Certification Tips

Posted 2014.11.06 by caddguru
Categories: 3D BIM CAD, AutoCAD, Autodesk, Autodesk Revit, Basic Essential CAD, Education, Opinion, Revit Architecture, Software Companies, Training, Uncategorized

caddguru Certified

caddguru Certified


Before you embark down the Certification expedition, I suggest you first examine your motivation for becoming certified. While it may get you a job, or at least an interview, it may not necessarily help you hang on to your employment. Taking any class or test just for the sake of graduating or passing it, is only a small fraction of the real benefits. Please focus on the aspects that really matter, learning and mastering the programs.

Begin by reading all the F1 Online Help content that covers the main points required for certification. Start here:

If using the Help along with the roadmaps isn’t enough, then you may consider buying a Certification guide. Most authorized courseware titles are keyed to specific certification requirements. Therefore, look for this feature before you buy a textbook. While it may not improve the quality of a textbook, it certainly will not hurt.

Finally, focus on learning and mastering instead of merely passing. It may be humbling but it’s always also a learning experience.


Meters to Inches

Posted 2014.11.02 by caddguru
Categories: Uncategorized

Inches vs. Meters

It takes 5 vs. 10 characters of careful typing to get the dimensions input correctly.

Combining units in AutoCAD isn’t an automatic task because you can only specify or use one unit type at a time. So what do you do when you’re working on drawing whose units are inches, and you suddenly want to draw something for which you only have metric dimensions? I suggest you go ahead and draw the geometry using meters. However, you will need to scale it accordingly to re-scale the metric entities you created to inches. Originally, they will look too small, about 40 times smaller than reality.

As you might recall, 1 inch = 0.0254 meters. Conversely, 1 meter = 39.3701 inches. You can use those two factors to convert from one unit to the other.

This short LISP routine allows you to select a set of objects and then automatically re-scale them for you accordingly. In the case of converting meters to inches, or Convert to Meters, c2m for short, use the following code:

(defun c2m ()
(setq SS (ssget “\nSelect source objects created using metric units: “)
(setq P1 (getpoint “\Specify base point: “))
(command “_scale” SS “” P1 39.37007874015748)

Notice I used 14 decimal places, instead of the simpler 39.3701 version you will find in most conversion factor tables. This will allow you to make more round trips while minimizing the amount of error you introduce every time you convert from one unit to the other.

Revit’s Optimal Way to Control Font and Similar GUI Sizes

Posted 2014.10.04 by caddguru
Categories: Uncategorized

I think I may have finally found the optimal way to both control the size of the display of text and other items in Win 8.1 while keeping Revit happy.

For about a year, I had been using and suggesting the “Let me choose one scaling level for all my displays” and setting that to a value equal or less than 150%. Going beyond will make Revit hiccup, or worse.

This morning I tried using the Smaller to Larger slider and set it right in the middle. Then used the drop down list to change, individually, the size of Title bars, Menus, Message boxes, Palette titles, Icons and Tooltips. If you select either extreme, Smaller or Larger, you will see these options get grayed out and you get a warning that not all changes might take effect until you restart.

Setting it to medium and adjusting items individually is working much better in Revit, and I believe AutoCAD and other CAD programs are probably following suit. In particular, I will check out AutoCAD’s Layer Manager dialog box, which tends to be either too tiny or too huge in high resolution displays.

#Revit Tip of the Day = Optimal Way to Control Display in Win 8.1 http://ow.ly/ChemT

Vectorworks 2015: First Impressions

Posted 2014.10.03 by caddguru
Categories: Uncategorized


Vectorworks 2015

I first used Vectorworks in a much earlier incarnation, when it was still called MiniCAD. I believe the new appellation was a wise move, as there was nothing mini or Mickey Mouse when it came to power and features.

I’ve also had the pleasure to review this program through the years in an official capacity, especially when I used to write Software Reviews for Cadence Magazine around the turn of the century. This current review I’m doing for fun, mostly for personal reasons to keep abreast with the CAD World, and get a feel for what you can expect for under two thousand dollars. The threshold VW sets is amazing. I’ll share tips as I have more time to experiment with the latest release.

Finally, there is one obvious thing that caught my eye this time. It’s something I’ve noticed before, but it was clearer than ever yesterday: The free content that is available looks amazing! This is probably a great justification for current users of older versions to upgrade to the latest.

In fact, the content out of the box (well after a huge download–but the more the merrier…) makes me feel like putting it to work. It’s like when you bought a new bike as a kid, but it was late at night, and you really wanted to ride it as soon as it was light out.

Nicely organized high quality content, from entourage, to furniture and equipment, and lights and great diverse planting and trees…. It’s just begging, “Use me, use me!” 😉

It’s interesting to compare this with Autodesk’s “We are not in the Content-Creation Business” approach. I haven’t tracked whether that is still Autodesk’s official line. Their content out of the box has improved steadily in the past few years, but it’s surprising how it just doesn’t seem as polished and accessible as what you get with Vectorworks.

Let’s explore the content quality of different CAD programs carefully to see which one is the best.

I often feel that we CAD pros get paid for our familiarity with where to find the content we need MUY PRONTO (very quickly and soon), or know how to create it accurately from scratch based on cut sheets, specs or 3D scans.

If you’re a Vectorworks user please share your favorite tips. I will see if Nemetscheck has a full working trial demo version available or not so everyone can play, if interested. In the meantime, please share your all-time favorite tips, or your 2015 favorite new features here. At a minimum, it will be a source of inspiration for everyone. In fact, one of the things I love to do with AutoCAD, is to make it emulate features in other programs. But it’s nice to find features that work so well you don’t want to replicate them, but simply use them and put them to work.

So much great CAD software, so little time…

@Vectorworks @VectorWorking http://ow.ly/Cguwc #CAD #Vectorworks 2015 First Impressions. Please share your favorite tips & features.

AutoCAD Civil 3D Tip: Export Civil 3D Drawing

Posted 2014.09.23 by caddguru
Categories: 3D BIM CAD, AutoCAD, Basic Essential CAD, Education, Training, Uncategorized

Export Civil 3D DrawingThis tip rules for at least a couple of reasons. First, by using this export method you get rid of the need to use Object Enablers. Secondly, and more excitingly, Civil 3D, unlike its close sibblings AutoCAD Architecture and MEP, provides a dialog box that allows you to pick multiple DWG files at a time, pick a destination folder, pick whether or not to export Model or Paper Space tabs and other options.

In fact, I discovered this tip today because installing object enablers for both AutoCAD MEP 2014 and 2015 didn’t get me what I wanted. I must have missed a step or something. I wanted to be able to read point descriptions in MEP or Arch version. Instead, I keep seeing the unwanted AeccDbCogoPoint (AeccLand100) proxy boxes. Executing this tip gets rid of those. Not exactly how I wanted things to work, but at least it gets the job done of showing the point descriptions so the data makes sense to almost anyone that reads it.

#AutoCAD Civil 3D 2015 Tip of the Day http://ow.ly/BPp1R Export Civil 3D Drawing to circumvent Object Enablers and do many at once.

AutoCAD Tip of the Week: VPLAYER

Posted 2013.04.01 by caddguru
Categories: Autodesk, Basic Essential CAD, Education, Training, Uncategorized

One of the maxims of good Database design in general, and of Computer-Aided Design in particular, is to avoid and diminish the unnecessary repetition of data. In other words, “Draw Things Only Once.” And I don’t mean, “Draw once and then copy many times.” What I’m talking about is how to avoid copying entire floor plans so you can then create separate version to show only existing conditions, another for a demolition plan, another for new construction, a foundation plan, framing plan, roof plan, electrical, plumbing, interiors, RFC, etc.

That is using CAD as a mere electronic pencil. Modern CAD is more like a smart relational database system, where data isn’t unnecessarily repeated or even copied.

20130401 0919 Begin Capture

In fact, one of the tell tale signs of CAD’s real power going unused is to see model space crowded with rows and columns of mostly the same entities with slight changes to accommodate a long list of different drawing plans and types as listed and illustrated above. Paper Space and its super cool feature: Floating Viewports can help simplify the drawing above.

Maxim: Create entities in only one place, and control their visibility in specific viewports using layers. AutoCAD provides at least two different commands to help you: LAYER and VPLAYER.

Most AutoCAD users begin by learning the LAYER, LA or –LA commands. But then stop. No wonder they never get to love AutoCAD. This command is good for controlling the global visibility of layers. It’s an all or none proposition. With this command, you can either see a layer’s content or not. This is usually the command of choice when you’re working in Model Space while TILEMODE is set to 1. I call this “full model space mode”, or “beginner’s mode.”

The real fun begins when you set TILEMODE = 0. Incidentally, you can also simply select one of the paper space tabs, unless you’ve hidden those to save precious screen Real Estate. The VIEWPORTS command still works, and you’re gaining new functionality. Now viewports can float, overlap and more. They’re freed to take full advantage of modern CAD features. I call this “Expert mode,” where you can do everything you can in beginner’s mode and more!

VPLAYER: How to Survive Without It

VPLAYER, most likely named after ViewPortLayer, allows you to control layers on a per-viewport basis. First you will likely need to begin by thawing and turning on all layers globally. This will do the trick:

-LA T * On * <ENTER>

or if you don’t mind typing the entire option names: –LAYER Thaw * On * <ENTER>

To control specific viewports, double-click inside your target viewport and make sure its model space is active. Then you have two methods. Let’s begin with my favorite one. Please type:

VPLAYER F <ENTER> and then select an entity whose layer you want to hide / turn off / freeze, in that viewport only, then press <ENTER> a couple more times until you’re back to the command prompt, as shown below:

20130401 0954 VPLAYER Capture

Alternatively, type VPLAYER F and then type the name of a layer or layers separated by commas, that you don’t want to appear in that viewport.

Finally, let me show you one very different method using the LAYER command, which will allow you to circumvent and live without using VPLAYER, as shown in the screen capture below:

20130401 0919 LAYER Capture 

Notice how the layer command’s dialog box / palette has two sets of columns for Color. The left ones are for global changes throughout your entire drawing. You’re most likely already familiar with those. The ones to the far right, VP Freeze and VP Color, are the subject of this tip. They allow you to control those settings on an individual viewport basis. There’s more to the far right, but that can be the subject of another weekly tip. Enjoy!

The 10 CAD Commandments Version 2012

Posted 2012.12.31 by caddguru
Categories: 3D BIM CAD, 3D Modeling, Basic Essential CAD, Education, Things that matter, Training, Uncategorized


Unlike the Biblical Ten Commandments, some of these are likely to need updating as time goes by, though most, hopefully, will remain timeless pearls of productivity wisdom. 😉

I. Without getting into a theological / religious discussion, there is one G_d but there are clearly many CAD offerings, each one with its own strengths and weaknesses, from features, industry support to cost of ownership or use. Therefore, don’t be #CAD or #BIM software dogmatic. Instead, pick the right or best tool for the job. To know a program is to love it. However, beware there may be a much better way that you simply don’t know about, yet. Keep an open mind. Or at least, make sure you’ve reasonably exhausted and mined all the CAD power accessible to you. Try something NEW today.

II. Draw / Model full actual size. Don’t invent dimensions that don’t exist. A 2 x 4 stud is much closer to 1.5" x 3.5". If you have more exact or statistically meaningful dimensions from your lumber supplier, such as 3-5/8" (or whatever material or source), then use that!

III. Whenever possible, work in 3D. It’s better, faster and easier. Learn how to do it, if necessary. What else would you expect for the 3rd dimension commandment?


IV. Don’t use programs like it was 1999. Find a way to add material, labor, time and cost data. This has actually been possible for a long time, arguably since 1989. Increase the value and wisdom of your CAD data and design wisdom by juggling more than mere geometry when making decisions. BIM and PLM are about entire product and building life cycle, so is smart and wise Computer-Aided Design/Drafting (CAD). To remember this commandment think of space-time continuum or 4th dimension.

V. Use Smart, Rules- Family- or Style-based, Parametric Objects whenever possible and practical. Think of this as creating your own custom designer DNA, cookie cutter or money making machine. Graduate beyond generic 2D geometric primitives at the first chance, no matter what industry you work in.

VI. Before creating custom content or details research any applicable industry content already in existence. Don’t unnecessarily re-invent the wheel. Don’t use borrowed content without essential improvements or without permission. Run you business legally.

VII. Before inventing company or individual company standards research any applicable industry standards. Don’t unnecessarily re-invent the wheel. Don’t use borrowed content without essential improvements or permission.

VIII. Make the best of what you have, both in the hardware and software side of your practice. Remember, the grass isn’t greener on the other side of the fence. It’s greener wherever you water it. You may feel it was greener in the past. Actually, it never gets any greener than green. It will look great whenever and wherever you take good care of it. Therefore, assume you CAD tool is omnipotent. Make it do whatever you want, the way you want.

79645_hastewaste_smIX. Draw / Model things once and use / clone many times. Being a lazy draftsman or modeler in this fashion is actually being wisely lazy. Make it so! Recycle data, specs and details whenever possible.

X. Want immediate improvement? Don’t rush. Haste makes waste. CAD productivity doesn’t come from rushing. It comes from good planning and organization. Finally, please care and give a damn. Whatever you do, do it with all your heart, because in that case “All You Need Is Love.” Otherwise, please change professions to something where you can invest all your hear and soul, and therefore be happy, because you only get to live once.

Please comment about your own favorite words of CAD and productivity wisdom.

Whatever you do, do it with all your heart, because in that case “All You Need is Love.”

Best wishes for the best be yet to come for you in 2013 and beyond!

Ho Ho Ho! #Free Holiday Give Away #CAD NVIDIA GeForce Video Card

Posted 2012.12.21 by caddguru
Categories: Uncategorized


I bought an extra video card awhile back as a back up and luckily have never had the need to use it as my cards have all performed flawlessly. So I am giving it away while it is still relatively useful, especially to those of you who are tweaking old systems to extract the most performance possible before being forced to upgrade.


It’s amazing how far video card technology has gone. This particular card sports Dual-Link DVI_I, VGA, HDTV + TV Out ports. This is an 8400 GS model and it requires a PCI Express mid height slot.

There are an unprecedented number of people out there working with older systems as the poor economy has impacted the number who can afford upgrades. Not everyone working in CAD has the latest and greatest cutting edge technology at their fingertips, yet almost everyone can do something to improve the speed and quality of their system performance. This card, while not spectacular, will decrease redraw times using almost any CAD program, but AutoCAD in particular. I’d say this video card is optimized for versions 2002 to 2010. The best match is probably with Version 2008.

Old System Tune Up Tips

If you have a system older than 2008, there are three things you should focus on:

1. Upgrade to a Solid State Device (SSD) technology drive. This is the single, most dramatic upgrade you can experience immediately. Depending on the size, this will cost between $80 to $200. The sweet spot is a 256 GB SSD drive at under $180. In an older system, you probably have a SATA II interface. Don’t worry. Buy SATA III as it is backwards compatible, and you will be able to reuse the same drive when you upgrade your system.

2. Upgrade your Operating System (OS) and max out your RAM. Upgrading to Windows 7 or XP 64-bit alone, especially if you’re upgrading from 32-bit Windows Vista (yuck!) alone, will speed and stabilize your system. It will also allow you to break the 3.5 GB memory barrier. Do not install more memory than 3.5 GB of RAM, as 32-bit OS’es can’t take advantage of RAM beyond that point. Chances are you have 1, 2 or 4 GB of RAM and your computer’s motherboard can most likely handle 8 GB. Upgrading your OS will probably cost over $100, but the ability to use more RAM can justify the cost. RAM prices continue to drop. However, it’s surprising how the new and fast RAM is a lot cheaper than the old type you probably need! It can be expensive to buy old memory. Shop for it carefully through eBay or Craigslist. If you’re patient and diligent, you will find bargains. Perhaps you can inherit some from a friend who upgrades, but don’t count on it.

3. Upgrade video card and other key components. In the case of CAD workstations, a great video card may outrank and outdo the performance improvement from the SSD, OS and RAM upgrades above. This is particularly true if you do a lot of 3D editing, such as 3D modeling, and you need to view relatively large and complex scenes. In fact, it is a joy to use Navisworks coupled with a great video card to navigate around a 3D model. It feels like running a video game!

How to Win

I will send this new, unused, in the original box, video card, free, to the person who submits the best tip related to CAD video performance, judged by the number of “Likes” received on the LinkedIn group posts by midnight December 31, 2012. There will be free shipment to the continental US only, so if you are outside of this area, you can still get the card if you have your own shipping account, can pick it up or make alternative shipment arrangements with me. Please note, I don’t have any connection to NVIDIA, though like most users, really enjoy using their products and often recommend them to my clients. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

To win you must post your comment here: http://lnkd.in/sPPMEv

Ace CAD: Make Learning It Social & Simple

Posted 2012.11.23 by caddguru
Categories: Uncategorized

Learning to Fly by Tom Petty

While there exist the undeniable human nature components of Extroversion and Introversion, I don’t think these two traits lie along a single continuum. Instead, I believe they take up two different channels and are not mutually exclusive. Indeed, the E vs. I debates, are usually about personal preference, not about which one you have and which one you don’t.


Therefore, take advantage of any ounce of Extroversion you have and motivate yourself to learn more by learning with others or in a group, as large as this one or as small as two. There are multiple advantages to this approach, including but not limited to:

A. Accountability. If you know you have to show up because others will, too, you’re more likely to do it. This works particularly well with physical exercise but it also applies to learning in general.

C. Comparison. You must tread very carefully here. Comparing yourself to others may lead to all sorts of misery. But some comparison can be healthy and a great motivator. For example, learning that three year old children can use (sometimes to an amazing extent) iPads and iPhones might inspire you to learn figuring, "a child can do it!"

E. Economy. While small, personal learning groups are great they are also expensive and not always the best medium to learn. You can achieve more than great economies of scale by learning in a group. Even better, you can experience "cross pollination" as you hear the questions your classmates or peers contribute which you would have missed learning on your own.


Put the power of ACE (Accountability / Comparison / Economy … not Architecture Construction Engineering) to work for you to learn CAD today. How? Here’s 3 easy and convenient ways to get started:

1. Simply ask a CAD question here: http://www.linkedin.com/groups/CAD-Community-Connection-ACADCOMnet-125991/about?trk=anet_ug_grppro This link will take you to my LinkedIn A CAD Community Connection CAD Professional Networking Group, a great place to discuss any CAD program with almost 9,000+ fellow CAD pros & mentors.

2. Share a CAD problem or challenge right here, through my Blog’s comments.

3. Call me through my website http://caddguru.com to discuss your learning goals and CAD wishes privately.

And remember that it is in giving that we receive. Think you know something? Try to teach it. Share it with others. As Albert Einstein said, “If you can’t explain it to a six year old, you don’t understand it yourself.” He is one of the most famous Introverts (INTP if you’re into temperament typing) and a great source of inspiration to keep learning and teaching simple.

Successful BIM Diet: No Spaghetti Please!

Posted 2012.11.16 by caddguru
Categories: 3D BIM CAD, 3D Modeling, Autodesk, Education, Things that matter, Training, Uncategorized

20121116 0452 MEP Clashes Capture

Time is ticking and you don’t want the construction schedule to slip. You must decide wisely who must move. Who are you going to call?

“Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius — and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction.”
― E.F. Schumacher

In construction projects there’s been a customary and historical pecking order among team players fighting for space to place their equipment, connectors, fittings, pipes, conduits and the like, that goes like this:

1. Architectural – They say, “Make room, move out of the way you mere mortals… Here comes the Architect!” Winking smile

2. Structural – They warn, “Do you want the building to collapse?”

3. Plumbing – They threaten, “Do you want the toilets to back up?”

4. HVAC – They whine, “We will run out of space unless you move!”

5. Fire Protection – They’re told, “Hey, you have plenty of pressure left in those pipes, move!”

6. Electrical – They’re commanded, “Sparky, move! For heaven’s sake, you don’t even have to worry about voltage drops!”

7. Everyone else – “Place your equipment in whatever space is left over.”

20121116 0536 Messy Spaghetti images

Please, don’t build a mess!

This might fly in a retrofit project. For new construction, aim for something better and simpler.

Unfortunately, running BIM coordination using that overly simplistic approach leads to building designs that are unnecessarily difficult to construct and later maintain during the life of a building.

To create a building we can all be proud of, designers and builders must think holistically and simultaneously. Give up the “us versus them” attitude. When coordinated properly, building systems are easier to follow and understand, and therefore, easier to fix and maintain. But they are also a lot cheaper to install, erect and construct.

Straight runs should generally rule over multiple turns and twists. Indeed, Model Building Codes limit the number of bends you can have before you’re required to provide cleanouts, access panels, junction boxes and the like.

To avoid trouble it is ideal to start project trades coordination as early in the design process as possible. Unfortunately, I have seen large Architecture / Engineering companies, who employ architects and engineers under the same roof, work as independently as if they worked for totally different owner firms.

Perhaps the main problem in general is the need to design buildings by committee. Things are just too complex for a regular human being to master all the nuances of building design.

I think the design by committee approach is too time consuming and wimpy. Somebody, either an architect or experienced BIM coordinator, needs to take their best shot at placing building system components in the ideal location and then get the approvals and blessings or improvements for each of the individual building trades.

Simplicity, safety, efficiency, constructability and economy should be the guiding principles. As an architect or building designer, learn to provide enough space for the equipment and required installation and maintenance clearances. Straight runs are nice. Short runs are even nicer. Less pressure loss or voltage drops due to friction or resistance. Please avoid placing equipment in ways that will require extra mile long runs.

20121116 0541 Pecking Order images

Starring from left to right: sparky the Electrician, FP or their buddies, HVAC, Plumber, Structural and the Architect, Project Manager or Lead BIM Coordinator at the far right. 🙂

After all, there are only so many miracles we can perform at the job site. There are times when it’s simply better to go back to the proverbial drawing / design boards. To avoid that at all costs requires one or possibly two ambitious individuals to give a design layout their best shot, without regards to playing favorites among trades.

20121116 0548 360_wfavoritism_1003

While it’s generally true that you can’t make everyone happy, don’t minimize your chances by playing favorites!

Indeed, for construction projects to work well, somebody must perform the role of the wise parent that doesn’t play favorites. That also means not letting a whiny, “squeaky wheel” child run the show by throwing tantrums. Impartiality and taking care of each individual trade’s need should be the guiding light. It is balancing seemingly opposing tensions that makes building design such a beautiful challenge. Don’t give up. Find a way to make it work!