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Certification Tips


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.


AutoCAD Civil 3D Tip: Export Civil 3D Drawing


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 Export Civil 3D Drawing to circumvent Object Enablers and do many at once.

AutoCAD Tip of the Week: VPLAYER


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!

Successful BIM Diet: No Spaghetti Please!


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!

Top 13 Navisworks 2013 Shortcuts


20121030 1039 Navisworks Manage 2013 Capture

Navisworks is an amazingly simple yet powerful CAD and BIM program. It sometimes feels like AutoCAD, Revit and 3D Studio Max all rolled into one program but with the friendly simplicity of a video game for kids. It really is a fun program to work with!

To make your Navisworks Learning experience a pleasant and efficient one, I suggest you pay close attention to the Default Keyboard Shortcuts I will mention here. As time permits, I will create short and sweet videos demonstrating the essential steps and ingredients for Navisworks success.

Here’s a table with my current Top 13 Favorite Default Keyboard Shortcuts for Navisworks Manage 2013:

Shortcut Description Comment
PgDn Zooms to selected objects Very handy.
SHIFT, CTRL Used to modify the middle mouse button actions You must learn *all* these in the first 30 minutes!
ALT Turns the keytips on or off I must admit having second thoughts…
Ctrl + 1 Turns on Select Mode To snap out of the most useful shortcut Winking smile
Ctrl + 2 Turns on Walk Mode Most useful shortcut. This is where Navisworks shines!
Ctrl + 7 Turns on Orbit mode If you learn SHIFT and CTRL mouse combos this is less relevant
Ctrl + A Displays the Append dialog box Bring ‘em in!
Ctrl + F Displays he Quick Find dialog box Remember, BIM is about using relational databases. Here’s a good start!
Ctrl + F2 Opens the Clash Detective window Learn this in the first 90 minutes. This is where the real Navisworks begins.
Ctrl + F12 Toggles the Selection Tree window Another window to the database and BIM
F11 Toggles Full Screen mode This and shortcuts will make the world think you’re a wizard!
F12 Opens the Options Editor Know everything here
Shift + F7 Toggles the Properties window More data friendly features here.

As time permits I will post follow-up videos demonstrating why each of these shortcuts is the best invention since slice bread. Enjoy learning these! It will pay off in more ways than one.

CAD Revit Tip = SHIFT Key Orthogonal Constraint Toggle + Command Modifier


If you press the SHIFT key, while in a command, such as the wall command, the cursor movement becomes constrained the same way F8 Ortho On works in AutoCAD, as a toggle switch. Some elements and operations, may default to orthogonal or free displacement. SHIFT allows you to toggle, reverse or switch the setting.

Unfortunately, you can’t both continue pressing SHIFT and type a distance. As soon as you let go of the SHIFT key, the cursor is likely off a 90 degree angular snap increment. This method works as long as you specify a distance by clicking.

The SHIFT key, among other things, also lets you remove objects from a selection set. CTRL lets you add them.

If this wasn’t enough, While in a 3D view, SHIFT + Middle Mouse Button or Wheel Dragging puts you instantly in Orbit mode. The SHIFT key also does all sorts of things in tandem with the navigation wheels, acting as a command modifier.

Finally, but only in the sense that I don’t want to risk boring you to tears about the great power of SHIFT, you can use it to create even more custom keyboard shortcuts. Enjoy!

Warm regards from Los Angeles,


Counting the Ways to End a Revit Command Playing It Safe


Capture Revit Architecture 2013 Desktop IconEnumerating a list of methods to perform tasks in Autodesk products in general and Revit in particular is a dangerous thing because you might simply be stating the extent of your knowledge, or lack thereof.

As of Release 2013, there seem to still only be six (6) or fewer ways to end a Revit Command. As you may already know, Revit is no lazy bum. It wants to be working constantly, ready to follow your every wish and command. To that end, Revit insists on always working on a command. The closest you can come to not being in the middle of a command, is to be in Modify mode, which gives you access to Modify commands. So in reality, the program never seems to be resting.

Here’s “six” ways to end a Revit command:

1. Press ESC key. Ouch! After years of using Revit, this is still a painful though arguably the most convenient choice. Call me old schooled, but ESC to me is synonymous with Abort, Bail Out, Cancel, Cry Uncle, Give Up or even Jump Ship. It is pretty convenient, though.

Capture Revit Architecture 2013 Modify 2. Look in the Ribbon for “Modify” and click on it. The problem here is that you have to somewhat carefully aim correctly with the mouse, something you may not appreciate doing when you have a deadline a few minutes away. This takes two actions, aim the mouse and shoot.

3. You can type MD. This takes two clicks. Not too bad, except you also need to hunt and peck for keys and/or use two hands. That slows things down too much. Via KS (Keyboard Shortcuts) you could define a new command alias that uses AA, DD, FF or XX, all of which aren’t already assigned to a command in the default program install and keep your right hand in its home position. RR for Rest & Relaxation is already assigned to RendeR.

3.5 You could also use B as a shortcut, since B’s are not assigned as shortcuts in the default installation. This only takes one click! You can even think of it as a B for Break.

4. Use the right-click context-sensitive screen cursor and press Cancel… This takes two clicks.

5. You can start another command. This also takes one click, except, how often is your goal to simply take a five second breather? Winking smileStarting a Revit command ends the previous command.

6. ___________ Please fill in the blank if you know another method. There is always another way possible using the Revit Application Programming Interface but that might be a topic for a future Blog entry.

I wish pressing Space Bar in quick succession would end a command, or an extended right-click button press, but those methods aren’t easily possible to do, yet. Please comment on your favorite method and why.