Tips & Tools Weekly (Vol. 13, No. 5)

3 Feb, 2008

This Week's Software Tips

Print Multiple Drawings
Lisa Bongard wrote to describe how she makes her workload more efficient using AutoCAD's Publish command. She explains, "I discovered the Publish command when one of our sales people asked about printing multiple drawings at once. I thought, surely that's something AutoCAD can do. So I created two templates (more can be made based on requirements). The templates have options selected for the paper size, the specific plotter/printer, etc.

"Using the Publish command, I can print multiple drawings (without having to open all of the files) either to my printer/plotter or to one DWF file. That comes in handy for sending multiple files. You may have to tweak the templates you create to get the desired effect you need. I love this command. Whatever saves me even 10 seconds adds up in the long run. In this business time equals money, as we all know."

NOTES FROM CADALYST TIP PATROL: Good tip. The Publish command is very powerful and can be used in multiple ways. For example, with background publishing enabled, plotting can take 10 times as long to complete. It's more efficient to turn background plotting off and open another session of AutoCAD if you need to continue working. Be aware that some AutoCAD 2008 versions will crash during Publish when Publishcollate is set to 1.

File-Sharing Best Practices
Michael Cailao wrote to remind CAD users to always keep in mind how their files will be used later on in a project, particularly by people other than themselves. Creating a Best Practices list requires planning and thought, he says, yet it can make a project run much more smoothly for other people on the team. He provided some examples to consider, depending on your company's specifications:

  • Audit and purge all files prior to making them available to other consultants, so they don't have to scroll through all the chaff.
  • Do not use defpoints for xref files or for drawing any elements, because if you do, others cannot use that layer without your files being in the way.
  • Do not draw or insert blocks and xref files on layer 0.
  • Coordinate the use of color tables with your consultants or use "color by layer" pen tables so they don't have to manipulate your files.
  • Include your color table when you send files.
  • Use standard layer naming conventions so others can figure out what the lines and circles represent.
  • Pick a file name and stick with it throughout the project.

NOTES FROM CADALYST TIP PATROL: The key to developing Best Practices is to define your deliverables up front. Often two companies agree to work on a project without even discussing the fact that they are using different software versions. Although the above list won't apply to everyone, creating your own Best Practices list is a good starting point for collaborative projects.

Easy Access to Linetype Files
Perry Medina describes a quick way to access various linetype files if they are in folders other than AutoCAD's default location. He writes, "The trick is to place a shortcut to the linetype file in the default location that AutoCAD looks to first. This way, you don't have to browse other folders for a linetype file you are looking for."

  • Browse to the folder with the linetype file. Right-click on the linetype file, and select Send To, and then Desktop. (This creates a shortcut.)
  • Browse to your desktop, right-click on the newly created shortcut and select Copy.
  • In AutoCAD, open the Layer Properties Manager. Click on a linetype as if you were going to change it. When the Select Linetype dialog box opens, click Load. When the Load or Reload Linetypes dialog box pops up, click File.
  • The Select Linetype File dialog box now opens. Right-click over the blank space and select Paste. You now have a shortcut to the linetype file. When selected, it will open the file.

NOTES FROM CADALYST TIP PATROL: You can also do this without making the shortcut on the desktop. Just right-click on the LIN file and choose copy. Then when you paste (in the last step), right-click and choose the Paste shortcut.

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

Follow-Up: Automated Appload
Brock Narum provided another approach to load files in response to the Automated Appload tip from the January 28 issue. He says, "The Appload startup suite loads all routines at startup. I have quite a few routines, some of which I rarely use, but others I use daily. It would be overkill to have all of these loaded if they are not being used. The following is a line of code that will load the routine on demand. (It won't load unless invoked.)

(autoload "BlockQuantity" '("BlkQnt"))

"This line of code has to be located within a menu file like the ACAD.MNL file or a custom menu MNL file that loads with AutoCAD, and the file you want to load needs to be located in one of your search paths. In my example, BlockQuantity is the LSP file name and the BlkQnt is a function within the file (typing BlkQnt will load/invoke the routine). The power and flexibility of this code is that there could be multiple functions defined within the LSP file, and you could load and invoke any of them by adding them to the list like so:

(autoload "MyOwnLsps" '("HexNote" "TriNote" "CircNote"))

Another advantage to using this approach is that if the referenced LSP file gets moved and is no longer located in your search paths, when you type in the command to invoke the routine, it will let you know that the file can't be found. You can also use this to load VLX and FAS files as long as you include the extensions in the file name."

(autoload "MyOwnLsps.fas" '("HexNote" "TriNote" "CircNote"))

MicroStation Tip: Turn Off Reference File Display
Large MicroStation projects tend to be broken up into multiple design files by discipline. You might have one set of designers working on plumbing, another set on electrical, and so on. Then, a corresponding file from each discipline is referenced to a master file to complete the picture for that one set of files. Of course, that one finished set of files is only one of many such sets needed to complete the project, but normally each set of files is handled in the same fashion.

What happens when you need to print out a copy of this master design file to give to the electrician responsible for the wiring? You don't want to give the electrician a printout that includes every discipline's details. Here is the solution.

Today's MicroStation tip courtesy of Axiom and

VectorWorks Tip: Printing Drawings in Black and White
Even if your printer does not have a black and white only option, you can still achieve a black and white only effect without affecting the colors within the drawing. To do this you can temporarily change the document settings to black and white only:

  • Select File / Document Settings / Document Preferences.
  • On the Display tab of the Document Preferences dialog box, select Black and White Only.
  • Click OK, and your drawing will display and print in black and white.

To revert back to the color version of your document, simply deselect the Black and White Only option in the Document Preferences.

You can also keep your design layer at full color and have a viewport display and print in black and white. Additionally, some users may want to create two viewports of the same design layer and have one viewport in color and the other in black and white, for presentation purposes. VectorWorks 2008 provides an option for this effect as well. To change a viewport to black and white:

  • Select the desired viewport.
  • In the Object Info palette, click the Advanced Properties button.
  • Select Black and White and click OK.

Your resulting print will be black and white. To return the viewport to full color, deselect the Black and White Only option through the Advanced Properties in the Object Info palette.

Today’s VectorWorks tip courtesy of Nemetschek.

Last Week for the Cadalyst T-Shirt Contest
If you have earned one -- or an entire wardrobe -- of Cadalyst T-shirts for having your tip(s) published in Tips & Tools Weekly or "Hot Tip Harry," tell us about it. This is the last week to regale us with tales of how many shirts you own, how you earned them, how old they are, what they look like, and which is your favorite? We'll publish the best replies and pick one lucky respondent to receive -- of course -- a Cadalyst T-shirt. Check out the latest designs.

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

CIMdata Offers Review Report on Share-A-Space
CIMdata consulting and research firm published a review of Eurostep’s Share-A-Space program, which is designed to provide a business process-neutral environment that enables organizations of all shapes and sizes to work together throughout a product’s life. The full program review is available free of charge for download from the CIMdata Web site.

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Opportunities & Honors

Siemens Names Global Channel Award Winners
Siemens PLM Software recognized its top global channel partners in each zone with a Channel Partner Award 2007, presented earlier this month at the company’s Global Sales Training event in Orlando, Florida. Award winners include LANIT, Nanjing Zhixiang, and Saber Analysis and Design. These partners sell a mix of Siemens PLM Software technologies, including NX, Velocity Series, and Teamcenter software.

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The Week's New CAD and Related Products

Hardware: Optimax
Objet Geometries optimization package for the Eden350V and Eden500V 3D printing systems automates resin management. Read more

AEC: ArchiCAD START Edition 2008
Graphisoft entry-level version of ArchiCAD is for architects seeking to expand their business with BIM skills. Read more

MCAD: Dassault Systemes PLM 2.0
Dassault also announced the availability of ENOVIA MatrixOne v10.8, a V6-enabled solution to support PLM 2.0.  Read more

MCAD: AVEVA ReviewShare v1.1
New collaboration tool for 3D engineering model review will be bundled with v6.4 of AVEVA Review (3D visualization software) at no extra charge. Read more

CAM: WinTool Add-in for ESPRIT
DATOS 2008 add-in provides DP Technology's ESPRIT users with direct access to the capabilities of the WinTool Cutting Tool Management System. Read more

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Mark Your Calendar

Webinars: ALDEC Verification Methodology
Various Dates in February and March
11:00 a.m. PST
Aldec is offering these no-cost Webinars to help engineers understand emerging verification trends and technologies. Topics include Discovering the Benefits of Advanced Design Linting, Transform Your High-Speed ASIC Prototyping Solution into a Dynamic Emulation Environment, Highly Effective Testbench Design Approaches, and more. Read more

AWRA GIS Conference
March 17-19, 2008
San Mateo, California
Among the offerings at the American Water Resources Association's GIS Specialty Conference will be a field trip, workshops, and presentations covering a broad range of subjects on integrative geospatial hydrologic technologies. Water resource and geospatial specialists, managers, scientists, practitioners, programmers, hydrologists, engineers, and ecologists, among others, should attend. Read more

CPDA Design/Simulation Workshops
May 13-14, 2008
Atlanta, Georgia
Collaborative Product Development Associates (CPDA) will sponsor the workshop “Developing a Design Simulation Framework,” and Georgia Tech’s Product and Systems Lifecycle Management Center will host its workshop “Frontiers in Design and Simulation.” Read more

2008 International CAD Conference and Exhibition
June 23-27, 2008
Orlando, Florida
CAD '08 is aimed at CAD researchers, educators, developers, vendors, and the business community dealing with CAD technology and its financial issues. The conference includes tutorial presentations, parallel paper sessions, product demonstrations, and several forms of exhibits. Read more

Autodesk University
December 2-5, 2008
Las Vegas, Nevada
This 16th annual event offers a way for attendees to sharpen their skills, renew business contacts, and make new friends with like-minded professionals from around the world. 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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