Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Compare PDF, DWF, DWFx, DOC, DOCx files

Further on the topic of the previous post but more on to manual compare. DWF Version Compare was introduced in Autodesk Design Review 2008. You find it on the Tools menu. This can be useful when comparing two DWF files. But be aware that it has its limitations like it cannot find differences on raster objects and the DWF files must be the same sheet size and use the same units.

If you want to compare PDF files Adobe Acrobat Professional have that functionality and works great with large multipage documents. Found on the Advanced menu. It’s a real time saver when you get PDF files like specifications from a customer, client or colleague and don’t want to read through everything a second time just to find the changes. Below you can see some of the result from Acrobat compare.

Microsoft Word also have this functionality to compare two versions of a document. I have found not many are aware of it. In Word 2007 it is on the Review tab.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Automate testing and examination of PDF generation

This can also be applied to other formats like DWF (DWFx). Think about the costs if the PDF or DWF is incorrect, missing some important text for example. Say you have automated plotting and even if you make spot checks of the resulting files there is a chance you miss something. We all know that the PDF creation for example is tricky and because of bugs in the software the result might not always be what you expect.

The solution is to create a test automation. Say you produce the files from AutoCAD or Revit. What you could do it to produce two different outputs like plotting to both PDF and to TIFF and then automatically compare the result by first rasterizing the PDF file.

A software that can be automated to compare images is ImageMagick.

Another usage for this is version compare. You can automate a compare of two versions and have that available to the reviewer.

Via Adobe Reader Blog with more to read about this topic.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Videos introducing AutoCAD Subscription Bonus Packs

Via BIM & BEAM I learned that there are three videos available describing the AutoCAD Subscription Bonus Packs that have been released for AutoCAD 2009.

  • Subscription Bonus Packs – An Overview with Lynn Allen and Eric Stover
  • Subscription Bonus Pack 2: PDF Enhancements with Kathy O’Connell and Eric Stover
  • Subscription Bonus Pack 3: 3D Printing with Kathy O’Connell and Eric Stover

On the subscription topic I suggest you also check out this post on Stoeckel on Subs (subscription needed) that includes the AutoLISP routine ssinside.lsp with three new commands―ssincp, ssinwp, and ssinf―that allow you to create an inside selection using Crossing Polygon, Window Polygon, or Fence, respectively.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Illusion science

Don’t always believe what your eyes see. Below shows the Illusion of shifted gradations.

The gray line is horizontal but appears to tilt down to the left.

Much more at the Akiyoshi Kitaoka’s illusion pages where some of the hundred illusions are explained in a scientific way like the Explanation (the peripheral drift illusion) (PDF file) for the Rotating Snakes.

Friday, December 26, 2008

DWG TrueView object snaps available on the command line

Autodesk’s DWG TrueView have some inquiry object snaps available with you want to measure a distance or area. TT (Temporary Track Point), FROM, M2P (Mid Between 2 Points), EXT (Extension),  and point filters .X, .Y, .Z, .XY, .XZ, .YZ are only available on the command line and not so obvious unless you know about them.

Image below is from DWG TrueView 2009 with the object snaps available on the Ribbon.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Microsoft Softwear

Want a MS DOS t-shirt or some other “softwear”?

Softwear by Microsoft

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Disable the AutoCAD InfoCenter

You might want to disable AutoCAD’s InfoCenter with its Help and documentation Search, Communication Center, Autodesk Channels, Balloon Notifications, RSS Feeds and Favorites. One reason is that it can speed up the AutoCAD startup or you just want to hide it. Otherwise it can be quite useful to have there. Here is the solution.


and after

One way is using the CAD Manager Control Utility to control it to some extent or you can use Regedit.exe (or VBScript or a BAT or CMD file) and disable it completely. Just set the LoadCtrls key to 0 in the registry at:

(default value for LoadCtrls is 4c as Hexadecimal or 76 as Decimal value in case you want to enable it again)

R17.2\ACAD-7001:409 is for AutoCAD 2009 English version and needs to be changed depending on what AutoCAD product you use. It works with AutoCAD LT as well but then the registry location will start with: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Autodesk\AutoCAD LT.
For more about the productID and locateID.

Using Visual LISP here is how:

(vl-registry-write (strcat "HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\\" (vlax-product-key) "\\Applications\\InfoCenterAcConn" ) "LOADCTRLS" 0)

AutoCAD needs to be restarted to see the effect.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Tekla Structures 14 review

Tekla Structures, one of the best BIM products for structural engineering and steel fabrication got a new release some time ago. Read the review at AECbytes. The new release should be easier to learn and use and if you’re evaluating structural application you should definitely consider Tekla Structures as it is covering everything from design to detailing, fabrication and construction using any material like concrete, steel, precast concrete, and timber.

JTB FlexReport can be used to make assessments of license usage of Tekla Structures 14 (or newer when available) as FLEXnet is now used for the network licenses.

Related post on a lmutil.exe problem and Tekla Structures.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Gwanggyo City Centre competition winner

The Daewoo Consortium and the municipality of Gwanggyo announced the MVRDV concept design for a dense city centre winner of the developer’s competition for the future new town of Gwanggyo, located 35km south of the Korean capital Seoul. The plan consists of a series of overgrown hill shaped buildings with great programmatic diversity, aiming for high urban density and encouragement of further developments around this so-called ‘Power Centre’, one of the envisioned two centre’s of the future new town.

Talk about green buildings.

Via designboom and MVRDV

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

System.IO.IOException: The file exists and GetTempFileName solution and explanation

I was researching a problem in JTB FlexReport that a couple of customers had and the error log gave this error message.

System.IO.IOException: The file exists. 
   at System.IO.__Error.WinIOError(Int32 errorCode, String maybeFullPath)
   at System.IO.__Error.WinIOError()
   at System.IO.Path.GetTempFileName()

It was pretty obvious that the file did not exist as the message said and thanks to this post I got the explanation as there also where “many” empty temp files (0 KB) in the c:\windows\temp folder.

The GetTempFileName method will raise an IOException if it is used to create more than 65535 files without deleting previous temporary files.

The GetTempFileName method will raise an IOException if no unique temporary file name is available. To resolve this error, delete all unneeded temporary files.

Eventually I found the problem and the solution will be included in the next release. It seems to affect very few customers but a hotfix is available in the meantime.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

JTB FlexReport 5 beta 2 is available to test drive

JTB FlexReport 5 is getting closer to be released. Between Beta 1 and Beta 2 at least 20 bugs has been fixed and 10 features have been added based on feedback. So feel free to take a look at this new beta release.

The new documentation for beta 2 is here: JTBFlexReport5B2.pdf (3 MB).

One new thing is that you can toggle between showing and hiding data labels and markers.

with data labels

with markers

Another thing is the axis controller that allows you to make adjustments on the X and Y axis text orientation, ticks and span.

Here the X time span has been changed as well as the Y numeric span.


You can request a fully functional trial of JTB FlexReport including this new functionality.

See also the previous post on Beta 1

Integrated Project Delivery – IPD project in New England

Via Gregory Arkin’s blog post on IPD (Integrated Project Delivery) I found that the (bim)x blog has much more about the Autodesk IPD project I wrote about in a previous post.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Two network license manager hotfixes from Autodesk

This hotfix repairs a problem with the configuration of the redundant license server causing servers to stop when the master server has been changed twice. This hotfix applies to any 2009 or earlier products that use network licensing.

The version of lmgrd.exe is

Knowledge Base document and download: Hotfix - Redundant License Server

This update enables the Autodesk Network License Manager to support IPv6 networks using Microsoft® Windows® Server 2008, Windows Vista® 32-bit and Windows Vista® 64-bit.


  • This version of the Autodesk Network License Manager does not support early return of borrowed licenses.
  • This implementation only supports a mixed IPv4 and IPv6 environment. This implementation does not support network license checkouts in an IPv6-only environment.

The version of lmgrd.exe, lmtools.exe, lmutil.exe and adskflex.exe is 11.5.

Knowledge Base document and download: Hotfix - Autodesk Network License Manager IPv6 Support

Autodesk to Acquire BIMWorld will improve Autodesk Seek

BIMWorld is planned to be combined with Autodesk Seek.

“The vision for Autodesk Seek is to be a leading online destination and one-stop-shop for high quality building product information and design files,” said Jeff Wright, Autodesk senior director of Content Solutions. “By joining forces with the BIMWorld team, we will strengthen the leadership of Autodesk Seek as a powerful marketing solution for building product manufacturers, and by further leveraging our strategic content partners, accelerate designers’ access to a breadth of rich product information and design files for use during the design process.”

See Press release for all details.

Another BIM (Building Information Modeling) related news from Autodesk is that Autodesk Expands BIM Software Offering for Structural Analysis.

"The new Autodesk Robot Structural Analysis Professional 2009 delivers a great value to structural engineers worldwide by incorporating BIM in the structural analysis and design of building, civil and other specialty structures," said Nicolas Mangon, structural engineering business line manager, Autodesk AEC Solutions. It is designed to be collaborative, faster and more versatile. This in turn will help to provide structural engineers with the ability to do analysis and design better by creating digital models that visualize, simulate and analyze their work.

See Press release for all details

See also Autodesk’s BIM site that has a nice intro video.

On the BIM topic I would also like to mention the new BIM Manager blog

Thursday, December 11, 2008

AutoCAD 2010 public info

As I’m under NDA I cannot tell you much but I’ve put together some of the public information if you are curious on what the next AutoCAD release holds.

One thing you can expect is better PDF output. Interesting to read that according to Shaan’s tests the AutoCAD 2009 Bonus Pack 2 makes smaller PDF files than AcroPlot and Adobe Acrobat Pro 9. If I find the time I will do some tests myself and look forward to read about others testing this.

More on my AutoCAD 2010 page.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Companies more profitable in 2009 than 2008?

I was entering a poll on LinkedIn and found it interesting to see the result.

The question was: “Will your company make a profit in 2009?”

As you can see owners and small companies see 2009 as a profitable year.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

BIM report

It sounds interesting to read this 48-page BIM process and adoption report but the registration process halted me at least for the moment. I probably will take a look at it later on but if it is free (in PDF) why would I need to give out my credit card information.

Some of the content in “Building Information Modeling (BIM): Transforming Design and Construction to Achieve Greater Industry Productivity”:

  • Several case studies
  • Measuring the Value of BIM
  • Contractors Creating BIM from 2D Documents
  • BIM and Green Projects
  • Value of Using BIM
  • Interview with Phil Bernstein, Vice President, Autodesk, Inc.
  • Risks when Using BIM
  • Understanding BIM Infrastructure
  • Interview with Dana "DEKE" Smith, FAIA, Executive Director, buildingSMART Alliance

Via IMAGINIT Architectural blog

Saturday, December 6, 2008

AutoCAD Automation Tools 2.1 released

AutoCAD Automation Tools has been improved to make it easier to add files or folders to automate. Select one folder and all DWG’s in all subfolders are added. Now you can use it to only execute AutoLISP files making most any script work possible. Each drawing you want to automate can call an unique LSP file or the same LSP can be used for all or any of the DWGs.

But you don’t need to know AutoLISP or programming. If you know a bit of AutoCAD and Excel basic usage you can make use of AutoCAD Automation Tools and make wonders.

One example of usage is if you have projects with drawings using absolute paths but want to convert them to relative paths. This can be for xrefs, images or other external references. This is useful if you need to move the project to an archive location or for other reasons don’t want to break the links between the files. This was the user case that initiated this update. If you have an idea you want to realize feel free to contact us.

Other example of usage is if you want to search and replace text among many drawings or prepare your drawings before delivering them to the client. You can use AutoCAD attribute export, make changes to the values and then batch update them. The choice is yours.

Visit the website to find out more and download a free trial including free support.

Price per license is 25 EUR or less.

Existing customers are eligible for a free update.

Friday, December 5, 2008

AutoCAD limits

What are the limits in AutoCAD? I’m not talking about AutoCAD limits in functionality (there are) but rather the command “limits”. Here are probably most things worth knowing about limits mentioned. If I forgot something please add a comment.

Command: limits
Reset Model space limits:
Specify lower left corner or [ON/OFF] <0.0000,0.0000>:
Specify upper right corner <420.0000,297.0000>:

Here are some things related to these limits.

LIMITS sets and controls the limits of the grid display in the current Model or layout tab.

The command can be called transparently using 'LIMITS.

When limits checking is on, you cannot enter points outside the grid limits. Because limits checking tests only points that you enter, portions of objects such as circles can extend outside the grid limits.

This is what it will look like:

Command: LINE
Specify first point:
**Outside limits

In Drafting Settings (DSETTINGS) you can force the grid to display beyond the limits.

Drafting Settings

The STATUS command shows the limits among other things:

Command: status
121 objects in Drawing1.dwg
Model space limits are X:    0.0000   Y:    0.0000  (Off)
                       X:  420.0000   Y:  297.0000

The limits are saved in each drawing through the drawing variables LIMMIN and LIMMAX.

LIMMIN stores the lower-left grid limits for the current space, expressed as a world coordinate. LIMMIN is read-only when paper space is active and the paper background or printable area is displayed.

LIMMAX stores the upper-right grid limits for the current space, expressed as a world coordinate. LIMMAX is read-only when paper space is active and the paper background or printable area is displayed.

You can plot using the limits but only in model space (TILEMODE=1).

You can zoom to limits using a macro like this:
'_zoom _w (getvar "limmax") (getvar "limmin");

Zoom All displays the entire drawing. If the objects extend beyond the limits, Zoom All displays the extents of the objects. If the objects are drawn within the limits, Zoom All displays the limits.

If your drawing has no objects, Zoom Extents zoom to the drawing limits.

One great usage of LIMITS and the GRID I have found is when working in 3D as it will make it easy to find the “floor” when navigating around using commands like 3DORBIT and the like.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Goodbye FolderShare, Welcome Live Sync

So now we have Live Sync, Mesh and SkyDrive with some common overlap of functionality. Pick and chose. I found this post.

Over the past three years Ozzie has been trying to change the culture of the company to one where Microsoft behaves more like a startup.  In start-up mode, free from the politics and cross-team collaboration, Microsoft’s many product teams are able to innovate much faster, delivering more useful, game changing products and services.

It explains this “confusion” to be thanks to Ray Ozzie and I can agree that it makes some sense.

Ozzie spent a lot of time crafting a different kind of work environment at Microsoft. "He was very intentional about getting stuff done quickly, focusing on the end customer," Treadwell says. Previously, a big part of any development team at Microsoft was making sure its new product worked in lockstep with everything else the company produced. This "unification" criterion was something that Gates had always hammered on. But Ozzie saw that while that approach avoided annoying conflicts, it also tended to smother innovation in the cradle. "This philosophy of independent innovation—really making progress before you pursue serious integration, is something Ray pushed very strongly," Treadwell says. Ozzie's approach was to encourage people to rush ahead and build things. Then he'd have a team of what he calls the spacklers fill in the gaps and get things ready for release.  - Wired

Microsoft the new startup.

I got this email as I’ve used FolderShare.

Dear FolderShare user,
We're contacting you to let you know what's next for FolderShare, and to make you aware of some important changes.
In December, we plan to announce a product called Windows Live Sync. You can think of it as FolderShare 2.0. It's going to look familiar and offer the same great features, plus:

  • More folders and files—sync up to 20 folders with 20,000 files each.
  • Integration with Windows Live ID—no more extra sign-in stuff to remember.
  • Integration with the Recycle Bin—no more separate Trash folder to fiddle with.
  • Unicode support—sync files in other languages.

A huge part of Sync's success story depends on FolderShare users like you. When Sync releases, FolderShare goes into retirement. That means your FolderShare software will stop working and will ask you to upgrade to Sync. Once you do, Sync will automatically rebuild your personal folders. We expect a lot of new users when Sync is released, so if you can't sign in right away, please give it a little time.
Here's the part you need to pay attention to: Sync will not be able to rebuild your shared libraries. If you have a lot of shared libraries, you should hop over to the FolderShare website while it's still available and copy all that information. You'll need it to rebuild your shared libraries in Sync.
Thanks for being a FolderShare user! We're excited about delivering an even better file-synchronization experience to customers like you. We hope you'll come along as we move forward with Windows Live Sync.
The Windows Live Sync (formerly FolderShare) team

Also via the FolderShare blog

ACAD-7001:409 = AutoCAD 2009 English

If you need to know all the productID’s and localeID’s for AutoCAD and AutoCAD-based products this Knowledge Base document is for you: Determining ProductID for Autodesk software. The most common use of them are when you want to automate things in the registry like installations, making changes, etc.
The string ProductName in HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Autodesk\AutoCAD\R17.2\ACAD-7001:409 has the value “AutoCAD 2009” for example.
If you use AutoLISP you can use the function (vlax-product-key) and it will return for example: "Software\\Autodesk\\AutoCAD\\R17.2\\ACAD-7001:409"
This information can be used also with VB.NET, C#, VBA, etc.
One example of usage is related to this Knowledge Base document: AutoCAD freezes when plotting to file. When plotting to a file and clicked the Browse button to select the Plot Destination folder AutoCAD locked up and froze. To solve the problem you need to access the registry and find the correct location and for that you need the productID and localeID.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Bentley Systems and MicroStation V8i - interview

Ed Mueller I had recently the chance to ask Bentley’s CMO, Ed Mueller (Bio) some questions about Bentley Systems and MicroStation V8i.

The release is named V8i. My first thought was that it was an incremental minor release compared to V8. Is that the case and what does “i” stand for?

That’s not the case. In fact, V8i is the most comprehensive software portfolio for infrastructure ever assembled in a single release.

V8i is not just another release of MicroStation, but of a wide range of applications encompassing products for all of the solution communities served by Bentley, including roads, bridges, rail and transit, campuses, factories, buildings, power generation, mining and metals, oil and gas, water and wastewater, electric and gas utilities, communications, and cadastre and land development.

The V8i portfolio leverages and extends core capabilities of its new interoperability platform to provide the breadth and depth of technology needed for fully integrated project delivery. Developed as a collective whole, the V8i software portfolio facilitates streamlined workflows among multiple disciplines and across project teams throughout the infrastructure lifecycle within 60 days of the announcement.

So, to answer your second question, the “i” in V8i stands for infrastructure. But it also stands for:

· Intuitive design modeling – Project teams can easily take designs from concept to completion in the same software environment. Conceptual tools make it easier to intuitively sculpt solids and surfaces. Generative tools make it easier to iterate through many design alternatives.

· Interactive dynamic views – V8i leapfrogs competing software. Users can work in 2D or 3D views and see both update dynamically. With interactive dynamic views, users can save time coordinating plan sets, improve the quality of deliverables, and simplify the 3D modeling experience.

· Intrinsic geo-coordination – V8i’s intrinsic geo-coordination lets users coordinate information spatially from many sources using common coordinate systems. Users can locate files spatially with real-world context in ProjectWise for content management or in Google Earth for visual review. This enables V8i users to save time coordinating data from various sources, improve information quality, and reduce the risk of errors on site caused by poorly coordinated data.

· Incredible project performance – With Delta File Transfer (DFT), V8i solves the “big file” problem that traditionally slows productivity across distributed project teams. Transferring only changes to files, DFT makes ProjectWise V8i the “killer app” for project team collaboration – with 10x performance gains being the norm for average file sizes.

· Interoperability platform– V8i software includes a core technology to persist, share, and visualize infrastructure asset data in a common way. This enables practitioners to reuse project and asset information throughout the infrastructure lifecycle. The benefits of this interoperability to practitioners include reduced data translation costs, reduced project rework, and the ability to create better-performing assets.

As you can see, the “i” in V8i is as multifaceted as the portfolio itself.

I have quite an Autodesk colored background and I think many of my readers do too. Can you give us some of the selling points for Bentley software, especially in light of the Autodesk agreement and the release of V8i?

Autodesk is a very large company that addresses the needs of a wide variety of markets, but Bentley is the global leader dedicated to providing comprehensive software solutions for sustaining infrastructure. That’s our single focus, and I think it shows.

Unlike Autodesk, Bentley has a common interoperability platform that enables both intraoperability among its own applications and interoperability with third-party products. Together, these two capabilities enable broader reuse of project and asset information generated during the design, construction, and operation of infrastructure, and enhance the ability of project teams to choose among multiple software offerings.

The intraoperability occurs across and between tightly coupled V8i products without loss of information. The interoperability occurs across necessarily distributed projects where participants can now increase their choice of software offerings from Bentley, loosely but usefully coupled with the work of other practitioners using software based on DGN, PDF, DWG, ISO 15926, IFC, and other industry standards and related APIs.

V8i’s interoperability platform enables Bentley applications to persist, share, and visualize infrastructure asset data in a common way, promoting collaborative workflows. The result is a project environment that combines flexibility, scalability, and robustness, and a portfolio that offers engineers, architects, GIS professionals, constructors, and owner-operators unprecedented choices across discipline-specific integrated software and services incorporated in Bentley solutions.

Bentley developed its interoperability platform in response to the unique requirements of infrastructure projects. Your readers can learn more about this innovative technology by reading Bentley Senior Vice President Buddy Cleveland’s white paper “Interoperability Platform” at ftp://ftp2.bentley.com/dist/collateral/Web/Platform/WP_Interop_Platform.pdf.

How will the partnership with Autodesk affect and benefit; first a company with only Autodesk products, second a company with a mix of Autodesk and Bentley products?

In both cases, the companies will be able to choose the application that best suits their workflows in particular projects. So, a company with only Autodesk products will be free to adopt Bentley applications. Also, the Autodesk-only company will be able to work with Bentley’s DGN files with absolute fidelity, expanding the number of projects it can bid for – once Autodesk has incorporated the Bentley libraries made available to it under the interoperability agreement.

The second company will have the same freedom to use Autodesk’s DWG format or Bentley’s DGN format with absolute fidelity, making its workflows smoother.

Both companies will benefit from the fact that neither Autodesk nor Bentley will have to spend time making best-guess approximations of the nature of the other company’s file format. The resources previously devoted to that can be devoted to improving the companies’ software for the benefit of all users.

With the global economic problems the world faces today and also the U.S. government’s and the Obama administration’s focus on improving buildings, bridges, tunnels, etc., how and where does Bentley fit into this?

With our mission to sustain infrastructure, we look to be right in the center of this focus, especially with the breadth and depth of our V8i solutions and products for the design, analysis, construction, and operation of roads, bridges, rail and transit systems, ports, campuses of all types including airports, factories, buildings, power generation facilities, mining and metals processing facilities, oil and gas plants, water and wastewater systems, electric and gas utilities, communications networks, and other infrastructure. Currently, investors are finding that putting their money in infrastructure is an investment in quality – something necessary and concrete (no pun intended), as opposed to the kind of financial constructions that put us where we are today.

Here’s one case in point: In North America, state departments of transportation (DOTs) are finding new and innovative ways to fund their projects, including public/private partnerships (PPPs). For example, in Florida, a contract recently was let to a global consortium led by a Spanish firm to design, build, finance, operate, and maintain an urban-renewal highway project for 35 years. The PPP is expected to accelerate the delivery of the benefits by 16 years and save $275 million in availability payments that were initially projected to total $2.07 billion.

Bentley’s leading presence in the transportation arena is well established. Transportation authorities and engineering consultants around the world depend on the Bentley road solution, which has repeatedly proven its value on projects with the most demanding requirements. In North America, these tools are the standard for 47 of the 50 U.S. state departments of transportation, the Federal Highway Administrator (FHWA), United States Department of Transportation (USDOT), and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE).

So we look forward to enabling our users to take on the mounting challenge of sustaining infrastructure under the next administration, as well as under all future ones.

Thanks a lot for your for your time and answers to my questions!

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