Thursday, April 16, 2009

AutoCAD 2010 - No Longer Comes With Microsoft VBA

AutoCAD will no longer come with Microsoft VBA. This has been mentioned before on other blogs, but I wanted to make sure that I addressed it too. For those of you that already have AutoCAD 2010 and use custom VBA routines within it, you may have found out the hard way. I hope not.
AutoCAD 2010 does support VBA, it just doesn't come with it anymore. You have to download the application separately. Autodesk made sure that AutoCAD could use VBA, and they made sure to make it available to those that need/want it. Follow this link to get to Autodesk's download:

VBA Support in AutoCAD 2010

Once you download it, follow Autodesk's instructions on loading it. If you are using stand alone applications of AutoCAD, it's very simple to install. I did it on my machine and can run VBA macro's now no problem. I haven't tried it out on an enterprise or network deployment, but I'm sure somebody has.

Why would Autodesk stop supporting this widely used feature? Because Microsoft has. Once I learned that, then it made since to me. Of course Autodesk would stop supporting a software feature that will no longer be supported by its creator.

It appears that Microsoft Office products will no longer support it either. Office 2007 was the last version to have it. Don't get too panicked, they (Microsoft) are essentially replacing it with VSTA. No, that's not a misspelled Vista, it is VSTA. That stands for Microsoft Visual Tools for Applications. It is the next step in macro evolution, be it good or bad, that's where it is headed. Does this mean that AutoCAD will eventually support this format? I don't know. As far as I can tell, I don't think Autodesk knows yet either. They are still committed to supporting LISP. Imagine the outcry if that ended!!

There are many people that will not be affected by this. In fact, there may even be people that will be affected and they have no idea! Don't worry. If you are one of those people, and don't feel bad if you are, your VBA macros will still work. You will just have to jump through a few hoops to do it.

Here's a question; If you used VBA for custom macros in AutoCAD, will you still use those macros, or will you rewrite them in LISP? Obviously you won't have to for AutoCAD 2010, but what about 2011? Will Autodesk provide this download for that release? Who knows? Maybe the 2010 download will work in 2011 and 2012. It may not in 2013 when the traditional DWG revamp will likely take place.

It seems obvious to me that it would be good for users to start making the move away from VBA in AutoCAD as soon as possible and head the .NET direction. But who knows when that will go away. Maybe users are better off sticking with LISP. Script files are still great, and there is always the Macro Recorder in AutoCAD!! Laugh all you want to, I think it has potential. Not like LISP or VBA or even SCRIPT files, but it has its place.

That is one of the big issues with technology, it is always changing. Once you feel you have a good grasp of something, BAM they take it away, or change the interface to a ribbon!! Change is constant in software, get used to it. I remember when I could program anything in BASIC on my Commodore 64! Man that was a long time ago, especially in software years.

Well, anyway, no need to panic just yet. Autodesk was wise and started the process of weaning its users off of VBA. Perhaps they should have started last year with AutoCAD 2009, but perhaps there were enough surprises in that release with the Ribbon. And AutoCAD 2008 came too soon after the 2007 announcement from Microsoft. Oh well, it is what it is and I think Autodesk is doing the right thing here, as frustrating as it might be. Especially to me because I just bought a VBA for Dummies book about 8 months ago!

Happy CADDING

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Cad CARD

Have you ever needed to know what size your text should be? Or have you ever wondered what the dimensions for a sheet of paper is? How about scale factors, or better yet, the inverse scale factor? There is a tool available that many of you may have used before, or at least seen. It is the Cad CARD from Autograph technical Services. The Cad CARD has been around since 1989. I have been using mine since AutoCADr10, whenever that was. In fact, my Cad CARD even says its for r10! So what is it? It is a cardboard slide chart used as AutoCAD productivity aids. They will quickly help you determine drawing border sizes, text sizes, sheet sizes, and much more. The cards have two sides, each side providing different types of information. Some of the information provided:

- Drawing Scale & Scale Factor
- Inverse Multiplier
- Sheet Sizes & Usable Areas
- Block Insertion Scale
- Hatch Pattern Scale
- Linetype Scale
- Dimscale
- Text Height for Various Text Sizes
- Fonts
- Text Width
- Obliqing and Rotation Angles
- Orientation
- Justification
- Mirroring Text
- Width Factors
- Special Character Control Codes
- Text Measuring Gauge

The front side of the card focuses on scale issues and text. You can use it to quickly determine the proper settings, and values needed to scale your entire drawing, a scaled view, or set the text to be displayed the way you want it to.

And that's just the front. The back side has:


- Function key assignments
- Units
- PDMODE options

- Dimension Variables and how they affect the Placement and Display of Dimensions
- Definitions of many Dimension Variables
- Dimension Lines, Extension Lines, Alternate Units
- Arrowheads, Arc Length Symbol, Center Mark for Circles
- Linear Dimensions, Measurement Scale, Zero Suppression, Angular Dimensions
- Tolerances and Tolerance Display
- How to set AutoCAD to Round Off Dimensions
- Text Appearance, Alignment, Placement, Fit Options, Fine Tuning
- We have even included a few Drafting Scales, just so they are handy.

The back focuses on dimensions and other operations.

The cards themselves are made of coated card stock and they are very durable. Mine has several coffee stains on it! There are 2 Metric versions and 2 U.S. versions. There is even a wallet sized version called the Cad CARD Junior! I use this one a lot because it is small and gets me scale factor and text sizes very quickly. I recommend the Cad CARD. I've been using mine for for so long I can't remember, but its been since at least 1994! Its compatible with all sorts of different versions of AutoCAD and has been updated to work with AutoCAD 2010! Even if you have an older version, it still works.

You can order your Cad CARD online from their website. Use a credit card or paypal and you don't have to be in the US to purchase it. The price is a definite value, because you can use it with more than AutoCAD, and they are long lasting. Autograph even provides discounts when buying the Cad CARD in bulk, so buy some for your entire department, or for your class if you are an instructor.

Monday, April 13, 2009

AutoCAD 3D Survey? What are your thoughts?

If you use AutoCAD, or even if you don't I guess, for 3D design, concept design, modeling, etc. Autodesk wants to hear from you. Take a few minutes to fill out this survey. Heidi Hewett first posted about it here. The survey only takes a few minutes to fill out. Plus you get the chance to voice your opinion on AutoCAD.

Here is the excerpt from Heidi's blog:

The AutoCAD marketing team, in partnership with the University of Colorado, is conducting a survey to learn more about AutoCAD’s current role in 3D design. The results of this research study will help us better meet your conceptual design needs. We value your feedback and encourage you to take 10 minutes (or less) to respond to this survey.

Check it, let them know how you feel.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Autodesk Project Dragonfly

Autodesk Labs contains a plethora of tools. Autodesk uses the Labs site to try out new things. Several tools have come out of it, Like Impression, Inventor LT, Freewheel, and more. I'm a big fan of the Labs site and I've posted about it often. Well, here I go again. Autodesk Labs has added Project Dragonfly. Dragonfly is a sort of hybrid of Project Draw and Project Showroom. Well, maybe not really, but you can see it from a certain point of view.

Showroom is more of a drag and drop application that features specific design materials and hardware for a room. Project Draw is a generic 2D drawing application. Dragonfly focuses on 2D and 3D architectural design. It has drag and drop "blocks" of furniture, windows, doors, wall types, floor types, appliances, electronic equipment, and, well much more.

Dragonfly is a tool that enables you to quickly produce a 2D or 3D model of a building and its furniture. It is drawn to scale, so it has a degree of accuracy. It also has a level of quickness that is appealing. Changes can be made very quickly (just drag and drop), the design can be e-mailed, saved, and printed. Have an idea for a kitchen? "Sketch" it up in Dragonfly and email it to your client or contractor.

Dragonfly can give you a 2D and a 3D view. you can also edit the model in either form. Try it out, see what it has to offer, and give Autodesk some feedback. The Labs site is a sort of sandbox where Autodesk and its customers can get together and try things out. This is a good chance to provide information to Autodesk so that they can provide software that better suits your needs.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Autodesk Assistance Program

Many AutoCAD users have experienced job loss in the past year or so. I have. I was laid off in August of 2008 and just found full time employment a few weeks ago. I was off work for about 7 months. I was lucky to find a job that fast really. During that time though I finished my degree (an A.S. in Design Drafting), did a small bit of CAD Services contract work, and did what I could to hone my AutoCAD skills. I was fortunate enough to have access to AutoDesk's Student Community (because I was a student.) There students can download FREE Autodesk software. the catch is that it lasts 13 months (the software does) and there is an education watermark on all files saved. But that's not a problem because you are there to learn the software, not produce with it. The site also has tons of free 24 hour training session! If you are a student and want to learn Revit, or Civil3D, you can, for free!

Autodesk understands that times or tough, they too have had to lay off great employees in the past few months themselves. Understanding this, they have released the Autodesk Assistance Program. This program is essentially making the same offer as the Student Community provides to those that have been laid off. Just show a bit of proof and you're in! It's a great idea and one that will benefit everyone. If you are laid off and want to train yourself, please take advantage of this. Get up to date on the latest software, or learn a totally new one. Now's your chance.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Using my "Powers" to Save the Environment

I am about to start using my powers to help save the environment! No, I'm not Captain Planet or Superman. Though because I am using technology I may be more like Iron Man or Batman (choose your comic universe.) when it comes to the work I'm about to start. I have been volunteering with a group for about 6 years now known as Turtle Time, Inc. It is a group that helps protect Loggerhead Sea Turtles in Southwest Florida. Logger Head sea turtles are a threatened species and need our help. They need our help to survive mainly because human development has been their greatest adversary. Now, don't get me wrong, I love living near where the sea turtles live, but we (the human race) need to do so in a responsible manner. If for no other reason than to make sure the reasons we live here, are stay here. Enough soap box.

Turtle Time, Inc. has accumulated data for several years on the nesting habits of the Loggerhead Sea Turtle. Soon I will be gathering that data to create maps. These maps will show us many things. We will be able to see where the turtles are crawling onto the beach, where they nest, what nest locations hatch, and influences around them. Why do the turtles nest there? When do they?

I am very excited to be able to use my CAD, GIS and surveying skills to help, in some small way, better our environment.

What can CAD do for you?

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Array Objects Along a Polyline

Today I had to draw 12" square piles along a shore line about 100 feet long at 3' centers. The shore line was obvious not in a straight line. Originally I was going to draw my square with a circle with a 3' radius and copy each object one at a time. I would use the center of the square (and circle) as a base point and place the next object at the intersection of the circle and the shoreline. Tedious, but it would get the job done. Then I thought about it for a second. there has to be a way to do this in one (maybe two) keystrokes. So I went to the discussion boards at AUGI.

The great people there suggested I use either the DIVIDE or MEASURE command. I always forget about those two commands. Not any more! Both commands work virtually the same. They will place points along a selected line (polyline or spline) in equal segments. DIVIDE places a number of points along a line (a number you give it) while MEASURE places points along the line at a set interval (provided by you.)

If you don't want to place the points, you can choose to place a block instead. In this case (as it was suggested to me on the AUGI discussion boards) I made my pile a block and had the measure command insert it along my polyline at 3' intervals. AND (yes it gets better!) when I did this, the command asked me if I wanted the blocks to be aligned with the line! Of course I did!! Boo-ya!!! What was going to take me 5 minutes to do, now took 30 seconds (not counting the time spent on the board.)

Thanks AUGI!
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