Tips & Tools Weekly (Vol. 12, No. 32)

9 Sep, 2007

Note to Readers: In this week's edition of Tips & Tools Weekly, we introduce
some small changes to the newsletter format. Content is the same as always,
but we're presenting it in an order we hope will better serve
the needs of readers. Let us know what you think.

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This Week's Software Tips

Get the Code!
Cadalyst 's September code from Hot Tip Harry is available for download. This month's top tip is Connect the Blocks by Paul Martinez, a routine that automates the drawing process for irrigation plans and other applications by drawing lines between the insert points of selected blocks.

Super-Fast Batch DWG File Migration
Reader Angus Lee wonders if anyone else gets frustrated when migrating numerous DWG drawing files that are organized in various folders and subfolders. Here's his tip that can help you with this tedious job.

"The most time-consuming part is selecting files. In the Desktop File Migration Utility dialog box (included with Autodesk Mechanical Desktop 2007), you are prompted to add the drawing files required for migration. Let's say you have 3,000 files, and these files are saved (organized) in 800 folders and subfolders. It would be very time-consuming and tedious to add the drawing files one by one, because you'd have to search through all the folders and subfolders, select the drawing files, and then add them to the migration list." Luckily, he says, there is a workaround in which you take advantage of the Windows Search, Cut and Paste, and Undo functions:

  1. First, back up all the drawings you want to migrate by copying them to a new folder.
  2. Create a redundant folder called TEMP or any name you want.
  3. Locate the top folder where your drawing files are saved. Use the Windows Search function to filter out a list of all the drawing files required for migration by typing *.dwg in the Search Results dialog box.
  4. Move all the drawing files that are filtered out to the redundant TEMP folder by using the Windows Cut and Paste functions.
  5. Start the Autodesk Mechanical Desktop File Migration Utility. The Desktop File Migration Utility dialog box appears.
  6. In the File Selection process, click the Add button, browse to the redundant TEMP folder, select all the drawing files and add them to the migration list.
  7. Follow the rest of the prompts in the Desktop File Migration Utility dialog box.
  8. Once you have finished the File Migration process, go back to the Search Results dialog box. Click the Edit file menu and select Undo Move. All the drawing files that are filtered out move back to the original locations.
  9. Now that all the drawing files are migrated and in their original locations, you can delete the redundant TEMP folder.

A word of caution: This workaround works as long as all the drawing file names are unique. If there are duplicate file names, a Confirm File Replace dialog box appears asking you whether you want to replace the existing file in Step 4 above. In this case, click No and continue the process. Make note of the location of the file(s) that you didn't move. You will have to manually migrate those files.

This workaround also works for DWG TrueConvert (included in DWG TrueView from Autodesk). Just use the same procedure as above to add the drawing files to the conversion list.

NOTES FROM CADALYST TIP PATROL: Our expert Mechanical Desktop Patroller lets us know that this is a very helpful, great tip. Thanks, Angus!

No More Stiff Neck
Like many of us, after years of working on the computer, John J. Damman must wear bifocals. During the years, he's found that he must place all AutoCAD toolbars at the bottom of the screen or he ends up with a stiff neck from looking up all the time. He explains, "I discovered that the Properties dialog box, the Command line, and the Dashboard can float on the screen out of the way until I need them. The Dashboard has seven control panels on it that I can turn on and off at will. I leave the 2D Draw control panel on at all times. This alleviates the need for a toolbar taking up valuable space on the screen. The Command line is reduced to a small rectangle in size. I can always use the F3 button to enlarge the commands if I need them. There is also a transparency setting available for the Command line and the Dashboard if that would be helpful."

NOTES FROM CADALYST TIP PATROL: Good tip! Note that all palette-based items can float as described here.

Delete Layers
Frequent tipster Leonid Nemirovsky (visit his AutoLISP Web site) writes, "To delete layers, you usually use the Laydel command. This works great in general, but you must select the objects or type the name of the layer to be deleted. The problem comes when you can't see the objects or you need to get rid of more than one layer. When you have 5-10 layers like this, typing becomes time consuming. To solve this issue, draw a line on each of the layers, make that layer current, and then run the Laydel command and pick those lines."


Mtext Combo
A second tip from Leonid Nemirovsky involves combining mtext in AutoCAD. Len explains, "If you need to combine a couple of pieces (or more) of single-line mtext, first explode each one using the Explode command. Then use the Express tools command Txt2mtxt to combine the single-line texts into one mtext."

Another option is use his small routine to combine different segments of mtext into one:

(defun c:mmt (/ first delete second delete1 mtx1 mtx2 mtx ed) (prompt
"\nTo merge two MTEXT entities") (setq first (entget
(car(entsel"\nSelect first MTEXT entity: "))))
  (if (= first nil)(exit))
(setq delete1(cdr(assoc -1 first)))
(redraw delete1 3)
(setq second (entget (car(entsel"\nSelect second MTEXT entity: "))))
  (if (= second nil)(exit))
(setq delete (cdr(assoc -1 second)))
(redraw delete 3)
(setq mtx1 (cdr (assoc 1 first)))
(setq mtx2 (cdr (assoc 1 second)))
(setq mtx (strcat mtx1 "\\P" mtx2))
(command "erase" delete delete1 "")
(setq ed first)
    (setq ed
      (subst (cons 1 mtx)
      (assoc 1 ed)
(entmake ed)

NOTES FROM CADALYST TIP PATROL: "The LISP routine works as advertised. It would even be better if you could combine an unlimited number of mtext entities."

Our patroller adds, "Another way to combine two mtext entities is to edit the string you want to delete. While in the editor, press Ctrl+A to select all the text, then Ctrl+C to copy to the clipboard. Exit the Edit mode, then edit the other mtext entity, move your cursor to the end and press Ctrl+V to paste in the copied text. Finally, erase the first mtext entity."

MicroStation Tip: Align Tool in MicroStation
Let's say you've got a bunch of text elements that need to be left aligned because they were placed without regard for alignment and look rather sloppy. To fix this, use the Align Edges tool and have it done in no time flat. This tool works on any element type and makes it quick and easy to align elements to others along the top, bottom, left, right or center points of the element. Link here for detailed instructions.

Axiom offers many MicroStation Tips on its Web site.

Send in Those Tips!
The pace of life slows in the summer -- so they say -- and the same seems to be true for tips! Tips & Tools Weekly could use a few good tips for our readers who are hard at work this time of year. Send us your favorite tip, code, or shortcut you've devised to help you save time and/or do your job better. We welcome tips related to all CAD software systems. If we publish your tip, you'll receive a Cadalyst T-shirt, and one contributor will be selected randomly to receive a monthly $100 prize.

Submit Your Tip:E-mail 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 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.

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'sHot Tip Harry-Help discussion forum.

Sincere thanks to our volunteer Tip Patrol members: Brian Benton, Don Boyer,
Mitchell Hirschklau, R.K. McSwain, Kevin Sawyer, Ivanhoe Tejeda, and Billy Wooten.

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Opportunities & Honors

House of the Year Designed Using ArchiCAD
World Architecture News honors Polish architect Robert Konieczny for home modeled with Graphisoft's 3D software.  Read more

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The Week's New CAD and Related Products

Hardware: Planar PX Monitors
Three new wide-screen monitors display two full pages side by side, reportedly provide up to 82% more screen space than standard 4:3 19" displays.  Read more

Hardware: Roland SOLJET PRO III Wide-Format Printers
New 74", 64", and 54" devices feature enhanced print speeds and photorealistic 1440 x 1440 dpi image quality for six-color digital printing.  Read more

Hardware: BOWE BELL + HOWELL Wide-Format Scanner

Infinity WF 36 scans at rated speeds up to 8.5 ips (color) at 300 dpi and up to 1.6 ips (bitonal) at 400 dpi and features SharpShooter Trilinear CCD cameras.  Read more

Hardware: IDEAL SFP353 Scanner Stand
Adjustable SFP353 model allows Contex large-format scanners to piggyback over large-format printers, transforming the scanners and printers into a single solution for scan-to-print and quick-copy applications.  Read more

General Software: VxScan v1.3
New version of Creaform's 3D data-acquisition software features enhanced memory-management algorithms and compatibility with Windows Vista 32-bit OS. Read more

General Software: Tentacles
Flash-based 3D Turbo Squid application plugin features free online storage and secure, shareable workspaces. Read more

AEC: 4M-IntelliCAD 6.4 for Building Design
Latest version supports DWG 2008 compatibility and is available in four versions: Viewer, Classic, Standard, and Professional.  Read more 

AEC: Bentley AutoPIPE XM
Software for calculating piping code stresses, loads, and deflections under static and dynamic loading conditions features improved productivity and increased interoperability with other CAD and analysis products.  Read more

Version 8.9.3 from Bentley adds support for AutoCAD 2007 and AutoCAD 2008 and maintains support for legacy versions of AutoCAD. Read more

New version features enhancements for designing equipment, piping, ducting, structural steel, and includes new capabilities for catalog and specification management.  Read more

MCAD: D-Cubed and PGM 2D Component Software
New releases of D-Cubed 2D DCM and PGM from UGS PLM Software feature improved interaction with one another and support 32- and 64-bit versions of Windows Vista.  Read more

MCAD: SolidWorks Education 2007-2008
Latest version of 3D CAD software for students includes links to a new 3D CAD curriculum portal and embedded student guides.  Read more

MCAD: Solid Edge v20
UGS PLM Software's English version currently available; nine additional language versions to be released in the coming 10 weeks. Read more

CAE: Theorem CADverters for IsoDraw
Data translators feature improved interfacing with CATIA and NX, as well as Theorem's Data eXchange Navigator (DXN) module.  Read more

CAE: CFdesign v9 for CATIA V5 R17
Blue Ridge Numerics reports that geometry changes in CATIA are automatically reflected in its Cfdesign software without any translation or conversion requirements. Read more

CAE: HyperCrash/CATIA
Altair crash analysis solution integrates with CATIA, adding associativity between geometry and the crash model. Read more

Training: Virtual Tutor 11
Design Animation release offers more than 10 hours of instruction on the functionality of ArchiCAD 11 for both new and intermediate users. Read more

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Mark Your Calendar

Webcast: The Future of PLM: Decision Support Across the Value Chain
September 13, 2007
11 a.m. PDT
In this Webcast, AMR Research and Right Hemisphere will discuss recent findings on how new technologies in visual communication and collaboration are enabling transformational efficiencies in NPDL business processes. Read more

Test Drives: Autodesk Inventor, AutoCAD Electrical
September 14, 2007
Various times
Various U.S. locations
Technology consulting firm Avatech Solutions invites mechanical and electrical engineers to test drive the latest Autodesk software in a series of free, hands-on training regarding some of the important features in Autodesk Inventor and AutoCAD Electrical, highlighting the updates in the new releases. Read more

FIATECH BIM & ISO 15926 Harmonization Workshop
September 17, 2007
Minneapolis, Minnesota
Much progress is being achieved in the use of BIM and IFCs in major building projects and in the use of ISO 15926 in process plant projects. Despite the overlap in scope, the two standards are being developed largely in isolation. This workshop aims to initiate dialog between the experts of these two standards along with companies that plan to use both, and software vendors. Read more

FIATECH ADI Training workshop
September 20, 2007
Minneapolis, Minnesota
This training will teach attendees how to map their legacy's system data to the ISO 15926 standard data exchange model using the mapping tools developed in the FIATECH Accelerating Deployment of ISO 15926 (ADI) project. Read more

Webinar: Subdivision Visualization
September 25, 2007
11 a.m. ET
Free, 45-minute Webinar is presented by RDV systems for the civil and land planning community. It will address visualization techniques for working with finished ground triangles, incorporating 3D houses, fences, driveways, and vegetation. The presentation will aim to provide knowledge, expertise and suitable tools for civil engineers to employ visualization as a cost-effective solution throughout the project design process. Read more

Micro and Nano Systems Conference
October 1-4, 2007
Lancaster, UK
This series of events will showcase the technical advances in the field of Micro and Nano Systems Engineering through the European Network of Excellence in Design for Micro & Nano Manufacture and related programs. The event will also address technology access, services, and opportunities in the field for small and medium-sized industries and provide larger, user companies with a forum to assess advances in the field and opportunities for uptake. Read more

MSC Software Corporation's 2007 Americas VPD Conference
October 11-12, 2007
Detroit, Michigan
Gaining Competitive Advantage through Engineering Productivity is the theme of this virtual product development (VPD) conference, dedicated to providing attendees with the latest information on the strategies and technologies they can use immediately to enhance concept development, design, simulation, testing, manufacturing, and business performance. Read more

For a complete list of CAD meetings, conferences, training sessions, and more, check out our calendar of events on

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What's New at

Take the Poll: Why Do You Visit
The latest Cadalyst Quick Poll is live online. This month, tell us the number-one reason you visit Just go to any page of and scroll down to find the Quick Poll in the margin, then read "Cadfidential" in the October edition of Cadalyst magazine to see the results.

Cadalyst September Content Now Live Online
A fresh batch of Cadalyst Labs reviews, CAD Central news, Cadalyst exclusive columns, and much more -- all from the latest edition of Cadalyst magazine -- is ready to view on

Cadalyst 's Exclusive CAD Tutorials for September Now Live Online
The latest editions of all your favorite AutoCAD tutorials, including Steve Johnson's "Bug Watch," Lynn Allen's "Circles and Lines," and Bill Fane's "Learning Curve" are now available on And check our online archives for the latest editions of exclusive tutorials for ArchiCAD, Revit, MicroStation, Solid Works, Inventor, Solid Edge, Alibre Design.

Cadalyst Labs Review: Living Large -- LCDs Deliver the Big Picture
LCD monitors continue to improve in performance and quality. Cadalyst Labs reviewer Ron LaFon delivers his annual round-up of the latest models, including some of the best from Dell, Eizo Nanao Technologies, Hewlett-Packard, LaCie USA , NEC Display Solutions, and ViewSonic.  Read more

Expert Advice: AutoCAD Customization
Cadalyst 's Hot Tip Harry has his own e-newsletter, Harry's Code Class: Tips for Programmers. In each monthly edition, author Bill Kramer offers expert advice for customizing AutoCAD using Visual LISP, VBA, or Object ARX programming. The August edition, now live on, outlines how to use VBA to automatically create a table in AutoCAD. Check out Harry's Code Class and become a subscriber today -- it's free!

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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