Thursday, June 28, 2007

Google enters CAD Training Arena?

The TenLinks Daily newsletter had a mention of i get it training starting at $25. Curiosity got the better of me and I had to click on it. (No cats were harmed as a result of this curiosity.)

It would appear to be another Google endeavor, but it doesn't come right out and say that. I actually didn't find out all that much about who and what is behind it from the site. It is powered by the Google search engine.

The claim is that this is aimed at educating engineers. There are online classes (gee, that's free at, assessments, forums (another free benefit of AUGI), tips, laughs, and other features.

It will be interesting to see how it fairs.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Register Once at

If you haven't yet installed or activated Autodesk products for 2008, you will see a big difference for not only the installation screens, but for the activation process.

Previously, if you had several seats of software and did not use a network license, you would have to go through the same process over and over again to activate each seat. This meant entering your contact information each time. While it was possible to save it on each workstation, once you moved to another workstation you were back at square one.

Well, Autodesk got this one right with the 2008 software release. Unfortunately, most folks I find just get more confused by it until they call and I explain it.

The new site is called Register Once. (That's why the address is Your first visit to the site will require that you Create a User ID and Password. You will create this once for your firm so be sure to write down or remember your user login and password.

Once you are a user and have completed your contact information once, then you will log in to this account with each seat that you wish to register and/or activate. It will add each of your seats to your account. It's so much easier!

Be sure if you are the subscription contact for your firm that you take advantage of your many assets and add permissions for your users to access the e-learning center and to submit support requests with copies sent to the reseller you register to notify.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

CSI - Construction Specifications Institute

You may have heard of the Construction Specification Institute (CSI), but not known what it is or does. I have been doing some research about CSI and how it may come into play with CAD Standards. After all, ADT lists Uniformat for classifications of AEC Styles and advertising boasts that ADT is based on MasterFormat 2004. But what does this mean?

I recently had the pleasure of attending a local meeting. This week in nearby Baltimore, MD is the Annual CSI Show & Convention. I would like to be there attending, but I needed to find out more in person prior to committing and it was just too late.

CSI is different than the AIA in that CSI has members from many aspects of the construction industry. Quoting their website, "CSI is a national association dedicated to creating standards and formats to improve construction documents and project delivery. The organization is unique in the industry in that its members are a cross section of specifiers, architects, engineers, contractors and building materials suppliers."

Those of you that know me or have followed this blog probably know by now that CAD Standards are my number one interest. I've created CAD Standards, Implemented CAD Standards, and taught classes in CAD Standards. I can't stop emphasizing the importance of CAD Standards....Oops, I'm doing it again!

CSI helps the construction industry by providing standards for all construction documents (including drawings).

The MasterFormat 2004 is a standard format to organize specifications and documentation. It is logically organized into divisions and sections per type of construction. For more FAQ's.

CSI also has a goal to help the construction industry better communicate internally with the sharing of information. Wouldn't it be a perfect world if architects, engineers, and contractors of all kinds used the same language? Surely you don't believe they do?

It has been a personal goal of mine for a long time to somehow get all the "players" together to collaborate more easily. We have different professionals using different types of software, different versions of the same software, utilizing different portions of the software, using each of their own "standards" and preferred methods for how sets are organized and generally the overall make up of construction documents. That's one of the reasons for this blog and for my continued commitment to teach one user at a time and offer resources to help all users improve.

There are also many levels of certification within CSI for proving knowledge of construction documentation.

For those of you in Southwest Virginia, the Blue Ridge chapter will be active again very soon. I'll be attending and posting information on meetings here for those interested.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Start DWF'ing!

From AutoCAD and most Autodesk products, drawings or models can be plotted to a .dwf file. This can be done either through the PLOT command and choosing one of the DWF choices or with the PUBLISH command (allows you to publish your entire set at once). You can control the resolution (.dpi) as well as check to include layer information through the Properties button and custom properties of the plotter.

When you send a .dwf file to someone, you should always include the link to the free Design Review software so they can view it. I usually phrase my email to the effect “this free Autodesk software will allow you to view the drawing(s) as well as zoom, measure, print, and markup…”

Sending a .dwf file is much smaller than a .pdf file and just like a .pdf file you can include the entire 3D model or all the sheets in the set.

If you, or someone you know, has a .dwg file and not a .dwf file, you can still use Design Review. Instead of File>Open, you would choose File>Import.

You can also open and plot a .dwg file without markup abilities with the free DWG TrueView.

Once your customer marks up the drawing or model, you can use that markup within AutoCAD (or your specific Autodesk program). The location to do this has changed from release to release. Some releases of software had “Markup” listed under the File pulldown.

In 2008, it has been integrated into the Insert pulldown menu similar to external references and raster images. It is also controlled with the reference manager.

If you can attach an external reference (XREF), you can attach a DWF Underlay.

When you have finished your changes, simply detach the overlay. What could be easier?

Right clicking on the .dwf reference will get you this menu with various options.

If you are not sending files in .dwf format, give it a try. If you receive .dwg files and have to depend on someone else to open them, try one of the free programs listed above.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Do you want to have fidelity with Annotative Objects?

Do you want to have fidelity with Annotative Objects?

One of the big, new features of AutoCAD and AutoCAD based products is Annotative Objects and Annotative Scale.

Annotative Objects may be any of the following.

Text (single-line and multiline)
Leaders and multileaders (created with MLEADER)

The Annotative Scale allows you to have Annotative Objects change based on the scale factor of the drawing or viewport. We used to do this for example by changing our dimscale. Now it’s much more automated and will display at the correct size if you change the scale.

You’ll see the annotative symbol (they look similar to the AOL character) in many dialog boxes now.

Back to our question at hand. Visual fidelity is an option that you can set so that if you use any annotative objects and save the drawing to a pre-2008 drawing file, the recipient will be able to still see what you intended. The SAVEFIDELITY (don’t you wish you had that on in real life?) variable, when turned on or set to 1, will make what you see seamlessly available to the older program as blocks and by separating by layers. It does add a lot to a drawing file. It really just takes it back to almost what we used to do before we had Annotation Scale.

Read more about annotation from Heidi Hewett.