Tips & Tools Weekly (Vol. 12, No. 11)

25 Mar, 2007

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What's New at

New Quick Poll: Who Calls Your CAD Shots?
The latest Cadalyst Quick Poll is live online. This month, we want to know who on your staff has the most say in CAD-related software purchasing decisions -- users or managers? Take the poll (go to any page of and scroll down to find the Quick Poll in the margin), then check out how you compare with your CAD peers in "Cadfidential" in the May edition of Cadalyst magazine.

3D in AutoCAD? You Tell Us!
Do you use AutoCAD for 3D product design? If so, Cadalyst contributing editor Mike Hudspeth would like to hear from you. Readers' responses will appear in Mike's MCAD Modeling column in the June issue of Cadalyst magazine (and online). Send your 3D design story, as well as a design or two, to

First Look Review: Sun Microsystems Ultra 20 M2
Cadalyst's Pat Davis evaluates AMD-based workstation that runs Linux. Read more

Cadalyst Daily Update
For all the latest news and new products and updates about the newest features on, subscribe to the Cadalyst Daily e-newsletter. Plus, every Monday we bring you a full-length feature article you won't find anywhere else -- hardware and CAD software reviews, success stories, interviews, event reports, AutoCAD tips and more! Here's a sample of what you missed recently:

Vista and AutoCAD 2007: A Contentious Combo: Read this before you upgrade to Microsoft's new operating system.

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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.

Multiple Osnaps Customization
Reader Brent Daley finds that, more often than not, he must invoke two snaps, one after the other. He offers this solution: "If you're not a fan of using running osnaps, then it might be a good time to add Multiple Osnaps to your Osnaps menu (CTRL + right-click). Before the CUI (custom user interface) was introduced in AutoCAD, I customized the ACAD.MNU file so that Multiple Osnaps showed up on my menu. It's a little trickier to do this with the CUI file, especially if you're not that familiar with how it works or just plain scared to mess with it! It's been around now for a few years, so it's time to make your peace and see just how easy it is to customize with this new interface." Download MULTOSNAPS.DOC to view Brent's full instructions.

NOTES FROM CADALYST TIP PATROL: One Cadalyst Tip Patroller who reviewed Brent's tip remarks, "This is an excellent example of customizing the CUI file. The techniques that the Tipster uses to add, modify and protect commands in the CUI file should benefit most all users."

Another Tip Patroller offers another option: Use Menuload to accommodate his tool entries into the CUI. He explains, "I learned that with AutoCAD 2006, all that was necessary to load the MNS files I had been using for years was to change the extents from CUI to MNS in the Menuload dialog box. Also, I handle the osnaps I need by using an AutoLISP file to set things up. Here are a couple of examples, in which all I have to do is type four keys (at the most), and I'm good to go":

 (defun C:OC ()
      (command "osnap" "cen")

(defun C:OE ()
      (command "osnap" "end")

Changing Text Justification
Shawn Crites writes, "When changing text (or mtext) justification for existing text in a drawing, you can choose whether the text moves around the justification point or the justification point moves about the text, depending on the method you choose." Download CHGTEXT.DOC for a detailed explanation.

NOTES FROM CADALYST TIP PATROL: Our Patrollers send thanks for the explanation. Each who reviewed it said he has wondered about this before.

Paths to Drawing
Reader S. Ramakrishna wrote this simple program, DWGNO.LSP, to add the current drawing filename with its file path in the lower right corner of a drawing. The text appears outside the drawing area; you have to pick the point at the lower-right corner of the border of your drawing.

NOTES FROM CADALYST TIP PATROL: This code is a possible solution if you don't use title blocks in your drawings. As another option, the try using title blocks with Rtext and Fields features. You can include them somewhere in the title block along with the current date, time and user, and the features update whenever you open or regenerate the drawing.

Keystroke Shortcuts in AutoCAD
Jim Stewart shares, "I like to keep things simple and not have to look at the keyboard when using AutoCAD, so I developed the following keystroke shortcuts. Using these, I can keep my eyes more on the screen and less on the keyboard, thereby being more productive."

•  MM for mirror instead of MI
•  MMM and MMMM for Match Properties
•  C for copy instead of CO
•  R for rotate instead of RO

NOTES FROM CADALYST TIP PATROL: Excellent! A Patroller remarks, "One of the main points here is the importance of customizing AutoCAD to fit your specific needs. If the computer is used by more than one operator, consider setting up profiles in the Options dialog box to keep customizations separate." With an eye on health, our other Patroller reminds users to be sure to look away from the computer now and again to give your peepers a well-needed rest.

Hotkeys in SolidWorks
Wayne Tiffany writes to remind users of the benefits of hotkeys. "When using SolidWorks, probably the biggest time saver is the use of keyboard hotkeys. A veteran user once told me that he didn't need to use hotkeys because he already knew where all the toolbar buttons were." One thing led to another, and "he threw down the challenge gauntlet and I accepted! Duel we did, and win I did -- handsomely, I might add."

NOTES FROM CADALYST TIP PATROL: "Perhaps the veteran user would be more receptive to keyboard shortcuts than toolbar icons," suggests a Patroller who reviewed this tip. It's true that pressing a key is faster than searching for and clicking on an icon, but "users are going to work the way they want to, regardless of the interface. Choose the commands you most often use and then customize and combine them as you see fit. Also, speed isn't everything -- accuracy must also be considered. Over time, efficiency will increase and time spent drafting will decrease."

MicroStation Tip: AccuSnaps
MicroStation user Ryan Truair says, "The best way I have found to deal with AccuSnap is to hold down Shift+CTRL to enable or disable it."
Axiom offers many MicroStation Tips on its Web site.

Follow-Up: Send a Drawing in MS Word
Offering another option for inserting DWG drawings in a Microsoft Word file, Steve Knopf writes, "I use the Wmfout command for maps and sketches in published documents like the city budget. Windows Metafile is a vector format that is native to Word -- it can be stretched and not get pixely. Use the white background and the Display Plot Styles setting in your layouts. The boundary of the output will be the current visible active window, the edge of the viewport or drawing window. Input Wmfout and you will be prompted for a file name -- be sure to note the folder it is saved in -- then pick the entities you want and hit Enter. You need to select entities, either paper space or model space, but not both. This has been a minor drawback, yet I've found WMF is far better than a screen shot for most Word documents."

And a correction: An editing error introduced a mistake in the DWG copying procedure outlined in Danny Comsa's original article, "Send a Drawing in MS Word": You must use Ctrl+C, not Copy. The article has been corrected.

Barbara Piper wrote that Chspace works for her as originally described -- at least in Map 3D 2006. "Unless I am missing something, this command does indeed work both from model space to paper space and from paper space to model space in Map 3D 2006."

Follow-Up: Write Sequential Numbers
Regarding the sequential numbering LISP we shared in the March 19 edition, Joe Perkins writes, "The LISP only works for me in R14 and v2000. I tried it in AutoCAD 2005 and Autodesk Land Desktop 2005 and an error resulted."

More Follow-Up: Chspace
In the March 19 edition, the correction about the Chspace tip apparently wasn't correct in all instances. James Appleby wrote to say, "In AutoCAD 2006, the Chspace command works in paper space, through a viewport to model space.  In this instance, it works exactly as described.  Kevin Land was correct on the fact that it does not work on the Modelspace tab.

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 Software Development Kit for 3D Design and Visualization
3Dconnexion had made available a new SDK (software development kit), enabling developers of 3D design and visualization applications to implement support for 3Dconnexion's 3D navigation devices, including the SpaceNavigator. 3Dconnexion COM-based SDK for Windows is free and available immediately for download.

GiveMePower Offering PowerCAD SiteMaster Pro and Leica DISTO Bundle
For a limited time, customers who purchase any combination of two PowerCAD SiteMaster CE or XP Pro licenses will receive a bonus Leica DISTO A6 Bluetooth Measuring Laser, more than 7,000 PowerSymbols and a one-year premium support contract. As an added bonus, the first 100 buyers will also receive up to one hour of interactive online training. The special offer ends April 15. GiveMePower provides desktop, mobile and wireless CAD/graphics software for the design, construction, engineering and other industries.

Graphics Systems Launches Free CAD E-Newsletter
Graphics Systems launched a free CAD e-newsletter, The 3D Origin. The monthly publication includes tips and tricks written by Graphics Systems' staff of application engineers. The CAD "Tips and Tricks" section gives engineers information on how to make their jobs easier and more effective. Each e-newsletter also includes articles and case studies showing how companies in all industries have streamlined their product development by using different CAD technologies.

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Opportunities & Honors

Winners of Leadership Award and Joe Greco CommunityAward Announced
The CAD Society announced that Jay Sunyogh, a professor at Rio Hondo College, received its 2007 Leadership Award for his contributions during his teaching career and his educational programs that help underprivileged students. The organization also announced that Sean Dotson -- mechanical engineer, business owner and Web site owner -- has won its 2007 Joe Greco Community Award. For years, Dotson has contributed his CAD expertise via his online technology forums and MCAD Forums.

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Books & Training

AutoCAD Training for Architects and Interior Designers
Fairchild Books published Digital Drawing for Designers: A Visual Guide to AutoCAD ($70.50) by Douglas R. Seidler. Written for architects and interior designers, the book examines the relationship between hand drawing and digital drawing in AutoCAD. The book is available through the publisher and through the author.

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The Week's New CAD and Related Products

Hardware: Eurocom D900C PHANTOM Mobile Workstation
Workstation-class notebook includes FSB1066, 600GB hard disk drive with RAID 5, Intel Pentium Core 2 Extreme and NVIDIA modular MXM-HE SLI technology. Read more

General Software: FARO Scene v4.1
Upgrade enables viewing, calibrating, filtering and managing large, 3D point clouds collected with FARO Technologies' Laser Scanner LS. Read more
General Software: BlockImporter
New tool from Maplesoft imports Simulink drawings into Maple software and converts them to mathematical expressions for analysis and problem solving. Read more

MCAD: RSoft Component Design Suite
RSoft Design Group introduces CAD system that integrates with the company's passive device simulation tools. Read more

MCAD: Alibre Design v9.2
Updated release provides support for Windows Vista and includes expanded 3D PDF capabilities. Read more

MCAD: Scribe-iT DCC 3D
GHOST 3D's updated release of digitizing and reverse modeling software now supports Maya. Read more

MCAD: Power SolidWorksToMax
nPower Software releases tool to translate native SolidWorks files into Autodesk 3ds Max and VIZ for rendering and animation. Read more

CAE: MD Adams
MSC.Software releases software addition to its MD Solutions suite with integrated multibody dynamics. Read more

CAE: FLOW-3D v9.3
Flow Science updates computational fluid dynamics software. Read more

CAM: DieDesign
Cimatron Technologies releases application for the design of progressive dies that integrates with the company's CAD/CAM product suite. Read more

CAM: Geomagic Piano
Open-development platform supports the digital preparation and production of dental restorations. Read more

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Mark Your Calendar

Webcast: What's New with Acrobat 8 Professional
March 28, 2007
10:00 a.m. PT
In this e-seminar for AEC firms, Adobe shows how to improve collaboration with extended team members by securely exchanging complex 2D and 3D drawings -- including enabling Acrobat Reader 7 or 8 users with commenting and markup tools. Read more

Webcast: Combining Multiplatform Documents
April 4, 2007
10:00 a.m. PT
Learn how to turn large-format, multiplatform documents into one PDF with pan and zoom functions that mimic CAD, but make it easy for non-CAD users to view and manipulate. This e-seminar presented by Adobe for AEC firms shows how. Read more

Webcast: More on Creating PDFs from CAD
April 18, 2007
10:00 a.m. PT
In this e-seminar for AEC firms, Adobe experts will show how you can create PDFs directly from a CAD application with searchable text, scale, layer support and page layout information. Read more

Webcast: Crossing the Chasm with Microsoft Compute Cluster Edition -- HPC Goes Mainstream
April 24, 2007
11:00 a.m. PT
Scientific Computing will present this interactive, educational Webcast, which will focus on the transition to cost-effective compute clusters for improved, scalable application performance for users of high-performance technical or commercial computing applications and disciplines. Read more

Webcast: Creating Shared Reviews
April 25, 2007
10:00 a.m. PT
Working with the entire team, whether nearby or far away, has never been easier when you create shared reviews in real-time -- without IT assistance. Participate in this In this e-seminar by Adobe for AEC firms, and learn how. Read more

Webcast: Autodesk Civil 3D -- Pipes
April 25, 2007
12:00 p.m. PT
Autodesk Civil 3D allows you to design and lay out your pipes much more efficiently than Autodesk Land Desktop. In this Webcast, Ideate will demonstrate just how quick and easy it is to create and edit 3D pipe networks from 2D lines within Autodesk Civil 3D. Ideate will also show the ease of creating pipe profiles and how pipe interference checks can be automated to reduce errors. Read more

Click here to view the complete calendar of events at