Tips & Tools Weekly (Vol. 13, No. 19)

18 May, 2008

This Week's Software Tips

Manage Profiles Using Desktop Icons
Austin Dumas shared his firm's way of managing profiles. He wrote, "Although there are many other ways to do this, I find this method the simplest, mainly due to profile hijacking issues we have with third-party programs that sit on top of AutoCAD (i.e., Bentley AutoPLANT P&ID and Aveva VPE P&ID). We also have an in-house-developed flavor of AutoCAD that requires specific profiles and menus to be used. These third-party programs create their own profiles and disable key AutoCAD functionality and unfortunately are not very good at disengaging themselves or their profiles when you close down the program. So when we open regular AutoCAD, our screen looks strangely like that third-party program we thought we closed. The result is we have to go into Tools / Options, apply the correct profile, close, and then reopen AutoCAD.

"There are two methods that we use to manage profiles via the icon.

  1. Add the name of your standard AutoCAD profile to the target line of the icon. For example, if your profile is called MYPROFILE, then the target line in the properties of the icon should read C:\acad2008\acad.exe /p MYPROFILE (where /p MYPROFILE is the modified bit). If you have several profiles, then create several icons on your desktop, each pointing to a different profile.
  2. Save your profile to an external file and add the path and filename of the profile to the target line of the icon. For example, using the same profile listed above, go to Tools / Options / Profiles tab, select the profile name in question, and then click the Export button. Save the profile somewhere on your computer (i.e., right in the C: prompt) with the ARG extension (i.e., MYPROFILE.ARG). Next, modify the target line in the properties window of the icon to read C:\ACAD2008\ACAD.EXE NULL "C:\MYPROFILE.ARG" (where NULL "C:\MYPROFILE.ARG" is the modified bit). NOTE: If you change your profile settings, then you will have to re-export your profile.

"Option 2 is a little more robust, especially if you are running custom flavors of AutoCAD in house. Either way, when you go to open native AutoCAD, you will get the desired profile opening up every time as opposed to whatever third-party application that uses AutoCAD as its graphics engine."

NOTES FROM CADALYST TIP PATROL: Great tip, Austin! The second method is a great way to keep several users on a network working with the same profile. A manager can edit the profile to suit the current needs and only update the file in one place.

Revision Numbering in Sheet Set Manager
Gene Shingaki sent in these instructions for creating revision numbering in Sheet Set Manager.

  1. In Sheet Set Manager, highlight the project name, right-click, and select Properties.
  2. Scroll down to Sheet Set Custom Properties / Edit Custom Properties / Add / Create New Custom Revision Properties Similar To:
  3. It's a good idea to make a revision custom property for your as-built revisions. (I use an A for the revision number.)
  4. Open your border sheet template drawing and create one set of fields for your revision number, revision date, revision description, revision by, etc. (I use regular dtext.)
  1. Now you can link first the revision number field to the custom property REVISION-1_NUMBER, then the revision date field to the REVISION-1_DATE CUSTOM PROPERTY, etc.
  2. When you finish linking the REVISION-1 fields, block these fields into one block called Revision-1 (make the insertion point at the bottom left corner of your revision number box).
  3. After creating the block you can revise the fields to link to REVISION-2_ custom properties, reblock the fields as REVISION-2, and repeat.
  4. Save your template with these new blocks.
  5. When it comes time to do revisions, you can input the info in Sheetset Custom Properties and insert the revision block into only the sheets required for that revision. You can explode these blocks and then update the fields, and your revision information will appear. If your revision delta was part of your block, you can then copy the delta with the revision number field anywhere on your sheet.
  6. This also gives everyone a running tally of all the revisions in the Sheet Set Manager without looking at transmittals.

NOTES FROM CADALYST TIP PATROL: If you are not familiar with sheet sets and how they work, then you could get lost in this process. However, this is a good tip to demonstrate the use of sheet sets. If you want to take advantage of sheet sets and have them do a lot of the work for you, be it a revision note like here or anything else, then follow these general steps. Find a use that will fill a need or solve an issue. Sheet sets are great!

MicroStation Tip: Convert MDF files to DGNLIB
If you have custom menus for the BARMENU utility, you can use MDF2XML to convert the MDF files to a DGNLIB that can be used with MicroStation XM using the MS_GUIDGNLIBLIST variable. The procedure to convert the MDF into an XML file and then import it into a DGNLIB is well documented in the MDF2XML download, but the real beauty of this process is how you can further use the MS_GUIDGNLIBLIST variable to control which users see which menus. Read more

Axiom offers many MicroStation Tips on its Web site.

RenderWorks Tip: Setting a 3D View with RenderWorks Cameras
Users of Nemetschek's RenderWorks, a rendering solution for use with VectorWorks, can easily create 3D perspective views of a model by placing one or more RenderWorks cameras. First, select the RenderWorks Camera tool from the Visualization tool set. Next, click in the design layer to specify the camera's location and click again to indicate the camera's look-to point. A RenderWorks camera is placed.


With the camera object selected, use the Object Info palette to change parameters such as the camera's render mode, height, and aspect ratio. To see the camera view, click Display Camera View. The model displays in a perspective view with the render mode and settings that you have chosen.


Today's RenderWorks tip courtesy of Nemetschek North America.

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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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CSI Creates Young Professionals Group
The Construction Specifications Institute (CSI) is creating a new group to support young professionals in the design and construction industry. CSI's Emerging Professionals group will provide recent college graduates and new professionals with networking, mentoring, and leadership development opportunities. Read more

Plant Design Study Looks at 2D vs 3D Design
A new study by market research firm Daratech found that 3D plant design systems have transformed plant creation and operations by enabling a greater number of smaller businesses to undertake projects that were previously accessible only to large companies. Of study participants who lack the ability to use 3D plant design systems, 73% believe their job options may become limited if they fail to become proficient users of 3D software. Read more

Free PLM Report
Geometric Limited and the Aberdeen Group have released a report titled Integrating the PLM Ecosystem that reportedly provides companies a guide to the best approaches for integrating disparate product lifecycle management applications within the enterprise and the extended PLM ecosystem. The report is free to those who register on Aberdeen's Web site. Read more

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Deals & Freebies

Dimension 3D Offering Credit on Trade-in
The Dimension 3D Printing Group announced a trade-in offer that extends a $10,000 credit to commercial customers toward the purchase of a Dimension SST 1200es 3D printer. The trade-in offer is available worldwide and will run through the summer of 2008. For complete trade-in details contact a Dimension reseller.

Adobe Updates Photoshop Express Beta
Adobe Systems updated the Adobe Photoshop Express beta to include integration with Flickr and a new "Save As" capability. An embeddable player allows users to post their Photoshop Express slideshows to sites such as Facebook, Myspace, and blogs. The public beta is a free rich Internet application (RIA) that is available to anyone who wants to store, sort, and show off digital photos. Read more

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Opportunities & Honors

Winner Announced in Image Competition
LightWork Design announced the winner of the first quarterly LightWorks Image Competition. The winning entry came from Paal Reksten, who works for Opus Architects in Haugesund, Norway. Because of the number of high-quality images received, the judging committee decided to award two additional highly commended prizes to Igor Carreira and Doug Caplan. Read more

Architecture Firm Earns BIM Experience Award
Burt Hill, an architecture, engineering, and design firm, has been selected to receive a Revit BIM Experience Award. At an Autodesk customer appreciation event last week, the firm was honored for its successful use of the Revit platform for BIM in designing buildings that have earned Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design ratings from the U.S. Green Building Council. Read more

Reliable Graphics Recognized for Sustainability Achievements
Oce announced the winner of its first annual Green Reprographer of the Year award during the IRgA 2008 Annual Convention and Trade Show in Las Vegas, Nevada. California-based Reliable Graphics was selected as the winner for its achievements in the area of green business practices. Read more

Objet Geometries Earns Two Awards
Objet Geometries announced that its Connex500 rapid prototyping system has been recognized with the Red Dot Award for product design and innovation worldwide. Objet will formally receive its award on June 23 at the annual Red Dot Awards gala in Germany. Objet's Connex500 system also has been recognized with the 2008 RadTech USA Emerging Technologies Award, which honors outstanding users of ultraviolet and electron beam technologies. Objet received its award May 6 at the RadTech UV/EB Technology Expo & Conference in Chicago. Read more

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The Week's New CAD and Related Products

Hardware: CS2224 and CS2236 Plotters
Oce large-format plotters are designed for low-volume users. Read more

Hardware: Extio F1240
Latest Matrox remote graphics units can drive two 30" displays as far away as 250 meters. Read more

General Software: WiseImage 11
Csoft product, available from Ideal, enables companies to scan their old paper drawings and incorporate the data into the CAD environment. Read more

Visualization: GHOST 3D Plug-Ins for 3ds Max Design
New releases reportedly add diverse features for designs in 3ds Max. Read more

Visualization: TracePro v5
Latest release from Lambda Research allows users to combine multiple light sources with various wavelength spectrums in one TracePro model. Read more

AEC: VE-Ware
IES's sustainable design software gives instant feedback on a building's energy consumption and CO2 emissions. Read more

AEC: HD Pro Calc
Pipeline calculation software from TexLa produces files that can be exported to AutoCAD. Read more

AEC: Newforma Project Center
Fifth Edition reportedly expands the ways in which external team members can collaborate via Newforma Info Exchange. Read more

AEC: Affinity v5.5
Trelligence software extends building information modeling to the earliest phases of building projects. Read more

VX assembly-level display tool lets users toggle the display mode of any component. Read more

MCAD: CircuitSpace v2.2
DesignAdvance Systems product allows bidirectional communication between layouts and a (PDF) schematic. Read more

CAE: Tgrid v5
Advanced mesh-generation software from ANSYS is used to create large unstructured meshes for complex geometry. Read more

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Mark Your Calendar

Siemens PLM Connection Americas 2008
June 2-5, 2008
Orlando, Florida
This annual user group conference is for users of NX, Teamcenter, Tecnomatix, and Solid Edge software. The event will feature more than 600 educational sessions, including keynote presentations, technical sessions, product updates and hands-on-training. Read more

VIP Summit on Business and Technology
June 20, 2008
Plymouth and Medina, Minnesota
At the VIP summit, manufacturing executives and managers will discuss issues their businesses are facing from the concept to the manufacturing process. Sponsored by Applied Engineering. 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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