Tips & Tools Weekly (Vol. 13, No. 4)

27 Jan, 2008

This Week's Software Tips

Paying Homage to the Cadalyst T-shirt
For many, the Cadalyst T-shirt is a highly sought-after trophy -- proof of having a tip published in Tips & Tools Weekly or "Hot Tip Harry." How many shirts do you own? How did you earn them, how old are they, what do they look like, which is your favorite? Tell us about your Cadalyst shirt collection. We'll publish the best replies and pick one lucky respondent to receive -- of course -- a Cadalyst T-shirt. Have you seen the latest designs?

Copy Multiple Objects
Recently James J. Olszewski needed to make several copies of a line in AutoCAD without arraying them so that he could move the pick point of one end to various locations. In this instance, it was a line from an arched roadway's center. To achieve this, he wrote MCOPY.LSP. Based in the Array command, it asks you to select the item to copy, then specify the total quantity desired.

(defun c:mcopy ()
(setq ab (entsel))
(setq ac (getstring "Quantity total:"))
(command "array" ab "" "r" ac "1" "0")

NOTES FROM CADALYST TIP PATROL: Be careful, because in our tests, the copied items were all superimposed one on top of the other. Otherwise, it works as intended. A little tweaking could improve this tip by having the last entered number of entities become the default if you plan to use the same number of entities again in a single session. If you enter too many, use the Overkill command in Express Tools to delete the extras.

Automated Appload
James also sent this quick tip. "I ran across this ultraeasy way to load LISP programs automatically every time you launch AutoCAD. Startup Suite is an option when you click the Appload icon. Just click the image, select Add, then find your LISP files to include at startup of AutoCAD! How easy is that? I still can't believe I didn't know about this one."

NOTES FROM CADALYST TIP PATROL: Good tip. Appload has been around for a while. It might be the easiest way to automatically load routines

Round Off a Number
Ramesh Gopal's AutoLISP routine rounds off a number x to the nearest multiple of y. He says, "I have found the routine useful when dealing with a lot of rounding operations."

(defun RND(x y) (* (fix (/ (+ x (/ y 2.0)) y)) y))

Here are some examples of the results:

  • (RND 3.73 0.25) returns 3.75
  • (RND 3.73 0.5) returns 3.5
  • (RND 3.73 1) returns 4.0

NOTES FROM CADALYST TIP PATROL: This tip is a good subroutine for use within another main routine. Perhaps readers can find uses for it when writing their own AutoLISP routines. Let us know!

Follow-Up: Offset Object to Current Layer
Sal Brusco wrote in response to the Offset Object to Current Layer LISP routine included the January 21 edition. Sal reminds readers that the standard Offset command in AutoCAD 2008 already offers the option to offset to the current layer. "My suggestion would be to use the standard commands when they exist."

We agree whole-heartedly with Sal's recommendation. Tip Patrol volunteer Kevin Sawyer, who wrote the LISP routine, provides some clarification: "Yes, the offset to current layer option is available in AutoCAD 2008. It was also available in AutoCAD 2007. My routine was written back in 2004 when AutoCAD contained nothing like the flexibility it has today. I have since 'trimmed' the routine to allow for the in-built abilities of the standard AutoCAD command and still use it today for the following reason.

"A majority of my Offset commands in AutoCAD will be to the same layer as the source. If I use the settings in the standard Offset command to change the layer of the new entity to the current layer, that setting will remain as the default for subsequent offsets. This is also true for the other subsettings, such as deleting the original entity after the offset. I also have a routine for this!

"As you can see in the OFSETCUR.LSP code, the routine simply runs the Offset command with the 'current' setting before changing back to the default 'source' setting, thereby leaving the command defaulting to the 'old favorite' setup we've been used to for years. Like a lot of routines, OFSETCUR.LSP merely takes a standard command, uses it, then sets things back to normal. If you prefer to do that work manually, using the standard Offset command is the way to go."

MicroStation Tip: Unwanted Data Points
Are you getting extra and unwanted data points when using MicroStation XM? If you slow down, does this eliminate the problem? If so, your mouse movements are possibly being interpreted as drag operations. The Unwanted Datapoints tip from Axiom explains how to fix this problem.

Axiom offers many Microstation Tips on its Web site.

VectorWorks Tip: Stretching Multiple Objects
Nemetschek sends this tip for VectorWorks users: Have you ever tried resizing just one portion of a symbol and instead resized the entire symbol or each individual portion of it? Here’s an example of how to resize one end of an object symbol quickly and easily:

First, right-click on the object and choose Edit 2D Component from the context menu.

Select all the objects by either drawing a marquee around them with the 2D Selection tool on the Basic toolset or by choosing the Select All command from the Edit menu.

Once the objects are selected, click the 2D Reshape tool on the Basic toolset, and you will notice that the cursor changes from an arrow to a dashed crosshair.

With the crosshair cursor visible, draw a marquee around the area of the object you would like to stretch. A dashed box outline displays around this area of your object.

Now, move the cursor inside of this box and, using the mouse button, click-drag the selected objects to the desired length.

You have successfully stretched this object without having to resize the whole object or individual pieces separately.

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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New U.S. National CAD Standard Now Available
The American Institute of Architects (AIA), Construction Specifications Institute (CSI), and National Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS) unveiled the United States National CAD Standard (NCS) v4, the first update since 2005. More than 5,000 workplaces have voluntarily adopted the NCS since its debut in 1999, many federal agencies require NCS use, and many private sector users also have adopted it. Read more

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Deals & Freebies

AccuRender nXt Trial
The next AccuRender, now under development, is available free to those who fill out a survey. The company is soliciting feedback on its new technology from a wide range of users. The goals for the new AccuRender technology include faster rendering speed, improved ease of use, more accurate images, and support for more platforms.

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Opportunities & Honors

VectorWorks User Wins AIA Design Excellence Award
Chestertown, Maryland, architect Kevin M. Shertz, AIA, was awarded a 2007 Citation for Architectural Excellence at the AIA Chesapeake Bay Chapter Design Gala. The award was presented for Hollywood Beach House, a new, single-family residence located in Chesapeake City, Maryland, which Shertz designed using VectorWorks Architect software.

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The Week's New CAD and Related Products

Hardware: SD2420W and SD2620W Wide-Format Displays
Planar Systems' two larger-size options in its line of StereoMirror LCD stereoscopic 3D displays offer full WUXGA resolution (1920 x 1200) for 3D applications. Read more

General Software: Arbortext Plug-in v1.2
ParallelGraphics solution enables a method of authoring technical documentation with integrated 3D visualizations. Read more

General Software: PDF3D Software Development Kit v1.4.2
Visual Technology Services' 3D PDF document generation kit includes 3D dynamic labels, a VRML-to-3D PDF application, and more. Read more

Visualization: IDX Renditioner
IMSI/Design release for Google SketchUp v6 and SketchUp Pro v6 on the Macintosh operating system said to provide photorealistic rendering and material and lighting control. Read more

AEC: RAM Structural System v11.3
Modeling, analysis, and design software from Bentley includes several new design and usability features. Read more

AEC: Design Master HVAC v6
Update to Design Master's integrated HVAC design and drafting program includes simplified command to export 3D ductwork, more metric duct-labeling options, and more ventilation calculation methods. Read more

AEC: Design Master Electrical v7
Update to integrated electrical design and drafting program includes ability to model electrical systems in 3D, improved photometric calculations, and an expanded voltage list. Read more

AEC: Real Architect 2008
Straight Forward Software released this 2D architectural drafting program that works with both AutoCAD LT and full versions of AutoCAD. Read more

The comprehensive CAD system from ZWSOFT is designed as a low-cost alternative to AutoCAD. Read more

MCAD: RevWorks v8
Revware's new reverse engineering software will integrate data captured from existing parts, using 3D digitizers, with SolidWorks. Read more

MCAD: 3D Small-Area Analysis
New option to Magma Design Automation's Knights Camelot CAD navigation failure analysis software reportedly helps fabrication engineers locate potential circuit failures faster. Read more

MCAD: SYCODE Add-Ins for Autodesk Inventor
Seven new import add-ins work with STL, 3ds Max 3DS, Rhinoceros/OpenNURBS 3DM, and Wavefront OBJ files. Read more

MCAD: VX v13
VX Corporation software for the product design and mold and die markets includes a new filleting engine. Read more

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Mark Your Calendar

Webinar Series: Eliminating Model Rework through Automated CAD Repair
Various dates in February and March
2:00 p.m. EST
ITI TranscenData will host a series of one-hour technical Webinars on the tools and techniques used to combat the labor waste associated with CAD model rework. Read more

AutoCAD Civil 3D Test Drive
February 14, 2008
Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania
These test drives, presented by Synergis, will show how to intelligently link design and production drafting and provide ways to streamline office processes, increase project capacity, and improve customer service. Read more

Avatech University: Digital Prototyping
Various Dates in February
Various U.S. Cities
Avatech Solutions invites product management professionals and manufacturing design engineers to attend free classes on digital prototyping. Attendees can choose from eight 45-minute sessions. Read more

AutoCAD Architecture Test Drive
March 18, 2008
Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania
Synergis will present this test drive to show how creating and sharing accurate drafting and construction documents is made more efficient with the system’s familiar environment, flexible implementation options, and easy-to-use architectural drawing and design tools. Read more

Revit Architecture Test Drive
March 18, 2008
Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania
Attend this Synergis event and see how easy it is to create naturally, design freely, and deliver efficiently with Revit software for building information modeling (BIM). Read more

GIS Manager's Workshop
March 19, 2008
Prince Frederick, Maryland
Geographic Technologies Group (GTG) will sponsor the GIS Manager's Workshop for all GIS managers and IT directors. Topics will cover Managing GIS, The Governance of GIS, The Enterprise Implementation of GIS, and The Business Case for GIS. 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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