submit entries each year. Award recipients are selected based on criteria such as total military sales, end-user feedback, innovations and the need for the candidate's solutions.

ASCON Announces Fifth KOMPAS-3D Modeling Contest
ASCON Group invites CAD specialists to take part in the fifth annual product modeling contest for users of KOMPAS-3D for parametric solid modeling. This year, for the first time, users of KOMPAS-3D English Version are invited to participate. The new categories for this competition are Best 3D model designed in KOMPAS-3D English version (users of the full-functioning commercial version are welcome to participate), and Best 3D model designed in KOMPAS-3D Light, English version (beginners in KOMPAS-3D and noncommercial KOMPAS-3D Light Version, available free of charge at In previous years more than 100 enterprises from Russia, Belarus, Ukraine and Kazakhstan have presented their projects.

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Books and Training

New Self-Paced Courses for SolidWorks 2007
SolidProfessor released its complete line of training products for SolidWorks 2007, including eight new courses in a self-paced multimedia training format. Courses include Core Concepts, Drawings, Advanced Parts, Advanced Assemblies, Sheet Metal Design, Update Training, COSMOSWorks Designer and PDMWorks Workgroup. Included with all SolidWorks 2007 training is the Search-On-Demand enhancement. Installed as an add-in and accessible through the SolidWorks Task Pane, Search-On-Demand allows CAD professionals to get their design questions answered without leaving the SolidWorks design environment. SolidProfessor is a creator of self-paced multimedia training materials.
Skills Assessment for Autodesk Software
L.A. CAD is preparing to launch its enhanced Knowledge Trax software skills-assessment and training-development solution in late November. Knowledge Trax now encompasses the full spectrum of CAD-related Autodesk software -- including infrastructure, building design and manufacturing applications. Knowledge Trax is a personalized assessment solution with online knowledge-management tools that allows organizations to evaluate employees' CAD-related software skills and deliver appropriate training. L.A. CAD acquired Knowledge Trax from CorDax this past spring and is currently the solution's exclusive provider.

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The Week's New CAD and Related Products

Hardware: DISTO A8
Leica Geosystems' handheld laser distance measuring tool includes a built-in digital viewfinder and tilt sensor.  Read more

Hardware: Draganflyer SAVS
Radio-controlled miniature helicopter comes equipped with wireless color video camera to capture aerial video.  Read more

Hardware: Portable Multidisplay Monitor
NextComputing's new 17" flat panel model measures just 1" thick.  Read more

General Software: FusionDox IDM 2007
New platform from IEXP Software delivers customizable document and data management engineering departments.  Read more

General Software: progeCAD 2007 Professional
New version of progeSOFT's CAD software enables users to open, read and edit drawings created with all versions of AutoCAD.  Read more

General Software: TurboCAD MAC Version 2
IMSI/Design releases universal application for 2D home design on Mac OS X version 10.4.  Read more

General Software: Draft IT Version 2
CADlogic introduces free 2D CAD system.  Read more

Visualization: NPR Imagery for VectorWorks
New Entourage Arts trees and plants collections are designed for nonphotorealistic renderings.  Read more

GIS: SpatialGuide
L.A. CAD to launch Web-based geospatial solution.  Read more

GIS: ArcMap Plug-in for Spatial Express
LizardTech's free plugin enables use of Spatial Express imagery in ArcMap.  Read more

MCAD: Mesh To Solid 3.0
SYCODE conversion software is now a standalone application.  Read more

MCAD: Power NURBS 2.0
Hybrid solids/surface modeler combines both types of models in an integrated manner.  Read more

MCAD: 3DSearchIT for SolidWorks
Users can search for 3D models based on geometry.  Read more

MCAD: XVL Reducer
Lattice Technology solution is designed to reduce size of 3D data while maintaining accuracy and protecting intellectual property.  Read more

MCAD: GeomCaliper for Pro/ENGINEER 2.0
Geometric upgrades tool to enable quick and in-depth analysis of plastic wall thickness.  Read more

MCAD: Geomagic Qualify 9 and Geomagic Blade Extension
Digital inspection solution designed for the turbomachinery industry enables analysis of rotors, stators, impellers and internal blade features.  Read more

FTI's fully associative flat pattern development software aids CATIA sheet metal design.  Read more

MCAD: Digital Parts Catalog
iSEEK adds a fifth search component to its CAD search engine, CADSEEK.  Read more

CAE: LMS Virtual.Lab Structures Rev 6
Structural modeling and analysis program has been extended with full meshing capabilities.  Read more

CAE: CFdesign V9
CFD software from Blue Ridge Numerics reportedly generates design reviews up to 20 times faster than previous versions of the company's software.  Read more

CAE: COMSOL Acoustics Module
Add-on for COMSOL Multiphysics simulates sound and acoustic waves.  Read more

CAM: VX Mold Automation Design Suite
VX CAD/CAM solution blends mold and die hybrid modeling with a library of smart components for creating intelligent mold assemblies.  Read more

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Mark Your Calendar

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

VISI-Flow Road Show
Various November and December dates
Various U.S. and Canadian locations
Vero International will promote its VISI-Flow software, a system for analysis of plastic injection molds, during these seminars around North America. Read more

Webinar: Evolve to 3D
November 29, 2006
Those interested in learning about transitioning from 2D to 3D, the benefits of moving to PLM and the business effects of such a move can join speakers from UGS, Pari Robotics and Applied Science Venture for this webinar. Read more

Webinar: Autodesk Map 3D 2007 for Civil Engineers
December 20, 2006
During this webcast, civil engineers using Autodesk Civil 3D or Land Desktop software will learn to leverage existing civil software functionality to access GIS datasets for initiating site design, edit GIS data and create visually appealing 3D maps for presentations. Read more