March 06, 2006

Attach DWF's and PDF's in AutoCAD 2007?

Mark Douglas has a nice post on the the new DWF attach feature in AutoCAD 2007. It allows 2D DWF's to be attached, like xrefs, for use as a background. He also details a clever workaround to use this feature to attach PDF files if that is all you can obtain.

I tested the accuracy of DWF attach by inserting DWF’s back into their source file and was impressed. Of course, it will depend on the precision used when the DWF is generated. See below for links to earlier posts on how to control, & the impact of increasing, DWF precision.

In the Dynamic Interface: AutoCAD 2007 -DWF Attach....Ohh YEAH!!

March 05, 2006

AutoCAD 2007 in action

Shaan Hurley has posted a couple of videos, recorded by Eric Stover, of AutoCAD 2007 in action.

AutoCAD 2007 Video "Kitchen Interior"  – Quick Interior study showing materials & lighting + the new Mental Ray Renderer in action

AutoCAD 2007 Video "Austin Towers" – Site study showing massing (solids), sunlight study, video walk-through and import of the concept to Autodesk Revit.

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


The Lazy Drafter AutoCAD Blog

Full of techniques to be lazy, this blog will save you the time spent reading it and more!

"If you have a difficult task, give it to a lazy person - they will find an easier way to do it." – Hlade's Law

The Lazy Drafter
How to grow technically and professionally for the lazy drafter. The lazy drafter does not waste time over drafting a piece of dwg art…

February 14, 2006

New AutoCAD Tips Blog from Ellen Finkelstein

Ellen Finkelstein has a new AutoCAD Tips Blog. It's the same content as her site but, instead of being organised by topic, has the latest tips on a single page for easy reference.

It's at:

February 03, 2006

Instant AutoCAD Support...

My ADT deployment omits the “add a plotter” shortcut as everyone except one remote user accesses the same network plotter pc3’s.

I went to set up plotters for the remote user, off-site, but there is no “add a plotter” shortcut…

After a fairly long search, looking for the file that kicks off the add a plotter wizard, I rang our dealer ready to ask my “Stupid question of the day”.

The instant Julia answered the call I found addplwiz.exe, problem solved. How’s that for rapid support response!

* “Stupid question of the day” calls are not usually daily but are often stupid

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 24, 2005

Digging deep into content may solve line scale problems

Ever encounter weird line scale problems inside a drawing? It can happen when you use content from external sources that may import line types not present in your default templates.

In the metric world AutoCAD uses line types from the ACADISO.lin. They are scaled versions of the imperial ACAD.lin line types which allow for the typical difference in the AutoCAD Unit/Drawing Unit/Real World scale relationship.

Sometimes you get problems where one, or more, line types is out of scale regardless of how you set the various variables that control line scale. This can be caused by an ACAD.lin derived style being mixed with ACADISO.lin styles in the same file.

It’s easy to fix by reloading all the line types but I wondered how this can happen. The answer is the ACAD.lin line type may be part of external content, blocks or object styles.

When you add the content; the non-ISO line style is imported and used for all subsequent lines of that type. Re-importing the line styles overwrites the definition and corrects the scale. So if it happens regularly, check your source content!

Via; Thanks to Jon for a handy tip – discovered on the Autodesk Discussion Groups.

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

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 27, 2005

Publish and be... sure

Publish and be damned! no more!

Mark, In the Dynamic Interface CAD Blog, has a nice tip to preview AutoCAD Publish to DWF results before you do.

In the Dynamic Interface: No need to cross your fingers before publish

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 02, 2005

AutoCAD Fields as ActiveWords

An awesome use for ActiveWords is creating AutoCAD Fields within text objects. AutoCAD Fields are "live text" which show properties like date, filename etc but are actually entered as text strings.

E.G.: If you want AutoCAD to show the filename for the current file. You launch the text command then:

  • Use the Insert menu or right click to choose Insert>Field
  • Browse through a dialog to select the Field variable you want to insert and configure it (usually a few clicks)
  • When you OK the dialog generates a Field Expression text string and enters it in the text editor. The result is a “live” display of the filename the text object is in.

(Click on the thumbnails for full view of the dialogs.)


The AutoCAD Field dialog shows the Field Expression text string and allows you to copy/paste it. The filename string is %<\AcVar Filename \f "%tc3%fn2">% so I created an ActiveWord using a Substitute Text action entering the Field Expression as the Action text.


Now to have AutoCAD to show the filename for the current file I just start the text command then;

  • Enter "affn" (my short code for AutoCAD Field FileName) and press space twice.This prompts ActiveWords to substitute the Field Expression... Done
  • No right-click, no menu, no dialog, no browse and pick, no OK….

Creating custom combinations of text and fields is very easy. I use this multi-line “stamp” for consultant files which come in with no title block. Just enter afpsm in the text command and it’s done, ready to plot. Better than a plot stamp as you can choose where it’s located and have several formats. (The fields are grey in the screen-shot below).


I also have single and two line versions each with its own ActiveWord. You can create any combination of text and fields you like, assign an ActiveWord, and it’s only a few key strokes away.


The ActiveWords codes mentioned are shown in the extended post. Easy to include because ActiveWords works everywhere. It’s just as happy entering them into BlogJet, my blog post editor, as the AutoCAD text editor. Of course BlogJet and TypePad don’t know what the AutoCAD codes are so just show text!  

Continue reading "AutoCAD Fields as ActiveWords" »

September 23, 2005

Free Autodesk DWG File Viewer

A free Autodesk DWG Viewer, so you can see & print AutoCAD “.dwg” based files for free.

Not quite here yet but it will be soon. See the details at: Between the Lines: Free Autodesk DWG File Viewer

September 17, 2005

BazzaCAD CLog

Welcome to another AutoCAD blog – in fact it’s a CLog – Barry Ralph’s BazzaCAD!

10/10 for the innovative use of a very familiar interface.

BazzaCAD CLog 
What's a CLog? It's a Cad Log

via In the Dynamic Interface

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 06, 2005

New Raster Design Blog

Jane Smith has just launched a new blog about….

Using Raster Design with AutoCAD

“This is an effort to help anyone new to Autodesk Raster Design. When I started using this program, it was called CAD Overlay. At the time, it was an almost unheard of program in this area & finding help or information was not easy. I hope I can make learning this program easier for others”

August 13, 2005

Autodesk User Group International AutoCAD Wish List Ballot

Autodesk User Group International (AUGI) have posted the AutoCAD Wish-list candidates. The wish-list is presented to Autodesk during the AUGI AGM held at Autodesk University.

It’s your chance to vote and make your wishes known!

AutoCAD Wish List Ballot - Autodesk User Group International
(Requires free AUGI registration)

UPDATE: Shaan has a great post on the new AUGI wishlist format.

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

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.

"Real World" DWF Resolution Findings

Prompted by Shaan's post on DWF precision I’ve been testing to see what impact increasing the DPI has in “real world” conditions. So far I’ve found ramping the DPI up to fairly huge values does increase the DWF file size, but not as much as I expected, and seems to have only a slight impact on plot file sizes.

We draw on A1 sheet at 1mm = 1 AutoCAD unit typically with a 1:200 viewport. For a real world comparison I created a DWF from a store layout at various resolutions then measured a known length in Autodesk Composer aiming for better than 1mm precision. The file has a lot of AEC Mv Blocks (shop fittings) and AEC Spaces (departments) with solid hatch fills. The table below shows the results using the DWF6 ePlot.pc3.

DPI DPI Factor File size KB File Size Length (mm) in AutoCAD Length reported in Composer Accuracy Plot File to Hp800 Plotter MB
400 1 84 1.00 25446 25000 98.25% 1.56
101600 254 102 1.21 25446 25400 99.82% 1.61
1016000 2540 158 1.88 25446 25446 100.00% 1.69

It was a bit of a concern that the file size nearly doubled but it seems this is because the initial  file was so small. Publishing a 20 sheet drawing set for our office (Site, Building, Fit-out Plans and Elevations) with lots of hatch fills resulted in the file growing from 2.5 MB @ 400 DPI to 3.0 MB @1,016,000 DPI. Multi-sheet Store Layout sets, about 1 MB @ 400 DPI, grew by 10–20%.

While this increase is noticeable its not a bad trade off for better than 1mm precision over large distances.

PS: Wow, the table pasted from Excel into BlogJet worked fine!

June 02, 2005

AutoCAD to adopt XML Format as it's default file format

Goodbye to the current .dwg, and hello to new .dwgx based on XML and ZIP.

Sorry, made that all up*. I got carried away after writing this post….

* It is true for DWF which is an open format that uses XML and ZIP as seen here

AutoCAD DPI to DWF precision in Metric

Shaan has posted a useful conversion chart (see right) showing which settings to use to get a given precision in a DWF. DWF is capable of impressive precision but the default settings are rather low approximating the resolution a paper plot would give. This chart shows how to get the DPI (dots per inch) setting to use in metric drawings.

Between the Lines: AutoCAD DPI to DWF precision in Metric

As an example, if you have a drawing where 1 centimeter equals 10 meters and want to use DWF Composer to measure to the nearest millimeter, you would generate the DWF file using a DPI value of 50800

May 21, 2005

Dilbert’s Ultimate House Plans in DWF!

Dilberts Ultimate HouseBack in January I posted about Dilbert's Ultimate House which was a collaborative design project to find the perfect home for the comic strip geek legend created by Scott Adams. The readers contributed ideas, both serious and not so serious, which they thought would suit the cubicle dwellers home life.

Raj Raheja, of Heartwood Studios, did the "Virtual construction" using AutoCAD & 3D Studio Max 5.1 & 6 which he said "Was a lot of fun!".

The plans for are now available in DWF (Design Web Format) from Shaan’s Between the Lines blog. If you don’t have the free DWF Viewer Shaan’s post has a link to download it.

Dilberts House DWFThe DWF drawing set has 2d plans, elevations and a couple of renderings. If you’re planning a house have a look at Dilbert’s, you may see something worth considering. It would be neat to see some 3d DWF’s of this project!

Between the Lines: DUH.... Dilbert Does DWF

May 13, 2005


ADT RESENE COLOURS 2006The house elevation I used in the Resene Colour Books for Architectural Desktop & AutoCAD 2006 post wasn’t very impressive but it was a very difficult drawing to create.

Not a problem with the software but because tonight I’m babysitting my Aunties kitten . He’s very interested in AutoCAD, especially the 2006 smooth zoom transitions chasing the view as it zoomed, but its tricky working with a cat chasing your mouse! 


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 12, 2005

AutoCAD 2006 CUI Editor Tutorial Videos

The AutoCAD 2006 Customise User Interface feature and its associated CUI file has provoked much discussion since the 2006 release. Shaan Hurley has posted video (wmv) tutorials made by Shawn Gilmour which introduce the CUI and how/what/why it replaces MNS and MNU files.

Between the Lines: AutoCAD 2006 CUI Tutorial Videos

Topics covered include:

  • Introduction to the AutoCAD 2006 CUI Editor
  • Introduction to the AutoCAD 2006 Workspaces
  • Creating a Tool-bar with the AutoCAD 2006 CUI Editor
  • Creating a Fly-out Tool-bar with the AutoCAD 2006 CUI Editor
  • Introduction to the AutoCAD 2006 Enterprise CUI files



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

April 06, 2005

AutoCAD Blog listing

Cadopolis have established a list of AutoCAD and related CAD Blogs. It will also have a short features on the Blogs over the coming months.

The first up is Lee’s HyperPics: Beyond the UI Blog which has lots of information on using and customising AutoCAD. It’s on my feed subscription list (and this Blogs IT/CAD Links sidebar) and I read every post!

A dynamic new AutoCAD Blog - In the Dynamic Interface

Mark Douglas, of MKM & Associates, has just launched an AutoCAD Blog focusing on new AutoCAD features (2006 currently), Dynamic blocks, DWF Composer and some custom Lisp.

The initial posts have a wealth of information on Dynamic blocks. These are a new, in AutoCAD 2006, and powerful set of tools. If you are considering creating or updating AutoCAD block libraries you should check out Dynamic blocks and Marks Blog before you do anything. Both could save you a lot of work.

In the Dynamic Interface
Focusing on new technology for AutoCAD, DWF, Lisp & anything cool.
Via Between the Lines

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

AutoCAD Packaging Line

Shaan has posted a neat video of AutoCAD LT being packaged for delivery. 

You tend not to consider the logistics of actually getting a product to market. Creating it may be mission but once that design/code/product is finished a huge team have to make it a reality. With everything these days being high tech its easy to forget that behind every product is just a bunch of people, doing their best, trying to make a living.

Between the Lines: AutoCAD LT 2006 Packaging Behind the Scenes

March 17, 2005

New Ads for Autodesk

Ralph has a link to the new Autodesk Print Ads, love the command line one “Crazy Eyes”

WorldCAD Access: New Ads for Autodesk

Created by WONGDOODY: Read their Press Release

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 12, 2005

Here is an AutoCAD tip you've never needed before...

CAD Forum post how to turn on the command line if you’ve turned it off. It may have been there for 20 releases but I suggest you try working without it, you might like it!

CAD Forum saved us a the cost of a service call-out this week as I found out that the “11:11 Call HP” error on our plotter indicated a loose print-head cable from the site. Thanks for the tip, had us plotting again in a few minutes after checking the plug contacts!

Its also great they have an RSS XML feed so the tips arrive in my aggregator as soon as posted.

CAD Forum - AutoCAD 2006 doesn't display my command line window - how to get it back?

March 10, 2005

AutoCAD 2006 Blog Preview - How did that happen?

There have been a few comments on the web regarding the release of AutoCAD 2006 information via Blog’s prior to the end of the Beta NDA period and Press embargo.

Several days ago I received notification from Autodesk that advised limited comment on specific aspects of AutoCAD 2006 was authorised for Blog’s authored by Beta testers. As far as I’m aware there were no “chosen few” or “special criteria” other than having participated in the AutoCAD 2006 Beta and authoring a Blog with CAD content. Any AutoCAD user can apply to be part of the beta and anyone can have a blog – nothing too special there.

In that notification specific aspects of the software (features or concepts) were listed and it was requested you comment only on three of those and up to three other features that you found useful during the beta. This is the reason you may notice similarity between the topics posted on the different Blogs. Due to NDA conditions there were specific things relating to release dates, pricing and other matters regarding the beta process that could not be mentioned in posts. This sort of condition applies to most beta programs even after the end of the beta NDA.

There was no direction which, if any, of the listed items you should comment on, what to say or how to say it. There was no information provided other than the list and release conditions:

  • No canned quotes
  • No prepared press material (screen capture etc)
  • No suggested “spin” for the features, just the names.

The captures and videos you see on my blog were created by me to demonstrate things I have found useful. The words are mine except one paragraph lifted from the help file simply as it described the CUI file structure better than I could.

Every year I have to justify the cost, to myself, as I write a cheque to Autodesk for my own subscription and approve the budget for subscription upgrades at work. This year I will be more than happy to do so as the product justifies the investment.

I think it shows confidence in the strength of this release and perhaps a sign of the force that blogging is becoming that this approach was adopted. Autodesk took a risk as there was no editorial control or ability to comment on posts prior to posting. If AutoCAD 2006 was a poor release I would have posted that and Autodesk would not have known until they read it here, just like you are.

I don’t think it undermines a conventional marketing campaign, or press release, which will be covering AutoCAD 2006 throughout the year. I have commented before that Blogging is a great way for a corporate to break through the barriers of Press and PR and talk directly to the people that matter most – customers and partners. Both have their place but both are needed.

The blogging world is fairly new and CAD Blog’s are a tiny part of that world but perhaps they are making an impact. I certainly saw a significant jump in traffic coming to the AutoCAD 2006 posts from a variety of sources.

When you see & use AutoCAD 2006 you’ll see that the product earned these positive comments and they were not the result of a crafted PR campaign.

Robin Capper

March 09, 2005

AutoCAD 2006 - Blog news

Index of Blog news regarding AutoCAD 2006.

Between The Lines AutoCAD 2006 Limited Preview Announcement ~ Shaan Hurley (Autodesk)

Blog Posts:

Hyperpics Blog ~ Lee Ambrosius

JTB World ~ Jimmy Bergmark

Lynn Allen Blogs ~ Lynn Allen (Autodesk) ~ Ellen Finkelstein

Scott Durkee CAD Management Blog ~ Scott Durkee

Breaking Down the Walls ~ Matt Dillon

BesideThe Cursor ~ Richard Binning 

Beth's CAD Blog ~ Beth Powell

RobiNZ Bog ~ AutoCAD Index ~ My AutoCAD posts

Comments about the “Blog Announcments”:

WorldCAD Access ~ Ralph Grabowski

Autodesk Plays Favorites with Non-Disclosure Agreement Nullification ~ Randall S. Newton

In most cases I have linked to the main page rather than individual articles.
If you would link a link added or altered please contact me via the email link on this site.


March 08, 2005

AutoCAD 2006 Preview ~ Dimension Arc

Cant resist one more and you may have noticed it in an earlier screen-shot

Again its small but very handy improvement. You can now dimension the length of an arc.



AutoCAD 2006 Preview ~ Dynamic Blocks

It’s great to finally be able to talk about this feature. Bill, before you do those nut & bolt lisp’s you mentioned last week have a look at this

Dynamic Blocks are a major new feature in AutoCAD 2006. Simply put they are AutoCAD blocks that respond to user manipulation by altering graphics, shape or form. How they change is controlled by parameters built into the block using a suite of new tools.

Dynamic Blocks will find a myriad of uses and will allow multi-block libraries representing similar parts to be replaced by one multi-purpose block. For example you may have individual blocks representing M3,4,5,6,8,10,12,14 Hex nuts. One Dynamic Hex nut block can contain all the parameters and a size table that allows it to display all those sizes. Adding another is as simple as adding values to the size table. Another use could be to have a Table block with preset sizes and adding chairs as the table is stretched based on embedded rules in the block.

To create these new blocks there is a new block editing interface and palettes of tools to allow parameters (polar, linear, rotation etc) and actions (Stretch, mirror, rotate, scale, lookup table etc) to be applied. Dynamic block actions are applied to 2d AutoCAD entities inside an AutoCAD block. In this release they are not intended for 3d object manipulation.

The palettes give an idea of the parameters available but the easiest way to explain Dynamic Blocks is show them in action:

Download/view AutoCAD 2006 Dynamic Block.wmv (555.7K)
Wmv may require the free TechSmith Screen Capture Codec if not already installed on your system

AutoCAD 2006 Dynamic Block Tools

AutoCAD 2006 Preview ~ Customisation, Display and Selection Changes

There are some significant changes to the user interface in AutoCAD 2006. Some change appearance or function for the user but others alter how the interface is created and managed. These are my favourites.

What is new in the AutoCAD 2006 user interface?

Selection Windows: The selection windows are given a translucent fill which is different for crossing (default green) and window selection (default blue). This is a small change but one I really missed going from beta back to release versions!
Note: I’ve shown a white background for clarity but the default for modelspace is black.

Selection Highlighting: Objects highlight as you mouse over (roll over) or select them. This makes seeing what you select easier. To prevent visual clutter specific object types (primarily hatch and xrefs) can be excluded in the selection options dialog.

Smoooth Zoom: This is great when you are working close up and zoom to extents. The zoom transition is smooth allowing you to see where you were in context to where you’ve zoomed to. Just watch it in action in the screen capture but note that due to file-size this capture is at 5 frame/sec so its actually much smooother.

Download/view AutoCAD 2006 Zoom.wmv (112.2K) 
 Wmv may require the free TechSmith Screen Capture Codec if not already installed on your system

Menu Icons: The drop-down menus now display the icons previously only seen on tool-bars or palettes. This is another small change that really pulls the interface together.


Like it, then lock it: Ever grabbed a palette or tool-bar by mistake and rearranged the interface or shoved if off-screen? New locking features allow you to ensure your carefully arranged tool-set is not disturbed unless you want to alter it. A new icon on the status bar shows locking status and holding control while you move an object allows locking to be temporarily overridden for quick, deliberate, adjustment.

Acad2006display locking small

QuickCalc: There is a nice calculator built into AutoCAD 2006. Click Acad2006calcbutton on a tool-bar or value field on the properties palette and you get a calculator that allows calculation using values entered directly or picked/selected from the drawing. Extended tabs allow access to Scientific Calculations/Values, Units conversion and AutoCAD (or user created) variables.

Acad 2006 Calculator Basic Acad2006 Calculator Convert 

All these refinements add up to a much nicer place to work.

What is new in managing the Interface and Customisation?

Custom User Interface File & Dialog: New tools in AutoCAD 2006 simplify the process of customising the user interface by providing a centralised location for creating and editing user interface components. The old menu files (MNU, MNS, and MNC) are replaced with an XML-based CUI (Custom User Interface) file and the old Customise dialog box is replaced with the powerful new Customise User Interface dialog box. Its all done using a graphic interface and is much nicer than working through the maze of folders/files that built the old interface.


Access and editing of all interface components from one place is great but a powerful new tool-set allows control of which tools the user can use and how they are presented.

User Workspaces: Allow the user, or CAD Manager, to control the display of tool-bars, menus, and tool palettes as well as application windows such as the command line and Properties palette. You can add, remove, and rearrange user interface components to accommodate your work-flow. You can quickly change the AutoCAD user interface by selecting an appropriate workspace from the new Workspaces tool-bar. This is powerful but you will need to consider the impact of this on your office CAD standards.

Acad2006cui customise

AutoCAD 2006 Preview ~ What NO COMMAND LINE? ~ Dynamic input & Heads Up Design

Imagine AutoCAD without a command line.

Before you cry “I can’t live without it” imagine preferring AutoCAD without a command line.

How could that work?

Dynamic Input is a group of features that combine to allow life without the command line to be possible, even preferable.

Acad2006dyn inputPointer Input: Allows you to key commands “into the pointer” which displays a small “pop-up” replacing the cursor until the command entry is finished. This allows keyboard commands previously entered on the command line to be entered “on the fly”. If you always typed L for line entering it will cause “L” to display in a pop-up and as soon as you hit Enter the Line command will begin.You’ll have to learn not to look down for the command line, its wherever your cursor last was but thats where you were looking already - heads up.

Dimension Input: Allows direct entry of dimensions at the cursor or on dynamic object dimensions during grip editing. The value entered is displayed, and can be edited, in a pop-up at the cursor location. Again, no looking at the down command line to see what you are entering.

Dynamic Prompts: These display at the cursor location replacing the valuable role command line prompts had in leading you through command sequence. One of the first things any AutoCAD user learns is “Read the command line prompts” and now they are displayed where you are working, where are looking. Along with prompts the command line often presented a range of options for each stage in a given command. The default option is now presented as a dynamic prompt and pressing the keyboard “Down arrow” will present a pick list of all the other appropriate options. Its clean and I find easier to use than the long text string with caps that it replaces.

While your head is up designing you’ll find a range of new grips on the AutoCAD objects. ADT users have seen some of these on AEC objects in 2004/5 but now AutoCAD objects allow much more control using grips and direct dimension input. Its hard to convey this new environment with words and images so I’ve recorded a short video capture showing some of the new interface in action.

View/download AutoCAD 2006 Dynamic Input.wmv (438.5K)

Wmv may require the free
TechSmith Screen Capture Codec if not already installed on your system

So is the Command Line gone forever? That is still up to you as its only a click to get it back.

For the vast majority of the time I have found no need to display it – Heads up, you win!




AutoCAD 2006 Preview

Autodesk have recognised the interest CAD Blogger's have in their products by allowing some of us to release preview information on AutoCAD 2006.

There are some significant changes coming in AutoCAD 2006 and I’ve picked a few features that have the most appeal for me. Some are small, some major but all will change the way you see or interact with AutoCAD.

There’s one great new feature that will help you find the other new features!

  • The New Features Workshop has visual introductions to all the new features and a filter that allows you to exclude features from previous releases. Choose the version you are upgrading from and all the updates that are applicable to you are displayed even if they were part of a previous recent release.


I’ve split my other favourite new features into separate posts for easier reading:

You can see the other blog posts linked via Shaan Hurley’s Between the Lines Blog. He’s acting as “AutoCAD 2006 Blog Preview Central” displaying links to all the various posts. Its cool that a blogging has been recognised as a valid format to share information on such an important product.

February 03, 2005

CAD tutorial blog ~ ObjectARX® for Dummies

It’s really great when people are prepared to share knowledge and here is a great example.

The ObjectARX® for Dummies Blog was created by Fernando Malard to share his knowledge on the world of ObjectARX. I know nothing about it so will be reading every post - Thanks Fernando!

 ObjectARX® for Dummies Blog:
“I have decided to create this Blog to allow AutoCAD advanced users and AutoLISP / VBA programmers to get into ObjectARX world. As it is a very complex environment I will try to be brief and clear on my explanations and present it step by step. Hope you enjoy!”

via Between the Lines

The AutoCAD Nozzle: 20 Years later

AutoCADNozzleShaan has posted a dramatic example of twenty years progress in CAD technology. The AutoCAD “Nozzle” is a famous sample dwg that pushed AutoCAD to its limits.

Now 20 years later the Nozzle has been recreated in Inventor and exported to 3d Design Web Format (DWF) file so anyone can view it. Shaan has 2d and 3d DWF’s and, if you need it, a link to download the free DWF Viewer.

Between the Lines: The Nozzle from 20 Years Ago

The Nozzle from 20 Years Ago
The AutoCAD sample nozzle drawing file created by Don Strimbu back in the 80s has come along ways in twenty years…

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 15, 2005

Help make your AutoCAD & Viz wishes a reality

Shaan Hurley has put out a call for AutoCAD/AutoCAD LT & Viz Beta testers on his blog “Between the lines”. There are many benefits to being involved in helping shape the future of the software you use and the only cost is your time.

I have found in the past that time spent on beta was more than compensated for by time saved simply because you have a better idea of the tools you’ll be working with in the future and can plan for that. Another benefit is you become part of a great community of Beta users.

If you use other AutoCAD related software Shaan+'s article has information on how to be included in those beta’s when they happen. If full participation is not viable there is also details on how to submit Feedback using a web form on the Autodesk site.

Participate in Shaping Future AutoCAD and Viz: 
Internally we call them test fests, usability sessions, focus groups, customer research, or gunslingers. No matter what the term used to describe them, Autodesk is always looking for customers to provide feedback on our products… [cont]
[Via Between the Lines]

January 12, 2005

Celestia shows space is big and beautiful


In 1983 John Walker drew The Solar System to scale in AutoCAD-86. It was a demonstration of AutoCAD’s floating point database resolution and I remember being shown it when I was at Tech. Everyone was amazed at the precision as they zoomed from Pluto’s orbit down to a plaque on the leg of the Lunar Lander, Eagle, with readable text.

That was a long time ago but I remembered it tonight as experienced similar amazement when I watched Celestia in action. It’s a free real-time 3D space simulation, for Windows/Mac/Unix, which lets you travel through our solar system and to over 100,000 stars in our neighbourhood.

Once installed (approx 11mb download) I recommend you start off with the Demo Tour launched from the Help Menu. The screen-shot (Earth with New Zealand orbited to centre stage) gives an idea of the display quality you’ll see but prepare to be amazed as you zoom from the Earth to the Moon, then the Sun, Saturn & its Moons. Its then back to Earth for a short tour of the Northern and Southern hemisphere night sky with stars and constellations on display. Next a very quick trip across the universe to the giant red star Antares, a brief look at the Milky Way from a distance, then home to earth again.

Now its your turn to explore the 3d photo real accurate celestial model as you wish. Its simple to use, but information rich and stunning to look at, with comprehensive options that will keep your amused for hours. Thanks to the authors: Chris Laurel, Clint Weisbrod,,Fridger Schrempp, Bob Ippolito, Christophe Teyssier, Hank Ramsey, Grant Hutchiso and many others who contributed to this excellent software.

Link: Celestia Home page
(If the main page is off line there will still be a link to the download site and forum).

*Note: Shaan Hurley has the AutoCAD file mentioned, solar-1.dwg, available for download in AutoCAD 2004 format and more information on AutoCAD 64 bit precision on his AutoCAD Blog – Between the Lines.

December 16, 2004

Another CAD Blog: TLConsulting

Tracy Lincoln joins the CAD blogging world. Welcome!

Link: TLConsulting.

TLConsulting Random thoughts and helpful links... Enjoy!

December 08, 2004

NEW CAD Blog: Beside the Cursor...

Richard Binning has a new CAD Blog.

Link: Beside the Cursor....

Random musings about work, life, soccer, autocad, etc. Mostly about autocad, but who knows what I'll mention next? I like to write VBA, lisp and create a lot of custom tools for general consumption too.

November 12, 2004

New CAD Blog ~ JTB World

Jimmy Bergmark has just launched a new CAD related Blog with code samples, tips & trix, news and other stuff related to CAD, engineering, software development and more. Welcome to Blogging Jimmy!

Link to Site: JTB World Blog

If you want to subscribe using a RSS Aggregator use this:

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

October 06, 2004

AutoCAD 2005 TIP: Ignore hatches when using object snaps

Via The Autodesk Informer: AutoCAD 2005 TIP: Ignore hatches when using object snaps

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 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 23, 2004

Auckland AutoCAD User Group Meeting 23/7/04

Thanks to Canon NZ for an interesting introduction to their printer/plotter, scanner and digital camera range. This included background on the technology in these products, some near future enhancements, and a demo of the w6200 wide format plotter. Of particular interest to me were the digital cameras and the quality seen when these were output to large print sizes. The "investment" in a Canon Digital SLR mentioned in an earlier Blog is much closer after what I saw tonight...

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

Auckland AutoCAD User Group Meeting 1/6/04

Hans Grootegoed of CADPRO gave us an excellent presentation & demo of ProSteel 3D.
This is a Structural Steel BIM & Detailing package based on AutoCAD object Arx technology. It allows modelling of the complete steel structure complete with all connection, splice and fastening details. The model can be scheduled, output as 2D or 3D assembly views, and also 2d component fabrication drawings. It was an impressive display of BIM in action.
ProSteel 3D International Web Site

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 :-)

April 25, 2004

My CAD Gallery

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

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 30, 2004

CAD Blogs

Shaan started it all with his Blog Between the lines