Tips & Tools Weekly (Vol. 13, No. 18)

11 May, 2008

This Week's Software Tips

Congratulations April Winner!
Cadalyst awarded the April $100 Tips & Tools Weekly prize to Doug Kochel, who shared his Clipboard Copy/Paste tip published in the April 7 edition. Doug 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.

Get the Code!
Cadalyst's May code from Hot Tip Harry is available for download. This month's top tip, Xref Block Layer Cleanup from Michael Kolomiyets, is a reactor-based solution for handling layers from xref blocks.

Copy with Coordinates
Eric Fransen sent an AutoLISP routine from his ACAD.LSP file. He says, "Sometimes I have to copy things from one tab or drawing to another using exactly the same coordinates for the selected entities -- title block information and logos, mostly." To speed things up, Eric decided to write this routine with the following companion commands:

;initiates the copybase command with a base of 0,0 and lets the user finish out the command as normal
(defun C:cvb ()(command "copybase" "0,0"))
;pastes the previous selection to 0,0
(defun C:vb ()(command "pasteclip" "0,0"))

NOTES FROM CADALYST TIP PATROL: Good tip. Just be sure that all the drawings/layouts involved have identical setups.

Drawing Names on Sheet Set Tabs
Leonid Nemirovsky says, "If multiple tabs are used to create different drawings in one file, here is a trick to make the drawing name reflected and editable from the Sheet Set:

  • Name the tabs to reflect your drawing numbers, such as S-1, S-2, S-11, etc.

  • For the title blocks inserted in each tab, in response to the attribute for the drawing number, insert a Field by selecting a SystemVariable and CTAB, as shown in the image below."


NOTES FROM CADALYST TIP PATROL: This tip works well -- a nice little trick for a multilayout setup. Right-click in the attribute editor to insert a field. Note to CAD managers: This tip would require some rigorous enforcement of standards.

Reset Scale List
Radu Damacus sent some advice for those who have noticed significant performance issues when performing the following functions in AutoCAD 2008:

  • opening drawings that contain xrefs
  • inserting xref drawings
  • copying/pasting from one drawing into another
  • inserting blocks from external files

On the Command line, enter -Scalelistedit.

  • Enter option Reset.
  • When you see the prompt Reset Scale List to Defaults?, enter Yes.
  • Enter Exit or press Esc.

NOTES FROM CADALYST TIP PATROL: This one has surfaced before, but it doesn't hurt to remind everyone. We have heard about other folks who have used this method with positive results. Can't argue with success!

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

Follow-Up: Toolbar Button -- Draw Extruded Pipe
Keith McQueen wrote in response to our extruded pipe tip in the April 28 issue: "I had been working all morning trying to write the code to do 3D pipes. I opened up my e-mail and saw the tip. Unfortunately, I had already completed my version.

"Since I do not care that the pipe does not have a hole in it, my approach uses the Cylinder command. I wanted to incorporate 3D pipes into my existing menus and also wanted it to automatically know the pipe diameter based on one of my existing toolbar setting in which I select the pipe size and it sets the variable PD to the nominal pipe size. This allows me to choose fittings and pipes without telling AutoCAD the size every time. It keeps PD set until I change the pipe size. I then created a button on my existing toolbar to evoke the 3Dpipe routine. The following is the code in the AutoLISP routine that is evoked from the toolbar to set PD, but it could be added into the first line in the 3Dpipe routine:"

(defun c:PD () ;Global Pipe size
  (setq pd (getreal "\nEnter pipe decimal size:>"))

This code draws the pipe:

(defun c:3Dpipe ()
  (command "ortho" "on")
  (prompt "\nEnter select center of pipe and direction of travel:>")
  (COMMAND "UCS" "za" pause pause)
   ((= pd 2)(command "cylinder" "0,0,0" "d" "2.375"))
   ((= pd 3)(command "cylinder" "0,0,0" "d" "3.5"))
   ((= pd 4)(command "cylinder" "0,0,0" "d" "4.5"))
   ((= pd 6)(command "cylinder" "0,0,0" "d" "6.625"))
   ((= pd 8)(command "cylinder" "0,0,0" "d" "8.625"))
   ((= pd 10)(command "cylinder" "0,0,0" "d" "10.75"))
   ((= pd 12)(command "cylinder" "0,0,0" "d" "12.75"))
   ((= pd 16)(command "cylinder" "0,0,0" "d" "16"))
   ((= pd 18)(command "cylinder" "0,0,0" "d" "18"))
   ((= pd 20)(command "cylinder" "0,0,0" "d" "20"))
   ((= pd 24)(command "cylinder" "0,0,0" "d" "24"))
   ((= pd 30)(command "cylinder" "0,0,0" "d" "30"))
   ((= pd 36)(command "cylinder" "0,0,0" "d" "36"))
   (t Sorry no drawing exist or you did not set pipe diameter)
  ) ;;end cond

Follow-Up: Quick Print Button
Our May 5 issue sparked several comments about quick printing tricks -- apparently this subject is near and dear to your hearts! Brian Horsnell wrote, "We do something similar with a standard printer setup in our template files, but we named it A3EXTENTS.PC3. This PC3 file also is used in macros and other PDF batch conversion applications. All our workstation configurations use a common server-based plotter configuration file path, so it is very easy to update that file whenever our printer is upgraded. One other advantage of this standard setup is batch printing of archived drawing sets. If they have had the A3EXTENTS.PC3 configuration saved as their default plotting setup, then it will still work for your current printer."

Robert A. Masterson shared his company's method: "We use the Publish from Sheet Sets as a really easy way to plot a single sheet or a large group with a couple clicks. We can create standard page setups for our firm's own sheet borders or create page setups for a specific client or project. The page setups are saved in a template file in the project folder and pointed to in the Sheet Set properties. Once that is done, anyone accessing the sheet set from the server has the ability to plot using those page setups. You can then import those page setups to a different project using a similar border or just copy the template file to a new project and edit it and point the new sheet set to this copied file."

Dave Kimmey sent this AutoLISP routine that performs in a similar manner:

(command "plot"
"yes" ;detail reconfig
"model" ;plot model tab
"\\\\morpheus\\eng5000" ;choose plotter
"11x17" ;choose size
"inches" ;inches or mm
"no" ;upside-down
"limits" ;plot area
"fit" ;fit or scale
"0.03,0.0" ;center or 0,0
;"center" ;center or 0,0
"yes" ;plotstyles
"monochrome.ctb" ;style
"yes" ;lineweight
"no" ;remove hidden lines
"no" ;write to file
"no" ;save changes to tab
"yes" ;proceed

He also added it to his dropdown menu. In the menu file it looks like this:

ID_Plot_B_Size_0 [Plot B Size]^C^C(load"g:/lisp/plotb")

And finally, Ron Walker, a "CAD shaman responsible for scaring away the evil spirits for about 45 users," shared his method to print to different printers and setups. He wrote, "Many versions of AutoCAD ago, I created new page setups for every possible combination of printers, plotters, page sizes, and plot styles that I or my users could possibly use. I gave each one of them a unique name. I did this for paper space and model space. (I had to burn a lot of paper to make sure everything printed correctly.) I then used Page Set Up Manager to ensure consistent naming (Model Space A-Size on xyz printer full color, Paper Space A-Size on xyz printer full color, etc.)

"I erased all the layouts in my drawing. I purged everything except for the page setups. I then saved this drawing as an identifiable name, MYWORKLOCATIONPRINTERS.DWG. Next, I created a menu option called Configure Printers. This macro points to that drawing and inserts it as a block into my current drawing at 0, 0, scale factor 1, etc.

"Whenever I want to print anything, all I have to do is point to that option, and it brings in all the possible printers and combinations I would ever want. I go to plot and select the appropriate one from my list in Page Setup. I also did this with appropriate name changes for all the different locations I support that have AutoCAD and do printing/plotting. Alternatively, you can have the MYWORKLOCATIONPRINTERS.DWG on your desktop and drag it into a file when you are ready to print. Since most of my users use AutoCAD LT, none of this requires any AutoLISP programming."

MicroStation Tip: Power Selector in V8
The Power Selector tool comes with a new tool, a new look, and two new key-ins. Learn more.

Today's MicroStation tip courtesy of The Envision Group.

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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BIM Podcast Series
The Construction Specifications Institute (CSI) is launching an AudioCast series focusing on building information modeling (BIM). CSI is producing the "bimWITS" series in conjunction with the buildingSMART alliance. The free series, available to the public, will be posted to on the first and third Mondays of every month. Each 3-to-8-minute episode will address BIM best practices.

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Deals & Freebies

Free AutoCAD Utility for Civil Engineers
CadTools (ToolBox) was developed by a civil designer as an out-of-process VB application and it supports AutoCAD 2001-2009. The add-on contains more than 50 commands, most of which are free, but some features are restricted to registered users, who donate any amount they choose. Download the software and reference manual.

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Opportunities & Honors

PTC Announces Winners of 2008 Design Contest
PTC announced the winners of its Redefining Innovation Product Design Contest 2008. Launched around the globe, the contest asked designers to use PTC Pro/ENGINEER 3D parametric CAD/CAM/CAE software to develop innovative, product-changing designs. Read more

ShareCAD Pro Named Software of the Year
PHASE 2 International won the Software of the Year award for its ShareCAD Pro at the e-Biz Awards presented by Technology News Bytes. ShareCAD Pro is a centralized platform based on Microsoft SharePoint for contractors, architects, and manufacturers to share drawings and project data via the Internet. Read more

Siemens PLM Software Wins Supplier Award
Siemens PLM Software was honored with a Visteon Important Partner Award for outstanding overall performance in providing services to automotive supplier Visteon in the Non-Production category. The award program, now in its sixth year, honors Visteon suppliers that achieve best-in-class ratings for quality, delivery, technology, launch, and cost-control performance. Read more

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Books & Training

AutoCAD 2009 Online Course
Gatlin Education Services will offer a 150-hour, online AutoCAD 2009 course starting in August 2008. The program will be offered through Gatlin's partnerships with more than 700 colleges and universities worldwide. Upon completion of the course, students will have learned to work with 2D drawing and editing tools, objects on layers, text, and basic dimensions. Read more

Inventor 2009 Training
CADLearning by 4D Technologies released a 148-lesson, 15-hour Autodesk Inventor 2009 Tutorial Series, which is available both online and in DVD format. The series starts with a tutorial on the user interface and navigation, then proceeds through general lessons for all users and focused lessons for specific processes. Read more

Architectural Resource Book
Elsevier announced the release of Architect's Pocket Book, 3rd Edition ($31.95), written by Charlotte Baden-Powell, Jonathan Hetreed, and Ann Ross. The book reportedly provides a variety of information that architects need daily, from complying with building regulations to helping with planning, measurement, and detailing. Read more

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The Week's New CAD and Related Products

CAD: Bricscad v8.2
Bricsys' DWG-compatible, IntelliCAD-based software features a new layer state manager integrated in the Drawing Explorer. Read more

AEC: v2
Web-based resource offers simultaneous search and interlinked browsing capabilities. Read more

MCAD: EnSuite v2
Multi-CAD viewing, translation, and productivity software from CCE has been upgraded to support point cloud files. Read more

MCAD: Maple v12
Maplesoft product introduces direct connectivity between Maple and CAD systems such as SolidWorks and Autodesk Inventor. Read more

New version from EZCAM Solutions includes a new 3D Machining wizard and a new surfacing toolpath engine. Read more

CADDIT's software platform integrates complete parametric 3D solid, surface, and dynamic motion modeling and FEA into one program. Read more

Particle simulation modeling software from DEM Solutions offers simulation of a wider range of particulate processes. Read more

CAE: ICE-flow Automation
Software from nCode International reportedly integrates advanced Web-based data management technology with the company's GlyphWorks data analysis software. Read more

PLM: Pro/ENGINEER Model Clean-up Utilities
Etrage MCU for Windchill Migration can be used to clean up, consolidate, and standardize Pro/ENGINEER parameters, layers, and family tables. Read more

PLM: Aras Innovator v9
Suite of model-based, service-oriented architecture solutions for enterprise PLM includes single-instance, multilanguage capabilities. Read more

Plant Design: AutoCAD P&ID 2009
Autodesk's third release features a data manager for sorting and analyzing underlying P&ID data. Read more

Data Management: ShareCAD Pro
PHASE 2 International's centralized platform is for contractors, architects, and manufacturers who want to share drawings and project data via the Internet. Read more

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Mark Your Calendar

Autodesk Experience Virtual Event
June 3, 2008
10 a.m. EDT
Join informative sessions including What's New with AutoCAD 2009 Tips & Tricks with Lynn Allen. Learn how to hone your AutoCAD skills and witness how the latest release of AutoCAD can make you more productive than ever. Read more

GeoWeb 2008
July 21-25, 2009
Vancouver, BC, Canada
The GeoWeb 2008 conference reflects the breadth, evolution, and growing maturity of the GeoWeb and is one of a few conferences focusing exclusively on the convergence of GIS and the Internet. The GeoWeb 2008 conference welcomes both public and private organizations to meet, discuss, and learn about today's most innovative geospatial technologies. 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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