Tips & Tools Weekly (Vol. 16, No. 7)

27 Feb, 2011 By: Cadalyst Staff

This Week's Software Tips

Get Rewarded for a Good Deed!
Help your fellow CAD users: Share your time-saving tips with the community! Use the "Submit Tip" button below to share your tips for using AutoCAD (or any other CAD software tool) more effectively and efficiently. If we publish your tip, you'll earn a gift card you can use to purchase a T-shirt or other prizes in the Cadalyst Store.

Shrink Signed PDFs
Space Management Specialist Mitch Hirschklau shares a method his company uses to reduce the file size of scanned PDF files of drawings that require a signature for submittal. "Scanning the original hard copy produces, typically, an enormous PDF (data file) footprint — so big, in fact, that we couldn't e-transmit it to the requesting office." View the complete tip and post your feedback.

Clean Up Extension Lines with DimBreak
Frequent tipster Leonid Nemirovsky of the Better Than Nothing AutoLISP site sends us a tip about using the DimBreak command to clean up the extension lines of dimensions. According to tip reviewer Brian Benton, "The DimBreak command in AutoCAD ... doesn't actually break dimension lines; it makes them appear that they are broken so you can see the other objects." View the complete tip and post your feedback.

Lengthen to Shorten
Steve Meyer, a senior structural draftsperson, cleverly uses the Lengthen command to shorten objects. "When laying out structural members on a 2D plan or elevation, connection joints are demonstrated by showing the incoming member ending a little short of the connection point. I like to use the Lengthen command to shorten the incoming line." View the complete tip and post your feedback.

Custom Escape Button
AutoCAD Technician Michael Klinck provides us with a little macro that keeps his hands on the mouse so he can keep working. "Custom commands are meant to save time," says tip reviewer Brian Benton. "This one can do so by keeping you focused on the mouse." View the complete tip and post your feedback.

Expert CAD Manager book by Robert Green

February Tips from Hot Tip Harry

Quick Tolerance Creation
Dave White has created a routine that helps him to quickly create various tolerances in his AutoCAD drawing without having to change dimension styles. View the complete tip and post your feedback.

Add Polyline Vertices
AVT is a routine from Scott Botting that allows you to add vertices to existing polylines in AutoCAD. Before getting started, note that this routine only works on the older, "heavy" 2D polylines, not the current "lightweight" polylines. View the complete tip and post your feedback.

Control Text Length
Isak Mishaeli has submitted a routine that enables you to stretch a text string horizontally or vertically in AutoCAD. It does this by manipulating the width factor and/or the text height of one or more text entities. View the complete tip and post your feedback.

Scale Blocks by Insertion Point
Repeat contributor Theodorus Winata brings us a small routine to help with block scaling in AutoCAD. It scales all selected blocks by their insertion point. View the complete tip and post your feedback.

True Offset Ellipse
Frequent contributor Kent Cooper shares a routine that allows you to offset an ellipse where the result is also a true ellipse. View the complete tip and post your feedback.

Explode Mtext
What makes this routine from Clint Cogswell different is that it actually breaks apart a large mtext entity into smaller chunks of mtext, not single lines of text. View the complete tip and post your feedback.

Submit Your Tip

Review Cadalyst's Tip Submission Guidelines, then Submit Your Tip for your favorite CAD software. If we publish your tip, you'll earn a gift card you can use to purchase a T-shirt or other prizes in the Cadalyst Store. Please remember to submit only code and other tips that are your original work (or provide the original source so we can include proper credit) and to 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.

Got Feedback? To share feedback about one of today's tips, navigate to the tip using the link provided above, then click Comment. The Comment tool is available to registered users of Cadalyst'sCAD Tips site.

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. 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 for assistance with AutoLISP and other AutoCAD customization questions.

Sincere thanks to our volunteer Tip Patrol members: Brian Benton, Don Boyer,
Mitchell Hirschklau, R.K. McSwain, and Billy Wooten.

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Paul Aubin

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Geomagic Expands Technical Support Resources with Videos
Geomagic has announced the addition of tutorial videos to the Geomagic Technical Support portal. The videos allow customers to quickly review instructions on topics such as setting license keys, software installation, and targeted product functions. Fifty videos are currently available, and more will be added in the next few months to address the questions most frequently asked by customers.

CIMdata White Paper Explains Value of SOA-Based Architectures for PLM
CIMdata, a PLM (product lifecycle management) consulting and research firm, has published a white paper, "The Increasing Value of SOA-Based Architectures for PLM." This paper presents the challenges that companies face, describes the benefits an SOA-based unified PLM architecture approach can deliver, and describes approaches to a transition to a unified architecture. Releases Video Podcasts on iTunes has released two engineering video podcasts — This Week in Engineering and the Product Design Show — on iTunes. This Week in Engineering is an engineering news satire show featuring the writing and acting talents of Dan Hedges and Vince Penman. The Product Design Show examines the engineering behind consumer and industrial products, from bicycle design to farm equipment.

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Deals & Freebies

Autodesk Expands Free AutoCAD WS, Adds Support for Inventor DWG
Autodesk has updated AutoCAD WS, a free web and mobile application that uses cloud computing technology to enable AutoCAD software users to view, edit, and share designs through web browsers and mobile devices. AutoCAD WS now supports viewing, editing, and sharing of 2D Autodesk Inventor DWG files. Other improvements include the addition of eight new languages.

CTC Provides Two-Week Trial of Revit Excel Link Express Tool
CTC, a provider of Revit add-on solutions, is offering a 14-day free trial of its newly released Revit Excel Link. The program is the latest addition to the Revit Express Tools suite of Revit add-ons and provides a bi-directional link between Autodesk Revit and Microsoft Excel. Users can export data from virtually any Revit element out to Excel, then bring that data back into Revit after manipulating it.

Autodesk Offers 0% Financing on Software Purchases
For a limited time, Autodesk is offering 0% financing on all software titles, including AutoCAD, Civil 3D, Inventor, 3ds Max, Revit, and Factory Design Suite. This promotion ends on April 15, 2011, or as soon as the funding allocated to it runs out.

Tekla Creates Free BIM Collaboration Tool
3D modeling software provider Tekla has launched a free BIM (building information modeling) application for model-based collaboration. With Tekla BIMsight, contractors, designers, architects, and others can combine models, check for clashes, perform spatial coordination, and collaborate using the industry standard IFC format.

SolidThinking Offers Trial of New Version
Visitors to the solidThinking web site can register for a free trial version of the newly released solidThinking 8.5. The 3D concept design and visualization software for industrial designers, concept engineers, and architects features direct import of several native formats including CATIA V4, CATIA V5, Pro/ENGINEER, SolidWorks, and UGS NX. The new version also includes a real-time photorealistic rendering option.

Users Can Try Visio-Based Electrical CAD Software for 30 Days
CAD developer Radica Software is offering a free 30-day trial of Electra E6, its newly launched electrical CAD software for Microsoft Visio. Electra E6 automatically generates detailed drawings with cross references, imports AutoCAD drawings and images, and features integrated symbol sets, intelligent symbols, and integrated Microsoft Office tools.

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Opportunities & Honors

Spatial Information Solutions to Test New Version of Orthophoto Software
Spatial Information Solutions, a spin-off of Mississippi State University, will soon release version 3.0 of Accuracy Analyst. The stand-alone program provides capabilities to plan, verify, quality check, deliver, review, and accept orthophoto data sets. Following a 10-day test period, version 3.0 will be released to the full market. Users who would like to participate in the testing can e-mail Charles O'Hara at

Redesigned Spark Awards Competition Seeks Entries
The multidisciplinary, international Spark design contest has been divided into two competitions that will be conducted separately. A call for entries has been issued for both competitions: Spark:Pro, for work that is in production or pre-production, produced, or built, and Spark:Concept, for conceptual work.

Meridian Systems Honors Top Partners for 2010
Meridian Systems, a solutions provider for project-based organizations, has recognized those companies that demonstrated performance and customer service excellence in 2010, including ROTECH Consulting (Value Added Reseller Partner of the Year), the Cram Group (Consulting Partner of the Year), and the PCI Group (Marketing Partner of the Year).

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Books & Training

3D Launches Instructional Videos for Luxology Modo 501
3D, a producer of instructional training videos, has released its Luxology modo 501 Signature Courseware ($179). Created by author Dan Ablan, the nine hours of HD-resolution instructional training covers beginning to intermediate modeling, rendering, and animation using modo 501.

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Mark Your Calendar

ERDAS 11 World Tour
March 1–April 19, 2011
Various cities
At these events, the ERDAS product management team will introduce attendees to the new ERDAS 2011 software release, with an overview of the significant changes that took place across the entire product portfolio, details about changes to individual products, and demonstrations of software features in action. Read more

Webinar: Tekla BIMsight
March 2, 2011
Noon ET
This webinar will explain how the Tekla BIMsight software application fits into the workflow of construction projects. Read more

Safe Software FME 2011 World Tour
March 4–May 31, 2011
Various cities
Safe Software and its partners are hosting this series of free, one-day customer events that will showcase how FME technology is being used today to access, use, and share spatial data. Read more

VERICUT Users' Exchange
March 7–May 26, 2011
Various cities
CGTech has announced a series of free North American VERICUT Users' Exchange events in 2011. Attendees can learn about new software features, as well as tips and tricks for improving manufacturing efficiency, and will have the opportunity to express ideas about the future direction of the software. Read more

Webinar: The Business Value of an Integrated PLM System at Red Bull Racing
March 9, 2011
2:15 p.m. GMT
This webinar will address topics including PLM as part of a business change, providing design and support with access to the right information, and design improvements driven by rapid product development. Read more

Webinar Series: BIM with Vectorworks Architect
March 9–May 3, 2011
Various times
Nemetschek Vectorworks and François Lévy, architect, author, BIM consultant, and university lecturer, will present a series of three webinars focused on building information modeling (BIM) for small- to medium-sized architecture firms. Read more

National Facilities Management and Technology Conference
March 15–17, 2011
Baltimore, Maryland
This conference allows attendees to create their own personalized educational program from a curriculum of 120 sessions, including educational sessions on building informational modeling (BIM), sustainable facilities management (FM), and whole building design. Read more

CPDA's Design/Simulation Council Workshop 2011
April 7, 2011
Cincinnati, Ohio
Attendees to this one-day workshop can learn more about what members of CPDA's Design/Simulation Council and other users have been doing to further a simulation framework — an integrated environment that provides tools to manage access to applications, access to data, and access to computing resources, including high-performance computing. Read more

Be Together: The Bentley User Conference
May 23–26, 2011
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
This conference carries the theme "Sharpen Your Edge," and will give Bentley users the opportunity to advance their skills, increase their knowledge, and network with their peers. Read more

PlanetPTC Live
June 12–15, 2011
Las Vegas, Nevada
PlanetPTC Live will bring together PLM experts, product engineers and developers, managers, educators, PTC partners and customers, and PTC/USER members and leadership for educational sessions, networking opportunities, and shared problem-solving. Read more

Earthmine Partner Conference
July 7– 8, 2011
Berkeley, California
This first annual event will feature presentations from earthmine's partners and end users, including discussions of customer projects implementing earthmine solutions across a variety of markets from local search and mobile to asset management, transportation, utilities, and augmented reality. Read more

FOSS4G Open Source Geospatial Conference
September 12–16, 2011
Denver, Colorado
The Free and Open Source Software for Geospatial (FOSS4G) conference is an international event focused on open-source geospatial software. Read more

Digital Plant 2011 Conference
December 5-7, 2011
Houston, Texas
Co-hosted by FIATECH, this event is a plant lifecycle conference for the chemicals, power, oil and gas, offshore, and pharmaceuticals industries. Read more

For a complete list of CAD meetings, conferences, training sessions, and more, check out our calendar of events on Are you hosting an event that you would like to include in our calendar? Submit details at least two weeks in advance to

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About the Author: Cadalyst Staff

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