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News on the latest in design, manufacturing, fabrication, construction, and engineering technology.


I am going to state right up front, this is my personal opinion.  Subjective in all its glory.  With that said, if you want to customize AutoCAD, which language should you learn?  In a past blog post, I showed how you could draw a line several ways using Scripts, AutoLISP, VBA and then C#.NET.  If all I wanted to do was draw a line ‘programmatically’ then I would go the easiest route with AutoLISP.  AutoLISP is easy.  ‘Easy’ though can also be a bit ‘clunky,' particularly using DCLs when a GUI is needed.  The more complex the programming requirement, the more you will find that you just can’t get there from AutoLISP.  Visual Lisp may be the answer which really opened up the ObjectARX COM model.  Visual Lisp can be said to be the VBA enabled version of AutoLISP.  Wait, now I have introduced VBA!  Some would say, VBA is the next logical step beyond AutoLISP/Visual Lisp.  And again, for developing a user interface, it is so much easier.  For the longest time, I used VBA for the GUI, and ...

It has always frustrated me that in AutoCAD, when I wanted to select a group of entities, as soon as I Pan or Zoom to select more, the previous part of the selection window was lost.  Finally, Autodesk has fixed this most egregious situation.  A new System Variable: SelectionOffScreen = 1 will insure flowing selection windows during Pans and Zooms. This is by in large the best new feature introduced to AutoCAD since 2008 and Annotative Scaling, in my humble (or no so humble) opinion.

There are times when I have had to "go the extra mile" to get a drawing cleaned up.  I have a methodical sequence that I will go through when a drawing is being squirrely even after a -PURGE and AUDIT.  My favorite is turn on, thaw, unlock all the layers, then use the standard Windows CTL-C to Copy everything to that nebulous clipboard that experience says is there, but never is seen.  Then open a new drawing, and use the PASTE to ORIGINAL COORDINATES.  Even after doing that, it is best to go through the -PURGE and AUDIT sequence.  And don't forget Layout Tabs, that may be needed to CTL-C and PASTE into the new drawing as well. But then there have been other times where even the CTL-C and PASTE sequence leaves garbage in the drawing...or more accurately, copies the garbage over.  That would then lead me to the next option, which is to run DXFOUT.  This often times will expose multiple hidden blocks that once revealed, can now be PURGED out to the drawing.  Remember then to SaveAs ...

Or, is AutoCAD still going to be around for a long while?  My guess, it will be around for quite a while.  While I cannot cite any specific declaration from Autodesk, reading between the lines can be most telling.  “We aren’t at the Star Trek level of computing”.  Could you imagine for the latest crisis that Kirk has discovered, Spock and Scotty pulling out some papers to reconfigure engineering to save the universe?  Nope, me neither.  We aren’t there yet. Inventor and AutoCAD:  Regardless of the 3D modeling package you use, documentation is going to be 2D.  Paper is flat, as long as we are outputting on paper, then there will be the need for AutoCAD.  Over the past few releases, more and more, AutoCAD is becoming the default documentation for Inventor, as evidenced by two specific GUIs within AutoCAD: AutoCAD’s Layout Tab: Now, instead of pushing from the Inventor environment to AutoCAD, natively you can access Inventor models from directly inside of AutoCAD.  Another “between the lines” in Inventor, the default installation setup now defaults to the AutoCAD DWG for documentation. AutoCAD’s Parametric ...

I have been seeing a plague hitting the AutoCAD world.  A plague of bad Profiles.  How in the world does a Profile go bad?  I am scratching my head on that one.  The symptoms, obviously things are not working right.  VBA routines are not loading or worse yet, they load but then don't work.  Same with the AcadDoc.LSP not loading at all.  Yes, the paths are there in the Support Search path, but they just don't load.  I can type in at the command line, (findfile "acaddoc.lsp") and it returns right where it should be.  I can load it manually, but it won't work automatically.  The out-of-box <<Unnamed Profile>> can't be used to rebuild either.  Believe me, I tried it.  Everything looks fine, but something is amiss somewhere. Easiest thing to do? The easiest fix is run Reset Settings to Default and don't save any custom settings.  Start over on those.  The Reset replaces the <<Unnamed Profile>>, which I recommend then to use Add to List... and add back in the custom folders to the newly created Profile.  Everything seems happy ...

Fresh off the press! AutoCAD 2017.1 Update. Autodesk just released an update to AutoCAD 2017 for subscription users. Check your Autodesk Desktop App to install and review the Readme for what to expect in this latest update. AutoCAD 2017.1 Readme

In training classes I am always saying there are 5 or more ways to access the command for "<enter a command here>".  The AutoCAD GUI has multiple redundancies for every command.  So, I thought, how many ways other than the GUI is there available in AutoCAD to just draw a LINE.  This isn't a comprehensive list by any means: Enter at the Command Line, either "L" or "LINE", uppercase/lowercase doesn't matter.  Then follow the prompts picking points.  But as well, LINE could be selected from the Draw panel on the Ribbon as well as the Draw Tool Palette.  So, would that count as four ways? Script (SCR):  Note the location of the cursor, a <RETURN> initiates the entry.  A script file could be created that would follow the same as the Command Line entry.  The only difference could be introducing some AutoLISP calls...which leads us to the next way.                                                  ...

In this Tips and tricks session. I had a customer call in with an issue. They were XREF'ing another file into their drawings and the "text" was not showing up at all. Even though the layer was on the text seem to disappear all together and would just show the leader line....crazy right.... Well the issue was with a Font style used in the XREF was not a Font style that the end user had. Sooooo instead of AutoCAD replacing the font with another it just DIDN't SHOW the text. The variable here in AutoCAD was the culprit. The command "Fontalt" if set to "." will turn off text that your system doesn't have the same font installed as the xref'd file. There is a setting here to select an alternate font. Makre sure to have the alternate font such as simplex listed. Below is a link to a short video on Autodesk's Screencast on how to fix this. https://knowledge.autodesk.com/community/screencast/1cba04ba-b711-4e19-a100-c1404e7817b0 Best of luck out there, Rick Kremer Applied Software

Open Civil 3D - From  Analyze Tab, select the Design Panel Pulldown........   In Hydraflow Express the first task we'll take a look at is working with Culverts  and this is an easy-to-use yet sophisticated Culvert Modeler.     It also assumes that you have a good understanding of fundamental hydraulic  principles and the variety of flow conditions for Culverts.  Let's work through an example. Starting with data to input..... Now here we have the Input column and this  is where we'll input all of our values; and we can see if I pick the different  fields, at the bottom of the dialog box you get a description of the values that  Hydraflow is looking for you to enter. So I'll start at the top and for the  Invert Elevation I'll start by entering 100.  For the Length I'll enter 30, for the Slope .5 (for half a percent slope),  then you'll notice that the Upstream Invert  Elevation is automatically calculated for you.  I'll move on and enter the Rise and I'll start with 18 inches, and this is for an  18 inch diameter pipe. ...

Driving in 3 Easy steps....... Step 1 - Choose your vehicle Click AutoDrive Arc and the vehicle libraries are automatically opened. Choose your vehicle from one of the vehicle libraries In addition to worldwide design vehicles, you’ll find “European Vehicles”, “North American Vehicles” and “Specialist Vehicles”;  Click Proceed.   Step 2 - Position your vehicle You will be asked whether you want to set the current vehicle as your default vehicle for all future paths. Select either Yes or No. The Drawing Settings window will appear; here you can change your path settings and units to match the drawing. If these are ok, click Yes to continue. Position the front of the vehicle where you want it and left click to accept, then you can set the orientation of the vehicle to point in the direction that you need. The Position Vehicle Window will appear with more options if needed, simply click Proceed to start driving.   Step 3 - Drive your vehicle As you move the mouse around, the vehicle path is calculated based upon the vehicles dimensions and geometry. If a maneuver can’t be performed, AVT wont let you complete that ...

Stop using Bentley's ProjectWise or any other data management solution for managing AutoCAD Plant 3D projects.  They do not work!  There is little to no integration at all. "What will work?"  Autodesk Vault Professional! Applied Software is well-versed in the integration of Vault and AutoCAD Plant 3D and you need to make the switch today! "How does this benefit me?" ◾Check in and out drawings ◾Utilize a horizontal workshare environment with multiple locations utilizing Vault Professional and AVFS (Autodesk Vault File Server) ◾Work locally from your Vault Workspace so you do not have to rely on poor network speeds when saving large models ◾Revision control ◾Permission control The benefits are there so take advantage of them now!

This week’s blog takes us back to AutoCAD basics. I’m prompted to write this by the fact that in the past couple of months I’ve worked with a couple of people who were completely surprised by this command while working with them. Let’s say that you’re working on a drawing and that you’ve erased an object. You’ve proceeded forward in your drawing by using other commands. At one point you realize you needed that object you erased a few commands ago. Don’t UNDO all your work until that object reappears. All you need to do is use the OOPS command. The OOPS command will restore the object(s) erased by the last ERASE command. Remember, you can only use the OOPS command to restore object erased by the last ERASE command. You cannot use the command to restore any and all objects you’ve erased through the history of the drawing, and you cannot restore any erased objects if you’ve closed your drawing and reopened it. Here’s the explanation of the command from the AutoCAD help file:

While I have had good experiences over all with the Autodesk 2015 products, as with any software there were fixes along the way.  Here are my discoveries of some of those obscure and maybe not so obscure.          1)  AutoCAD 2015 Cursor trails:  Moving your cursor along would leave pixels everywhere.  Turning off Hardware Acceleration would clear up the problem.  Install the Service Pack and you can turn Hardware Acceleration back on.       2)      Plant 3D 2015 Extension 1: The Plant developers are not waiting on new releases to give more functions in P3D.  However, the Extension 1 was not compatible with AutoCAD Service Pack 2.  You cannot even install the SP2 for a particular vertical, such as AutoCAD MEP, without it affecting P3D.  But, there is a fix that fixes the fix that broke the Extension 1.  After installing any AutoCAD 2015 SP2, run the .BAT file.                   3)      AutoCAD Electrical 2015: The error could come with several messages.  The main one I have seen is:  Unhandled Exception C06D007E(Delayload “acewstr.dll” Module Not Found) at address FCFA940Dh.  ...

Or as I'm frequently asked, "just where the heck did you find that?"In my role as an account manager, I do my level best to provide our clients with as much direct help as possible with their software, be it installation issues, error messages, or general "how-tos". After all, when it comes to the world of "been there, done that", I realize that when a designerGets the blue screen of deathCan't remember the system variable that controls item selection settings in AutoCAD (it's PICKADD, by the way)Is tasked with doing something with the software he/she has never donetime is MONEY. And in many cases, there may be a project deadline hanging in the balance, or a Project Manager hanging over your shoulder saying "hey, you're the Inventor expert - this is what I hired you to do, so make it work!"So in an effort to empower the legions of CAD users who are either short on time, can't get Sean Dotson or Lynn Allen on speed dial, or haven't convinced management to pay for Inventor training yet, here goes...my Top 5 Sources for ...

"I have a new project starting up and need X seats of AutoCAD"As an Autodesk partner, we hear this almost every day. While a great start to the conversation, using AutoCAD in a manufacturing design environment today is just one small part of the equation.Using construction as an analogy, you could certainly drive nails with a hammer, and the hammer is a proven, reliable implement; but as tool technology progressed, those builders who preferred to stay profitable (and keep their business) moved up to nail guns to maximize efficiency and improve productivity. And while there will always be use for the hammer, it isn't the primary tool anymore.Whether you're building furniture, machinery, consumer products or doing space optimization in today's competitive market, if your tool of choice is AutoCAD, Iit's time to take a look in the Autodesk tool shop. With the rapid innovation of design technology, today's AutoCAD is the equivalent of a hammer: a well known and widely used tool. Granted, we in the reseller channel absolutely believe that our "hammer" is smoother, more contoured and will ...

I continue to be amazed at the speed and quality of information that is out there in relation to Autodesk. Whether it's a new release from Autodesk Labs, a YouTube video on using Inventor's Frame Generator, or a podcasted Autodesk University class (complete with downloadable PDF syllabi), you can learn so much, yet feel so overwhelmed. Lately, Twitter has proven to be the most accessible (and controllable) stream of data I've found for tracking new technology and trends within the Autodesk family. You pick and choose who you subscribe to, and as a hybrid Autodesk Manufacturing and Plant news junkie, here are a few Tweeters I'd recommend following - Autodesk Labs Scott (@scottsh115 ) - Scott Sheppard is the Program Manager for Autodesk Labs, and when new technology is hatched in the lab, he's the first to announce it. Autodesk Inventor (@InventorTips) - chock full of tips, tricks and news related to Inventor. AutoCAD Exchange (@ACADExchange) - features an "AutoCAD Expert of The Week" and requests questions for them to answer. There's also an AutoCADPlantExchange (@PlantExchange) twitter page with ...

While at a client meeting last week, my client asked if AutoCAD can create a Bill of Materials. As soon as I heard the question, my first reaction was to write a blog. While he knew it could, he had not done it before. I answered his question but that wasn't my first reaction! I explained to create a BOM, you will need blocks with attributes. Long time AutoCAD users are now thinking of the old ATTEXT command. If you are, stop it. We always had the ability to create a BOM with ATTEXT but there's a better way. Using AutoCAD 2012 and its TABLE command, you can generate a quick and easy BOM. However, don't forget you will need blocks with attributes. After all, what is a BOM? It's a list of parts (blocks) and data (attributes) associated with the parts. Below is an AutoCAD control wiring diagram with many blocks and attributes. The image on the left is an enlarged view of the BOM I generated in seconds, not minutes. It took longer to write this short blog ...

What is this thing we call Autodesk Showcase? It's a real-time 3D presentation program and a rendering program. It does not replace 3DS MAX. While you can create some pretty amazing videos with 3DS MAX, you can get pretty close with Showcase. The advantage of Showcase is the learning curve. 3DS MAX is geared more for the entertainment industry while Showcase is more suited for AEC. See my video below. All objects were created in AutoCAD. Materials and animations were done in Showcase. No other software was used. There is a lot more we can do with Showcase. Please let me know if you'd like to see more Showcase videos. Mark Petrucci

Autodesk seems to be pushing out new (and FREE) tools every week or so, many of which are mobile apps for iPhone and iPad users. While catching up on emails in the manufacturing lounge at Autodesk University this year, I was fortunate enough to sit down with Andrew Sears (Solutions Engineer, Autodesk) who provided me with an inpromptu demo of ForceEffect, a free app that allows engineers to draw, constrain and simulate concepts using free body diagrams by simply tapping objects to select, move, rotate and scale.It's very easy to create free-body diagrams and generate dimensionally correct elements - you use familiar iPhone/iPad motions to sketch and snap to other elements on the sketch. In addition, you can also bring in a photo as a background for either modifying existing designs or creating new ones. Once you've placed your elements, you apply forces, unknown forces or moments and then add supports such as sliding pins, fixed pins, grounded, fixed or welded.Sketch geometry can be moved, re-sized, deleted and dimensions can be edited simply by tapping the dimension value and ...

Remember the good old days when we tricked out our AutoCAD byadding LSP routines embedded in toolbar buttons building menus with our favorite "Express Tools"customizing our digitizers (pucks) with commonly used commandsloading up the old "Screen Menu" with our favorite macrosAside from merging in some popular AUGI wish list requests into future builds of AutoCAD (obsoleting many of these tools or replacing them with superior functionality), Autodesk is now providing direct access to "apps" within the AutoCAD 2012 interface. Called "Autodesk Exchange Apps", it's an inventive and modern approach to allowing us commoners to participate in making AutoCAD (and other AutoCAD based products in the Autodesk family) more customized and productive. While many of the tools are free, others cost anywhere from 99 cents up to $500. The tools are categorized for General, AEC and Manufacturing applications, and are searchable with keywords to match specific needs. And to make the acquisition process nice and easy, once selecting an app, if it's not free, a PayPal window will appear letting you enter your PayPal or credit card information to purchase. ...

Ok, so I saw Pete write a blog about eTransmit for Revit. As an old AutoCAD user, I felt the need to write about eTransmit for AutoCAD; the original eTransmit. And before that, Pack-n-Go.I want to write about a feature few people use but is still very POWERFUL. You should feel and hear a deep dark voice as you read the word POWERFUL.You can use eTransmit to not only automatically compress all your AutoCAD drawings into a .zip file or a self executible .exe file, BUT AT THE SAME TIME you can use e-Transmit to AUTOMATICALLY save your AutoCAD drawings to an older DWG version within the .zip or .exe file. Your orginal DWG files on your computer or on your server are not saved back to an older version, only the copies made part of the zip file are converted. So when do you think that will be a feature in Revit's eTransmit?Mark Petrucci

Is your head in the clouds trying to understand the “cloud” and Autodesk Cloud in particular?Lets see if we can give some explanation. Autodesk Cloud is a technology that is gaining interest with users with the ability to perform tasks without installing applications to local resources. We can use the cloud for several purposes... We can upload, share and edit drawings in the cloud using AutoCAD WS. We can view files with Design Review mobile app for iPhone and iPad devices. Rendering files in the cloud, along with the ability to upload and share documents.Let's take a closer look at cloud services for rendering and documents.Autodesk Cloud RenderingCurrently Revit can render models to the cloud via the Subscription download. An Autodesk login account needs to be created.  The concept behind Cloud rendering is simple… render your model in the cloud (the internet) without tying up your computer for an extended amount of time. Also, if you are running a marginal computer that barely meets the minimum requirements, this option of rendering in the cloud could save you a ...

Autodesk Labs announced today a labs product tool for sending AutoCAD files to 3dS Max Design with a quick transfer. This is a Plug-in that shortens the process of sending AutoCAD data traditionally to 3ds Max Design. This preview in Labs will be available up to March 1, 2012. In several cases these Labs technologies end up in the new release.You need to download the "AutoCAD Quick Send to 3ds Max Design" from the Autodesk Labs Preview site. But first you must have the latest Service Packs install in AutoCAD and 3ds Max Design or it will not work. The image example at the top is the "Workflow" panel for sending the data to 3dS Max. Within the panel are options to "run" or "edit" the settings on how data is transferred. The actual "Quick Send..." button is a dropdown for additional workflows you can create. These workflows can be shared to other users.A nice feature is that the workflow can run in the background and you can continue being productive working in AutoCAD. A helpful notification will pop-up ...

No it's not a Mitsubishi car symbol. Its an icon of the cross section of a an architectural scale. The actual tool is for Annotative scaling of annotation objects like text, dimensions and graphical symbols. This feature was added a few releases ago, but I realized from teaching, that there are a lot of folks who are still working in Model Space, doing things the old way, and aren't aware of Annotative scaling.By using the annotative scaling, it takes care of all the busy work of text sizes when changing scale. The quick, down and dirty of making it work, is to have all of these buttons turned on. They will light up and will show the light bulb and lightening bolt in yellow once on. Also you need to be using Annotative text or dimensions. Set your scale and start drawing. The text and dims will display at the correct height per your settings and when you change the scale they will update. The last cool thing is that the text will scale according to the Viewport scale. ...

First, I remember my English teacher telling me not to use the word "thing". Oh well (or is that oh good?)I tell my students this all the time. "The best thing about AutoCAD is you can create as many layers as you want. Can you guess the worst thing about AutoCAD? The worst thing about AutoCAD is that you can create as many layers as you want."Layers are a great way to organize your drawing. However, there are some well known best practices when it comes to layers. First, use only as many layers as you need. Do not create a bunch of layer just because you can. Too many layers just means more layers to turn on and off, freeze or thaw. Do you need a separate layer for desks and chairs or can you put them on one layer called furniture? Maybe you do and maybe you don't. If you haven't thought about it before, maybe this will get you thinking. I know one firm that puts stairs and elevators on the same layer; it works for ...