Plot Tracker

31 Jan, 2000 By: Michael Lennox Cadalyst

CDV Systems
Star rating: 4 stars out of 5

Plot Tracker ($99 per license) from CDV Systems is a package of AutoLISP and ARX utilities for logging plots in AutoCAD Release 14. An AutoCAD 2000 version should be available by the time you read this. Installation is cumbersome—you must manually delete files, reinstall customizations made to your acad.lsp file into another file, and restart AutoCAD several times. Although it comes with instructions, deploying Plot Tracker throughout an organization could prove difficult.

When using Plot Tracker, you log in each time you start AutoCAD. Unlike other applications that prompt you for log information immediately after you select OK in AutoCAD’s Plot dialog box, Plot Tracker prompts you before the Plot dialog box pops up. You also must enter some specific plot data for the drawing in the Plot Tracker setup screen. You can customize the values for each field in the dialog box by editing text files. These files must be on a network so that the entire organization can share the data. Each field uses a separate ASCII text file, so you must edit each individually.

Though this editing is straightforward, the process is complicated because some file management is necessary during installation. You must make sure that the text files that contain the network path information for Plot Tracker remain in the AutoCAD root folder and move other files to the network and delete them from the root folder. Plot Tracker automatically creates these files in the root folder. Once you install Plot Tracker on the first machine, for additional stations you only add a path in AutoCAD and a single text file in the root directory of the C: drive.

Once in use, Plot Tracker writes the log data to a Microsoft Excel file. To make reports, you use Excel or an application that reads Excel spreadsheet files. The basic layout of the spreadsheet is predetermined, although you can customize it or extract only the data that you require. Plot Tracker includes Time Tracker, an AutoCAD Release 14, 2000 add-on that logs billable hours. Time Tracker outputs its data to a separate Excel spreadsheet, so you must manually combine the data for time and material invoicing.

Although Plot Tracker is one of the least expensive packages reviewed, it is also the most limited.

About the Author: Michael Lennox

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