Tips & Tools Weekly (Vol. 13, No. 45)

7 Dec, 2008

This Week's Software Tips

Congratulations November Drawing Winner!
Bill Karkula won the November drawing for a $100 gift card. Bill's tip, Block Counting, was published in the November 10 Tips & Tools Weekly. Submit your tip (see guidelines below) 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.

Attention Tip Fans: Changes in the Works for Newsletter Tips
Beginning with today's edition of Tips & Tools Weekly, readers will notice some changes in the works regarding how we share tips. All the latest software tips are now posted in full on Cadalyst's new CAD Tips site. A brief description of each new tip will appear in that week's newsletter to alert readers of the update and link to the full tip description and comments from the Cadalyst Tip Patrol. On the CAD Tips site, registered users can rate and comment on each tip, pose questions to the author, and tag favorites.

We hope you'll enjoy all this new functionality, including the ability to search the tip archives and to find all the tip detail and reader follow-up in one place. Send your suggestions and feedback about this new process to Now, on to this week's new tips!

Multiple Drawings in Taskbar
Karen Tomajko sent us Access Multiple Drawings via Taskbar for accessing multiple open drawings. Her solution makes the drawings visible in the taskbar so you don't have to use the Window pull-down menu. Karen uses this tip in AutoCAD Map 3D 2008, but it also works in AutoCAD and all AutoCAD-based verticals. View the full tip

Exit Macro
Larry Kibel needed a way to close an AutoCAD drawing while making sure certain settings are the way he needed them to be. He sent us Exit Macro, which adjusts a variety of system variables before closing a file. It's a nice way to make sure you know how your file will react. View the full tip

Read DWFx Files Without a Viewer
Brent Daley sent us a link where users can download the software that enables Windows users to open and Read DWFx Files Without a Viewer. This is a good tool to have when you need to send files to clients, vendors, and competing firms. View the full tip

Layer Freeze – Extra Settings
Don Bentz wrote in about an often overlooked feature of AutoCAD's Layfrz command -- the Settings/Undo option. Don's tip, Layer Freeze Ð Extra Settings, explains how to use the settings to optimize the Layfrz command. View the full tip

Follow-up, Clarification: Quick 3D Solid
Jack Kriz wrote in about the Quick 3D Solid tip in the November 24 edition. He asked, "Exactly what command is issued to use the CTL/ALT assist?" The response from the Cadalyst Tip Patrol: There is no command!! That's the cool thing about it. Users can create a solid object from existing linework without starting a command. In fact, it seems to be starting the PRESS/PULL command without starting the command, because Press/Pull works the exact same way. Here's how it works:

Get some linework that is closed, meaning an area similar to what could be hatched. Press and hold the CTRL key and press the ALT key (both at the same time). While holding these two buttons, drag the cross hair around your linework you want to make a solid from. That area will become highlighted. Let go of the buttons and drag your mouse up/down/sideways to create the solid. It does work exactly like the PRESS/PULL command.

Submit Your Tip

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 remember:

  • Submit only code and other tips that are your original work (or provide the original source so we can include proper credit).
  • 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

Bricsys Offers 20% Discounts on its Bricscad Software
Until December 15, 2008, Bricsys is offering reduced prices on its Bricscad v9 software, allowing users to get Bricscad v9 Pro for the price of v9 Classic. The software is compatible with the AutoCAD 2009 file format, and the LISP, COM, and BRX engines.

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Opportunities & Honors

Aras Achieves Microsoft Front Runner Status for its PLM Suite
Aras announced that its Aras Innovator suite for product lifecycle management (PLM) is enabled on the Microsoft SQL Server 2008, earning the company Front Runner status from Microsoft.

Call for Papers on Rapid Manufacturing
The International Conference on Rapid Manufacturing is calling for papers for its 2009 conference. Abstracts of 400 words or less are now invited from leading academics and industrialists engaged in groundbreaking RM research or commercial applications.

FIATECH Call for Papers
FIATECH is accepting presentation proposals for its 2009 Technology and Conference Showcase until December 12, 2008. The theme is "Don't Gamble with Construction Technology" and will be designed around BIM, safety, health, and environmental technology, and simulation gaming technology. The conference is targeted for design, engineering, construction, and IT professionals.

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The Week's New CAD and Related Products

Hardware: WideTEK 36 Large-Format Scanner
The high-resolution device from Image Access scans 36" wide documents at 12.4" per second in a resolution of 200 dpi in 24-bit color. Read more

Hardware: Rapidform liveScan Plug-in
The plug-in allows users to scan directly into the Rapidform software package, which provides graphical feedback of the scanning process. Read more

Visualization: Esperient Creator V3.5
Features of Esperient's Creator v3.5 include CScript object-orientated scripting language and Smart Objects and Intelligent Materials. Read more

AEC: Revit Architecture Module
The skills assessment software from CADsmart works inside the Revit platform.
Read more

AEC: BIMreview
Avatech's BIM standards checking software finds inconsistencies in a model and provides automatic correction capabilities. Read more

AEC: Ideate Explorer for Revit 2009
Users of Ideate's BIM software can search, quantify, and view individual building elements by category, family, type, level, and room. Read more

AEC: Civil Simulate
Sivan Design's software merges designs with an orthophoto, enabling users to view junctions, roundabouts, interchanges, and bridges. Read more

New features of Optimal AEC's CAD standards software include support for remote and disconnected users, and import/export of standards. Read more

AEC: promis·e V8i
Software from Bentley Systems reportedly reduces electrical design time by more than 30%. Read more

GIS: OpenStreetMap Import for CityEngine
OpenStreetMap import from Procedural is designed to enable generation of any city in the world within minutes. Read more

Collaboration: ICEvision
Ice Edge Business Solutions' add-on application allows users to explore and share their designs in an immersive 3D virtual environment. Read more

Collaboration: Clarizen V2.5G
Clarizen's software enables users to create interproject shortcuts, user and admin permissions, job titles, billing-rate definitions, and schedule updates. Read more

Collaboration: Lattice3D Reporter V2.1
Lattice Technology's publishing software allows 3D CAD data, process information, and linked parts lists to be shared in Excel spreadsheets. Read more

MCAD: Mastercam X3 Mill
CNC Software's latest release includes feature-based machining, multiaxis functions, and 2D and 3D high-speed toolpaths. Read more

CAE: Abaqus V6.8 Extended Functionality
Dassault Systemes' FEA software includes new capabilities in general contact, the modeling of spot welds, fasteners, and elastomeric foams. Read more

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Mark Your Calendar

California Electric Utilities Summit
December 11, 2008
Glendale, California
This event, hosted by U.S. CAD, will focus on how electric utilities can improve efficiency, response times, and decision-making by using Autodesk software to design and manage infrastructure assets. Read more

Webinar: Introduction to ArcGIS Data Interoperability
December 11, 2008
9 a.m., 11 a.m., 3 p.m. PST
During the seminar from ESRI, attendees will learn about the features of ArcGIS Data Interoperability extension that support data workflows. Read more

Cloud Computing Conference: An IT Paradigm Shif
February 11, 2009
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Plum Communications' conference will explore the assessment of PaaS (Platform as a Service) and infrastructure models, the challenge of scale, migration risks and rewards, and security. 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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