Free Beta of SpecifiCAD

CADalytic Media has released a free beta of SpecifiCAD for ArchiCAD 10/11, AutoCAD, ADT, Revit and Sketchup. SpecifiCAD allows you to click on a building component within each of these programs and access its CAD details, 3D models, specifications and Green information using the Sweets Catalog network and the Sketchup 3D warehouse depositories.

Download SpecifiCAD from http://www.cadalytic.com/index.php?dir=downloads

Edit: Sorry to say the site seems to be no longer available.

ArchiCAD for AutoCAD users

For AutoCAD users who are struggling to come to terms with the shortcuts in ArchiCAD (AC), here is a handy conversion guide compiled by Architect Geoffroy Magnan. What I liked most was one simple sentence telling me how to back up my AC preferences; that and the section on Library Management.

Go to: http://users.swing.be/geoffroy.magnan/archicad/transition/

Edit: The website no longer exists.

Shell Extensions for Drawing Files

Here’s some freeware that will make it easier to sort and find drawing files in Windows Explorer. DWGcolumn which can list files by the version of AutoCAD in which it was saved is extremely useful. The screenshots on the site make the use of each utility quite clear.

http://www.cushat.co.uk/fw/
EDIT: It looks as though the site is no longer available on the internet.

eDrawing Viewer

If you need to send a *.dwg file to someone who doesn’t have AutoCAD loaded on their system, you can download the bloated, official, DWG TrueView from AutoDesk which weighs in at 109 Megabytes. Or, you could go and get eDrawingsViewer which may not have such a wonderful interface but will get your work done perfectly well. It reads almost any version of *.dwg files and supports paper-space too.

Like [[drawing gateway]], this product too is created by SolidWorks who seem to be targeting the leader’s high-priced software in their quest for a share of the market.
http://www.edrawingsviewer.com/
~6 Megabytes

Drawing Gateway

If you’re using a slightly old version of AutoCAD, you’ll find yourself cursing those who send you drawings in the latest format because they won’t open properly on your system. Clean up your language – DwgGateway is here to help. It can open and save-as from and to just about any version of *.dwg files.

Lest you think this is the work of some frustrated guy who can’t afford the latest from AutoDesk, think again. DwgGateway comes to you from SolidWorks who probably feel that if you can’t beat the giants, you can at least be a thorn in their flesh.

Oh, and while this is a Must Have software, please don’t get excited about its PDF writing capabilities – they’re nothing to write home about.
http://www.dwggateway.com/

EDIT: This software seems no longer available from SolidWorks although there seems to be a similar download available here that claims to have been recently updated.

Alternatively, you might want to download DraftSight which is a free 2D CAD software for Windows, Mac and Linux and can save further back than AutoCAD itself.

Remove Buzzsaw and other Icons

Having reloaded the system from scratch because of repeated crashes, I realised that some things needed to be relearned at my end. One that nearly drove me crazy was AutoCAD’s insistence on putting the buzzsaw, RedSpark and PointA icons in the “Save” dialog box. Now it’s easy to get rid of Autocad Today – that option clearly exists, however, removing those annoying icons was a different matter altogether. I remember using a small utility to do that the last time around but I couldn’t for the life of me find it this time. That meant a journey into the registry. In the end, it was simpler than I expected.

NOTE: As always, fiddling with the registry can be dangerous so do this at your own risk – and only if you know how to make a backup beforehand.

Navigate to:

HKEY_CURRENT_USER . software . Autodesk. AutoCADRx . CAD-xxxxProfiles . [your_profile_name] . Dialogs AllNavDialogs

Here, you have to create a new key in the left pane.

Name this key DeletedExtensions

In the right hand pane, you will now need to add two new strings to the key you just created: Buzzsaw and RedSpark

Repeat this procedure for each of the profiles you have.

Scroll down to:

HKEY_CURRENT_USERsoftwareAutodeskFileNavExtensions

It will have two strings in the right hand pane- FTPSites and SimpleFileStorage.

The first corresponds to FTP folders and the second to PointA.

Delete whichever you want. I got rid of the entire key.

Educational Version Watermarks in Dwgs

A few months ago, I’d downloaded some car drawings from a CAD exchange site. There was a Ferrari 248TS and a BMW 850i, not to mention a Mustang Mach-III and a Viper GTS. Now, I’m not much into roadsters, but they’re always nice to spice up your drawings. So, anyway, I inserted these blocks into a number of drawings before I realised they’d been created with trial versions of AutoCAD because, when I tried to print them, I had this terribly embarrassing watermark around the edge of the sheet saying “Created with an Educational Version of AutoCAD” or some such thing. It was my fault I suppose – I should have checked beforehand.

I jumped through a number of hoops trying to salvage my work – all to no avail. Autodesk seemed to have it covered. Copying and pasting didn’t work and I can’t remember if converting the drawing to DXF and back again did the trick or not.

Then a couple of weeks ago, I hit upon a solution by accident. I was trying out the new version 2.0 of a free CAD software called A9CAD from a company whose “mission is to develop quick-to-learn, easy-to-use, affordable yet powerful software products for engineering professionals and students“. While the interface was clean, it crashed too often at startup.

Okay, since the software claimed to be compatible with DXF as well as DWG files, (and since I was unwilling to try it out on production drawings) I thought, why not open and save the offending car blocks and see if that removes the watermark.

Bingo! But before you get all excited about the program, let me tell you that it’s still a long way from being good for much else. Having said that however, I still consider it a CAD resource because it can be used as a free drawing viewer/redliner. Give it a spin – the download is about 15.24 Megs.

Update 7th August 2014:
The A9Tech site <http://www.a9tech.com/> shows a blank page.
I’d strongly recommend using DraftSight instead.