Tips & Tools Weekly (Vol. 12, No. 43)

2 Dec, 2007

This Week's Software Tips

Find a Command
In AutoCAD 2008, Ralph Harrison writes, "If you can't remember a typed-in command, enter the first letter (or as much of the command name as you can remember), then use the Tab key to cycle through all the AutoCAD commands that begin with the characters you entered. Once you find the command you want, press Enter to activate."

NOTES FROM CADALYST TIP PATROL: Great tip, Ralph. This also works in AutoCAD 2008 verticals. For users of older releases, open the Help menu. (Enter ? on the Command line, select Help from the menu, or press the F1 key). Next, select the Index tab to bring up a blank field. Activate it and start typing the command or the description of a command, one letter at a time. The window below displays commands and functions in alphabetical order. What you type acts like a search filter. It may not give you the proper command entry, but you'll find the subject that can lead you to the command.

Faster Map Loading
Brett Du Chateau
offers this tip for AutoCAD mappers: "If you do any kind of map or parcel work and you use aerial images, you probably have images either loaded in your drawing or attached to an image within an xref that is loaded. Many times you may use these drawings and not need to view the images. When this is the case, there's no need to sit and wait for large images to load into the drawing! Time for some time management!

"I use a lot of aerial images that come from the local county office that are 40-acre squares at a 6" resolution. As you know, these files sizes are quite large. Whether you're loading one or eight of these images, you'll want to try this tip.

"It doesn't matter if the image is loaded in your drawing or attached in an xref. After you insert your image(s) you are referencing, use the Image command, unload the image, and save your working drawing or xref drawing. Now, the next time you or a coworker opens the drawing, it should take the typical amount of time to open because the images don't load. When you need to see the images in the drawing or xref, all you have to do is go to Image and Reload the images. You may have to perform a Regen or Regenall for the images to display. Another good idea would be to place the images on their own layers. While working, and when you don't need the images to display, simply turn off the layer or xrefed layer.

"If you have multiple images loaded and the drawings or sheets are complex, you may want to note which images to load in your drawings or on each sheet. Often you may have different images displayed for different areas or for plotting different sheets.

"Here's another time saver when dealing with large images: If you have a large, high-resolution image, you can make a copy of the image and edit the resolution by 50%, for example. This cuts the file size down significantly and reduces the time you must wait for the image to load. Both images can be attached in your drawing. Load the reduced resolution image for viewing reference and load the higher resolution for printing."

NOTES FROM CADALYST TIP PATROL: Good tip! When unloading the image, make sure the Imageframe setting is set to 1 or 2. A setting of 0 turns off the frame, 1 turns it on and allows it to print, and 2 makes the image frame visible in the CAD file, but it won't print. This way, anyone who opens the file will know something is there; they just can't see the image.

Revise All Attribute Blocks
John Frank
reminds us that you can quickly revise all the attributes of a block using AutoCAD's Gatte (Global Attribute Edit) command. If you have several layout tabs with an attributed title block, for example, you can revise the project title on all sheet tabs at once using this command.

NOTES FROM CADALYST TIP PATROL: That's right! Many users are unaware of this command. Enter the command and select the block. If there is more than one attribute in the block, you have to select the correct one. The Command line displays a list of the possible attributes to edit. After selecting one, type in the new value for the attribute. Another option you have is to change all instances of the block in the drawing (pick Yes), or to change only certain blocks (pick No, then select the ones you want to change).

MicroStation Tip: Deleting a User-Defined Tool
Have you ever tried to create a custom tool and a custom toolbox using Workspace / Customize? If so, you probably noticed that each edition was saved as a different tool. This is because the dialog box lets you modify a toolbox or frame but not a user-defined tool. There is no way to delete these via the Customize utility. It's possible to remove the unwanted resources programmatically through MDL, but you must know the resource IDS of the tools you want to remove.

The resources are stored in your user interface directory, by default at Bentley / Workspace / Interfaces / MicroStation. All your custom tools are probably stored in a single file, USTN.M01. To delete the tools, you must use MDL to search for the tools and remove them from the resource file.

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

Map 3D Import Formats

Safe Software is offering FME FDO Provider for AutoCAD Map 3D 2008 free to those who register. The software enables access to nine popular import formats from directly within the application's Data Connect dialog box. FME FDO Provider allows users to connect to key spatial data formats, including ESRI ArcInfo Export (E00), Geography Markup Language (GML), and MapInfo TAB/MIF/MID.

Noran Engineering Offers Year-End Promotion on FEA Software
Noran Engineering announced a special end-of-year promotion on its NEi Nastran software portfolio that includes new pricing designed to assist companies with closing end-of-year budgets. The company states that the promotional packages can provide as much as 20% cost savings.

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Opportunities & Honors

Teamcenter 2007 Receives Technologies Award
Siemens PLM Software, a division of Siemens Automation and Drives (A&D), announced last week that its Teamcenter 2007 PLM portfolio was chosen as one of the year's Top 50 Technologies by the editors of START-IT magazine. According to the company, Teamcenter 2007 was selected from hundreds of applicants to receive this award because of its ability to enable manufacturers to enhance innovation while reducing their overall cost of PLM ownership.

SpaceClaim Offers the 3D CAD Modification Challenge
SpaceClaim announced the start of the SpaceClaim 3D CAD Modification Challenge. According to the company, the contest is an opportunity for mechanical designers, engineers, and product development specialists to try SpaceClaim Professional 2007+ on their toughest 3D CAD modification problems to win prizes as well as provide valuable input to the company.

MBT Magazine Lists Right Hemisphere in Top 40
Right Hemisphere, a provider of visual communication and collaboration solutions, has been named to Manufacturing Business Technology (MBT) magazine’s list of the Top 40 Emerging Software Vendors. According to MBT editorial director Kevin Parker, “The company’s software picks up where PLM systems typically drop off, to allow technical publication specialists, trainers, advertising agencies, service organizations, and others to work with and share 3D visualizations of complex product designs."

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Books & Training

AutoCAD Map 3D Training
Cadapult Software Solutions, an Autodesk authorized publisher, has released Digging Into AutoCAD Map 3D 2008, a training book that takes readers through a complete project using AutoCAD Map 3D. The 304-page book is organized into 14 chapters, all of which include step-by-step instructions.

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The Week's New CAD and Related Products

Hardware: D901C PHANTOM-X FSB1333
Eurocom mobile workstation incorporates three SATA-300 hard drives with 750 GB of storage as well as the choice between an Intel Quad Core and Core 2 Extreme processor. Read more

Hardware: WaterClear Ultra Resin
Colorless stereolithography resin from DSM Somos has ABS-like properties and good temperature resistance for producing functional parts that resemble acrylic. Read more

General Software: eDrawings Professional v6 for CATIA V5
Geometric release supports CATIA V5 R18 and is available as a free, 30-day trial download. Read more

Visualization: DeltaGen v7.5 and Portal v3.5
Updated software programs from RTT are designed to provide more flexibility and creative freedom for high-end visualization of design concepts and products. Read more

AEC: PointCloud and PointCloud Pro v3.2
Kubit USA software enables postprocessing of point cloud data in AutoCAD. Read more

CAM: InventorCAM 2008
Integrated in Inventor 2008, the SolidCAM software offers full associativity between the CAD model and NC tool path with additional automation features and interactive CAM functions. Read more

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Mark Your Calendar

PLM Road Map 2008
September 23-24, 2008
Detroit, Michigan
Sponsored by CPD Associates (CPDA), PLM Road Map is a strategic conference focused on the critical trade-offs that shape product development. Presentations will cover driving critical parameters across design, frameworks for process transformation, the impact of organizational and cultural constraints, SOA for integration across the full development cycle, and more. Read more

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