Tips & Tools Weekly (Vol. 12, No. 23)

24 Jun, 2007

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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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SIGGRAPH Announces Interactive Technology Studio
Creativity will be emphasized at the 34th annual SIGGRAPH International Conference and Exhibition, where the interactive Guerilla Studio will be open for attendees to collaborate on imaginative concepts in 2D, 3D, 4D, and n-dimensional media. Read more Offers New CAD Features has announced the availability of new CAD features on its Web site. A new CAD Models Tab has been added to make it easier for users to search for the CAD drawings they need. Additionally, the existence of CAD Models is highlighted in the search results from the CAD Models Tab. Read more

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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 t-shirt, and each month Cadalyst editors will randomly select one published tip and award 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 any tip or code, you grant Cadalyst the right to print and distribute that tip or 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.

Congratulations May Winner!
Cadalyst awarded the $100 prize for May to Jim Olszewski, who submitted the Spline to LWPolyline tip published in the May 14 edition. Olszewski was selected in a random drawing of all authors whose original tips were published in Tips & Tools Weekly last month. Send us your original tip now for a chance to win!

Using a Template File
Reader S. Ramakrishna reminds users that a template file is very useful when creating a mass production of drawings in a project: "You don't need to recreate drafting standards, layers, styles, and the like in all your drawings. Make one template file and use it.

"To begin, create a new drawing with all the required standards in the project, such as draft setting, layers, colors, linetypes; include dimension styles, text styles, text size, and so on; create a border if needed. Now the file is ready to save as template. Enter Saveas at the Command prompt, and name it something easy to remember. Then, select Save as type: / AutoCAD Drawing Template File (*.DWT). The Save in folder automatically shows the Template directory. You can also select this folder as a file-saving location, which is now below the Program Files / ACAD. Now your template file is ready to use. Whenever you want to create a new drawing in the project, just select the template file."

NOTES FROM CADALYST TIP PATROL: One of our faithful Patrollers agrees that you can have template files for each project, but he reiterates that you must maintain strict control according to company standards. He continues, "Alternatively, have a single template file for each discipline in your company, such as structural, civil, etc., that contains the company standards. Then use this template to create a new drawing on a project and bring in the desired drawing sheet size and fill in some of the typical information in the title block. This can then be 'saved as' for your subsequent files. While you may have a DWT (template) file, it's also worth having a DWG file with the same settings. This can be inserted into existing drawings; you can't insert a template file as a block."

A second Patroller agrees that this is a great reminder. He shares, "I use a template file for clients (if they provide the necessary information). It's amazing how many companies don't have a template file that they can hand to companies. We often have to do one for them, and by doing so, run the risk of errors. After you create the DWT file, you should also create the DST file, which checks for deviations from the standard."

Add Commands Panel
The following tip comes from Leonid Nemirovsky (visit his AutoLISP Web site):
"To add your own panel with your favorite commands and custom commands in AutoCAD 2008's CUI, click on the Customize tab, choose Dashboard Panels, then right-click on it again and select New Panel. Rename it. From the command list, drag the desired commands onto the panel. Commands can be standard or your own (including LISP code). It's as simple as that."

NOTES FROM CADALYST TIP PATROL: "The Dashboard seems to be the natural progression of the palettes. I see a day when only the dashboard is required, and tool palettes will go the same way as the screen menu."

Use Sheet Sets to Navigate
Also from Nemirovsky is this tip for an easy way to navigate to open drawings using sheet sets. "We always have sheet sets created for each project for all kinds of different things, including opening drawings. It's easy to see if someone is already working in the drawings because sheet set displays a little lock next to open drawings."

NOTES FROM CADALYST TIP PATROL: "Sheet sets are an underutilized aspect of AutoCAD."

Create Tool Palettes Easily
Nemirovsky gives us one more tip to quickly create tool palettes in AutoCAD 2007 and 2008 for commonly used blocks. "In Design Center, open drawings and blocks you want on the palette, while holding down the Ctrl key. Highlight the needed blocks, right-click, and in the popup menu select Create Tool Palette. Name it and you are done."

NOTES FROM CADALYST TIP PATROL: "This is good for not-too-complicated blocks, as the resolution on macro buttons is not good."

Follow-Up: Text Styles
In the June 11 edition, Doug Kochel wrote a bit of code to add to ACADDOC.LSP so you could see which text style you were about to use for mtext. An issue that the Patrol brought up is that it only works at start-up. James Carr upgraded this code and says, "If you place this in front of the command in the toolbar, it will always read correctly, not just at start-up."

^C^C(setvar "MTJIGSTRING") (getvar "textstyle")) _mtext

MicroStation Tip: Creating a Dimension with No Dimension Lines in V8
How do I create a dimension line with no dimension lines?

Answer: Although this is not directly possible, there are ways to achieve this effect. One possibility is to make your dimension line the same color as the background. Alternatively, you can use the Label Line tool and have it display the distance that would provide you with the dimension without the dimension line.

Axiom offers many MicroStation tips on its Web site.

Tips & Tools Weekly software tips for AutoCAD are reviewed by Cadalyst staff and the Tip Patrol before publication. Use all tips at your own discretion, please, and watch later editions of this newsletter for updates and corrections. We're sorry, but editors and Tip Patrol members cannot provide assistance with technical problems; please refer to Cadalyst's Hot Tip Harry-Help discussion forum.

Sincere thanks to our volunteer 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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Books & Training

CATIA for Designers Textbook
CADCIM Technologies released CATIA V5R17 for Designers, a textbook by Sham Tickoo, a professor at Purdue University Calumet. The CATIA V5R17 textbook consists of 15 pedagogically organized chapters that cover the main modules of CATIA V5R17 and are built upon real-world projects. Read more

Online Course Series: Revit 201
Ideate, an Autodesk Value-Added Reseller in Northern California, is presenting a new series of 90-minute, live, online courses designed to help Revit users maximize the power of BIM technology. Each interactive class targets a specific Revit topic. Course topics reportedly address all Revit disciplines, and one class is presented every Tuesday from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. PT. Through August 30, participants who register for the six-class bundle ($795) will receive three free classes, for a total of nine. Corporate rates are also available.

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The Week's New CAD and Related Products

Hardware: SATA Drives
NextComputing's portable flextop computer models offer enhanced data throughput rates and storage. Read more

Hardware: Break-Resistant Reflectors
Leica Geosystems' accessory provides alternative to traditional glass corner cubes.
Read more

General Software: VPindex v3
Digital archiving software from Softelec can index scanned drawings or 2D CAD files. Read more

General Software: RockAUTO v17.1
Rock CAD Support releases LISP tool that now supports AutoCAD 2008. Read more

General Software: AfterCAD RealWorld Beta
Server-side 3D publishing suite from AfterCAD Software requires only a Web browser. Read more

Visualization: trueSpace v7.5 Service Pack 1
New release from Caligari now supports COLLADA and BVH. Read more

Visualization: Vue 6 xStream for SOFTIMAGE|XSI
E-on Software's 3D visualization solution for rendering natural scenes now supports XSI. Read more

Visualization: PlanVu Landscape Volume 1 and Mini Paks
Entourage Arts' collection of nonphotorealistic marker and ink plan view drawings repeated in four color palettes for a total of 458 images. Read more

MCAD: Rhino Plug-Ins
SYCODE launches five new plug-ins to support Rhino v4. Read more

MCAD: SolidWorks 2008
SolidWorks delivers new version that includes improved user interface and more than 250 other user-requested enhancements. Read more

CAE: Automation Studio
Updated product from Famic Technologies aids system design, simulation, and documentation of hydraulic, mobile hydraulic, pneumatic, and electrotechnical projects. Read more

CAE: SimEnterprise v2
Enhancements to MSC.Software's SimDesigner, SimXpert, and SimManager are designed to optimize engineering productivity and increase collaboration globally.
Read more

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Mark Your Calendar

Webinars: 10 Project Pain Points -- and How to Relieve Them
July 10 – September 20, 2007
11 a.m. and 3 p.m. EDT
Software company Newforma is presenting its summer webinar series, “10 Project Pain Points -- and How to Relieve Them.” These webinars discuss solutions to the top ten pain points of today’s practicing engineers and architects. The series will run twice each month through September. Read more

MicroStation PowerDay
July 23, 2007
London, United Kingdom
Evolve, a CAD consultancy and training firm, is offering CAD training called PowerDay, a series of short, focused training sessions on the most important areas of CAD. This PowerDay will offer sessions on many aspects of MicroStation; participants sign up and pay for only the sessions they wish to attend. Read more

AutoCAD PowerDay
July 24, 2007
London, United Kingdom
AutoCAD PowerDay, presented by Evolve, will offer sessions on many aspects of AutoCAD; participants sign up and pay for only the sessions they wish to attend. The sessions are designed for all user levels. Read more

ISEIT 2007 Americas
October 22-23, 2007
San Antonio, Texas
The International Symposium for Engineering IT (ISEIT) 2007 Americas will provide an opportunity to participate in a networking forum with leading technical consultants and advisers on plant and marine technology. Interactive presentations on the new AVEVA PDMS 12 and on AVEVA NET will demonstrate these progressive and innovative technologies. ISEIT Americas is colocated with Viewpoint, the AVEVA Americas independent users' group. Read more

Click here to view the complete calendar of events at

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