Saturday, March 26, 2005

Come Join Me at AUGI CAD Camp!

If you're in or around the Dallas/Fort Worth area, come join me at the AUGI Cad Camp in Dallas, TX next week - Thursday, March 31. I'll be presenting on two topics:
"Wall Basics for the Common Man" and "Breaking Through the Walls in Autodesk Architectural Desktop". These are similar to the session that I taught at Autodesk University this year (but broken out as two shorter, 80 minute sessions).

For more information and for registration instructions, go the AUGI CAD Camp web site.

Monday, March 14, 2005

ADT 2006 New Feature Preview

Check out Robin Capper's Blog for a good summary of some of the major new features in ADT 2006. Stay tuned to his, mine and other blogs for more!

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Classifications - The Hidden Power Tool of ADT

Classifications were added to Architectural Desktop with the 2004 release, primarily because of a need on the Building Systems side to allow MV Parts to be further categorized into specific types. But they have very relevant and powerful applications in Architectural Desktop as well.

Many times "stock" ADT objects are used to represent something else. For example, a wall style might be used to represent a countertop or base cabinet (in fact, this is the case with the "stock" content in the Design Tools catalog). A slab might also be used to represent a countertop. But for display and scheduling purposes, ADT still "sees" these objects for what they really are - walls and slabs.

When it comes to scheduling, you can tell a schedule to ignore things on certain layers, but how do you tell a display configuration that something isn't really a wall - but is something totally different. For that matter - find a display representation for "Cabinetry". (Don't bother - there aren't any). And, wouldn't it be nice if, in the case of the schedule, you didn't have to remember to filter out certain layers, but instead a property of the schedule style itself could tell it to ignore walls that really aren't walls? This is all possible with classifications.

All a classification style definition consists of is a list of, well, classifications that you can assign to object styles. Because they're nothing more than a list, they are extremely easy to create. Even better, there is already a perfectly functional, and in my opinion, adequately complete, classification style defined for you. In the "Styles" folder of your Content directory (follow the "Content" shortcut in your ADT file dialog), there is a drawing file that contains the Uniformat II Classification Definition (look at the file names - it will be obvious). I would recommend importing this classification directly into your standard ADT template. Or you can create your own, based on some other standard, such as MasterSpec. Try the Uniformat II version first, however - I suspect you'll find it more than sufficient for your needs. If you DO decide to "roll your own", make sure you check on ALL object types in the "Applies to" tab. That way you can attach it to any object style that you create.

Assuming you're using the Uniformat II definition however, here are a couple of examples of how you can apply it:

1) A wall that is not a wall: You may have customized your "Reflected" display configuration to show objects below the cut plane for walls, so that you can see the wall opening lines. However when you do this, you'll notice that suddenly toilet partitions and countertops created with the plumbing layouts in the "Design" catalogs are showing. You probably don't want those on your reflected ceiling plans, but since they're walls, the display system shows them. You have a couple of options, admittedly, in addition to using classifications. First you could just freeze their layer. Second, you could edit the "wall" styles that represent these objects and place a style-level display override on their "Reflected" display representation. Or, you can simply edit their style, and on the "Classifications" tab, assign them the "Plumbing Fixture" classification that will already be available from the "Uniformat II" listing (assuming you've already imported the classification definition into your drawing). Now, in your Reflected Display Set, go to the "Display Options" tab - you'll see all of the Uniformat II classifications listed. Simply select "Plumbing Fixtures" and change the setting from "Show" to "Hide". Now, even though you are instructing walls to display, any "wall" that is classified as a plumbing fixture will hide!
(Note: the goal, of course is to automate this. To do so, edit the wall styles in the original files that contain the plumbing layouts, and make the display setting in your ADT template).

2) Scheduling Door/Window Assemblies as mulled units in a door schedule: When you use a door style as an infill definition in your assembly style, do NOT classify it as anything. This means of course, that door styles used in assemblies should be unique and separate from doors that stand alone. Door styles that are by themselves (not part of an assembly definition), should be classified as either "Exterior Door" or "Interior Door". The assembly itself, that contains a door style as an infill definition is also classified as either an "Exterior Door" or "Interior Door". Next, redefine your door schedule. Under the "Applies to" tab, if you have the classification definition loaded in your drawing, you can instruct the schedule style to apply to not just "Doors" and "Door/Window Assemblies", but further only to apply to those that are classified as "Exterior Doors" or "Interior Doors". This, by the way, will also prevent those toilet partition doors from appearing in your schedule. You need to also make this change to the property set definitions that are driving the schedule, so that you don't accidentally tag doors that aren't really doors. Again, to automate this, these settings should be made in the original content files - the original door schedule and property set definitions.

The main thing to remember after you've modified your schedule, property set definitions and display sets, is to make it a part of your regular style definition process to classify EVERYTHING. You never know when you'll need to use that classification!

Friday, March 11, 2005

Architectural Desktop 2006 - Project Standards

At last! An easy way to manage project standards - ARCHITECTURAL standards - in ADT! With the new Project Standards dialog in ADT 2006, you will be able to establish drawings to serve as your standards "master files" for styles, materials and display control settings (everything from display reps to display configurations). Then with the push of a button (or automatically at pre-configured times) have your entire project "synchronized" with those standards, updating all drawings to any modifications to any of the project-based content (and also making sure that all drawings are correctly compliant with your standards).

Click on the image below to get a larger preview of the standards configuration dialog:

The new project standards configuration dialog box of ADT 2006 Posted by Hello

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Autodesk Faux-Paus Creates a BrewHaha

Apparently some members of the press took issue with Autodesk allowing some of us who blog on Autodesk products to discuss in a limited fashion some of the features of the upcoming AutoCAD 2006 release before the official press embargo was lifted. While I can understand their angst, and hindsight might make it clear that Autodesk made an error in allowing us to talk before anyone else, I think things have been blown a bit out of proportion.

Autodesk has been accused of manipulating the blogging community to get favorable press. Some of us, myself in particular, have been accused of conflict of interest. In particular I have been accused by someone who I consider to be little more than a troll of "conflict of interest" because I wear a "title" on the Autodesk forums as a "Facilitator".

Let me make a few things clear.
1) Not once was I or any other blogger told what to say or what to write about. We were explicitly told to go ahead and post the good, the bad, the ugly. It so happens that most of us, if not all of us, are very impressed with the work the development team has done on AutoCAD 2006. Perhaps there is some truth that Autodesk chose us because we have typically been somewhat pro-Autodesk in the past. I don't see the scandal here. Most of us make our positions regarding Autodesk products fairly clear. My profile indicates that I have a relationship with Autodesk; I doubt they would continue to allow me to speak at Autodesk University if I was bashing the products that I speak about.

2) I happen to know at least one person involved in the "scandal" personally and I know that person is an honest, forthright individual who had no ulterior motives beyond perhaps a boundless enthusiasm for the product. I see that as a good thing in this case. I find it hard to believe that person, who I consider a personal friend, would try to manipulate me to gain good press.

3) I wear the Autodesk Facilitator badge on the newsgroups as a volunteer. I am not paid by Autodesk for those services; I perform them as a volunteer. As hard as it may be to believe in this cynical and jaded world, I do not get any compensation for those efforts, beyond my own personal satisfaction. It's interesting that the individual who accused me of conflict of interest focused on THAT particular aspect of my association with Autodesk, but failed to mention that I am an employee of a reseller, and it would be in that capacity, if any, where there might be a conflict of interest.

Be that as it may, employee of a reseller or not, facilitator or not, believe it or not, there is no subterfuge or other manipulation going on here. My limited comments on the product are based on my own personal observations of the software. And again, now that the press embargo is lifted, I will not be commenting on the AutoCAD features - I will leave that to the press, and stick to the features of ADT when they become available for public consumption, since that is the real focus of this blog.

If my associations with Autodesk are seen as "conflict of interest", then I would suggest reviewing my posts on this blog and judging for yourself. Are the product-related posts that I present cheerleading, or informational? If the former, be entertained. If the latter, I hope you find them valuable.

Regardless, I consider the matter closed on my end and plan to continue my efforts regarding ADT and Building Information Modeling.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

AutoCAD 2006 - Embargo Lifted

The press embargo on AutoCAD 2006 has been lifted since my last little preview of new features. Since this is a blog devoted primarily to ADT, I'll let the press and others describe the new features of vanilla AutoCAD, and I'm going to go back to strictly ADT stuff. But be sure and watch those new features - because that's the product that the next version of ADT will be based on!

I hope to have some info on classifications and how you can EASILY implement them to enhance your display control and scheduling tasks on this site shortly - stay tuned.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

AutoCAD 2006 - (Yes, 2006) - A Couple of my Favorite Things

Autodesk has granted me special permission to "leak" a few tidbits of information about the features of the upcoming new release of AutoCAD 2006. There are a myriad of new features packed into this new version, to be shipping soon, but I've picked just a couple for now just to whet your appetites:

1) Head's up Drafting. With the new "Dynamic" mode of input, you can literally do away with the command line! (Which is now an option - don't worry, though. By default the command line is still there). I typically work with one line of text on the command line, but most of my input and the prompts from AutoCAD are focused where my eyes are - on the location of the crosshairs. You can also input distances and direction dynamically - at the crosshairs - no more of the cryptic coordinate input that we've had to deal with in the past (unless you WANT to do things the hard way).

Distances and direction can be input at the cursor location Posted by Hello

Command options are also available at the cursor location Posted by Hello

2) Dynamic Blocks. With the new block editor you can take an existing block definition and supercharge it, or create new more flexible blocks. Blocks can now have multiple insertion points, can automatically align themselves to nearby objects, and can have multiple size options (not scaling, but actual size grips that can be incremented values or "free-style). One block, for example, can represent multiple size desks - just grab the grips to make it a different width or length. There's a myriad of other things you can do with these, but essentially a single block can now perform multiple functions and look different ways for different conditions. ADT users - this is NOT a multi-view block, so don't confuse the two, but it is still going to revolutionize symbol libraries and most likely make a lot of LISP routines moot!

Stay tuned for more details. I promise to tease you with more :-).