March 04, 2006

AutoCAD Certified Hardware

In the It's a visual world... post I mentioned that the new graphics in AutoCAD 2007 will place greater demands on PC graphics. You can tune the machine by selectively removing some of the more demanding settings, shadows especially, but a better card means a better experience. Besides once you try the new display features you won’t want to loose them!

To help with the “which card” dilemma Autodesk are testing & certifying card/driver combinations for use with 2007. This database will available to view on-line or for download after release.

March 03, 2006

It's a visual world... - AutoCAD and Architectural Desktop 2007

AutoCADIcon200They say it's a visual world and that is the theme of the 2007 releases. Creating, editing, navigating around and rendering AutoCAD 3D has been made significantly easier, heck it’s just plain fun! 

To achieve this the AutoCAD has had a significant overhaul and this core benefits all the “Desktop” vertical products. This post covers a few of the new visual features you’ll experience while working in the AutoCAD environment.


Continue reading "It's a visual world... - AutoCAD and Architectural Desktop 2007" »

March 02, 2006

2007 already? - Get ready for AutoCAD and Architectural Desktop 2007

Just getting used to the fact that it’s already March, where did the first two months of 2006 go?, then you find out it’s 2007 already!

Not quite, but the new ‘07 AutoCAD based products are on the way. Check out Chris and Shaan’s posts with links to many blogs already talking about 2007 while I’m still thinking about what to write!

I’ll have something here soon, but it’s 21:56 and need to have dinner first…

 Architectural Desktop 2007 - It's Here! - Autodesk Between The Walls ADT Blog

 AutoCAD 2007 is Coming - Autodesk Between The Lines AutoCAD Blog

Update: Scott “DWF” Sheppard writes about one feature that many have requested:

AutoCAD 2007 DWF Attach - Autodesk Beyond the Paper DWF Blog


February 28, 2006

It's not just better AutoCAD

I’m not a fan of the “AutoCAD for Architects” tag that is being used for Autodesk Architectural Desktop but think this, from the website banner, is even worse:

Banner from Autodesk Architectural Desktop Site

Better, doesn’t seem like a very impressive claim so here is my take on it:

  • Architectural Desktop isn’t AutoCAD.
  • It isn’t even better AutoCAD.
  • It’s object based Building Modelling on an AutoCAD platform.
  • It does things AutoCAD can’t do at all, not just AutoCAD stuff better.

Have a look & decide if it’s the solution for you but expect to find more than “better AutoCAD”.

February 10, 2006

NEW! Autodesk Architectural Desktop Resource Center

Hat tip to Jimmy Bergmark for pointing out the new Autodesk Architectural Desktop (ADT) Resource Center. It has marketing info, white papers, technology overview and on-line demonstrations of ADT features.

The “Tutorials” (Shockwave Flash demos with audio) are useful if you want to show someone the difference between ADT and plain AutoCAD. You can also sign up for ADT Webcasts, maybe learn some new tricks yourself!

Unfortunately both the page and URL use the current Autodesk marketing “tag-line” for ADT; “AutoCAD for Architects!”.

[engage rant mode]
I don’t like “AutoCAD for Architects” as it doesn’t communicate the capabilities of ADT’s Object Technology.

ADT is far more powerful than AutoCAD in it’s ability to control display (multiple 2D and 3D graphic representations within a single object) and manage extended data (as automatic, calculated & manual properties) by using AEC Objects to model building components. These objects can interact in ways not seen in standard AutoCAD. e.g. Add a door to a wall and the “opening” is created, move the wall & the doors/windows in it follow.

Yes it is based on the AutoCAD platform, with all that implies, but if you’re an Architect wanting “AutoCAD for Architects!” I’d say get AutoCAD!

ADT rewards a different approach because it offers a different technology within the familiar AutoCAD interface. Rather than “draw lines & circles” think “create building objects” to reap the full benefit of ADT’s extended capabilities.

Autodesk Architectural Desktop is not AutoCAD, but it’s not Revit either.
[end rant mode]

The site, especially the tutorials, are a great way to see & share the capabilities of Autodesk Architectural Desktop – “Much more than AutoCAD for Architects!” 

ADT Resource Center:

ADT Product Page:

January 19, 2006

How to get around an ADT "Command in progress can't save"

Sometimes when you save ADT will give a message:

Document "<drive>:\<folder>\<filename>.dwg" has a command in progress. Hit enter to cancel or [Retry]:

Hitting enter will usually result in the same message again. Try entering SAVE on the command line as this will usually get past the command in progress message.

December 28, 2005

AutoCAD DWG into Google Earth

Beau Turner shows how to transform 3D DWG files into Google Earth using ExtractKML, a tool from the Avatech Solutions DEV team. Awesome!

Will render for food...: DWG and Google Earth.

December 23, 2005

Georeference Images (including TUMONZ maps) in Autodesk Architectural Desktop and AutoCAD

Some map image sources provide georeferenced raster files. They are simply an image created with a corresponding reference file which stores the proper position (coordinates) and scale of the image. If you have AutoCAD Map you can scale images based on this information but a free AAC Solutions utility also makes this possible in AutoCAD/ADT.

Georeferenced images in AutoCAD -
With the AAC Solutions' utility - GeoRefImg - you can automatically place georeferenced raster files (pictures) also in AutoCAD or Architectural Desktop (this functionality is by default available only in Map). Any selected raster image (TIF, JPG, PNG, BMP, CIT format) with a World file is automatically repositioned to its proper position (coordinates) and scale.

If you are in New Zealand you can export georeferenced images, anywhere, any scale, from the consumer mapping product: TUMONZ – The Ultimate Map Of New Zealand,

  • In TUMONZ, zoom to the area you want
  • Right click Tools>Copy/Save/Email Map
  • Tick the “Save Image World File” option to create the georeference file
  • Choose the Copy Size, more pixels = bigger but more accurate image, then Save as Image:


  • The result is a “TumonzMap.bmp” image and “TumonzMap.bpw” reference file. Always keep these in the same folder. You can export several images at different scales/resolutions, maybe to show area overview and lot detail.
  • In AutoCAD/ADT;
    • Insert the image(s) into a drawing;
    • Command: GEOREFIMG then select image(s) to position.
    • They will be positioned & scaled exactly (default for TUMONZ is 1 unit = 1m)
      • Command: Image C:\TumonzMap.bmp (3083 x  1946) repositioned to [2655498.1,6475454.8] and scaled 0.0773273x using the world file C:\TumonzMap.bpw

This is great for location maps as you can quickly get an accurate scale map of anywhere in the country.

NOTE: TUMONZ map information comes from the LINZ (Land Information New Zealand) 1:50,000 topographical vector data set. The only requirement for re-using TUMONZ data is to acknowledge that the image / screen-shot / photograph was supplied / taken / produced by TUMONZ

December 22, 2005


Just found this tonight, David Butts of CADRE Systems has a blog focusing on the Architectural Desktop, Building Systems and Revit.


November 27, 2005

Combine DWF + Mind Maps with MindManager for AEC

In September 2004 I blogged about a free MindManager for AEC Add-In. This allowed Autodesk Design Web Format (DWF) files to be integrated into MindManager Maps. It was a technology demonstration from Mindjet rather than a release candidate product but showed the potential of combining CAD and Map information to manage a project.

The MindManager for AEC Add-In has been updated for MindManager 6 Pro and is now available from Mindjet Labs. Mindjet Labs showcase examples and prototypes Mindjet have developed internally for extending MindManager. Again it’s a technology demonstration rather than fully fledged application but well worth a download if you use DWF and MindManager.

So what’s new?

MindManager 6 introduced a new object in the form of a Business Topic. These allow “containers” of information from external sources to be integrated into the map retaining a link to the source. The DWF Topic converts a standard MindManager Topic, with hyperlink to a DWF file, into a Smart Map Part.

From the DWF Topic you can open the DWF, change sheets, copy and print using a small integrated DWF Viewer component. It uses the DWF viewer installed on your system and offers all the controls seen in the full application in a compact interface. It’s ideal for quickly opening a DWF, to print or a quick image copy/paste. For more involved viewing you can still launch the full viewer from the topic hyperlink icon or right click>Full view in the viewer component.

The image below shows a simple project using the DWF Topic combined with other smart topics. As I work on multiple projects gathering key information like this in a simple accessible format makes finding “the right stuff” easy and fast. I tend to only add info that’s “vital” and let the structure grow as the project demands rather than having any template or rigid structure.

The Project topic has a link to the project folder on the server. The appointment & contact are smart part links from Outlook, the Budget is a spreadsheet topic and the DWF File shows the drawing(s). You can rapidly access any of them with a simple click. This is a nice way to collect information related to a project and it’s easy to share with other MindManager users with the application/viewer or anyone via export to Web/Office formats.


Creating a DWF Topic is simple:

  • Drag a DWF into the map to create a standard MindManager topic with hyperlink (as any file-type does) or add a DWF file hyperlink to a topic.
  • Select the topic, Right Click & choose Make DWF Topic

(Click these images for full size view)

  • You are presented with the “Select a View” window. By default the first sheet is used as the topic image. In multi-sheet DWF’s you can select the sheet you wish to see.
    • This screen-shot also shows the DWF viewer interface when the business topic is opened.


  • Finished topic shows selected sheet image and a few controls


  • You can collapse/expand the topic to hide/show DWF Image


Using the DWF Topic:

  • The Topic Menu (Left) has refresh options.
  • Click on the image to launch the topic viewer with the same controls/options as your DWF Viewer.
  • Clicking on the hyperlink icon (Right) opens the DWF with the full DWF Viewer application. It also displays a tool-tip with file details.



Download Free MindManager for AEC Add-In ~ Mindjet Labs (Installation Requirements in extended post)

NOTE: This is a technology demonstration from Mindjet Labs. The current build may not handle 3D DWF’s or have some problems depending on your combination of graphics drivers/hardware. Read the notes on the download page. If you have any comments after trying the add-in use the Give us feedback link on the download page to report back to Mindjet Labs.

Continue reading "Combine DWF + Mind Maps with MindManager for AEC" »

November 23, 2005

New Autodesk DWF Viewer & Writer - Slice/dice, de-construct and create DWF's

There are new versions of the freebie DWF Viewer and DWF Writer applications. 

Many of the new viewer features are aimed at exploring 3D DWF models although improvements to operation, integration, and 2D DWF viewing haven’t been forgotten. I’ll start with the Viewer and it’s new  3D features as they are powerful and the most fun!

DWF65sectionSlice and Dice!

With a 3D DWF you can slice a section though the model for a better look inside. The screen-shot (click for full-size) shows a section through an ADT house model. The section is live and you can drag the “section plane” around with the “triad” axis object. You can add up to six sections at any time. Right click on the Section name in the views pane to access display/control options for each section view.


Raise the Roof!

DWF65disembleIf a section is not enough just pull the model apart for a better look. Click the move button then select & drag model elements out of the way. In the screen-shot (click for full-size) the blue roof slab has been lifted to look into the interior. You can reset the model to make good all your demolition by selecting elements/groups in the Content Browser Model tree then Right-click>Reset.

Not everything new is 3D focused. Many existing functions and interface features have been refined:

  • Best news is the return of these guys! DWF65pagetools. Yes, the page change buttons which went missing in 6.0 are back!
  • The layer dialog has been integrated into the Content Browser pane instead of floating.
  • Email and Print from direct from Windows Explorer DWF icons.
  • Email a DWF from File>Send menu in the viewer.
  • Drag n drop DWFs into Microsoft Word & PowerPoint documents. This embeds the DWF into the document. Sadly, if you want to have “live” DWF’s in your PowerPoint presentation, with the viewer operating in the slide, you still need to add the DWF Control via Insert object.

Not everything I wished for is there, I’m still hanging out for better navigation of Architectural DWF’s but there is more than enough in here to make the DWF Viewer worth a download.

There is also an update to the companion free DWF writer. It allows applications without built in DWF publishing to print a DWF via File>Print then selecting DWF Writer as your printer. It also adds one click “Publish to DWF” tool-bars to I.E. and Microsoft Office applications. With OpenGL enabled applications (mainly CAD) you can even “DWF Write” a 3d model DWF.

To update existing DWF Viewer installations just launch the viewer & you should be prompted to update. If not force an update from the menu Help>Check for updates.

Learn more about DWF, inc sample files, from:

More details on Shaan’s AutoCAD blog: Between the Lines: New Autodesk DWF Viewer 6.5

October 21, 2005

Autodesk DWG TrueView™ - view DWG files for free

Autodesk have released a free viewer for AutoCAD DWG format files. Yes, you can finally the use the words “Autodesk”, “DWG”, “Viewer” and “Free” all in one sentence without the word “wish”  

Shaan, Between The Lines ~ AutoCAD Blog, has a post with all the details but the summary is:

  • It’s built on the AutoCAD RealDWG™ engine
  • Offers AutoCAD style viewing, zoom, layer dialog etc
  • It has the ADT object enabler built-in (Yeah from an ADT user!) and is compatible with other AutoCAD enablers.
  • It opens, prints (plotters/Printers) and publishes (to DWF) like AutoCAD 2006
    • It supports AutoCAD style support pathing, plotters, plotstyles etc
  • It’s free

The downside is it’s about 100mb to download but hey, that’s what broadband is for!

Between the Lines: New and Free DWG TrueView™ - view DWG files
DWG TrueView™ is now available for free from Autodesk.

A common question is now Autodesk offers a free DWG Viewer why bother with DWF?

In another post at BTL Mr DWF Evangelist*, Scott Sheppard, details the role DWF plays and the advantages of sharing DWF files instead of AutoCAD drawings.

Between the Lines: The advantages of sharing DWF files instead of native AutoCAD drawings
“Comparisons between DWG and DWF aside, with DWF, users can do more than just view the design data….”

There is a need for DWG Viewing and a role for DWF as a compact, secure view/mark-up net friendly format. It’s nice that both are now supported and both are free.

* Scott’s Official Title is “Autodesk DWF Technical Evangelist”

Update 30 October, 2005:

I originally referred to Scott as “Mr DWF”. In a discussion group post Scott states that the real Mr DWF is Brian Mathews: “Brian invented the DWF format and designed/built our original WHIP! Netscape
Navigator plug-in.”

So Scott is now Mr DWF Evangelist  

October 19, 2005

Beating the Layer Key hassle

Back in July I read a neat post at Richard Binnings Beside the Cursor...  Blog, wrote a draft post referencing it and somehow didn’t post it. So here it is…

Richard has tackled one of the more tedious tasks for anyone upgrading between various versions of ADT/ABS.

Layer Key Styles are vital to the auto layering of AEC content and the further you go with ADT/ABS the more likely you are to customise or add keys specific to your standards or content. Then an upgrade arrives and you need to look at the Layer Key Styles, old and new, and find:

  • New keys to be added: Sometimes new features or objects will have new layer keys
  • Old keys to be deleted: Occasionally keys can be removed if the objects they supported have changed.
  • Which of your custom keys to import/migrate.

The usual answer (for me anyway) was to copy the various keys to Excel and compare them. You still had to manually create the keys based on the results of this comparison.

Richard has tackled this task by creating some nice Excel/VBA tools to allow easy comparison of Layer Key Styles and  copy/transfer of keys between them.These make it easy update of your own Layer Key Style. Have a look at this series of posts which have the code and instructions for the various tools.

October 05, 2005

Triple D Design Wiki - A New ADT Resource

Beau Turner has started a Wiki with the focus on ADT (Phase 1) and Revit (Phase 2). The idea of a Wiki is anyone can add or edit content, so you can help if you wish.

Will render for food...: Wiki - New ADT Resource
Well the time has come to get this pet project off the ground and out to the public for use, may I introduce to you a new community resource: Triple D Design Wiki…

September 13, 2005

Seeing the plot with AutoCAD 2006

It won’t help you figure out “who done it” in the thriller you’re reading but I found an AutoCAD variable that will let you see the plot.

If you have a plotter with a small on-board display, like our HP 800, AutoCAD’s recently acquired habit of sending the full path of the plot file to the printer can be rather frustrating. You see an endless list of truncated paths but can’t see the filename.

AutoCAD 2006 “fullplotpath” variable toggles between sending the full path or just the filename. This makes reprints from the plotter and cancelling other peoples plots, so yours come out faster, much easier.

Command: fullplotpath
Enter new value for FULLPLOTPATH <1>: 0

0 Sends the drawing file name only, 1 Sends the full path of the drawing file

September 03, 2005

Architectural Desktop 2006 New Feature Workshop Available Online

Adt_NFWExThe “New Feature Workshop” demonstrates features added to Autodesk Architectural Desktop.

You can step through the “Create, Manage ,Share” sections seeing the new concepts and commands applicable. Many have animated demos which is a great way to see these features in action.

Previously it required ADT to be installed (accessed via the help menu) but The Architectural Desktop 2006 is now available online:

UPDATE: 18:33:35 There is also an interactive overview on the ADT page with product information, feature demos, customer stories. Look for interactive overview at

Via: Between the Walls


August 13, 2005

Architectural Desktop User Feedback

If you use Autodesk Architectural Desktop you probably have some opinions you think worth sharing and ideas to improve it. Autodesk are setting up a new forum for ADT customers to feedback their thoughts on the application via on-line surveys.

The Autodesk Architectural Desktop Customer Council registration process involves a survey on your current and past use of ADT and other CAD products and will create an account for future surveys.

To join:

  • Refresh the Communication Center in ADT. 
  • Click on the ‘Join the Autodesk® Architectural Desktop Customer Council today’

Want more detail? See ADTCC FAQ

via Between The Walls

August 09, 2005

ADT Project Navigator in a page

Beau attempts to explain ADT Project Navigator in a page…

And succeeds!

Will render for food...: ADT Project Navigator - Defined

July 19, 2005

ADT Tool Generation from multiple styles

Beau has posted a great overview of how ADT 2006 eases the once tedious task of creating Tool Catalogs/Tools or Tool Palettes from multiple ADT Styles…

Will render for food...: ADT - Mass Tool Palette Generation

Creation of tool palettes containing ADT styles was always one of the most time consuming tasks. Fortunately in ADT 2006 this process has become much easier, …

July 15, 2005

Autodesk adds Product Knowledge Base RSS feeds

Corelcapture12-022Autodesk have made Knowledge Base articles available via RSS Feed . Now you can subscribe to product specific feeds and get notification when articles are posted.

Add these to existing RSS Feeds for product related Autodesk Discussion Groups and Autodesk Blogs and you have a huge information resource that’s working for you.

The image shows my current Autodesk related RSS feed list. Imagine visiting each of these sites to see what content is new. It would take ages.

With RSS you subscribe to the feed. Periodically your reader scans the feeds to see what content on each site has changed since your last visit. You can then easily scan or search the results. It means you know what is there but read only what you really want to see.

Don’t waste time finding information, let it find you!

For more information about finding and using the feeds see: Between the Lines: Autodesk adds RSS feeds for product knowledge base

July 14, 2005

Auckland AutoCAD User Group Meeting 21-06-05 - BIM with Revit

I’m a bit late with this post regarding the Auckland AutoCAD User Group Meeting 21-06-05.

Rich Sales (Salesoft) gave a presentation on Building Information Model technology based on Revit. The proposed change to Auckland Autodesk User Group is needed! As usual Rich gave a great demo of Revit which he has running beautifully. Thanks Rich!

While everyone was impressed with Revit some of the the resulting conversation tended towards the practicality of using BIM in the real world. From minor aspects like where do you track revisions (on the drawing sheet? in the model?) to issues of liability, ownership, etc as the BIM is shared.

I think implementing BIM is more a change in process than a change in technology. Migrating existing office practice to BIM or adjusting office process to fit with BIM is becoming a major factor in successful implementation. As CAD evolves to BIM the emphasis shifts from managing drawings to managing a database, from wrangling lines to massaging objects & data.

While many have used CAD drawing models to store and reference data with BIM you are managing a database from which the drawings are almost an incidental report. Everyone from the workstation to the board-room has to be aware that there is more to it than “doing a drawing”. The pay-off is a coordinated drawing set and a coordinated database which is capable of much more than any drawing but that needs to be understood by everyone.

July 09, 2005

TAP Building Information Model Awards

Chris has posted a link to the Technology in Architectural Practice (TAP) Building Information Model Awards.

All the submissions are worth reading but as an ADT user I found the HOK International London “St. Bartholomew’s and Royal London Hospitals, London, England” project was of particular interest. I can’t think of a better summary than the Jury comment:

“Beautiful and detailed presentation with thoughtful conclusions. This submittal provides an in-depth picture of BIM implementation and information management within the architectural office.”

If you are an ADT user you have to read it.

What’s also interesting is the huge range of approaches and technologies used in the BIM projects mentioned. One of the winners, The Beijing National Swimming Centre, looks like a fascinating structure. Although more organic, it reminds me a little of curtain-wall structures used in Federation Square, Melbourne.

Technology in Architectural Practice (TAP) Building Information Model Awards

Via Between the Walls

June 30, 2005

MindManager and ADT's Project Browser

AEC Project StdI have been setting up the ADT Project Standards for our “Store Projects”.

The requirement to control  content standards for Group, Company and Project levels makes it a bit of a web.

Basically Core Settings (Display, Layers, Materials etc) are sync’ed to all files. A few AEC Object files are the “Master Style Reference” for Projects and are kept updated with Library Content. Projects have their own Project Specific standards only if absolutely required.

This is all done using Elements in Projects so the ADT Project Standards feature can update content files in addition to production projects. E.g Alter a material in core and it will update in all the library, master and production project references.

I designed this system using a MindManager map and was wondering how to document and share which content belonged in which project when I remembered that ADT Project Browser can host html. Problem solved!

I simply used the filter in MindManager to the show only the topic specific to a Standards Project and then exported the map to html with a “MindManager Simple Template” (I just added our logo). The ADT Project Bulletin Board link is pathed to the map.html created by MindManager.

This loads the map view into ADT’s Project Browser. It’s a mini web page complete with menu to allowing switching to other views if required (shown below). It makes a very cool reference as it’s specific to the current project and you can review it before opening the project and see any information relevant.

AEC Project Browser Map View 

AEC Project Browser Index View

After this experiment I tried our linking to our AEC Project Standards which details every aspect of our ADT Project use and structure. It’s a busy map so I used MindManager’s “Dynamic Outline Template” (again just adding our logo) which creates nice collapsing menu’s and multiple views (Map, Menu, Index, Icon Legend).

The Menu and Contents views work well within Project Browser and notes etc are quite readable. The Map is large so it’s a bit like reading through a letter box slot but OK if you just want to check a portion of the map. To see a full view simply right click on any link and choose the “open in new window” option to launch a full I.E. Browser window. Have a look at the video below of it in action:

View AEC Project Browser Map.wmv (845.6K) 
TSCC Video Codec Down-load if required

June 26, 2005

Vision 1 Architects ADT Blog

Craig Stack, of Vision 1 Architects in Queensland Au, has an ADT Blog:

Vision 1 Architects Blog

Welcome to the world of ADT/CAD Blogs!

June 09, 2005

Autodesk Revit Structure Information online

Along with about 4,000 others I saw a preview of Revit Structure at AU 2004 . It was impressive then so I’m keen to see how the release version looks. I don’t do structural work but as an ADT user some of the features, especially link to ADT, are of interest:

“Autodesk Revit Structure models link to Autodesk® Architectural Desktop, Autodesk® Building Systems, and Autodesk® Revit® Building for efficient coordination between structural engineers, MEP engineers, and architects.”

Autodesk Revit Structure Information ~ Autodesk (US Site)

Autodesk Revit Structure Discussion Group

June 06, 2005

AutoCAD 2006 White Papers

Shaan has posted links to White Papers for AutoCAD 2006 or AutoCAD 2006-Based Products.

Between the Lines: AutoCAD 2006 White Papers - Networking, Migration, and Dynamic Blocks

  • Planning a Successful Network Installation
  • Installing the Network License Manager
  • Creating Network Deployments
  • Network Licensing Questions and Answers
  • Customising the AutoCAD 2006 Interface (CUI)
  • Dynamic Blocks Overview and Quick Start Tutorial.

May 24, 2005

ADT Project Navigator Sheet set Tip - Avoid the rename dialog when opening sheets/views

Double clicking on sheets/views launches the rename/renumber dialog (below).


Might just be me but sometimes this happens when you only want to open a sheet requiring the dialog to be closed. 

If you click on the icon (green arrow), rather than the name (red arrow), even multiple clicks won’t launch the rename dialog



May 13, 2005

Resene Colour Books for Architectural Desktop & AutoCAD 2006

ADT RESENE COLOURS 2006Resene Paints NZ Ltd have Colour Books for Autodesk AutoCAD and AutoCAD based products like Architectural Desktop. These are compatible with AutoCAD 2004, 2005 and the latest AutoCAD 2006.

They allow you to specify Resene colours anywhere AutoCAD allows colour selection (Layers, Objects, Hatches etc) without having to enter RGB values. The full colour name and code are displayed and also can be used for annotation.

ADTRESENECOLOURS2006COLOURPICKIf you insert an object field in annotation (Insert a Field > Object Field > Select the Object > Colour) when you alter the object colour the annotation updates automatically. No more typing in colours and codes or printing then realising you’ve not updated a colour swatch name! The example shows leader text and colour swatch text labels referencing hatch objects.

Colour books are available for individual Resene colour ranges or a complete alphabetical list with thousands of Resene colours!

Click here for Resene Paints Total Colour Solutions AutoCAD Colour Books

Continue reading "Resene Colour Books for Architectural Desktop & AutoCAD 2006" »

May 09, 2005

Working with Autodesk Discussion Groups RSS feeds

Subscribe to Autodesk Discussion RSS FeedAs a part of a update last month the Autodesk Discussion (news)Groups now have RSS feeds. I’ve been using them for a while to monitor a few key groups which I used to visit in Outlook Express. I use RSS Bandit as my feed reader so what follows applies to it, other readers may handle or display the feed differently.

You subscribe to the feed by right clicking on the tiny (really tiny) RSS icon on the web page view of each Discussion Group. If you have an RSS Reader you should see an option to “Subscribe in default Aggregator” or similar.

RSS Bandit Web ViewOnce subscribed the feed delivers headers for each message with a short extract. Clicking on the header opens the web-page view of that message thread. RSS Bandit does this using tabbed views so its a nice way to compare several threads even if from different discussion groups.

Each time you update the feeds you see new content highlighted and history of read messages. The length of the message history is controlled by a “retain messages” setting in RSS Bandit. I keep 3 weeks but at any time you can alter that to go back further and feed history can be set (in days) globally or per feed. I tend to use the search function on the web-page for material older than this.

RSS Bandit Newspaper ViewRSS Bandit has a “Newspaper View” which I use to scan messages across multiple groups in one view. Clicking on the Autodesk Newsgroups category folder in my feedlist shows all new messages in all the feeds it contains.  This makes it really quick to scan multiple groups, open those that interest you or mark them as read.

I upload/download my RSS Bandit state (RSS Feedlist and read/non-read status) to a USB Drive. You can also do this via web upload/download if preferred but our corporate firewall doesn’t allow it. It means I can read threads at home and carry the feed list and “read state” to synchronise my work desktop. That is a major productivity boost as I don’t see the same post twice!

After a few weeks working with the RSS Feeds & RSS Bandit I’ve not missed my old Outlook Express News-reader.

Autodesk Discussion Group Index ~

 RSS Bandit Home page ~

May 04, 2005

Autodesk NZ Design Master Quiz a great success

Host Ric Salizzo, “Sports Cafe” creator/presenterI just got home from the Autodesk 2006 Launch & Design Master Quiz. This was the official launch for all the “2006 Release Autodesk Products”. On arrival you could join informal industry focused demonstrations from the Industry Solution Dealers. These were held in separate rooms but were open so you could wander around sampling all the products/demo’s if desired. Then everyone then headed downstairs to register then into main auditorium for the “Design Master Quiz”.

Due to a large turnout about 40 tables filled the room with a team of six or seven at each. Each table had a laptop and box of Lego sitting on it. Both would get much use, maybe too much in the case of the Lego, throughout the evening.

Shane Beaman Ingram Micro New ZealandHosted by TV’s Ric Salizzo, “Sports Cafe” creator/presenter, the quiz format was a short presentation followed by questions based on what you’d just seen with a few general, and not so general, knowledge questions thrown in.

AutoCAD 2006, Composer, Revit, Inventor, Vault, Civil 3d, Map were demonstrated then questions were answered online using the laptops which totalled the scores as each question was answered.

Ric gave one table grief for making paper darts and probably regretted offering a prize for the dart closest to a target on the stage. After much folding a paper air force was unleashed, glad I didn’t have to clean up!

Lego Sky Tower with lightsOur Lego Sky TowerWhile all this was going on we were also challenged to come up with an original Lego creation which would also be judged. We built a model of the Auckland Sky Tower, complete with bungy jumper, lit with the illuminated pens provided by Autodesk. The winning Lego team built a SUV truck. Good to see Auckland AutoCAD User Group members on this team!

Lego Winners & their modelAll the Lego was collected and will be donated to the Starship Auckland Children's Hospital – nice one Autodesk!

Prizes on the night included iPod, Xbox, Lego and Autodesk Products. The team I was with came 3rd which meant we each came home with a Lego Ferrari F1. I already have one* so will add mine to the Children’s Hospital donation.

It was a great nights entertainment and painless way to learn about the 2006 products. Thanks to the event organisers: Shane Beaman and Carolyn Judd of of Ingram Micro New Zealand, the Autodesk Dealers & Autodesk Australia/NZ/Asia Pacific.

As both a Ferrari and Lego fan I just had to get a Lego Ferrari Formula One when they were released. 




April 24, 2005

Autodesk DWF Viewer updated

A new version of the free Autodesk DWF Viewer is available. The main enhancements in Autodesk DWF Viewer 6.0 are Print Preview, revised Navigator palettes, menus, and tool-bars and an option to hide/show Composer Mark-up status colour coding.

I like the new “always available” layer palette for layer enabled DWF’s (used to be a pop-up dialog) but I’m not a fan of the combined view/shading fly-out with 3d DWF’s. However Print Preview is a great addition and worth the update alone.

If you already have a DWF Viewer installed just open it and use the menu Help>Check for updates feature which will download, un-install the old, and install the new version in one operation (assuming you have install permissions).

You can also download the install file from

April 22, 2005

Autodesk New Zealand Design Masters Quiz

The registration page for the Autodesk New Zealand Design Masters Quiz came online while I was away. Register now, if you haven’t already, as its essential if you want to attend!

Autodesk New Zealand Design Masters Quiz Registration

Learn how to design what you want, the way you want it, and let our software do the rest.
Don't miss this years opportunity!

Come along and compete in our team based quiz which will be hosted by a well known television sports presenter. Every person that attends the Design Masters Quiz will receive a gift, plus be in with a chance to win more Quiz Night prizes.

When:  Tuesday 3rd May, 2005.  (Registration, drinks and food begin at 4.30pm with the main presentation starting at 5.30pm sharp)
Where:  Lower NZI Room, The Edge (Aotea Centre), Auckland

March 27, 2005

DWF Frequently Asked Questions

Link to: DWF Frequently Asked Questions
Scott Sheppard - Autodesk
This paper addresses several frequently asked questions concerning Autodesk’s Design Web Format. It was compiled from various sources including internal Autodesk servers, emails, and previously published content. Autodesk discussion group participants will recognise most of the questions as well as their answers. Much of this same information is available in various places on the Autodesk web site.

Scott Sheppard of Autodesk has posted a link to his "Everything you ever wanted to know about DWF but were afraid to ask" document on the DWF newsgroup. If you have a question about DWF its a great place to start as you’ll probably find the answer there!

NOTE: Its an “IE Web Archive .mht” format file hosted on his public Buzzsaw site so may take a while to load the first time you access it.

March 23, 2005

Autodesk Design Masters Quiz - coming soon

Today I got preliminary details of the New Zealand Autodesk “2006” product release in May. The Auckland event will be a “quiz format” similar to last years with a few changes reflecting suggestions received.

A couple of years ago Autodesk changed the format of their release event to a “game-show format” with short presentations of new features/products followed by quiz questions on what was just presented and also some general knowledge questions (plus a few “not so general knowledge” questions). A bunch of prizes were handed out during the event, some to section and overall quiz winners and others just randomly allocated but by the end of the evening nobody left empty handed!

The whole thing was done as a light hearted parody of a the typical TV game show complete with host and canned music. It was a brave move but I think successful; just as informative and far more engaging than the traditional “Death by PowerPoint & Demo” software launch. Last year the format was refined and it sounds like it will be further improved this year.

They will be mailing invitations to the client database and the website for registration, which is required, will be live next month. I’ll link to it when available. For now keep Tuesday 3rd of May free, watch the mail or keep an eye on for registration details when they are posted!

Autodesk Design Masters Quiz - coming soon

It’s time to “Realise Your Ideas” at our annual Autodesk Design Masters Quiz, where you will see first hand at the official New Zealand launch of the new AutoCAD 2006 family of products. Plus you can enjoy some food and a few drinks on Autodesk, network with your peers and Autodesk staff.

Come along, and be in to win HEAPS of prizes! PLUS everyone who attends will receive a free Autodesk gift*!

We plan to make this year's Quiz even more fun, and will be hosted by a very well known TV personality. Parking** will once again be free so all you need to do is turn up and have some fun.

When:    Tuesday 3rd of May
Time:     Registration, drinks and food begin at 4.30pm with the main presentation starting at 5.30pm sharp
Where:   Lower NZI Room, The Edge (Aotea Centre), Auckland

Looking forward to seeing you on the 3rd of May.
The Autodesk Team at Ingram Micro NZ

* In order to receive your free gift you must attend and stay until the end of the main presentation.
** A parking voucher will be issued at the end of the main presentation

March 17, 2005

New Autodesk AutoCAD and ADT 2006 newsgroups

These new “2006 newsgroups have appeared today:

ABS 2006 stuff is appearing in

No RSS Feeds yet but will add them when they appear

March 15, 2005

ADT 2006 Preview: New Project From Template

This long awaited feature allows you to set up a new Project by “cloning” an existing Project.

The entire project structure and content is copied complete with the Apj file, all folders, constructs, elements, views, sheets and sheet-set file. The new project details are also applied where required. This will help to ensure consistent setup for multiple projects.

Set up your template project(s) then clone for every new project, simple!

ADT 2006 Preview: Space Gross/Net/Usable Boundaries

Space measurement was one of the prime reasons we migrated to ADT from AutoCAD as soon as ADT R2 was released in NZ. That was a long time ago but since we established a large amount of data using AEC Space objects we never bothered changing to the AEC Area objects available in later releases. Now spaces have gained some new capabilities that mean we probably never will.

The addition of gross and usable boundaries has made measuring building area and use far simpler. This allows Gross/Net/Usable space measurements to be produced directly from the objects.Space Area

Each boundary is part of one space object but independently edit-able including use of AEC Modify tools.

Space Area Boundary Edit

The new space boundaries must be “enabled” in the drawings before they can be edited.

Space Area Enable

Display properties for a space with all boundaries enabled.

Space Area Display Properties


ADT 2006 Preview: New AEC Modify Tools

AEC ToolsThere are some new AEC tools. As we are dealing with fitting layouts my favourites are:

  • Array
  • Reposition From
  • Space Evenly
  • Centre.

The video shows these in action better than words can!

Download/View ADT 2006 AEC Tools.wmv (703.5K)


ADT 2006 Preview: Display Themes & External Data Linking

Display Themes: Allow the display of any AEC Object in a Viewport to be controlled by specific object/property data based on a specified theme. A simple example would be space shaded on the basis of its area but you could choose any other object property or property set data to control the display.

The underlying object retains its "style based display" as all changes are applied only to the selected Viewport. The DWF shows spaces in the raw + being controlled by themes based on different object and property values. The dialog below shows the configuration of one Viewport with GeoObjects | Zone Property with colours set based on text values.

Download Thematic Display.dwf (47.1K)

Property Set Theme

External Field Data: Data from an external database can be incorporated anywhere an AutoCAD field can be used and in a new database property set

Combine Thematic Display and External Field Data in property set fields and you have huge potential to change the look of plans to reflect linked data. Handy for a Retail Company

ADT 2006 Preview: Project Standards

One of the greatest benefits of using ADT is its use of Styled Objects whose appearance is controlled by a Display System. This allows control of an objects form and appearance and easy transfer of these settings between different drawing files. All our Shop Fittings and Department/Building/Site space measures are able to be updated by editing the Object Style then importing it to update the Objects using that Style in each Store Layout model. This allows consistency and easy changes to standards. I mentioned some of the advantages of this in an earlier post.

ADT Projects (introduced in ADT 2004) tend to encourage the creation of separate drawings. I've found breaking up the Building Model into separate Constructs (building model files) gives more flexibility over what is displayed/viewed/scheduled as the project progresses. One major drawback to this approach was the need to keep Styles and Display Settings in these separate construct drawings consistent. You can import them into a file but its a manual process and becomes tedious when dealing with large numbers of files.

AEC Project Standards is the solution to that problem. It allows object and display styles to be updated in all or selected files within a Project. There is provision to apply ADT Object Styles, ADT Display Settings and AutoCAD Standards (line, layer, font etc) using the same feature. This is only a brief introduction as it's a powerful set of tools:

Continue reading "ADT 2006 Preview: Project Standards" »

Autodesk Architectural Desktop 2006 Preview

The NDA has ended for beta testers so I can share some of the new features in ADT 2006.

I’ve chosen a few features that will be particularly applicable to our store layout work. This is only a small selection of what is new and I'll link to other Blogs with ADT 2006 content as I find them.

Remember also that ADT inherits (even sometimes enhances further) the new features in AutoCAD 2006 with one exception. Dynamic Blocks are 2d AutoCAD only and will not work where blocks are used as part of an AEC object (e.g. Multiview block component or inside an AEC Style). Dynamic 3d blocks, there’s a wish…

I've put my selected ADT features into separate posts for easier reading. The topics I’ve covered are:

But first there is one feature helps you find the new features.The New Features Workshop has information and demo's on the new features. A filter allows you to select which release you are upgrading from to see only those which are new to you.

New Features Workshop

March 12, 2005

Architectural Desktop 2006?

Something is happening: see ADT 2006 posts appearing on the ADT 2005 Newsgroup…

Autodesk - Discussion Groups > Discussion Groups Index > Autodesk Architectural Desktop Groups > Autodesk Architectural Desktop 2005


February 22, 2005

Autodesk Architectural Desktop 2005 - Hotfix - Sheet Set Template (.dst) Corruption

Further to the 0kb Dst sheet set corruption this hotfix has worked for me – so far!

Autodesk - Autodesk Architectural Desktop 2005 - Hotfix - Sheet Set Template (.dst) Corruption

Hotfix - Sheet Set Template (.dst) Corruption
Published date: 2005-02-18
ID: TS5273141
Applies to:
Autodesk® Architectural Desktop 2005
Autodesk® Building Systems 2005

If multiple users make simultaneous modifications to a project, the Sheet Set Template (.dst) can become corrupt. In this scenario, the dst file associated with the project is reduced to 0 KB in size and users are unable to modify existing sheets or create new sheets within this project.
This updated version of the AecProject45.arx file addresses this issue and prevents future instances of this problem.

February 18, 2005

An example of MindManager Architectural Desktop (ADT) Project icons in use

This is an example of my MindManager Architectural Desktop (ADT) Project icons in use to document naming, assignment and the relationship between project objects.

Compare this:
“A Construct Category (folder) Retail  contains a Construct Retail Layout(L1) assigned to Level L1 & Division Retail. Another Construct Retail Layout(L2) is assigned to Level L2 & Division Retail. The Element Service Counter in Category Elements/Retail/Fitting  is attached to each retail level as the layout will be common to both”

With this:

The map shows the same as the text with little notation and is, I think, much easier to follow. Also the map icons & layout reflect what the user will see in ADT when using ADT Project Navigator.

MM ADT Graphics Project Nav 


February 17, 2005

ADT MindManager Images & Icons

ADTMMICONSI’ve made up some MindManager resources for ADT Project Components as I required them to document our Project Standards.

These are images and icons which can be used as Topic images and Map Markers (for filtering etc).

If you are an ADT/MindManager user and want a set contact me via the “Email Me” link on this site and I’ll send them out.

Whg-CAD Std-Project (Medium)

January 27, 2005

Standards New Zealand to adopt XML

Standards NZ are moving to XML format. They have their catalogue now as PDF and in a database format with its own viewer but the move to XML is interesting. For AEC perhaps this means there will be potential to integrate & reference standards information directly in the relevant BIM object style/family.

Computerworld - Standards body to adopt XML

Standards New Zealand, the body that oversees the development of industry standards, is to convert its catalogue of more than 3,000 standards to XML…

January 21, 2005

More information on ADT Sheet Set DST file corruption

I have posted an update – as posted on the ADT Ng by Paul McArdle [Autodesk] - to my ADT Sheet Set DST corruption article. Its an explanation of the likely cause and recommended process to avoid the problem until a final fix is found.

Link: Read my Updated Article

January 18, 2005

Fix a "Bogus Paperspace" layout message in Architectural Desktop/AutoCAD

Sometimes with Architectural Desktop/AutoCAD 2005 you may see this message when saving the drawing :

"_qsave Bogus Paperspace view, fix before saving."

This indicates the layout being saved has an error. I’m not sure if its “new error” or was always there and not reported prior to 2005 versions. I have not seen it before we upgraded and usually see it in older files being updated to current standards.

You can fix this by copying the content of the damaged layout to a new layout. Do not copy the whole layout using “Move or Copy ~ Create a Copy” option on the layout tab as this just duplicates the Layout complete with the error.

Test each layout in the file by making it current then doing a File>Save. If you don’t get the “Bogus” error message the current layout is OK. Try the next until all are tested then repair damaged ones as follows:

  • If the layout is not required just delete it.
  • If the layout is required you’ll need to rebuild it as follows:
    • Create a new empty layout (Right click any layout then New Layout).
    • Check all layout related layers (Title, Viewport etc) are On, Thawed and Unlocked.
    • Copy/paste the content (Title + Viewports) from the “Bogus Layout” to the new layout.
    • On the new layout turn on the Viewport(s) (Right-click>Display Viewport Objects>On) and set the page setup.
    • Save the file & check the “Bogus” error is fixed on the new layout.
    • Delete the original “Bogus layout”.

The result should be a clean file that no longer gives the “Bogus error” on save and its usually a lot less effort than rebuilding all the modelspace/layout data in a new blank file.

January 13, 2005

Architectural Desktop: The service packs do help!

Its important to keep your software up to date. That annoying thing that’s been bugging you may have already been fixed!

If you have a problem which generates a Customer Error Report dialog send it in, with as much detail as possible, as they are used to track and solve problems. Its a little bit of effort now but may help save you a lot of hassle in the long run.

Check for updates by going to:

  • Select your product from the list
  • Open Data & Downloads
  • Then Updates & Service Packs
  • Check your specific version (they are all there back to ADT R1!)

Note: ADT will usually have its own service pack which includes all appropriate AutoCAD fixes. If using an AutoCAD vertical product check for its service pack before applying any AutoCAD ones.

Chris Yanchar on ADT 2005 SP1 Adoption:
“…Unfortunately, over the last 4 weeks, our records indicate only 34% of Customer Error Reports from Architectural Desktop 2005 customers were from users that have installed Service Pack 1. The SP was released in September. Additionally, in systems where AutoCAD and Architectural Desktop are installed, 5% have installed an AutoCAD Service Pack , but not the Architectural Desktop 2005 SP 1.”
Full article at: Between the Walls

January 10, 2005

The Architect's Desktop

David Koch has a good article on updating ADT Multiview blocks, including those used as tags. Has step by step instructions for ADT 2004/5 and 3.3.

The Architect's Desktop

Updating Multi-View Blocks
“The only constant is change.” Even in the most carefully developed office or personal standard, eventually there will come a time when an established standard has to be modified. If a Multi-View Block definition – including one for a tag - is changed, you can update existing drawings that have already made use of the “old” definition. The process may not be intuitive, so I am outlining the steps here….

January 01, 2005

ADT DST Issue Update

Chris Yanchar has posted some advice to the ADT Newsgroup on using the Sheet Set Manager (SSM) in ADT especially when projects are hosted on network drives.

Occasionally while rearranging sheets, with drag&drop, the SSM structure can appear not to change & sometimes the .dst file SSM uses to control sheets can be corrupted leaving a 0kb file. The result of this is that sheet set structure information is lost even though the dwg files and content are all still on the disk.

I've had this happen twice in the time we have been using Projects & SSM. The cause seems to be the interaction of ADT, multiple users, and the network environment projects are hosted in.

Chris has suggested several methods to avoid this problem until a final fix is found.

Message as posted to: Autodesk - Discussion Group - DST Issue Update

Posted by: chris yanchar - autodesk - Date: Dec/31/04 - 14:06 (GMT)

Hi All,

Several of you have mentioned running into an issue of the .dst (Sheet Set) file reducing itself to 0 kb. We have finally able to reproduce this thanks to clues from some of your posts. Unfortunately I don't have any information about a fix at this time, but here are the main things to avoid:

1) Avoid drag&dropping the same sheet or subset in quick secession. If you moved a sheet/subset and don't see things update or the palette appears to freeze, wait a second and then try to do it again.

2) In multi-user mode, avoid drag&drop same sheets/subsets simultaneously. The slower the network the easier to reproduce; network traffic can affect this. The issue is the delay in the Sheet Set tab updating its display before the second drag&drop. In some cases, it might look like the sheet/subset did not move and so you will try again, but it is the latency in the updating that causes the problem.

3) If you are manipulating the Sheet Set in a multi-user environment, clicking the Refresh button occasionally should also ensure things are up-to-date prior to you making your own changes.

Some of you have stated that things are fine, then as soon as the project is opened up the next day...poof. This might be that the above issues occurred but went unnoticed, or it could mean there is another way to reproduce the problem.

Nonetheless, hopefully those of you that are running into this can be mindful of the above for a couple weeks and update us on your experience.

For those of you that are experiencing this problem, please email me ( your findings - good or bad -- this way we can better track the issue with those customers that seem to be running into this more often.

chris yanchar | desktops product planning manager
building solutions division | autodesk, inc.

NOTE: If faced with a corrupt .dst you can restore a "good one" and this will restore the sheet set structure as long as nothing is altered in the project before the file is restored. If you don't have a backup as a last resort you can delete the corrupt .dst file. If no .dst file is present ADT will build a new one next time you access the project. The catch is that it's built from the dwg file/layout structure on the disk and may not reflect any other editing you have done.

UPDATE: 20-01-2005 As posted to ADT Ng Paul McArdle [Autodesk]

"We are still working on this problem. It appears that a probable cause is a short time lag when updating the sheet set after drag/drop. In certain cases, it is possible to do a second drag/drop before the first drag/drop has finished updating the sheet set. The second drag drop can then confuse the sheet set by creating circular references or creating invalid relationships (having a node be a parent or grandparent of itself). Although this may work in Hollywood, it tends to really mess up the sheet set.

Best advice it to have one person modifying the sheet set at a time. By this I mean adding, moving, deleting sheets or editing the sheet set properties. Multiple users working on existing sheets at the same time is fine.

Second important point is to perform the drag/drop operations patiently to give ADT time to complete each operation. For example, if you drag/drop a sheet or subset and it doesn't immediately appear in the new location, give it a minute to catch up. Do not attempt to quickly repeat the same drag/drop again!

Wait for the sheet set tree to update and reflect your last changes before attempting the next operation.

UPDATE: 21-02-05: Autodesk have posted a Hotfix that  addresses this problem

October 22, 2004

"Between The Walls" has moved

Chris Yanchar's Between The Walls - Architectural Desktop Blog has a new address.
Its now at:
The RSS Feed is:

October 09, 2004

ADT Project Tip: Where is this element used?

In ADT Projects Elements are very useful as they can represent content such as an office layout repeated on many locations in a floor or multiple floors in a building. You create an element and insert it in multiple constructs. Each insertion is then displayed & scheduled as if it’s unique object even though it’s just a reference back to one “Element object”. Edit that Element and all references update allowing rapid changes. Another use for Elements is “design options”. In this case each option is created as an Element but only the “current preferred option” is attached to the relevant Construct. Only this current option is then seen in views/sheets throughout the project.

The problem with this is you can end up with many Elements that are not referenced in Constructs & could be deleted. If you are the only person working in a project this isn’t hard to track but where multiple users are editing how do you find out if an element is still being used?

Today found a nice solution to this "Is this Element used, is it safe to delete?" question. You can see the Elements referenced in a Construct by selecting the construct, Right Click>Show External References, but would need to inspect every Construct looking for the Element which is time consuming.

It’s much quicker to select the Element & use Right Click>Attach element to constructs function. This is intended to allow you to attach the Element to Construct(s) but to do this it shows the Construct hierarchy with a tick on all Constructs where the selected Element is already attached. If you see no ticks you can cancel the command and safely delete the Element knowing you are not removing content referenced by a construct.
In the example shown you can see the element "Site Image" I was going to delete is still referenced in two constructs. Had I deleted it those Constructs would be left incomplete.

October 07, 2004


AUGI (AutoCAD User Group International) have a "AUGI CAD Camp" event in November. Its a one day CAD training and networking event with sessions on most Autodesk products, not just AutoCAD. If you are able to get to Florida this would be worth attending.

You are cordially invited to attend a one-day regional learning and networking event, AUGI CAD Camp, in Jacksonville Florida on November 9, 2004.

For you and other members of your staff, the educational benefits of attending AUGI CAD Camp are significant. Choose from among three different classes in five sessions. This enables you and other members of your staff to plan their training strategies and target specific learning needs.
a. Get expert advice from Lynn Allen, Autodesk technical evangelist and friend to end users everywhere.
b. Check out hot new technology from some of Autodesk's top third-party software development partners in the exhibit area.
c. Have plenty of time to network with peers and colleagues.
d. A single day devoted solely to training and networking is sure to benefit you and every member of your staff, so be sure and spread the word.

We hope you'll join us in Jacksonville! Simply visit our website at to learn more. While you are there, be sure to register as slots are filling up fast!

If you have any questions, click to email AUGI Florida CAD Camp

Richard Binning
AUGI Board of Directors

September 02, 2004

MindManager For AEC ~ Combining CAD DWF's and Mind Mapping

I’m always dealing with both CAD files and related projects. Combining Project Information and CAD data for review and presentation was a challenge but it’s just become a whole lot easier. A combination of MindManager and Design Web Format (DWF) allows my Project Plans and CAD data to be easily united. Free viewers for both file formats make sharing this information very simple.

Autodesk created the DWF File format to enable their users to share CAD data in a rich, web friendly, compact file format and Autodesk DWF Viewer to view and print them. Mindjet allow read only viewing of their native MindManager map “.mmap" files with MindManager Viewer. Both viewers are free downloads.

I thought it would be useful to incorporate these DWF files into the MindManager Maps I use to manage Projects. It is very easy to do this by adding a hyperlink from the Map Topic to the DWF file (as with any file) but it would be nice to see “inside” the DWF & show the multiple sheets it can contain. In response to my suggestion Michael Scherotter, a Business Solutions Architect at Mindjet, has developed an add-on for MindManager X5 Pro that enables this! This article shows the current beta version of this in action.


MindManager for AEC is a smart DWF Map Part that “interrogates” a linked DWF extracting the preview image for each drawing sheet contained within the file. It also extracts the properties for each sheet: Name, Author, Subject, Company, Comments, Keywords, Description, Copyright, Creation Time, and Modification Time. These are saved as MindManager notes on each “sheet topic”. As they are data rich, DWF’s can also contain a huge amount of Xml extended object data at very high compression. How much of this date its useful to extract to the map is still being reviewed.

Below you can see a DWF with 4 separate sheets. In this case its four views of a store layout,

Drop this DWF onto the map to create a new topic with Hyperlink (or add Hyperlink to an existing topic).
Drop the DWF Map Part from the MindManager Library onto this topic. The previews and data are extracted automatically as sub-topics with images & notes. You can see this on the gif (click for full size version).

As this is a “smart map part” it can be refreshed to incorporate any changes in the source DWF. As a Project Manager you can quickly update all the linked DWF’s and review any new sheets added to the project drawing set. You can open the source DWF from the link on the DWF Map Part to inspect anything in detail. You can also drag a sheet from the DWF Map Part to add to another topic or create a new one. This breaks the link resulting in a static copy – useful to document an issue set. Refreshing the original DWF Map Part regenerates the “lost" sheet you removed.

This is a useful way to incorporate CAD data into your project maps. If you export to other formats the DWF Map Part Previews, Hyperlinks, & Notes are treated as normal topic MindManager Topics, Links, Notes And Images. Of course exporting is not necessary if you give users the free MindManager Viewer and Autodesk DWF Viewer. These allow you to share this data, all read only, in the native file formats.

As mentioned this code is still in development. Currently the performance of the macro is directly proportional to the number of sheets in the DWF. If this becomes a final product the performance would be dramatically increased. If you have MindManager x5 Pro and would like to test the MindManager for AEC Beta contact me using the “Email Me” link on this Blog. If you use MindManager mapping for AEC (or other CAD related uses) and have any thoughts or wishes to enhance MindManager for your projects either use the comments link below and or email to me & I will forward them to Michael. He does listen!

NOTE: This is a technology demonstration of a possible integration between MindManager and Autodesk’s DWF file format. It is not meant to describe or demonstrate any future products that are being developed by Mindjet LLC. Mindjet has not made any decisions regarding whether this functionality will make it into a product. It has to be established that there is a market for such a product. Your feedback is instrumental in making this happen.

August 24, 2004

Autodesk Architectural Studio RIP

Its tough getting a new type of software established. When I first saw Autodesk Architectural Studio (AAS) on the Autodesk US web site several years ago it looked like potentially revolutionary software. The idea of migrating traditional tools to a digital workplace specifically for those who don't need, can’t or won’t use more complex “full on” CAD applications was a good one. The idea of combining “hard” CAD data, “freehand scribble” and mass modelling in a digital workspace was great. To have a CAD aware application to pull together many resources for presentations was appealing. At the time with Tablet PC's about to hit the market the literal electronic drawing board seemed viable. To take a tablet into meetings for the inevitable "scribble on the plans" that always happens, capture those scribbles, and push them back to the CAD applications was promising.

I never got the chance to try AAS in production and now according to this post on the AAS newsgroup from Jim Flanigan (AAS Development Team) its about to die. I would love to have tried it and maybe even purchased it but it was never offered in our market. I still think AAS addresses an important part of many architectural projects that is not handled well by any other Autodesk BSD product - the conceptual stage of a project that is still largely done by scribbling on paper.

From what I’ve read the eary vision for AAS was remote teams collaborating over the web using AAS and server-based documents. Data transfer rates and a reluctance to rely on Internet connections, which at the time were far from reliable, limited the appeal of a web-based applications. Its ironic that now reliable connections with the capacity for this are common and could work. Later versions of AAS, from what I’ve seen mostly on web demos, emerged to be a useful conceptual tool capable of handling, CAD plans (via DWF), images and 3d mass modelling. This was done with a simple toolset and application interface. AAS broke the mould for Autodesk CAD by taking familiar the pen, pencil, eraser, template, and tracing paper tools used on the traditional drawing board and presenting them in a digital workspace.

I still think this is the most natural way to design. A tablet with pen interface combining the ability to sketch and edit easily with a mix of scans, 2d CAD and 3d massing and modelling tools was where it showed a huge gain over the traditional paper based approach and was its point of difference from other architectural CAD tools. The “tools on tablet” interface seen in AAS, now in Architectural Desktop (ADT), combined with context sensitive menus and “properties bar” is the cleanest way I’ve seen to enable tools, object properties and options to be presented and customised. It seems that the legacy of AAS will be the tool palette system now seen in the AutoCAD, ADT and other Desktop products.

There are other similar products but none offer what I think is needed in a conceptual spatial design tool. SketchUp is closest but its focus is making CAD modelling easier. It does this extremely well but while the modelling tools and output are great I think its user interface still needs a lot of work. For me it hampers conceptual thinking as its still a traditional windows toolbar/button command based interface. There is nowhere near the fluidity of pen on paper although the ability to push/pull and twist geometry to create complex massing is powerful. However, even with the best tools and interface the CAD model is only one aspect of the conceptual design process/meeting.

I hope there is an even better product waiting to be launched. I need a combination of MindManager Tablet, Autodesk Architectural Studio/DWF Composer (or SketchUp) all combined in the same application “space”. This could be the ultimate conceptual design, collaboration & meeting tool. Running on a tablet it could capture & organise brainstorming ideas, freehand sketches, pull in documents, spreadsheets & other files from the network or web, link to audio, maybe video and combine this with the 2d & 3d CAD work that is usually the focus of the design meeting. Afterwards you could review and forward the appropriate parts of this “package” to others in the form they require it to continue working.

Will it happen? I don’t know but I hope it will, soon. Its what I was hoping Autodesk Architectural Studio 4 would be...

Also see:AECbytes Newsletter #13 ~ The Rise and Fall of Autodesk Architectural Studio

August 08, 2004

ADT Braindumps

Chris has posted links to all the Architectural Desktop Brain Dumps on his Between the Walls Blog. This collection of articles dates from ADT1 to current and is an excellent resource for anyone working with ADT. Although some concepts are no longer relevant the older braindumps have some interesting background information on the challenges faced when ADT was created and how the product we see today evolved.
Between the Walls ~ Architectural Desktop Brain Dump Collection

August 03, 2004

I'm going - AU 2004

The appearance of a new category, CAD Autodesk University, on the Blog is to signify that my "intention" of attending Autodesk University 2004 has become a certainty. Today did the deed and signed up so no going back now. It looks like I got the sessions I wanted so have a mix of ADT/ABS/Viz to look forward to and a bit of Las Vegas fun!

Future posts on AU will be in the new Category only.

BTW: Any suggestions on things to see, or to avoid, there or San Francisco (the week before) gratefully accepted…

July 25, 2004

Mass Modelling in ADT

Chris has posted a great video demo of the mass modelling tools in ADT 2004/5 on his "Between the Walls" Blog. While massing has always been a part of ADT the interface and object improvements in ADT 2004/5 have made mass elements a powerful tool. The video is a good introduction if you haven’t seen this in action.

Between the Walls: Mass Modeling Ease-of-Use in ADT 2004/2005 - Part 1
As many of you upgrade from versions of Architectural Desktop prior to 2004, or if you are a new user, you might not be aware of the user interface improvements made to the mass modeling tools inside of Architectural Desktop....

June 22, 2004

Space Sketches in Architectural Desktop

I’ve been playing with ADT’s Napkin Sketch feature in an attempt to get more of a “freehand” look for space planning. The intent was to remove the “cast in stone” computer look that space plans have when used out of the box. I think concepts need to look a bit loose to give people the impression there is freedom to change them.

The Napkin Sketch Tool can be found in Content Browser (Helper Tools in the Stock Tool Catalog or search for napkin). It is also a command on the Document Menu (load this from Window>Pulldowns>Document Pulldown).

Napkin Sketch works by tracing the AEC objects with multiple lines then combining the traced result into a block. The original objects are not touched but depending on complexity you can get large file sizes. I find it best to use on 2d elevations or simple objects, like spaces, and in a separate view file as detailed below.

There are options for Line Format (sketchiness), Extend lines at corner, and Scale (size or coarseness) to suit the intended plot size. The result is a static block (not display scale dependent) so you have to tailor the settings to the final use.
I’ve found it is fairly successful if you:
~ Create the spaces in constructs as normal
~ Create a view containing the space constructs. I use a division “space” to make this selection easy. The view can be single or multiple levels.
~ Open the View and use the Napkin Sketch Tool selecting the space xrefs as the objects to be sketched.

This creates a sketch block from the spaces and labels. The spaces get a “sketchy look” but the original objects in the view and constructs are untouched. The label text gets incorporated in the block but is not “sketched” so remains readable. You can retain the original space xrefs or remove them (clear from the view properties) leaving just the sketch space block.
The advantage of doing this in a View is it keeps your construct files clean and isolates the large sketch block in the view file so the size only impacts where that view is used. It also allows progressive sketches to be stored as the project develops as sketches are snapshots that don't alter.

If done in a multiple level view the z value of each level is honoured in the sketch so you can orbit and get a 3d perspective space sketch! This can be useful to show spatial relationships in multi-level buildings.
I have made a comparison of the different line formats in the DWF below. You see the original space plan, tight, loose, and messy settings at the same scale. You can also build other elements over the space plan by adding them to the view as the project progresses as seen in the animation at the start of this article.
Download space plan napkin comparison DWF (250kb) Requires free Autodesk DWF Viewer

June 12, 2004

3D Dwf on its way!

For me the PDF/DWF battle is over as we have adopted DWF as the CAD sharing format for our Intranet. However the inclusion of 3d will be a great advance for the format. Will be interesting to watch this progress.
WorldCAD Access: DWF Goes 3D!

June 02, 2004

Autodesk 2005 Design Masters Quiz - New Zealand

autodesk_designmastersAutodesk and Tech Pacific are giving you the chance to flex those brain cells, and update your knowledge.
Plus win heaps of great prizes!

Platform Technology Solutions (AutoCAD, Buzzsaw, DWF Composer)
Building Solutions Session (ADT, Viz, Revit)
Infrastructure Solutions (Land Desktop, Civil 3d, Map, Mapguide)
Manufacturing Solutions (AutoCAD Mechanical, Electrical, Inventor)
Followed by the Design Masters Quiz.

Tuesday 6 July 2004: From 4pm
Sky City Convention Centre
FREE Parking - At Sky City Casino Parking Station for Quiz attendees. A redeemable voucher will be supplied on departure from the Quiz.

Click here for more details and to Register online at Autodesk New Zealand.

May 25, 2004

ADT Workflow - Modelling Benefits

Is his Blog article, Workflow - Modelling, Beau Turner commented on how ADT had changed his workflow in architectural projects. In reply to a comment I made he asked how it had changed ours. Coincidentally, a request at work for a drawing change was a perfect example of how ADT makes simple what could be a problem in a "non-object" CAD program. Seemed like a good idea for an article...

Before ADT:
Before ADT our layout plans were drawn in 2d AutoCAD LT. They looked basically identical to the “medium ADT plan” view today but we used AutoCAD blocks for fittings and polylines with hatch fills to indicate department areas. This is a small section of a store & shows what we created in AutoCAD days (it's actually the ADT plan used throughout this article).

Get the look you want, more than once:
DisplayExampleCombinedWe now use ADT with Space Objects for the Department Areas & Multiview Blocks or other AEC objects for our fittings.

The request today was for a denser hatch shading to use on small sub-department plans. The normal merchandise plan hatch was too light at the larger scale. Had we still been on AutoCAD there would have been a few options but it would require either compromising between the scales or duplication of the hatch for each view with all the work that would require.

ADT’s display system made this simple as we can use mulitple display configurations in the space styles for different views of the same plan:
Low: Store view where no hatch is prefered to reduce clutter.
Medium: Merchandise View, normal hatch for 1:200 scale
High: Sub-department view, dense hatch for 1:20 to 1:100.

Continue reading "ADT Workflow - Modelling Benefits" »

May 20, 2004

ADT Pacfica Car Parking Tool Update

Got a nice surprise today when Rich forwarded an update to his ADT Pacifica Car Parking Tool.
To create a run of parking you pick the type, arrangement and "measure or divide length" options in the dialog and then pick the kerb length in the drawing.
Based on carpark size & access rules it:
~ Creates car parks sized to code specifications (default is NZ Ministry of Transport 90 percential car sizes used by most local authorities).
~ Places a sequential number in each park.
~ Calculates & indicates aisle widths based on the code specifications.


It can also add a text “Parking Count Summary” but I use an ADT Schedule to count "live" as car parks are created and removed. These tools; auto draw, aisle calc, & count deliver a huge productivity gain when creating and editing large parking layouts. There are also other tools to place parking symbols (traffic arrows etc) and a “one click convert to 3d face” so you can easily render the parks in Viz Render/Viz.

The update adds user overrides for depth & width so any custom park can be created. This is great for areas with their own local codes or to add to existing non-std parking layouts. Its a nice example of AutoCAD and ADT tools combining to deliver a great solution. Thanks to Rich for fullfilling a "wish" submitted only last week!

Continue reading "ADT Pacfica Car Parking Tool Update" »

May 12, 2004

Custom Viewport Scales in ADT 2005

In ADT 2005 Viewport & drawing scale can be selected via the drawing status bar. There is a good selection and also custom but if that’s not enough Chris Yanchar mentioned in a newsgroup post:
"The list of scales is much more extensive, and if we happened to miss one, it can be added through the Registry."

A response to my request for the key came from Jimmy Bergmark;
Edit, remove or add the scales you want in the registry at this location:

Thanks to both Chris & Jimmy for the Info!
Registry location (click for larger image):

NOTE: As always, be very careful when editing registry. Incorrect editing may severe damage to the operating system or software operation. Backup before making any changes. See Regedit Help for "Best practices when editing the Registry".

May 08, 2004

Site Mass Studies in Autodesk Architectural Desktop

site_and_building_mass_study_001This shows the use of ADT drape mass elements for approximate site concepts and also the use of LandXML import to use as a base for ADT buildings. I wouldnt use ADT for complex site work but as a tool for prelimary investigations, or just to put some simple landforms under your building, mass elements can work well. For more complex work we use a consultant with Autodesk Land Desktop & use ADT's LandXML import to get a finished site.

Continue reading "Site Mass Studies in Autodesk Architectural Desktop" »

May 03, 2004

Salesoft appointed NZ Building Solutions Master Reseller:

Just got notice of this change for ADT, ABS, Revit users in New Zealand. Congratulations to Rich and the team at Salesoft CAD Solutions.

"Autodesk and Tech Pacific NZ would like to advise that as of 1 May 2004 Salesoft CAD Solutions have been appointed the master reseller for the following Autodesk Building Solutions Division (BSD) products in New Zealand:

• Autodesk Architectural Desktop
• Autodesk Revit
• Autodesk Building Systems

Salesoft CAD Solutions have appointed a number of commissioned agents to act on their behalf to ensure a continuing geographical coverage of the above products throughout New Zealand."

Yours faithfully
Autodesk Australia/New Zealand Channel Manager

April 28, 2004

Auckland AutoCAD User Group Meeting 28-04-04

Auckland AutoCAD User Group Meeting.
The topic was the new release of AutoCAD 2005 hosted by Rich & Gary at Salesoft CAD Solutions. Covered the new features in 2005 including sheet sets, fields, interface, & editing enhancements.
It was good to see what core AutoCAD can do but I think I’ll stick to ADT :-)

Six things to like in Autodesk Architectural Desktop 2005

ADT 2005 has many powerful new features that others will demonstrate better than I but these are a few simple, but useful, enhancements I've found worthwhile. Not "big ticket items" but things I use constantly:
(click on thumbnails for a larger image)
1) Space Creation Options:
Insert: "Traditional" ADT space placement.
Rectangle; Select 2 points to create a rectangular shape.
Polygon: Allows you to draw irregular shapes, including arc segments, while creating the space.

Continue reading "Six things to like in Autodesk Architectural Desktop 2005" »

April 25, 2004

My CAD Gallery

Just posted the beginings of a Gallery. Work in progress.
My CAD Gallery

April 22, 2004

VIZ 2005 is Here!!

The long awaited release of VIZ 2005 is at last available!!
This brings Viz up to speed with ADT 2005 and adds a bunch of new features. Read more about it at the ADT Blog "Between the Walls" or Autodesk VIZ - Product Information. See it at the Viz Gallery Blog

April 13, 2004

Resene Paints - Colour Books for AutoCAD/ADT

Resene Paints NZ Ltd have created Colour Books suitable for Autodesk AutoCAD 2004 or AutoCAD 2005 Software (including the AutoCAD based “Desktop” products). These allow you to enable you specify Resene colours anywhere AutoCAD allows colour selection (Layers, objects, Hatches etc).
Colour books are available for individual Resene colour ranges or you can access a complete alphabetical listing of Resene colours.

Thanks Karen!
Click here for Resene Paints AutoCAD Colour Books

March 31, 2004

The Ultimate Map of New Zealand.

TUMONZ - The Ultimate Map of New Zealand. Anywhere. Any Scale. All Vector.

I use this both at work and home. If you are in NZ its a great tool for both CAD and GPS, A huge database with ability to overlay vector roads, topographic detail, legal boundary and much more.