Tips & Tools Weekly (Vol. 13, No. 12)

30 Mar, 2008

This Week's Software Tips

Snapang Command
Martin Nuttal wrote to tell us that, although the Snapang command has disappeared from the Drafting Settings dialog box in AutoCAD 2008, it remains available at the Command line. He says, "You can rotate the crosshairs to any angle by entering a numerical value or by picking points. (The UCS is left unaffected.) When used with the Ortho toggle, you can easily draw accurate nonhorizontal/nonvertical lines."

NOTES FROM CADALYST TIP PATROL: Thanks for the reminder, Martin! Also check out AutoCAD's new Polar Tracking for a similar effect.

Middle of Two Points
Jason Fox reminds us of the helpful AutoCAD command modifiers for finding the middle of two points: mtp or m2p.

To locate the middle of two points while a command is in progress:

  1. After the command simply enter mtp or m2p
  2. Specify the first point of the middle
  3. Specify the second point of the middle
  4. Continue with the command.

NOTES FROM CADALYST TIP PATROL: We do like undocumented toys like this one. It works well with lines, but not arcs or circles. Maybe someone will tickle it to include them. As an alternative, AutoCAD now has a Mid Between Two Points object snap.

Purge Nested Entities
John Walker sent in PP_PurgeAllReport.LSP, which automatically purges a drawing as many times as needed for nested entities. He says, "I have seen purging routines that just purge a set number of times, but this one only does it as much as needed. Our department uses it a thousand times a day, I bet."

NOTES FROM CADALYST TIP PATROL: This is a useful routine to run before archiving projects. It could be supplemented with an automatic audit for a complete cleanup prior to archiving. You should turn CMDECHO back on at the end. Here's another, similar solution:

(defun C:PU ( / pc )
 (while(/= pc 1)
  (setq pc 0)
  (command "-purge" "all" "*")
  (while(= 1(logand(getvar"CMDACTIVE")1))
   (command "y")
   (setq pc(1+ pc))
  ) ; while
 ) ; while

Offset PL Contour Line
Steven Schenck sent in OFFELEV.LSP, which he wrote to help him create the internal walls of mining pits and earth dams. He says, "It will take an existing PL contour line and offset it to a user-specified horizontal and vertical distance. The user can also specify the number of desired copies. It returns to the screen the elevations of the new contours as they are generated."

NOTES FROM CADALYST TIP PATROL: The subsequent contour lines that are produced by this routine are at even centers and elevations, and so lend themselves to a 3D array routine. Remember to pick the last line entered (for the number of copies) until you reach the chosen number of copies. The routine could be edited slightly so the user enters the horizontal and vertical offsets, clicks once to select the line, and clicks once more to dictate the side to offset. Also all variables should be declared local.

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

Follow-Up: Automated Engineering Stamp
In response to the the tip on adding engineering stamps to drawings in the March 24 edition, Brian James Lottis wrote, "I set up a tool palette for this. All our engineers' stamps are kept in a folder on the network. I dragged the files to a tool palette and changed the Insert As option to Xref. As far as I can tell, it does the same thing [as the original tip], maybe even more. It brings in the desired stamp as an xref on the appropriate layer. And it was very easy to set up.

"Also, since we have the possibility of multiple stamps on one project -- we're an MEP firm -- I set up the mechanical, electrical, and plumbing engineers' stamps on separate layers. This way, operators in each discipline can thaw the appropriate layer for their engineer. To me this is a classic example of the usefulness of the tool palette for quick customization."

Ray Finkel also wrote to share the fact that the State of Nevada has authorized the use of electronic stamping and signing for architects. "Our title blocks include a dynamic block that can be set to Blank, Bid Set, Preliminary, or Submittal. The later includes a JPG file, which resides on our network, with the stamp and signature on it. This way when it is time to produce the submittal set with the stamp and signature, you change the visibility state in the xref, and then you can publish your prints."

MicroStation Tip: Tweaking a Text Preference
Tweaking a Text Preference (PDF), provided by The Envision Group, demonstrates how a few small changes in MicroStation's Preferences dialog box will allow you to zoom out farther while still being able to see the text in your drawing. Plus, there's potential for a little practical joke with this tip.

VectorWorks Tip: Roof Framer in VectorWorks Architect
VectorWorks Architect 2008 provides multiple framing options. In addition to walls and floors, roofs can also be framed. The Roof Framing dialog box contains many options for creating a framed roof.

To open this dialog box, select the roof in your drawing and click AEC / Framing / Roof Framer. The tabs of the Roof Framer dialog box allow you to select the types of framing elements to display (rafters, beams, plates, etc). Click OK to automatically create the roof framing. To view the roof framing, set the roof class to Invisible.

Today's VectorWorks tip courtesy of Nemetschek.

Submit Your Tip 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, and Billy Wooten.

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Opportunities & Honors

Siemens PLM Software Products Receive Awards in China
Teamcenter 2007 was honored with the Golden Software award by Software World. NX 5 was honored with the Product Innovation Award by Manufacture Information Engineering of China (MIE China); Best Choice Product Award by e-works; and the 2007 Editor's Choice Award from E-Manufacturing and Aeronautical Manufacturing Technology. Siemens PLM Software also won e-works' Best Vendor Award. Read more

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The Week's New CAD and Related Products

General Software: NAVIScheck File Manager
The new interactive online file management solution is designed for construction, mechanical, and architectural companies. Read more

MCAD: nPower 3D Modeling Tools
Several nonuniform rational B-spline (NURBS) modeling titles, as well as translators for using Autodesk 3ds Max with other CAD programs, are available from TurboSquid. Read more

ITI TranscenData's interoperability tool allows users to compare geometry between original and translated files and helps to track changes. Read more

MCAD: PZFlex v2
3D virtual-prototyping software from Weidlinger Associates includes a new SolidWorks interface. Read more

With the integration of OPTIMUS, LMS Imagine.Lab AMESim gains new capabilities to capture and automate 1D simulation processes. Read more

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Mark Your Calendar

Webinar: Enterprise Cost Management
April 8, 2008
2 p.m. EDT
aPriori and AGCO will sponsor this one-hour Webinar for discrete manufacturing and product companies. Learn how to generate precise, repeatable, and relevant product cost assessments in real time from design to production. Read more

Abaqus Users' Conference
May 19-22, 2008
Newport, Rhode Island
The 2008 AUC will mark the 30th anniversary of the commercialization of Abaqus FEA software. This annual conference provides an opportunity to learn how experts in engineering and academia are applying the latest simulation technology and methods to accelerate and improve product development. Read more

National BIM Conference
May 19-22, 2008
Anaheim, California
This conference will explore BIM, interoperability, and the latest IT for the built environment. Presentations will address AEC interoperability, Building Information Modeling (BIM), and IT for the entire facilities, design, and construction team. Read more

Eco-Build America and AEC-ST
May 19-22, 2008
Anaheim, California
Two events combine to showcase the latest evolutions in green building, sustainable design, renewable energy, environmental planning, construction technology, and more. Read more

ZweigWhite's AEC Technology Strategies 2008
June 12-13, 2008
Las Vegas, Nevada
This ninth annual information technology conference brings together all the AEC disciplines, gives equal time to the business issues driving technology, and involves both technology managers and business managers from AEC firms. 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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