Tips & Tools Weekly (Vol. 13, No. 1)

6 Jan, 2008

This Week's Software Tips

Congratulations December Winner!
Cadalyst awards the December $100 Tips & Tools Weekly prize to Brett DuChateau, who submitted the Faster Map Loading tip published in the December 3 edition. DuChateau was selected in a random drawing of all authors whose original tips were published in the newsletter last month. Send us your original tip now for a chance to win.

Hatch to Correct Scale
Matthew J. Hill
wrote a routine to hatch an object to the right scale in any drawing, as long as the Dimscale is set correctly. He explains: "I use a command tool from the palettes. These command tools call out a LISP routine that is loaded when the ACAD.LSP is run at startup. For example, the routine for a masonry hatch looks like this:

(defun myerrordb (s)
   (if (/= s "Function cancelled")
   (princ (strcat "\nError: " s))
   (command "undo" "end")
   (setvar "CLAYER" o:la)
   (setvar "DIMSCALE" o:ds)
   (setvar "CMDECHO" 1)
   (setq *error* olderr)
(defun C:masonry (/ o:la o:ds o:os o:dl o:dl1 o:da o:oe o:ds1)
   (setvar "CMDECHO" 0)
   (setq o:la (getvar "CLAYER"))
   (setq o:ds (getvar "DIMSCALE"))
   (setq o:oe *error
         *error* myerrordb)
  (if (tblsearch "layer" "HATCH") nil
   (command "layer" "new" "HATCH" "c" "5" "HATCH" ""))
   (setq o:ds1 (getvar "DIMSCALE"))
     (if (= o:ds1 48) (setq o:ds1 24))
     (if (= o:ds1 64) (setq o:ds1 32))
     (if (= o:ds1 96) (setq o:ds1 48))
     (if (= o:ds1 128) (setq o:ds1 64))
     (if (= o:ds1 192) (setq o:ds1 48))
   (command "-hatch" "properties" "Ansi37" o:ds1 "0")
   (setvar "CLAYER" o:la)
   (setvar "DIMSCALE" o:ds)
   (setvar "CMDECHO" 1)
   (setq *error* olderr)

"This LISP routine makes the Hatch layer if one isn't present and hatches points using the ANSI37 pattern per Dimscale. I also use code to make it easier for my drafters to change the Dimscale and everything that would need to be changed for different scale drawings such as Mtext, Ltscale, etc. ... I made a toolbar that runs code in ACAD.LSP. For example, the 1/8" scale button is called out as 96, the scale factor. The code to change everything necessary to 1/8" scale in Architectural Desktop 2006 looks like the following. (It would need to be tweaked for v2008.)

(defun C:96scale ()
  (setvar "CMDECHO" 0)
  (command "DIMSCALE" "96")
  (command "textstyle" "TXT11")
  (command "textsize" "9")
  (command "AECSETDWGSCALE" "96")
  (command "ltscale" "48")
  (command "regenall")
  (setvar "CMDECHO" 1)

"With the hatch LISP routine and the scale code, it's very easy to save time and be more efficient. You can write a lot of code to run per the Dimscale, and now that the scale can be easily changed by code and click, the possibilities are endless."

NOTES FROM CADALYST TIP PATROL: Historically, this sort of thing has been done using AutoCAD scripts. Matching the hatch scale to the drawing's Dimscale obviously must be done according to your company's standards. Note that the colon used in the LISP routine may affect other programs. Otherwise, this approach is good for companies using such a setup and can be tweaked easily to fit the needs of others. Many users and shops, it should be noted, do not use Dimscale (other than as set to 1). Such users would have to customize this tip further.

Note: These follow-up tips have not been tested by the Cadalyst Tip Patrol.

Follow-Up: Generate Drawing Title
Ray Thompson
sent an addendum to the Generate Drawing Title tip, published in the December 10 issue, about using a field as an attribute in the title block for the drawing name. He says, “I add another field outside the bottom border of the map with the drawing name including the path.”

John Michalik also shared his process for attributed title blocks: “We have one drawing file called TITLEBLOCK.DWG. This file is created by inserting a blank sheet from the project and erasing everything but the attributed title block information. In the title block, all the sheet-dependent information (sheet number, name, scale, etc.) is blanked out. All of the static data (issue date, project name, client data, total number of sheets, etc.) is filled in. This file is also where things like interim review stamps and engineer seals are placed. Each sheet has a border with the title block in it and the TITLEBLOCK.DWG file is then referenced into it. In the sheet files, the reverse situation is applied to the title block for the border in the sheet, the static information is blanked out since those lines are filled in by the TITLEBLOCK.DWG reference file and the sheet specific data is filled in. This way we are able to quickly and consistently make global changes to the total sheet count, project information, and more, and it is identical across the entire set.”

Follow-Up: Find A Command
Sean Thompson
sent this follow-up to the Find a Command tip in the December 3 edition: “In addition to using the Command line, I’ve also found the CUI to be very useful in finding commands that I need. Just type CUI on the Command line, and the bottom left frame area becomes an exhaustive command list, more easily searchable than the Command line. I can’t tell you how many cool things I’ve found in there. Sometimes you may have to search in backward order, but you’ll find the command.

“For example, to find the Ddedit command in the list (which edits text), click on any command and type a few letters, E-D-I-T. The command selection moves through the frame like a search. Don’t wait too long, though, because you’re not actually typing, so the frame of reference is short. In this case, no edit text options are shown. No worries, try again, but this time type T-E-X-T. Looking through the text options, you’ll see Text, Edit. There’s your command.

“The search filter found below the command list is very useful too. Type in a word, and any command description containing that word will come up. The only down side is that the search area is a little less forgiving. For example, to find the same command as above, you have to either stop at Edit or Text and look through the large hits list. Or you must know that you need to search for Text, then the Text, Edit will come up easily. With some practice though, both methods become pretty easy.”

Follow-Up: Revise All Attribute Blocks
Ted Krush
sent two different methods to revise attributes within multiple instances of a block as a follow-up to the Revise All Attribute Blocks tip in the December 3 newsletter. He says: “First, select the desired blocks through Qselect for all the blocks within a drawing, or just layer isolate the blocks if they reside on the same layer, or use any selection method that suits you. I then edit the attributes values one of two ways, depending on the outcome I want. If I want all instances to have the same value, I make the change through the Properties palette. If I just want certain values to be changed, I use Find and Replace to sort through the current selection by looking for a certain value. Check your Find and Replace settings to make sure the box for blocks is checked, and you might want to uncheck the other boxes to thin the selection further.”

MicroStation Tip: Workspace Preferences and Plotting Large Files
Bob Zipprich
sent two handy tips for MicroStation users.

"To change workspace options, go to Workspace / Preferences / Look & Feel. By selecting the box for Use Windows File Open Dialog, you have a host of options for browsing while moving from drawing to drawing, attaching references, etc. There's even a button called Directory History that remembers the 10 previous directories you visited."

Also, "When plotting a drawing with a large file size, you don't have to wait for the preview image to refresh to get started plotting or changing the plot scale, etc. Just move your mouse over the preview area and select the Reset button."

Submit Your Tip 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's Hot 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

BE Conference Call for Presentations and Awards Submissions
To address this year's conference theme of "Sustaining Infrastructure," Bentley is seeking presentation topics that cover the challenges and issues involved in advancing the sustainability of infrastructure. Presentations that use Bentley technology in interesting and innovative ways are strongly encouraged. The deadline for submitting abstracts is January 31, 2008. Bentley is also accepting submissions for its 2008 BE Awards Program. This year's awards of excellence will include new categories and benefits, and entry is open to all users. Projects must be submitted by February 29, 2008.

Objet’s Connex500 Wins First Place for Best Innovation
Objet's Connex500 rapid prototyping machine was awarded first place for innovation at the Euromold trade show held in December in Frankfurt, Germany. The Connex500 reportedly is the first system ever that enables printing of parts and assemblies made of multiple materials, all in a single build. The EuroMold 2007 Innovation Award recognizes the most innovative developments from the fields of mold making and tooling, design, and application development, within the general show theme of “From Design to Prototyping to Series Production." Read more

Inventor LT Wins 2008 Award from START-IT
Autodesk Inventor LT was named one of the t op 50 manufacturing technologies by START-IT, a magazine that emphasizes the importance of IT partnerships for manufacturing companies and how they can help companies reach their goals through the use of technology. Read more

VectorWorks Architect 2008 Named #1 Software in ACE Awards
Nemetschek North America’s VectorWorks Architect 2008 design software was awarded first place in Architect magazine’s 6th Annual Architect's Choice for Excellence (ACE) Awards in the computer software category. Voted on by Architect magazine’s readers, the ACE Awards recognize companies that offer outstanding product durability, exceptional customer service, superior value, and innovative designs. Read more

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Books & Training

Training: Doctor Walt's KeyCreator 7 Workbook
Conceptual Product Development released Doctor Walt's KEYCREATOR 7 Workbook (504 pages, $84.95). The full-color guide reportedly offers a comprehensive treatment of 2D construction in KeyCreator v7 CAD/CAM software from Infotech Enterprises. Read more

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The Week's New CAD and Related Products

General Software: Lattice Technology XVL Product Line
Company upgrades six software solutions for enterprise data publishing and management and launches Lattice3D Outliner for creating 2D technical illustrations directly from 3D data. Read more

CAD: CADopia v8
New release supports DWG 2007/2008 and features multilanguage character sets, PDF support for multiple layouts, and enhanced text-editing capabilities. Read more

CAD: Open DCL v4.1
Now supporting AutoCAD 2008 64-bit platform, software offers an interactive replacement of Dialog Control Language for developing dialog boxes within AutoCAD using AutoLISP. Read more

Visualization: Maya 2008 Extension 1
New extension from Autodesk features a comprehensive muscle and skin system that allows artists to create lifelike skin motion while directing muscle and skin behavior. Read more

Visualization: Piranesi v5
Informatix Software's artistic rendering solution for AEC community now compatible with Mac OS X v10.3.4 and higher. Read more

AEC: VectorWorks 2008 Service Pack 2
Nemetschek line now provides support for Mac OS X Leopard and includes several new features. Read more

AEC: Revit Architecture Plug-In
Free tool from IES provides direct link from Autodesk Revit Architecture to the IES Virtual Environment software for early analysis of energy efficiency and building performance. Read more

AEC: Envisioneer v4.5
Building information modeling tool offers new design and rendering options for builders, remodelers, architects, designers, contractors, and interior designers. Read more

MCAD: GrafiCalc Expert 2008
New release from GEOMATE combines sketching, calculation, motion simulation, tolerance analysis, and backsolving in one CAD-neutral application. Read more

MCAD: thinkreshape v1
Reverse-engineering and deviation-control tool from think3 allows users to import and manage files resulting from the 3D digitalization of physical models to operate within prototyping, design review, finished elemental analysis, and inspection processes.
Read more

CAM: 7-Axis Measuring Arm
Metris manual coordinate measuring arm is configured for use with the company's Metris ModelMaker D digital scanner. Read more

CAM: Laser ScanArm v3
FARO Technologies introduces 7-axis contact/noncontact measurement device that includes an integrated laser scanner. Read more

CAE: MagNet 2D and 3D v6.25

Newest release reportedly handles automated mesh refinements in 2D more efficiently and supports arbitrary motion for simulating complex electromechanical devices.
Read more

CAE: Abaqus FEA Suite v6.7
Extended Functionality toolset from Dassault Systemes offers options for multiphysics fluid-structure interaction analysis. Read more

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Mark Your Calendar

Test Drive: Using the IES Plug-in within Revit Architecture
January 11, 2008
Philadelphia, PA
This test drive, sponsored by Synergis, intends to show how the IES plug-in included within Revit Architecture enables easy, top-level analysis of energy efficiency and building performance at early stages of the design process. Read more

3D Scanning 2008
May 20-22, 2008
Lake Buena Vista, Florida
Presented by the Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME), 3D Scanning: Reverse Engineering, Analysis, and Inspection Conference will be co-located with RAPID 2008 Conference & Exposition. With a focus on using noncontact scanning technology to capture and process high-resolution, 3D spatial geometries, this conference will give participants practical knowledge to support effective technology selection and use. Read more

BE Conference 2008
May 28-30, 2008
Baltimore, Maryland
This year the BE Conference will take place as one global event, with the welcome reception scheduled for the previous day. You can register to receive information on training options, registration, travel and accomodations, BE Awards of Excellence, and other related BE Conference items. 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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