Tips & Tools Weekly (Vol. 13, No. 20)

1 Jun, 2008

This Week's Software Tips

Move Objects Using Grips
Mike Parr wrote to share his way to move AutoCAD entities without using the Move command: "Select objects to be moved, grab a grip (any grip), and press the space bar. This is so elegant, and it saves two steps: You do not have to snap to the object (my Autosnap is off most of the time), and you do not have to find the M key. This may sound trivial, but I use the Move command about every 30 seconds."

NOTES FROM CADALYST TIP PATROL: Editing with grips is a real time saver. If an object has only one grip, you don't have to press the space bar. If you want to edit more than one grip on an object but don't want to edit them all (or move the object), just press and hold the Shift key and select the grips you want to edit. AutoCAD maintains the respective ratios between the selected grips. This also works for multiple objects. If you want to keep the end points of two lines relative to each other, use this method. Grips are our friends.

Custom Spell Check Shortcut
Steven R. Balliet sent a tip he recently shared on the AUGI AutoCAD Tips & Tricks forum -- his method for making the Spell Check command easier to use. "The default was set to Entire Drawing, and 95% of the time I would just want to check Selected Objects. Then I learned you can customize the right-click menu, and it solved my problem.

  1. Type CUI into the Command line.
  2. In the upper left window, expand Shortcut Menus and then expand Mtext Objects Menu, Text Object Menus, and Edit Menus. (The last one is needed if you want to select and spell check more than one text object at a time.)
  3. From the lower left window with the commands, scroll down to Spell Check, and one at a time, drag and drop the command in the three shortcut menus you expanded. (Put it in the order you want it to show up.)
  4. Select Apply, then OK. Now when you need to do a spell check on text, just select, right-click, choose Spell Check, then Start. I think it's quicker!"

NOTES FROM CADALYST TIP PATROL: This is a good use of the CUI to get the functionality you need. When using Spell Checker, if you select the objects first and then activate the spell checker, it defaults to Selected Objects. No need to customize anything if you don't want to and no need to change any settings. In AutoCAD 2009, mtext now has an automatic spell checker. It works like a word processor, so if a word is misspelled, it will have a squiggle under it.

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

Follow-Up: Revision Numbering in Sheet Set Manager
Mark Hultgren wrote in response to our May 19 issue, "We often use sheet-specific revisions along with Sheet Set revisions, so we will define the revision custom properties as Sheet Set by default and then, as needed, change them from SheetSet to sheet-specific."

Follow-Up: Copy with Coordinates
Copying with coordinates seems to be a frequent task for a lot of our readers. Our follow-up tips from the May 12 issue include two routines from Alex Borodulin. The first is an AutoLISP routine for using the Copybase command for multiple pastes at point 0,0.

Enter , (comma) to invoke the command:

(defun C:,(/ gp) (setq gp (ssget))(command "copybase" "0,0" gp ""))

Alex also sent this Visual Basic procedure for multiple pastes after a standard copy. The only difference is that the Escape button must be used to cancel/discontinue the command. From the AutoCAD pull-down menu, select Tools / Macro / VBA Manager. Then choose New, highlight ACADProject, and press the Visual Basic Editor button. Double-click on This Drawing in the upper left corner of the new dialog box. Copy and paste the VBA code in the new information box on the left. Select File / Save and the Save As dialog box will appear. Choose the default with the DVB extension. Exit the VBA Manager and save the AutoLISP code to a new file (MP.LSP). Load this new file in all AutoCAD drawings. Select some entities and copy them to the clipboard (Ctrl+C). Choose a basepoint if so desired. Execute the AutoLISP routine. The objects can be pasted multiple times in all drawings that this procedure is loaded in. Press Escape to exit.

Public Sub MP()
ThisDrawing.SendCommand ("MULTIPLE PASTECLIP" & vbCr)
End Sub

To start the command, use AutoLISP:


The Copy with Coordinates tip garnered a question from Charles A. Graham, who wrote to ask, "Is that the same as right-click Clipboard / Copy, then in the new location, right-click / Paste to Original Coordinates?"

COMMENTS FROM CADALYST TIP PATROL: That depends on your current AutoCAD setup. Specifically:

^C^C_pasteorig = Paste to Original Coordinates
^C^C_pasteclip = Paste (Ctrl+V)
^C^C_copybase = Copy with Basepoint (Ctrl+Shift+C)
^C^C_copyclip = Copy (Ctrl+C)

Dustin L. Cotter, Alan Pooley, and Randy Lam all wrote to say they use Ctrl+Shift+C to allow a selection set to be copied with any relative basepoint either selected or typed in, then Ctrl+V to paste or Ctrl+Shift+V or paste as a block.

COMMENTS FROM CADALYST TIP PATROL: Actually, there is little difference; it is just a matter of choice. Setting it up in an AutoLISP routine will help beginners understand simple customizing, which will lead to more complex programming. Some of these tips may seem to be a bit extensive and overdone for such a simple set of commands. (Remember the movie Contact? Ockham's Razor: "The simplest explanation is usually the best.") To others, they can be a quick lesson in basic AutoCAD programming, which they can expand upon.

The tips are also a review of basic commands. Some use them frequently; others, seldom. We all could use a reminder that some of the most useful time-savers are the simple, basic inputs.

All tests were done by Tip Patrol member Billy Wooten and Mitchell Hirschklau using AutoCAD 2006/2007/2008. Many thanks to the readers for their responses.

MicroStation Tip: Useful Keyboard Shortcuts
Download this quick list of easy keyboard shortcuts for MicroStation's Text Editor dialog box and the AccuDraw dialog box, in addition to general Windows commands.

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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Deals & Freebies

NVIDIA Gelato Pro v2.2 Download
NVIDIA is offering its NVIDIA Gelato Pro v2.2, the company's GPU-accelerated rendering software, as a no-cost download. Designed for rendering of 3D digital content and design, Gelato Pro software now replaces the basic version of Gelato software, which was previously available directly from NVIDIA. Read more

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Opportunities & Honors

FIATECH Project Aimed at Teaching Core Competencies
FIATECH has initiated a new project to identify unique postsecondary educational institutions' programs and catalog instructional techniques used to teach design and construction technology. By identifying innovative and successful industry and academic programs that currently exist in academic institutions, FIATECH believes these programs can be used to assist and expand technology-enabling efforts throughout the construction and engineering industry. Read more

PTC Names Winners in 2008 CoCreate Design Competition
PTC announced the winners of its 2008 CoCreate explicit design competition celebrating excellence in design. Users were invited to submit a screenshot, rendered image, 3D model, 2D drawing, or animation of an original design in any of 20 different product categories. More than 2,500 voters selected their favorite designs. View the complete results and winning designs.

SME Bestows Awards at Rapid Conference
Jayanthi Parthasarathy of the University of Oklahoma School of Industrial Engineering received the Dick Aubin Distinguished Paper Award at the Society of Manufacturing Engineers' RAPID 2008 Conference and Exposition on May 20. Parthasarathy was this year's recipient for her paper on the innovative application of rapid prototyping to the field of skull reconstruction. In addition, SME's Rapid Technologies and Additive Manufacturing (RTAM) Community presented Gideon Levy with the first RTAM Industry Achievement Award for outstanding accomplishments that have had significant impact within the additive manufacturing industry.

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The Week's New CAD and Related Products

Hardware: Quickparts Medical-Grade Materials
Specialized materials include Duraform PA for selective laser sintering, PC-ISO for fused deposition modeling, and RC-79D for cast urethane molding. Read more

Hardware: vizBOXX
New module from BOXX Technologies is designed to power virtual reality systems and very large displays. Read more

Hardware: M860TU Montebello
Eurocom's 15.4" mobile workstation is based on an Intel Cantiga PM45 chipset and Nvidia's GeForce 9xxx series VGA technology. Read more

General Software: BillQuick 2008
BQE Software's business application simplifies time tracking, project management, and billing. Read more

General Software: aniPart
Animech Technologies' communication and presentation solution is designed to streamline tasks associated with the management of product revisions. Read more

Visualization: Rapid Design Visualization (RDV) 2009
Software said to enable users to rapidly and efficiently present, simulate, and analyze large-scale land planning, transportation, and site development projects in 3D. Read more

AEC: Scia Engineer 2008
Nemetschek Scia has renamed the company's SCIAoESA PT flagship product, which reportedly offers an improved connection to Allplan BIM 2008. Read more

MCAD: CADdoctor EX3.0
Data verification tool from Elysium includes expanded capabilities for data translation end-to-end, throughout product development. Read more

MCAD: CircuitProbe v2.2
New product from DesignAdvance Systems enables bidirectional communication between a layout and a PDF of the schematic. Read more

MCAD: CoCreate 2008
Latest release from PTC reportedly helps users explore more style options quickly. Read more

MCAD: Power NURBS v5, Power Solids v5, and Power Translators v5
nPower software products feature support for 3ds Max 2009 and 3ds Design 2009 and 64-bit computing. Read more

CAE: MD Technologies
From MSC.Software, the core component of MSC SimEnterprise offers enhanced solver integration for greater simulation accuracy and improved analysis. Read more

CAE: EDA 3D Analysis Suite
Software from Spatial enables the development of 3D analysis and visualization features within current EDA physical design flows. Read more

CAE: Abaqus v6.8
Dassault's FEA software from SIMULIA provides built-in composites-analysis capabilities that enable aerospace engineers to simulate possible failure behavior. Read more

CAM: MultiGage
Portable 6-axis coordinate measuring machine from ROMER can be used for 3D dimensional control of molds, parts, tooling, and castings. Read more

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Mark Your Calendar

Autodesk Road and Highway Design Seminar
June 4, 25, & 26, 2008
Various Cities in Wisconsin
DLT Solutions, Autodesk, and IMAGINiT Technologies will demonstrate how to use AutoCAD Civil 3D 2009 in data management, survey, design and analysis, and documentation. Read more

Autodesk Solutions for Public Works & Utilities Half Day Seminar
June 3, 4, & 5, 2008
Various Cities in Florida
DLT Solutions, Autodesk, CH2M Hill, and CADD Centers of Florida will jointly host this series of public works and utilities events for the public sector. Read more

Webinar: Engineering Analysis, Simulation, and Virtual Test Software in the Design of Heavy Machinery
June 17, 2008
10:30 a.m. EDT
This Webinar, hosted by Noran Engineering for manufacturers of heavy equipment and machinery, will introduce the ease-of-use capabilities of creating digital prototypes with the FEMAP pre/post processor and NEi Nastran robust solvers. Read more

For a complete list of CAD meetings, conferences, training sessions, and more, check out our calendar of events on