Tips & Tools Weekly (Vol. 12, No. 15)

22 Apr, 2007

Untitled Document

What's New at

New MCAD Discussion Forum Live Online
The latest addition to the Cadalyst line-up of CAD discussion forums is now live on Tech Forum: MCAD is designed to bring together peers in the mechanical CAD field to discuss news, trends and other topics of common interest. Subforums will focus discussions on topics relevant to users of specific MCAD software, including AutoCAD Mechanical, Inventor, Alibre Design, Solid Edge, SolidWorks, IronCAD, CATIA, Pro/ENGINEER and AliasStudio.

CAD Manager (Column): Your Workplace Action Plan Implemented
CAD management expert Robert Green tells how, after creating a CAD management action plan, you'll need to help employees adapt to change. 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:

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NC Software Market Report Available
Market researcher CIMdata announced that, based on end user payments, the worldwide NC (numerical control) software and related services market grew by 6.9% in 2006 to reach a level of $1.31 billion. Moreover, CIMdata estimates that in 2007 these payments will further increase by 6.4% to reach a level of $1.40 billion. If so, the NC market will have experienced four consecutive years with a growth rate of 6% or more. The report is available for purchase on the CIMdata Web site.

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This Week's Software Tips

Send us your tip, code or shortcut for your favorite CAD software. If we publish your tip, 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 a $100 gift card 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) and tell us which software version you use. By submitting code, 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.

Editor's note: Cadalyst bids farewell to Tip Patrol member Ben Young, who is heading to a job overseas. We thank Ben for nearly a year of excellent volunteer work on our Patrol and wish him all the best in his new position.

We are pleased to welcome frequent tipster Brian Benton as our newest Tip Patrol member. Brian joins our illustrious panel with much experience. A CAD technician for 14 years and the senior CAD technician for his office at Heidt & Associates. Brian not only assists users but led the team who wrote the company's CAD manual. Needless to say, we are very excited to have Brian join our Patrol.

We'd also like to take this opportunity to thank all our Tip Patrol members for their time and effort. They are a great group of volunteers who work hard to ensure that the tips published in Tips & Tools Weekly are viable and useful.

Keyboard Commands
New Tip Patrol member Brian Benton offers information on easy-to-remember keyboard commands: AutoCAD users can interface with the software in many ways, such as via the mouse, toolbars, tool palettes, the Dashboard and the keyboard. He says all these can be customized to some degree but that many users aren't aware of the keyboard commands. "There are different types of keyboard commands: command aliases, function keys, shortcut keys, temporary override keys and Windows-based shortcuts.

"With the exception of the Windows-based Shortcuts, you can edit these keyboard commands through the CUI [Custom User Interface]. Click on Tools / Workspaces / Customize to bring up the CUI palette. Next, choose to edit all Custom Workspaces, or change an individual workspace and then select the workspace you wish to edit.
Shortcut keys come with default settings, but you can change and add whatever you need. Here are a few to get started." For Brian's full list, click here:

Redo Ctrl+Y
Undo Ctrl+Z
Clean Screen Ctrl+0
Properties Ctrl+1

NOTES FROM CADALYST TIP PATROL: Our Patrollers agree that these are great shortcuts. One Patroller adds, "This list shows how predefined keyboard shortcuts have evolved over the years. Although the emphasis [in AutoCAD] these days is on the graphic user interface and having a heads-up view, I personally still believe the most efficient way to draft is to fully use the keyboard and its myriad shortcuts. The only issue is to how to remember all these hotkeys. Once you couple the built-in keystrokes with your own personal ones for simulating AutoCAD commands, you may need a Britannica-like memory. Too bad we can’t just install more RAM into our heads."

Get Model Space Measurement
Reader Alan Harmon figured out a way to measure when in paper space. Alan explains: "I noticed, while in paper space, that when I measured the distance between two lines, it gave me the actual distance between the lines and not the 1:1 scaled dimension. For example, I had a drawing open in the Layout view in paper space. The viewport was set to 1/4" scale. As I was attaching some elevation ticks to an elevation, I took a measurement from the finish floor to the roof line. I knew I was in paper space, so I needed to convert the 1/4" dimension in my head to get the real distance. When I saw the measurement, I thought, 'Oh no, I'm putting this tick in model space,' but then I realized I was in paper space and it was telling me what the model space dimension was.
I decided to test this. Next, I checked the distance between my object in paper space against my object in model space and it gave me the true dimension between them at 1:1 scale. But, if I start the measurement from the model space object (while in paper space) to the tick, it gives it to me at 1/4":1'-0". This was a very interesting find. I wonder how long it has been available? I know it will help me from now on."

NOTES FROM CADALYST TIP PATROL: Our Patrollers believe that the Tipster is using dimensions and not distance for this tip. One Patroller explains, "With the system variable Dimassoc set to 2, you can insert dimensions in paper space while snapping to model space objects in a viewport, and the default dimension adopts the viewport scale while calculating the dimension. With Dimassoc set to 1, this associativity is turned off and the default dimension displays in true paper units. This runs a little deeper in that when dimensions are associated in this way, stretching or moving the object in model space updates the paper space dimension dynamically."

In addition, another Patroller shares an interesting tidbit about dimensions in paper space: If you go into FloatingModelspace and move the model, the dimension jumps to the new position when you go back to paper space.

Follow-Up: Toggle Tilemode with F4
Regarding our toggle discussion that began in the April 9 edition and continued April 16, Mark Matherne adds that "AutoCAD's way seems the easiest way to toggle between model and paper space. Use the Options command and in the Options dialog box, select the Display tab. Under the Layout Elements heading, check the box for Display Layout & Model Tabs. The tabs for model space and all layout spaces (paper spaces) are now visible along the bottom of your drawing. This is just like Excel and other programs work."

The original tipster in the April 9 edition, Kevin Pohlgeers, concedes that Brian Benton's suggestion in the April 16 edition of using the Tabs is an option, but remarks that using tabs is "not really a method of switching between paper and model space. It's just for switching up and down a list of tabs. The F4 button can take you to model space and then back to the same tab you left."

Tip Patroller Mitchell Hirschklau also agrees with Brian Benton's assertions in the April 16 edition with one exception. He explains, "Without any CUI customizations or programming, there are already default AutoCAD keyboard toggles for a variety of commands and settings. Users should not look for LISP or other customizations to do occasional actions that they can do by default. In this regard, Ctrl + PageUp is an excellent example." However, he adds that streamlining frequent and regular uses with some customization benefits the user (and his or her employer) enormously. "Personally, I've always been a keyboard jockey. Here are a couple of my keyboard customizations:

  • F10 toggles Tilemode. True, but my way takes only a single keystroke with one finger.
  • NUMPAD-8 toggles Properties. With a single keystroke and one finger, I can turn it on and off."

All this discussion has Richard Gill thinking. He shares, "This sort of thing makes me wonder how many times a new LISP routine is created for a routine or function that is already an inherent part of the software. Has it gotten so complicated to learn the functionality of our software by reading the user manuals or Help file that it's just easier to program a line of code? I love the fact that these folks can program circles around those that put out the software in the first place. But, it still comes down to the fact that these new lines of code are not truly tips."

Editor's note: We love LISP, and so do Cadalyst readers -- but Gill has a great point. This is a timely reminder that Tips & Tools Weekly is always on the lookout for non-LISP shortcuts and workarounds for AutoCAD and all other CAD software. Send us your favorite tip today. If we publish it, you'll be in the running for our monthly $100 prize!

Follow-Up: Paths to Drawings
In regard to the plot stamp discussion that originated in the March 26 edition, Rodney Lee agrees with using Rtext from the Express Tools menu, but he adds the xref files listed so he knows what files were used to create a sheet. He explains: I have the xref list on the lower left and other on the lower right corners. The saved line and the file line are in the lower right and list the time of the last save, file name and also when it was plotted.

SAVED$(edtime,$(getvar,tdupdate), MO/DD/YYYY - HH:MM am/pm )

XREF: $(xrefs,13,,; ) SAVED BY:$(getprop, LastsavedBy)

FILE:$(getvar, "dwgname") PLOTTED:$(edtime, 0, M"/"D"/"YYYY  H:MMam/pm)

MicroStation Tip: Changing Text Style Names in DGNLIBs
There’s an easy way to keep the text styles associated in a file but with different text style names. You can achieve this by using the standards checker and the batch process tool. Follow these steps:

  • Change the name of the style in your DGNLIB.
  • Set up the standards checker to check files against this DGNLIB.
  • Set up a batch processor with the command as "standardschecker execute" and all the files that you want to process added to the file list.
  • Run the batch program to process all the files in the list.
  • You are prompted to change the names of the styles that do not conform to the standard.

You've now changed the original elements that used the now-renamed style, so you must change those original elements or they won't conform to the standard. If you have renamed multiple styles, you have to map these individually.

Axiom offers many MicroStation Tips on its 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: Brian Benton, Don Boyer, Mitchell Hirschklau, R.K. McSwain, Don Reichle, Kevin Sawyer, Ivanhoe Tejeda and Billy Wooten.

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Deals & Freebies

Add-on for ArchiCAD 10 Available for Download
Graphisoft announced that its ArchiCAD software passed the second step of the IFC 2x3 certification at the IAI's (Industry Alliance for Interoperability) latest certification workshop held mid-March in Waltham, Massachusetts. IFC 2x3 supports better communication between various design disciplines including architectural and structural. The IFC 2x3 add-on for ArchiCAD 10 is available to download free.

Free Beta IFC 2x3 Plug-ins and GSA-Complaint Space Object
Nemetschek North America announced that beta versions of its upcoming IFC 2x3 plug-ins and a new GSA (General Services Administration)-compliant Space object are now available for download and testing by VectorWorks Architect users. For more information or to download the beta versions of the IFC plug-ins and Space object, visit the company's Web site.

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Opportunities & Honors

Dominion Institute Sponsors Contest for Young Google SketchUp Users
The Dominion Institute is challenging designers from 14 to 25 years old to model one of the most important sites in Canadian history using Google SketchUp. Designers taking part in the Designing History contest will model the site of the 1944 Normandy landings on Juno Beach for upload onto Google Earth. The winner will receive a cash prize of CAN$1,944, and his or her design will be featured on the Google SketchUp and Dominion Institute Web sites.

MasterGraphics Sponsors Supermileage Competition
MasterGraphics, a provider of reprographics products and services, is sponsoring the WI (Wisconsin) Supermileage competition with a $10,000 donation in scholarships made possible through the assistance of Autodesk. The competition gives middle and high school students the opportunity to explore careers in engineering and design through a hands-on challenge of designing, building and testing a fully functional fuel-efficient vehicle.

FreeDimension Wins 2006 Tech Innovator Award announced that FreeDimension has won the 2006 Tech Innovator Award in recognition of its FreeDimension 3D surface generating software, which was introduced to the market last year. According to, the FreeDimension application represents a radically new approach to surface generation in 3D models. The award was presented during the COFES 2007 event in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Flowserve Receives Inaugural Award for Business Cooperation
Flowserve Corp. received the Indo-American Chamber-Sanmar Indo-U.S. Business Cooperation Award. The award was developed to recognize the efforts of people and business enterprises for their significant contribution in promoting Indo-U.S. relationships through business and economic activity. The award recognized Flowserve's business relationship and operations in India.

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Books & Training

Solid Edge v19 Workbook
Conceptual Product Development released Doctor Walt's Solid Edge V19 Workbook ($79.95). According to the publisher, the workbook provides a step-by-step approach with clear screen captures and dozens of practical examples. The publication emphasizes the implementation of design intent as the user creates features in a part and includes color illustrations of part modeling, sheet metal, assemblies and drawings help the user increase productivity.

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The Week's New CAD and Related Products

Hardware: Infinity WF
BOWE BELL + HOWELL wide-format scanner creates digital images of documents as wide as 48". Read more

Hardware: DMX-SLT 100 SL Resin
SL resin from DSM Somos is targeted for high durability applications and direct manufacturing development. Read more

Hardware: Arcam A2
Stratasys introduces direct digital manufacturing and prototyping system, which allows the production of metal parts 75% larger than the company's previous models. Read more

Visualization: LightWorks v7.7
LightWork Design updates photorealistic rendering solution to work with the latest generation processors. Read more

AEC: Revit Structure Extension
Robobat releases structural analysis and reinforced concrete drafting extensions for BIM software. Read more

AEC: KCS Productivity Pack
Add-on from Krupa CADD Solutions is compatible with AutoCAD Architecture 2008 as well as Architectural Desktop 2004-2008. Read more

AEC: MicroStation Extensions for V8 XM and PowerDraft V8 XM Edition
Archway tools enable detailing and preparation of instructions that drive the New Tech Framing machine. Read more

AEC: Tekla Structures v13
Tekla's new version of BIM software promises to be easier for new users to learn. Read more

AEC: PipePak v10
ALGOR's updated piping design and analysis software includes bidirectional associativity between its spreadsheet and graphical display window. Read more

MCAD: Teamcenter for MRO
UGS updates software suite to provide insight regarding maintenance operations, resources and materials in product development process. Read more

MCAD: Tecnomatix v8
Digital manufacturing solution from UGS is designed to improve manufacturing predictability and PLM integration. Read more

CAD/CAM/CAE packages from PTC provide customers with flexibility to support their product development needs. Read more

MCAD: Arbortext IsoDraw v7
Upgrade from PTC is designed to improve technical publishing process with 3D interactive illustrations and animations. Read more

MCAD: Rhino v4
Updated version of NURBS modeling software from Robert McNeel Associates adds ten technologies, more than 500 features. Read more

Digital product development software upgrade from UGS is designed to maximize reuse of legacy data. Read more

Zuken and CIM-Team launch solution for electrical control system design and documentation. Read more

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Mark Your Calendar

Avatech's Autodesk 2008 Rollout Events
Various May Dates
Various U.S. Cities
Visionary products from Autodesk allow professionals to explore ideas and experience designs virtually before construction or manufacturing begins. Avatech Solutions' experts will take attendees on a tour through the latest features that will affect the way they work and open up a world of innovation. Events are offered for architects, building design professionals, mechanical engineers, manufacturing design professionals and civil and survey engineers. Read more

Rhino User Meeting for Architects
May 31, 2007
Delft, Netherlands
With the theme of Freeform Future for Contemporary Architecture, Dutch Rhino Resellers, in cooperation with the industry, will host a Rhino for Architects User meeting. The meeting will focus on experiences of users and the transfer of knowledge. Attendees will be able to share their experiences and spend time with other Rhino users. Read more

ESRI Survey & Engineering GIS Summit
June 16-19, 2007
San Diego Convention Center
San Diego, California
At the ESRI Survey & Engineering GIS Summit, more than 400 surveyors, engineers and GIS professionals will gather to discover the latest developments in spatial technology and unearth new possibilities. Read more

2nd International Conference on Rapid Manufacturing
July 11 – 12, 2007
Loughborough, United Kingdom
Hosted by the Rapid Manufacturing Research Group at Loughborough University, the two-day conference will feature a state-of-the-art mixture of world-leading industrial applications and cutting-edge academic research currently being undertaken in the field of Rapid Manufacturing. Read more

Click here to view the complete calendar of events at