Thursday, January 29, 2015

How to Send Your AutoCAD Project Files to Anybody, Anywhere, Anytime

Working with AutoCAD and AutoCAD Verticals (Civil3D, Map Mechanical, etc.) has become much more complex than it was when I first started over 20 years ago. We didn’t use reference files and we didn’t have source files like we do in Civil3D. We had one file, in model space (there was no paper space back then) to send. We put it on a 3.5” floppy disk and sent it on its way.  Much has changed since then.

Sending project files these days is a bit more complicated. We have multiple drawing files, xref files, point files, PDF files, data sheets, word documents, spreadsheets, DWF files, fonts, CTB files, Sheet Set data files, and more. How do you get the right files to the right people right now?

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Don't Ignore Unreconciled Layers - They are there to Help You

Unreconciled Layers, you know, that pesky notification bubble that you close as soon as you open a DWG file, are very important and can save you a lot of time, effort, and work. Many AutoCAD users simply ignore the notification and move on. I suggest that you stop this practice and start using the notifications to help you out.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

My Day as a CAD Dork

The past few days have changed for this CAD Dork (CAD Geek or CAD Nerd are also acceptable terms). This past Friday I lost my job. It happens. It’s very annoying but it does. I’ll be fine so don’t worry.

The past two business days have been a bit different but also much of the same. I wake up at 5:15 a.m. (not my choice) to make sure my oldest child gets out of the house and doesn’t miss the bus. If this happens somebody has to provide a ride. I take this time to get myself ready for the day; shower, shave, put on some clothes and gather my things for the day. At 6 I wake my other child to get ready for school. If I have time I take a quick nap because 5:15 a.m. is a crazy time to get up. By 6:50 I’m dressed, walking the dog, getting breakfast, packing my lunch and am (or was) out the door by 7:30.
At work as a Senior Engineering CAD Tech for a civil engineering firm I was responsible for site design, potable water layout, waste water design, drainage design, site layout, as-builts, and any other drafting work. I was also the IT Manager there so if any tech broke I had to make sure it was fixed right away. Lucky for me we had an IT Consultant firm to do the heavy lifting. Once that happened if I couldn’t fix it in a few minutes I was able to delegate the problem. It made me much more billable.
Monday mornings and Fridays were often the most hectic. Monday was a day to do all of the things you put off last week. Friday meant there was a deadline to meet that the project manager promised to the client before consulting anyone else; at least it felt like that the majority of the time.

Some Thoughts to Employers About Training Your Employees

Train them or loose them.

Train them or your production will suffer.

Train them or you will loose even more money.

Train them or your competition will surpass you.

Train them or they will train themselves and leave you.

Stop fussing over training costs. Train your employees. It is the best investment in your company that you will ever make.

Learn how to use AutoCAD Sheet Sets

AutoCAD Sheet Sets is an out-of-the-box project management tool that will enable your users to work together more efficiently and help to manage project data. The Sheet Sets tool is available in AutoCAD, AutoCAD LT, and AutoCAD for Mac. It is also available to AutoCAD verticals (like Map, Civil3D, Architecture, etc.) It may look slightly different across these different platforms, but it is there and is very powerful.

Sheet Sets can provide the following:

  • File Management
  • Batch Printing Tools
  • File Archiving
  • Project Data Management
  • File Creation
  • Standardization
  • View Management
  • Project Collaboration
  • Recurring Information
  • Automation

Monday, January 26, 2015

Autodesk to close Subscription Center

Autodesk has announced their plan to close Subscription Center. Subscription Center is a web portal where users can go to manage their Autodesk product licenses, subscriptions and services. This site provides access to download files, tech support, and other services. Autodesk is closing that service on March 13th, 2015.

Fortunately they are replacing it with a new website called Autodesk Account.

Autodesk Account will be a one-stop place where users can track and manage their licenses, subscriptions, products, services, and benefits. Maintenance subscription customers will be affected most by this change but all Autodesk customers will be directed here and will be able to use this service.

Autodesk says the interface and tools in Account will be simple to navigate and use. I found it much easier to navigate than Subscription Center.

Autodesk product users will not have to wait until March to start using Autodesk Account. It is available now and is fully functional.

Autodesk has supplied a video describing this change and the services available through Autodesk Account.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Autodesk Upgrade Pricing Ends January 31

Autodesk officially ends its upgrade pricing plans this month. After January 31, 2015, Autodesk customers will no longer be able to upgrade their licenses of Autodesk products to a newer version. This has been the practice of many Autodesk clients for decades. Company’s would purchase a license from Autodesk and sit on it for several years. When the need arose they would update to the latest version at a discounted price. This price was substantially cheaper than purchasing a brand new license and they only had to spend the money when they absolutely had to. The only other reason spend money was when a company needed an additional license.

Autodesk software isn’t cheap. A single license for one of their products could cost anywhere from $1000 to $7000 easy (US Dollars).  A single perpetual license of AutoCAD could cost around $4000 (estimated pricing) with the upgrade at half the price, depending on when you update and how old your version was. These upgrade prices changed throughout the years with the price slowly increasing as time went on.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

AutoCAD for Mac Shortcuts & Commands

Autodesk has created a keyboard shortcut guide for AutoCAD for Mac 2015. AutoCAD for Mac users will find this guide very useful especially if you often use keyboard commands in your workflow. The guide is free and available at this Autodesk website.

Friday, January 9, 2015

As a Standard, never use the word standard for your standard style names

AutoCAD has many styles. If you use Civil3D (and AutoCAD vertical) you have a plethora of styles. I have come across many instances where companies create a style, be it text, dimension, point label, etc., where they have named it “STANDARD”. It makes sense. You want a standard style to be used by everyone. Which text style should I use? Oh yeah, the one marked STANDARD. It is clear, concise, and easily understood by CAD users of all levels.

There is an issue though. If the naming convention of STANDARD is so simple to use, then many companies will be using it. The problem comes when your files intermingle with theirs. What if you need to insert or reference a third party’s files into yours. Or worse, what if a third party is referencing your files? Assume both companies are using STANDARD for their main text style. Your company uses ROMANS for your standard font. They use SCRIPT. They insert your file into theirs. AutoCAD then recognizes your text style of STANDARD but applies company B’s style settings and all of your text is now script.

Why does this happen? Well, AutoCAD reads a style and uses the style that is already in the file. If two different styles have the same name, it goes with the style it already knows in the open file.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Two universal events that guarantee printer failure.

Any design firm (engineering, architectural, etc.) will tell you that there are two events that, when they occur, will guarantee your printer will fail.  These events are:

1. A hard deadline.
2. The repair tech visited the day before.

You have all experienced these things. It never fails. You could use the printer all week and nothing happens. But when it comes time to print your drawing set for a submittal and there is a hard deadline it will jam, run out of toner, run out of paper, shred your paper, or catch fire. It always happens.  Always.

photo credit: jtyerse via photopin cc  

Many veterans have learned to dread the unsolicited visit of the printer repair tech; not because they smell of old toner, but because of the waft of destruction that typically comes in their wake. You know the drill; they show up to clean out the toner tray, perform a routine cleaning, or to get a counter read. The next day the printer seemingly dies. No reason given; no warning; it simply refuses to work properly. My personal favorite is when the tech comes to repair a broken printer, runs 50 gazillion prints (or your paper) and signs off as if everything was actually ok. Within minutes of them leaving the darn thing is now hiccupping where it was sneezing before.

In all fairness to the repair techs we work the snot out of these devices. We run them super hot and run print after print after print. Nobody would work in a consistent manner under these extreme circumstances. Not without breaking down. But at least now we don’t have to endure the wretched smell of ammonia these days! Oh the memories.


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