Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Fence File or FF=

This is the first in a series of posts on basic Microstation V8i tips.
The Fence File command is a quick Microstation key-in that will Copy the contents of a fence to a new or existing file.

For example, if you wanted a file that only contained existing utilities from your survey file, then you could turn everything else off in your survey file, except for the existing utilities, and place a fence around them and key-in FF=, hit Enter and you will be prompted to save the new .dgn file.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Technology in a Consistent System

Technology changes almost daily.  It changes so much that if you don't keep up with it, then you end up behind the curve.  Business runs better with a system that is consistent.  If you can plan every aspect of the project, then you know what you need to complete it.  The big question is "How do you advance your technology without killing a consistent system that works?"  The answer is not the same for everyone, because what works perfectly for one company does not work for all companies. So lets take some time to look at different types of technology and how to implement them into a consistent system.

1. Trusted Technology.
Trusted Technology is a technology that has been tested for years and already stands on a consistent system.  You can almost always find this type of technology in the hands of teenagers and youth.  Texting, IM, and yes even twitter is good examples of trusted technology.  If your teenager can keep in touch with there friends 24/7,  what is keeping you from doing the same with your staff and clients?

2. Outdated Technology.
With technology always changing there is some technology that gets left behind.  We have all experienced trying to send an email with an attachment to find the "failed to send" return email.  Outdated technology does not stand the test of time because it does not stand on a consistent system.  One reason why email attachments are not consistent is because email providers have different size of attachments that can be sent and received from your inbox.  We are looking for a system that does not have a limit or has a consistent outcome.  

This is why cloud data storage is a big step in the direction of a consistent system.  Most cloud storage systems give you the option to send links to your documents allowing clients and staff using almost all forms of communication and technology.  Finding a technology that uses a consistent system will keep your business from using a technology that will become outdated.

3. Next Step Technology
Taking the next step in advancing technology in a business is a risk.  The best way I have found to start advancing in technology is to use it in addition to a consistent system.  Mobile platform is a great example of a next step technology.  Most people use there smart phone and tablets for checking email, texting, IM, and social networking, but would not use it to type a paper or a long email.  This is why we still need workstations in the office.  I would not use a tablet to design a part in 3D, but I would use it to show the model to a client.  Useful next step technology will become a trusted technology in time. 

4. Wow Technology
Knowing about what new technology can do for your business will help you get a "Wow!" from your clients.  This type of technology is still being tested and does not sit on a consistent system, but knowing that it can be done will advance your business technology.  You don't have to use it to know that it can be done.

What do you thing?  How do you keep up with technology?  

Monday, July 28, 2014

AutoCAD One Key Shortcut Guide

Keyboard shortcuts is a quick way to find tools that you use everyday, but most of the time we can never remember or find what to type.  That is why Autodesk has created a key shortcut guide.  Very useful tool!

AutoCAD One Key Shortcut Guide

App Review: Able2Extract 8 ( Extract CAD Drawings from PDF)

I don't know what it is, but this PDF thing is here to stay.  I know we send and receive PDF files of drawings all day almost everyday.  The big pain with PDF files and designing in CAD software is fact that they never play well with each other.  You would think the best way to get the information that you need from a PDF you receive is to just convert it, well that is what the people at Able2Extract does best.  Enjoy a great application tutorial on just how simple it is to convert a PDF file to a DWG or DXF file.

We often use PDF as a secure way to send and share drawings created in AutoCAD. Some of the main reasons for this are:

        PDF is platform-independent, which means that anyone can open and view the shared files from any device (personal computer, tablet or smartphone), running on any operating system (Windows, Mac, Android, Linux, iOS).
        PDF locks the formatting, layout and contents of the drawing (vector images and text), and thus ensures that the recipient of the file will see drawings and other files just as they were intended to be seen.
        With the right PDF maker, it is possible to create secure, password-protected files and control who can view, open, print or edit your work.

PDF, fortunately or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it, is not editable. It is possible to annotate it, bookmark or highlight its contents, but if you need to modify vector images and text locked n the PDF, you need to have access to the original DWG or DXF file, or convert the PDF to AutoCAD supported formats.

Chances are that you have the .dwg version of the drawing if you are the one who originally drew it in AutoCAD. But if you received a PDF from someone who expects you to change the drawing, or if you archived some of your older drawings in PDF and permanently deleted the source AutoCAD file, then a PDF to CAD converter is your best chance for getting the vector images and text recovered from PDF.

Able2Extract PDF to AutoCAD converter, developed by, is one possible choice. It is in reality a very comprehensive PDF conversion utility which converts PDF to multiple file formats like Microsoft Excel, Word, PowerPoint, Publisher, OpenOffice formats, HTML, as well as AutoCAD supported formats.

Despite its comprehensiveness and variety of conversion options, the software uses a very simple and straightforward approach to extracting content from a PDF: 3-step conversion (Open-Select-Convert) to any of the available output formats.

For example, if you want to extract vector graphics and text from PDF into fully editable .DXF or .DWG files, you would start the program installed on your computer like any other piece of software and follow these three steps:

1. Open the file.
2. Select the part of the PDF that you want to convert -- it can be the entire document or an individual drawing or area -- you can virtually pinpoint the vector image or other content that you want extracted.
3. Choose your output format (AutoCAD) and Convert using the standard settings that will work for most files.

Despite the obvious simplicity of the process, you can also customize your conversion output prior to conversion. For example, you can specify the preferred AutoCAD supported format, your AutoCAD compatible color palette, units (millimeters or inches), and so on. Able2Extract also allows you to save your standard conversion settings, so you don’t have to waste time on adjusting output settings every time you need to convert PDF to AutoCAD formats.

Able2Extract works very well and the result of conversion is very good. Pro tip: If you convert to DWG and are not happy with the result, go back and convert it to DXF. The resulting DXF is usually flawless, and you can save the DXF as DWG.

Able2Extract PDF converter is available on all three major platforms: Windows, MacOS and Linux (Fedora and Ubuntu downloads are both available). It is free to download and use for 7 days. The full time license to Able2Extract can be purchased for $99.95. It can also be obtained as a 30-day subscription for $34.95, in the case that you are not a regular PDF user but only need it for a current project, for instance. 

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Autodesk is getting into hardware!

Today Autodesk announced that they will offer a 3D printer and 3D printing software called Spark!

"Spark will be open and freely licensable to hardware manufacturers and others who are interested. Same for our 3D printer – the design of the printer will be made publicly available to allow for further development and experimentation. The printer will be able to use a broad range of materials, made by us and by others, and we look forward to lots of exploration into new materials."

For more information go to Spark

Friday, February 28, 2014

Projecting Objects to Multiple Section Views

If you have ever wanted to display an easement line or right-of-way line in multiple section views, here is a quick and easy way of doing that.

First, I am going to assume that if you are reading this article that you have multiple sections views, and right-of-way or easement lines that you would like projected to them. There are several different ways you can project objects to your sections views, but for this example I will use the 3D polyline method.

You can NCOPY a nested object into your corridor file (if it is being referenced in) and it is most likely a polyline so all we have to do is convert it from a 2D polyline to a 3D polyline. So in your ribbon go to the Modify tab. Then select Convert 2D to 3D Polylines.

Simple enough, now just click on any section view and in the ribbon choose Project Objects To Multiple Section Views.

You should see the dialog box below. Now just check the box for 3D polylines, set your Style, Elevation Options, and Label Style. You can see here all the different options that you have available to you for projecting objects to your sections views. But for now we are going to use 3D Polylines.

Once you hit ok you should see your projected right-of-way or easement line in each of your section views using your selected label style.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Quick Tip: Blank Fields

Here is a quick tip on working with fields. If you leave fields blank you see this "----" in your print out, and if you just delete the text then you lose your field. So what you end up having to do is put some character in there to keep your fields visible (like a period) but if you want a truly blank field that is still selectable just put "%%" in your field!