Friday, January 28, 2005

No image!

I apologize that there is no image for the Dwf post. I subscribed to a free ftp site to be able to post images there, but found that it is against the rules to use hot links to the free site. Then I attempted to post it to my long existing webshots account, but suspect that it is not showing up for the same reason. Sigh. So, I'm still looking for a place to keep images and use them here.

There is a recommended site, but my company's firewall won't allow me to access it. There are other available sites, but problem is that I'm cheap and prefer to keep this as free as possible. I may just have to bite the bullet.

If you'd like the page with the text and image, I'll upload it to the WAUN site where you are free to download it. It will be named DWF Properties and will be under the ACAD section.

If you have suggestions on the hosting dilema or have trouble finding it, please feel free to email me at

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Dwf Options

I've been a long time fan of the products Autodesk has offered for free over the years to be able to share drawings (.dwg) with those who don't own or need AutoCAD. I used Volo View Express from the beginning as an easy way to send proofs to customers. When the Express Viewer and now the Dwf Viewer came into play, I was already on board. These are some of the best, yet undiscovered, tools that Autodesk has to offer.

I always make time to tell students about DWF and about one of my favorite commands, PUBLISH. I like PUBLISH because I can quickly and easily add all the files I want the customer to review to one file without having to open every drawing. I email one file and the client can look at all the pages.

I learned something new the other day. I sent a file to a regular customer who has both the DWF Viewer and the DWF Composer. The DWF Composer allows him to markup the .dwf files I send him, which is great! Anyhow (I digress), he wanted to see a different view of one sheet and I explained to him that he could easily do that by freezing and thawing or turning on and off layers. We had done this previously with an older version of viewing software, but this time he couldn't see Layers from the View pulldown menu. I could see it, but upon further investigation I couldn't see the choice with this particular file. So, here's what I learned.

The 2005 Autodesk products have the ability to control the .dwf file and how the end user or recipient can view and interact with it. Pretty smart, but it could be confusing if you didn't know about it. You can control whether the recipient can see and control layers, the background color, how special fonts will appear, and even how revisions will be named and handled. All you need to do to control your settings is to choose the DWF6ePlot as your plotter from the Plot dialog box. Then choose Properties. Follow the dialog boxes and buttons in my screen capture below.

Once this is set, then whether you create your .dwf files from the Plot dialog box or from the PUBLISH command, they will take on these settings.


Friday, January 21, 2005

Express Tools in AutoCAD 2002

I learned something new yesterday (or something I'd forgotten maybe?) while at a client's site.

The user had called to say that they didn't have their Express Tools. I get a fair amount of calls and emails about this and see a lot of posts in the AUGI forums with this question. I thought it an easy call.

I began to explain that the Express Tools had to be installed separately. The user then proceeded to explain further that he had the Express Tools menu, but none of the Express Tools would work. Still thinking this an easy call, I asked the user to type Expresstools at the command line. No luck.

Fast forward through some other suggestions with no luck so I offered to visit in person.

The software (which I'd failed to ask in advance the version) was Land Desktop 3. I don't normally handle Autodesk's civil software so I didn't make the mental connection of what version this is equivalent to in vanilla AutoCAD.

I tried a number of things such as menuload, changing profiles, etc. I offered to reload Express Tools only, but they couldn't find the CD. I compared the files on one workstation with another and everything seemed identical to me.

I looked in Autodesk's knowledgebase and had some difficulty finding something of use when I stumbled up this.
Migrate Express Tools from AutoCAD® 2000 to AutoCAD® 2000i or AutoCAD® 2002
Published date: 2001-08-20 ID: TS59037

Then the light bulb went off!

I discovered that the other two workstations in the office had Express Tools working were systems that had been upgraded from 2000i and had the tools migrated. The system with the problem was a brand new system which had only had version 3 installed.

I copied the file acettest.fas from one of the other stations to this computer per the instructions and performed the APPLOAD to load it in the startup suite. Everything worked fine now!

Another satisfied customer and another thing learned by me.

Some additional comments of my personal opinion on Express Tools:
In years' past, Express Tools were known as Bonus Tools and were a big deal whether you downloaded them yourself or paid extra for them. Autodesk did try not including them in one version and I can only guess that it was a mistake.

I have often been asked why the tools are extra parts of the menu and not simply included in Draw, Modify, Tools or wherever they belong within all of AutoCAD's tools. The only reply I have been able to think of is that it's mental. Those of us that are long time users are used to having a bonus. Even though it's my opinion that while the tools we have now are useful, they are getting stale.

I'd love to have someone tell us the REAL reason that Bonus or Express Tools remain and are kept separately.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

A Great ADT Mind!

I have followed and used with permission, work by Matt Dillon. He has some very good explanations of various parts of ADT such as Scheduling and his famous AU class "Breaking Down the Walls in Autodesk Architectural Desktop."

Now, he has come over to the blog side with his own blog. This is one you'll certainly want to follow.

Welcome to the world of blogs, Matt!

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

ADT's Project Navigator

Many ADT users are not taking advantage of the Project Navigator because it's so confusing. I confess that when I first started trying to figure it out in ADT 2004 I could follow along with the tutorial, but couldn't really get the hang of it otherwise.

There are several advantages to using it. First, if you'll update your titleblock with fields, you'll only need to enter your basic project information once. When you create a new project that basic information will be filled in on all new drawings so you won't be spending time and making mistakes updating titleblocks.

Second, this is the only way (that I know of) to create a section or elevation of multiple levels (floors) together easily.

Third, callouts are automatically labeled and linked.

Trying to explain Project Navigator to users so that they can use it is sometimes difficult. The most important thing to remember is that you don't have to use all of it. You don't need to define divisions or elements if you choose not to do so.

If you'd like more information on using this, here are some links about Project Navigator.

From Beau Turner:

Written by Ed Goldberg and found on the Autodesk site:

Chris Yanchar's site is always a good resource for ADT:

And finally, my friend Elise Moss always has tutorials, sample chapters from her many books, and tips and tricks on her website:

If you'd like to subscribe to Elise's newsletter. You'll receive weekly tips, tricks, news, and unbiased opinions of CAD software.

I'll post more information on Project Navigator here as I find it or think of it in hopes of the lightbulb going off for you. Please share your thoughts, questions, and explanations here for all to benefit.

You will also find plenty of information on Project Navigator on the AUGI forums. You'll need to join to read them, but it's free, and there's plenty of information that can be found there regarding Architectural Desktop. Users helping users. A search today found 39 different threads about Project Navigator.

Another good user group is email based only but does have all email threads archived on the site is the World Autodesk® Users Network

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Making Internet and Email Safer for the New Year

Is it too late to say Happy New Year? This is my first day back in the office since New Year's. In the South, we eat our black-eyed peas for good luck. I ate them the first three days of the New Year just to be sure they took!

I had more than my share of computer problems at home over the past week. While installing new RAM in my computer, the hard drive began to fail. I learned that RAM can be "partially" bad. I now have a new hard drive and will exchange the RAM. Thankfully I am meticulous about backups.

As I was reinstalling programs, I realized that I should pass a tip on to you. It's one of my most important.

I'm not out to destroy Bill Gates or Microsoft, but I am not happy with the vulnerability of Internet Explorer and Outlook or Outlook Express. Many users of the group to which I belong use Linux and/or use Mozilla, Firefox, or Thunderbird. I started using these almost a year ago and love them. So here's my tip.

Switching to Mozilla for web browsing reduces pop-ups (I realize that XP Service Pack 2 does this as well) and is more secure in my opinion. Mozilla is a web browser and email package in one. I tried this initially and it will work for most people.

There is also the option of Firefox for the web browser without the built in email and the separate email program of Thunderbird. I use this pair because of I have more than one email address.

Previously, I was forced to have one email set up in Outlook and one in Outlook Express. With Thunderbird, I can have as many emails as I like with one email. A side bar down the left side shows each of my accounts and each inbox. It's the greatest thing since sliced bread!

They are both easy to use. Go through all the options and set them as you'd like. Yes, they work fine with AutoCAD.

Since switching, I have continued to run Spybot to search for adware and spyware and have found none. Spyware and adware are the two biggest problems we see with clients and computer problems these days. More often than not, when client calls in with what they think is a computer or AutoCAD problem, it ends up being that their computer is heavily laden with this garbage. We always recommend Spybot to them. If you are using Internet Explorer, I suggest running Spybot after every web browsing session daily. After seeing how much stuff is on your computer, you too, will want to switch to a non-Explorer alternative.

If you have more questions about any of these programs, feel free to ask. All programs are free, though you can make donations if you like them and want to support them.

So make one step this new year and make the internet and your email safer. May your new year be a prosperous and healthy one with lots of good luck whether you ate a pickled herring at midnight on New Year's Eve or just had a wicked hangover on New Year's Day.