Tips & Tools Weekly (Vol. 12, No. 38)

21 Oct, 2007

This Week's Software Tips

Add Layers to Purged Drawings
Reader Stacey Harter offers this way to quickly add layers to a drawing that has been purged. Harter explains, "Create a drawing with all of your standard layers, dim styles, text styles, and the like. This can easily be done if you have a template set up. Don't draw anything in the file. Name the drawing file LAYERS or something similar. When you want to add the layers into a drawing that you have already purged, simply insert the LAYERS file as a block. When it prompts you to select an insertion point, press the ESC key. All of your layers, dim styles, text styles, etc., will now be in your drawing."

NOTES FROM CADALYST TIP PATROL: Great tip! If you only need specific features, such as a single layer or text style, consider using Design Center, AutoCAD's version of Windows Explorer. This way, you can scan the drawings for the particular feature in question, load it, and insert it instead of the entire set.

Easy Insertion Scale
This tip for comes from Leonid Nemirovsky. "In AutoCAD 2006 and up, if you correctly set the insertion scale for blocks and xrefs, AutoCAD recalculates scale factors for you. For example, if you need to insert a block or xref containing measurements in meters, but the drawing units are in feet, just type Units and set the insertion to meters, and so on.

This process is even faster if you set up a button for it on a desktop toolbar or palette. You can create as many as 20 different settings." Below is Len's sample code for the buttons:

^C^CINSUNITS;0; that will set insertion scale to NO UNITS
^C^CINSUNITS;1; that will set insertion scale to INCHES
^C^CINSUNITS;2; that will set insertion scale to FEET
^C^CINSUNITS;6; that will set insertion scale to METERS

NOTES FROM CADALYST TIP PATROL: This is a very good idea for users and workplaces that frequently deal with blocks and xrefs of differing measurement units. You could also apply this tip using shortcut keys or even "ye olde" AutoCAD command scripts.

Ever mindful of good drafting practices, the Tip Patrol adds a related note: The basepoint of each xref should be 0,0 -- especially if the discipline is civil engineering. If the scale is off, then resizing will be easier to execute by using the common basepoint as the reference point. Also, rotation of the xref can use the same reference point. The same goes for blocks; expect that the basepoint isn't necessarily 0,0. As always, we invite other views on this issue.

Centralized Sheet Sets
Leonid Nemirovsky also writes, "It's a good idea to keep sheet sets in the folder in the current directory with the drawings, or somewhere on the network, so they are easily accessible to all users. Also consider adding all Page Setups for full- and half-size plotting on main and alternative plotters to project DWT files.

"After your sheet set is created, right-click on the sheet set name and select Properties. In the dialog box under Page Setup Override File, browse to where your DWT project file is stored and add that file. Also, at that point, select Sheet Storage Location to be sure that it is where you want it."

NOTES FROM CADALYST TIP PATROL: Good idea. Because sheet sets are a relatively new feature of AutoCAD (first introduced in AutoCAD 2005), this procedure should be considered for addition in your company's CAD standards. Sheet sets often contain drawings in different folders scattered all over a company's server. Therefore, a set standard should be established for proper placement of sheet set files. As in all standards, structure and organization of the server is the key to efficiency and reduced downtime searching for files.

A twist on this idea, some firms create a single standard DWT with all the preferred Page Setups, located in a single, commonly accessible server location, and routinely import it as needed.

Follow-Up: Keep Files Clean
Michael Cipolla
modified his original Keep Files Clean tip from the September 24 edition to help user Anatoly Ostretsov, who needed the routine to work with Architectural Desktop 3.0. This new code was not tested by the Tip Patrol, but Anatoly road-tested and approved it. The new version should work with other older AutoCAD versions as well, including AutoCAD 2000 and 2002.

With this routine, you can purge and delete layer filters all at once. Anatoly and Cadalyst send special thanks to Michael for his generous assistance.

(defun C:CD ()
(setvar "CMDECHO" 0)
(command "LAYER" "T" "0" "ON" "0" "S" "0" "")
(command "PURGE" "B" "*" "N")
(command "PURGE" "LA" "*" "N")
(command "PURGE" "P" "*" "N")
(command "PURGE" "SH" "*" "N")
(command "PURGE" "ST" "*" "N")
(command "PURGE" "M" "*" "N")
;;; Purge/delete all layer filter or filters compatible 2004 or earlier
'(lambda ()
;;; Purge/delete all layer filter or filters compatible with 2005 or later
'(lambda ()
(princ "\nAll layer filters deleted!")
(command "ZOOM" "E")
(command "QSAVE")
(command "CLOSE")
(setvar "CMDECHO" 1)

MicroStation Tip: Compress Multiple Design Files in v7
To compress multiple design files without opening every one, go to the MicroStation Manager, select a folder of files, and go to Directory / Compress.

Axiom offers many MicroStation Tips on its Web site.

Submit 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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Deals & Freebies

Zuken Offers Simulation Kit for Xilinx Virtex-5 FPGA

Zuken announced the availability of a simulation design kit (free for CR-5000 Lightning users) for the latest Virtex-5 FPGA from Xilinx. The kit delivers signal integrity for 65-nm Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA) designs. The simulation kit is for use with Zuken's CR-5000 Lightning design solution and features topology templates, in-context HTML documentation, and content for simulation of waveforms and eye patterns.

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Opportunities & Honors

Acrobat User Community Launches 3D PDF Contest
The Adobe Acrobat User Community is hosting its first 3D PDF Contest in an effort to develop a library of 3D PDFs that demonstrate the capabilities of Adobe Acrobat 3D. MCAD and computer-aided engineering (CAE) developers, AEC designers, industrial designers, 3D modelers, and CAD technical publishers can enter the contest by sharing existing 3D PDF files, using the free trial version of Acrobat 3D. Entries will be accepted through January 31, 2008.

SolidWorks Launches Spiderweb Contest is hosting a Spiderweb Contest to challenge SolidWorks users to create seasonal, fun, and interesting patterns using the SolidWorks Vent command. Entries will be judged by visitors to the SolidWorks Spiderweb Contest site. The first-place winner of the contest will receive the book Customizing SolidWorks for Greater Productivity. Entries must be received by October 31.

SME Names 2007 College Fellows
The Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME) recently elected nine industry leaders to its College of Fellows. This new class joins approximately 250 other SME members who have been elected as fellows since the program's inception in 1986. The 2007 fellows will be installed on November 12 during the 2007 SME Fall Meeting in Chicago.

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Books & Training

Updated Training Courses for AutoCAD and Inventor
i get it has announced the release of six 2008 Update and Essentials courses for its AutoCAD and Inventor software training programs. The AutoCAD Training Bundle consists of 25 training courses and 15 standard assessments to help users become more proficient with AutoCAD. The bundle price is still $95.

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The Week's New CAD and Related Products

General Software: Camtasia Studio 5
TechSmith's software for creating and distributing screencasts features integration with and blog and FTP preset outputs. Read more

General Software: Bluebeam Conversion Server v3
File-conversion technology offers new management and reporting tools to simplify software configuration, augment administrative control, and provide Web-based status reports. Read more

Visualization: Genetica Texture Pack 4
Spiral Graphics adds 150+ seamless textures for 3D artists, including textures in resolution-independent procedural form (GTX) as well as prerendered JPEGs. Read more

MCAD: Point Cloud 1.0
SYCODE reverse-engineering software uses OpenNURBS 3DM file format to store point, surface, and mesh data and supports various CAD packages. Read more

Software for interactive 3D optical modeling supports AutoCAD v14 to 2007 and all versions of Mechanical Desktop. Read more

MCAD: CAD Fusion Plugins
Phoenix Integration series integrates PHX ModelCenter software with CAD/CAE applications to realize a common, collaborative design environment for conceptual and preliminary design. Read more

CAD Schroer releases legacy data management and drafting package for the creation of 2D concepts, layouts, and tender designs and 2D adaptations of Pro/DETAIL sheets within Pro/ENGINEER. Read more

MCAD: EnSuite v2
Multi-CAD data-translation tool from CCE supports CATIA v4 and v5, Unigraphics, Pro/ENGINEER, SolidWorks, Parasolid, IGES, and STEP files. Read more

MCAD: ESPRIT 2008 with Service Pack 1
DP Technology product maps CAD features and associated properties from SolidWorks, Solid Edge, and Pro/ENGINEER into machinable features. Read more

MCAD: SAT Import Plugin for Rhino
SYCODE plugin imports 3D solid models into Rhino v3 or 4 from ACIS SAT files through v10. Read more

Training: CADWorx Plant Professional
COADE's self-paced video course covers 3D plant modeling; piping, equipment, and steelwork modeling; component placement; and more. Read more

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Mark Your Calendar

November 1, 2007
Portland, Oregon
This Autodesk User Group International (AUGI) regional learning and networking event will be packed with interesting courses and opportunities to network with fellow "campers" and browse the exhibit area. The foremost goal of AUGI CAD Camp is to enlighten and inform through educational sessions, which serve to broaden users' experience with the Autodesk products they use every day. Read more

Using Green Building Studio for Whole Building Energy Analysis
November 9, 2007
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
At this Sustainable Design Lecture Series event, Peter Gehring, director of building solutions at Synergis, will discuss how attendees can use a Web-based energy engineering analysis solution that integrates with today's 3D-CAD/BIM applications. The conversation will focus on a building information model from Revit Architecture.
Read more

Autodesk University
November 27-30, 2007
Las Vegas, Nevada
Autodesk University is a multilevel experience in training and networking, which over four days offers a choice of more than 500 classes including advanced classes, hands-on labs, business-management solutions and strategies, and more. Also featured is an exhibit hall showing cutting-edge tools and services; briefings on key business trends, product futures, and company direction; and social events. 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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