Tips & Tools Weekly (Vol. 12, No. 5)

4 Feb, 2007

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What's New at

Harry Names Another Winner!
Hot Tip Harry has selected frequent tipster Leonid Nemirovsky to receive the second grand prize in his Hot Tip Harry Challenge 2006. Selected randomly from all contributors of published tips throughout 2006, Len wins a copy of AutoCAD 2007, courtesy of Autodesk. His win follows the announcement of Charles Allred as the recipient of a trip to Autodesk University 2006 in Las Vegas. All published Hot Tip Harry tipsters in 2006 received a Cadalyst t-shirt, and Harry awarded $100 each month to the author of his favorite tip. The Hot Tip Harry Challenge 2007 is under way now -- e-mail your tips to Harry today! 

Get a T-Shirt, Win $100
How do you save time? Send us your tip, code or shortcut for your favorite CAD software. If we publish it in Cadalyst's Tips and Tools Weekly newsletter, we'll send you a "Cadalyst: CAD the Way You Want It" T-shirt, and each month Cadalyst editors randomly select one published tip and send $100 to its author. Submit your tip to

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 what you missed last week:

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Graphic Systems Launches SolidNotes Tech Blog
Graphics Systems has launched a tech blog, SolidNotes, which includes tips, tricks and troubleshooting advice for various CAD programs and topics including mechanical design, design validation, data management, design automation and 3D printing. The online CAD resource is available free to all visitors. Graphics Systems staff members author the technical articles to assist fellow CAD users. SolidNotes visitors can respond to articles with questions or comments.

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This Week's Software Tips

Send us your tip, code or shortcut for your favorite CAD software. If we publish it, 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 $100 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. By submitting code to Cadalyst, 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.

Wblock vs. Purge Essay
Tip Patroller Mitchell Hirschklau read Bill Fane's December 2006 "Learning Curve" column on Wblock and Purge and e-mailed Bill these thoughts, but then thought everyone might benefit from the information:

"I tell my apprentices to remember that when they use Wblock, invisible items are also copied -- items that they really may prefer not to have added to their newly created blocks. Specifically, when you Wblock an object (or a group of objects, text, dims and the like) you are also Wblocking out your current active layer, your current text style and your current Dim style. Your intent may have been to Wblock out objects on Layer 1, as well as Text entities in Text Style ABC on Layer 2, plus a dimension string on Layer 3 (in Dim style 1eq50f that contains dimension text in text style DEF). However, because your active layer, at the time of Wblocking, was Layer 9, our active text style was UVW and your active Dim style was 1-8eq1f that contained text style XYZ, you have added an extra layer, an extra Dim style and two extra text styles to your supposedly pristine wblock.

"I emphasize to my users that a wblock is really a mini drawing. If you want it as clean as possible so that it’s useful for years and on hundreds of projects, then you must be very careful and precise when creating it. Typically you should separately load (and purge, etc.) this file.

"You should also remember that a wblock, despite your selection of a base insertion point in the wblock’s creation, also retains the parent's drawing origin. This is why an insertion of a wblock as an unexploded block in the new drawing might not center on display. The on-screen drawing is centered, it’s just that there's now a block built with an old drawing parent's origin point, which is way out there in left field!

Auto-Numbering with Mtext
Tom Napier reminds users of this handy use of Mtext in AutoCAD 2006 and 2007 using Notepad selected as text editor: "To have Mtext’s autonumbering start with a number other than 1, start a text box, and when the number 1 pops up, press Backspace, type in the number you want to start with (such as "8." -- be sure to include the period), then choose Tab. The notes are then consecutively numbered from the number you entered. You can also renumber previously typed notes by placing the cursor at the beginning of the text of the first note and follow this same procedure. When you have the number changed for that note, place the cursor at the end of the text of the first note and press Enter. A new consecutive number pops up. Press Backspace several times to delete that number, and when the next existing note moves back to its original position, that note and all the remaining notes below it will renumber consecutive ly."

NOTES FROM CADALYST TIP PATROL: As usual, we ran this tip past two Tip Patrol members for review. One told us, "Wow, this is a really nice trick. Works just as described, and it will come in handy."

Patroller No. 2 agrees that this is a workable tip, but has his own take on the topic. He suggests using features already present in the AutoCAD Mtext text editor. "For example, in AutoCAD LT 2006, you can turn the numbering option on and off, and it renumbers lines that were not initially numbered and remove the numbers on those that were." Another concern is that this tip necessitates that users be conversant with changing their default Mtext editor (and back again later) via the Tools / Options / etc., he notes. "This is not a bad thing, per se, as long as users remember to switch back when they are done."

Autodesk Map Partial Delete
Autodesk Map user G. Sivakumar offers a simple AutoLISP tool, PARTIALDELETE.LSP, to help delete a series of vertices in closed lwpolylines, such as buildings, parcels and the like, in drawings. He uses the Pedit command to complete some manual work, then runs his routine to delete the required portion of a polygon with a few clicks. After loading the routine, start it by typing Pdel at the Command prompt. Next, pick points to delete on a lwpolyline only and the parts of a polygon are highlighted. Use the mouse Reset button to select an alternate part or to pick to delete the highlighted part.

NOTES FROM CADALYST TIP PATROL: This tip works just fine, Patrollers report -- even in AutoCAD (but not LT).

Follow-Up: Get Gatte
Dave McKone offers another option to the Gatte command discussed in the January 15 edition: "Another option is to use Find (right-click or typed-in) and either select the blocks, dtext, mtext or attributes (or any combination), or within the entire drawing. In the fields, type in the current text string and then what it is to be changed to and select Replace All, or Replace (to change them individually). A message is displayed in the lower portion of the dialog box indicating the number of occurrences replaced."

Follow-Up: Continue Arcs
In regard to January 29 edition's Continue Arcs LISP routine, Tip Patroller Donald Reichle reminds users not to forget about AutoCAD's Lengthen command. He explains, "I started to use it shortly after its appearance in Release 13 and have certainly enjoyed the options it has provided. I've even adapted some aliases to make use of this fine command."

(defun c:lgd () (command "lengthen" "de") (princ))
(defun c:lgt () (command "lengthen" "t") (princ))
(defun c:lgy  () (command "lengthen" "dy") (princ))

Follow-Up: Spell Check and Solid Solprof
Kevin Loth finds that AutoCAD's spell check, as discussed in the January 28 edition, is a "nice tool, but it doesn’t work on all text entries. For example, I have AutoCAD Mechanical 2007 and spell check ignores my mechanical notes."

Kevin also notes that he has difficulty with the Flatten command that was mentioned in the January 29 edition in regards to January 22 edition's discussion of Solprof. He states, "The Flatten command is no longer available in AutoCAD 2007, and I don't recommend using it. Simply draw a 10 x 10 x 10 cube and flatten it (using AutoCAD 2004) and it will no longer be 10 x 10 in 2D. The Overkill command is not foolproof, either. I have had geometry change from using it."

MicroStation Tip -- Permanent File History
Question: Is it possible to always have a link to a frequently used design file? The Last Used file history always shows the last four files used, which is OK, but I wish there could be one or two permanent shortcuts to certain files.

Answer: You can use key-ins newfile design_file or RD=design_file. Both key-ins open the design_file. Then write a simple macro that writes out one or more text files that do a newfile to the files you want to open and then assign function keys or menu items to those text files. You can also hardcode these commands into menu or function keys.

Find this and many other MicroStation Tips on Axiom's 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: Don Boyer, Mitchell Hirschklau, R.K. McSwain, Don Reichle, Kevin Sawyer, Ivanhoe Tejeda, Billy Wooten and Ben Young.

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Deals & Freebies

UGS Releases Solid Edge 2D Drafting in 10 Languages
UGS yesterday announced that its free Solid Edge 2D Drafting software is now available online in 10 languages. In addition to the English version already offered, downloads are now available in simplified Chinese, traditional Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Russian and Spanish. Registered users can download Solid Edge 2D Drafting for free.

ZwCAD Offers 30-Day Trial of 2D/3D Software
ZwCAD is offering a free 30-day trial of its 2D/3D package, ZwCAD 2006i for designers, engineers and architects. The company reports that the trial includes the same functionality as a purchased license. After the 30-day trial, ZwCAD 2006i's suggested retail price is $450, plus $160 for yearly updates, maintenance and user technical support.

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Opportunities & Honors

Autodesk Launches Student Inventor Contest
Autodesk is launching the Inventor Student Design Contest in which post-secondary students can enter 3D designs created with Autodesk Inventor software for a chance to win prizes from HP, AMD and 3Dconnexion. The deadline is May 1, 2007. Winning entries will be chosen based on their broad use of Inventor capabilities, innovation and overall aesthetic appeal. Winners will be announced May 15, 2007.

CAD Society Accepting Nominations for 2007 Awards
The CAD Society is accepting nominations for its 2007 CAD Society Industry Awards. The awards acknowledge individual contributions within the CAD and engineering software industry. Awards are presented in three categories: The Leadership Award; the Joe Greco Community Award and the Lifetime Award. Send nominations to through February 28, 2007. The awards will be presented at COFES 2007, April 12-15, 2007, in Scottsdale, Arizona.

EEE Names Recipient of 2007 Donald O. Pederson Award
IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) this week named Hugo De Man as the recipient of its 2007 Donald O. Pederson Award in Solid-State Circuits, recognizing his leadership in integrated circuit design and design methodology. De Man will receive the award at the 2007 IEEE International Solid-State Circuits Conference in San Francisco, California, on February 12.

Oce Receives Platinum Award in Readers' Choice Survey
Oce, a provider of digital document management and delivery solutions, is a second-year recipient of the Platinum Award for On-site Service and Support in BERTL's Third Annual Readers' Choice Awards. The BERTL Readers' Choice Awards are based on the cumulative findings from end-user surveys. Survey respondents rated thirty-two digital printing system manufacturers. Oce was ranked number one in terms of on-site service and support.

UGS Honored with Two Awards
PLM software provider UGS announced that Chuck Yuan, vice president and managing director of Greater China Operations for UGS, was honored with the "Top 10 People in the News," and UGS was awarded the PLM Vendor of the Year by at the Top 100 Business Applications 2007 Conference. The annual event in the field of management software, initiated by ERP World, was organized by the Chinese Institute of Electronics, the Software Society of China and other associations.

Slater Associates Receives 2006 MD ASLA Merit Award
Nemetschek North America announced that VectorWorks Landmark user Slater Associates has won a 2006 MD ASLA Merit Award from the Maryland and Potomac Chapters of the ASLA (American Society of Landscape Architects) for its design of the Montgomery College Amphitheater. All designs and construction were provided by Slater Associates using VectorWorks Landmark.

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The Week's New CAD and Related Products

Hardware: EIS Supra
Turnkey system includes 36" color scanner and printer.  Read more

General Software: Bluebeam PDF Revu v5
New version includes document comparison, PDF redaction, Bates stamping and markup summaries.  Read more

Visualization: Conduit for Google Earth Pro v4
Mechdyne releases visualization software extension for immersive 3D viewing with Google Earth. Read more

AEC: Real Architect 2007
2D architectural drafting add-on program supports AutoCAD 2007. Read more

AEC: SmartPlant Enterprise 2007
Intergraph updates its plant lifecycle management software suite.  Read more

AEC: ProjectWise Navigator
Bentley releases visual collaboration software for design review and analysis.  Read more

AEC: VersaCAD/Parking Structure
Archway Systems software automates creation of preliminary design plans.  Read more

AEC/GIS: Leica TruView
Point cloud software module is used in conjunction with Leica Cyclone PUBLISHER.  Read more

MCAD: Trace Pro v4
Lambda Research releases update for optical modeling, design and analysis software. Read more

MCAD: Seemage v4
Software imports the digital product definition from any 3D CAD or enterprise application into the company's content creation applications.  Read more

CAE: STAR-CAD Gateways V4.1
CD-adapco releases update to CAD and PLM-embedded front-ends for STAR-CD v4 and STAR-CCM+ v2.04.  Read more

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Mark Your Calendar

Cadalyst'scomplete list of upcoming industry events is always available on our Web site.

Data Management Seminars
February 20, 2007 - March 22, 2007
Various US locations
Avatech Solutions will hold half-day seminars on How to Streamline Design to Manufacturing for Competitive Advantage. The seminars will provide engineering management with real-world insight into how product development bottlenecks, which affect time to market, can be eliminated by implementing data management with a best practices approach. Time: 8:30 a.m. - 12 noon. Read more

February 22, 2007
Seattle, Washington
This one-day learning and networking event is designed to recharge your career. Modeled after Autodesk University, course subjects range from AutoCAD to CAD Management to industry-specific tracks such as Autodesk Revit and Autodesk Inventor. More than 15 different classes offered. Read more