Sunday, March 21, 2021

Simple Productivity Improvement.

I cannot believe I have only just thought of this.
I'm embarrassed.  
It's so simple.   DOH!

Open a second separate instance of ACA.!!

I don't know about you but I often have more than one project to work on or maybe you have the one project but more than one drawing file to work on.

Do you sit and wait for the computer to catch up, for regeneration to finish, sheet sets to open or worse when the drawing locks up and you know you will be waiting minutes for it to resolve where you can continue working.  Sometimes it might be a bug (feature!) that locks up.

Often I am working on a base drawing and then a second drawing where the base is referenced in.  If they are both opened with the same instance of ACA, then if one drawing is busy, you cannot swap to the other drawing and work while you wait.  Coffee time.

HOWEVER, if you are smarter than me, you have opened a second instance of ACA and then opened the second drawing which means it's a completely different thread and you can jump over and work on the other file until the first instance has resolved.


I've had 4 open at once this week. Options! 
On a reasonably fast computer (mine is from 2011) it's not that hard.

In other news, I finally bought a new PC!

Thursday, December 20, 2018

ACA resurrection?

Well that might be overstating it but I do wonder whether Autodesk's latest move of giving away Architecture along with Mechanical and Electrical packages plus more will mean a revival of sorts of interest in using Autocad Architecture.

A project designed, modelled and rendered within ACA.
For years Adesk has played down ACA's abilities (sometimes almost in a comical manner) in favour of the adopted child Revit which came from a modelling beginning rather than ACA's 2d Autocad lineage but of course users know that ACA is a powerful modelling, BIM and rendering package.

So here is my theory.  Many have moved to Revit and many of those retain Autocad to create 2d details because of it's mature and powerful drafting set.  Very experienced users say that Revit now has very robust drafting tools but I would assume there is a typical learning curve hill to climb and one often stops at the 'I can do most of what I want so I am over learning any more' fatigue mark.

Many stayed with Autocad, perhaps the company bean counters said no to extending the budget, or the wife did.  Many have dropped off the wagon (or is that train) and no longer subscribe and they stayed with their current release.  Many may have switched to the subscription model seduced by the goodies on offer.  Some have even switched over to a package deal that has probably now gone by the wayside, getting Autocad and ACA and Revit and the Rendering package and......
But for those who have moved to the subscription (new version) model (pun?) for their latest version of Autocad, they would now have access to Autocad Architecture by default.   And Electrical and Mechanical.

So.... my theory is, that curiosity will eat at the more.. er.... curious and they will install that extra free bit and start exploring - ACA.   And more power to them I say.  This may indeed increase the ACA users world wide, and create just a little ripple in the time/space continuum and ... ok I am stepping out here in great faith and hope I know.  But.   It just may happen.

And that may create a little smaller proportional ripple of activity and attention to ACA from Autodesk.  For a little more tweaking it needs.  It's not quite perfect yet.

What prompted this post?  Well Autodesk have apparently created a white paper and I quote

What's in the Whitepaper.png

"In this report, we look at the benefits of using the architecture toolset in AutoCad. The Architecture toolset is built specifically to create and modify software-based design and documentation productivity for architectures. 
The recent study completed by Autodesk explores the nine common design challenges and shows direct comparisons of the time and effort required to accomplish each specific task in basic AutoCAD versus with the Architecture toolset. "

Hunting for it now.

And so, 20th of December we are at that time of year again where many are crazily shopping and preparing wrapping and menu reciting.   So I want to wish you all the blessings of the Christmas season.  Yes you, the 3 people who read this over the next 2 years :-)    And a safe, prosperous and productive new year.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Autocad Master of the Universe.

The latest update to the Autocad family is a homogenisation of the lot with the exception of the Autocad Civil 3D package.  Previously you would buy Autocad for a fantastic general purpose tool but for industry specific tools you would 'upgrade' to a specific Autocad + Industry specific add on which in this bloggers case is the Autocad Architecture (once Autocad Architectural Desktop).  There was also Autocad Electrical, Autocad Mechanical which are all the Autocad software plus specific tools.

BUT there's a catch !

You need to move to Subscription.  But Wait There's More!  Well that is to say, what was once subscription is now referred to as Maintenance.  To move from Maintenance to Subscription (new version) you need to surrender your perpetual license which means that once you stop paying you lose access to Autocad xxx.   Previously, if you stopped paying, you kept whatever release you were on.  Which is why I'm very mad with the sellor who signed me up one week before the new release comes out.  It means if I ever quit, it will be one week before the new release!

Further, you can no longer 'buy' the software.  You can only buy a subscription which gives you access for a year to the software. 

So.... if you subscribe, you will get access to all the Autocad Family except Civil. 
Just another cherry.

But for me I will stay with subsc.... er my maintenance plan.  It's still upgraded to the latest version of Autocad Architecture each year, actually now known as just Architecture.

But for you? You might like the additional offerings.  I know there are those who work across several fields of Architecture, Mechanical, pipe design etc .

You can read more of the details here.


Sunday, July 3, 2016

ACA & Windows 10 FREE ??

I would guess I am not the only one who is starting a mild panic as they feel pressured to upgrade their machine to Windows 10 (from W7 and above) because the FREE upgrade is ending soon (July 25?) Upgrading Autocad versions is enough stress for me wondering what is going to go wrong this time. (2017 version is no longer usable for rendering at this point with numerous bugs).  

So when it comes to less important issues such as the operating system upgrade when you have Windows 7 and it just works and blue screens of death are a distant memory.  I am largely self taught and something of a Systems Manager in my office and home and have taken care of systems over many years including building systems from scratch and overclocking them to get the best performance.  But I am not a natural and I have just accepted Windows 7 as it is and my current machine is not overclocked, despite a boost I would get in performance, particularly in rendering.  BUT a deadline is a deadline and Microsoft is threatening to withdraw their very kind offer to upgrade me to the latest and greatest Windows 10 for FREE and who can ignore Free Stuff?  Not any electorate I know.

So I am now staring at Autodesk's page for Windows 10 and in that style that only Autodesk can do I read.   Under the heading "

"Windows 10 is not yet an officially supported operating system across the Autodesk product line."

The issues seems to revolve around the workings and version of NET framework.

Now since Windows 10 has been out for almost a year (since July 29 2015) I would have expected Autodesk, who would have had pre-release versions to work with for some time, to be on the ball.  Ah, perhaps it is just my ignorance of the deep dark issues of programming and software architecture.  Anyway, perhaps I might update this post as I go but I am intending to wade the waters and progress to having Windows 10 installed on my machine. From what I understand (little) I can download an ISO file, place it on a DVD or bootable thumb drive and make a clean install from there or you could just allow your machine to download and upgrade itself as my sister's did without really asking (happens if you have auto updates turned on).

So for now we are between the rock and the place that's hard.  If you do upgrade, you are without Autocad's recommended OS and if you don't upgrade you will miss out on the free upgrade.  Windows 7 is a very stable platform and W10 has a new interface designed for touch screens on phones and tablets. I believe you can restore a more sensible desktop but that is learning and time/effort I will have to traverse.

If you have upgraded or already using Acad on W10 I'd love to hear from you.
If I never post again on this, you could probably presume I died in the process.  My heart could just not take the strain.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

ACA Roof Object finally gets an update!!

Seeing that I have been too busy (or too lazy and distracted) to make a big noise about this fantastic update I will have to direct you to David Koch's great article on the New and Improved Roof Object.

Not mentioned there, because it occurred in an earlier release (2016 I think) is the ability to add one (yes only one) schedulable property for the roof object.  It's the area of the Roof Object or surface area.  I would prefer plan view area or footprint since that is how the local industry measures and documents it but at least it's something.  If it's useful to you, you will find it in the normal place of adding properties to any aec object.  If you have yet to explore scheduling, well David Koch also has THE collection of information on the Scheduling Features of ACA (ADT). 

If you have missed it (the unveiling of the century) my expose on the Roof Object and everything you didn't know about it,  it is blogged here and on my youtube channel here.
Can't watch youtube?  They are imbedded in a blog page here.

A couple of points on what David shows you.  You can still create more complex roofs than this method will allow.  Sometimes you still have to trim a corner to create an extra vertex. At times when the Roof Object (RO) becomes complex, it refuses to be adjusted.  If this new method fails, you can still TRIM CORNERS for another vertex and you can also use the stretch command over a vertex to get it to move. 

My method now for trimming a corner is using a circle as the trimming device over using a line because it also retains the oiginal point (centre point of the circle using your osnaps). You will see this demonstrated in my video's above.

Anyway, onto David's great blog on my favourite aecObject.


Friday, February 13, 2015

In memory

So much of this blog and my youtube channel have been focused on the Autocad Architecture Roof Object that it seems appropriate to share my sadness and pay my respects here.

Obituary placed in the German newspaper
Sergej Alexandrow, the clever programmer & mathematician who created the ADT/ACA roof object has passed away.  My friendship with Sergej was only online, having hatched a plot to discover who he was and possibly get in touch with him (after a tip off) with the intention of discovering more about the roof object. I'm in Australia! Far away from where all things happen. Sergej was Russian born and moved to Germany as a programmer and was then contracted to Autodesk in the U.S. where he worked on the very first version of Autocad Architecture, then known as Architectural Desktop, specifically engaged to create the Roof Object tool. He may have even worked on it's predecessor which was some basic tools for Architectural work within Autocad.

Flexibility of Spirit's Roof Object tool
After working on the initial release of ADT1, creating the Roof Object, he seems to have been released and returned back to Germany where he worked for Softtech on Spirit, another architectural package where he repeated his creation anew and improved it's versatility. Indeed he revealed to me that there is extra code (in his ACA version) that is turned off (at the last minute due to concerns about stability) that allows dormer windows and 2 roof objects to interact.  Autodesk had turned it's back on the idea of improving the tool after ADT1 and instead created Roof Slabs which are singular objects for each plane of a roof and no relationship to other Roof Slabs. Such a pity that such a poor decision was taken. The RO is a very clever tool and invaluable for architectural work automatically solving hips and valleys.  Roof Slabs on the other hand are awkward and without any inter-relational ability but they do have some flexibility.  The RO has never been developed further since ADT1.

Sergej was a proud father of the roof object. I had unknowingly conversed with him earlier on news groups about the RO where he anonymously posted on comments about the tool. He was only too glad to add to my knowledge of the tool and excited about the prospect of updating and improving it for a future release.  I'd given him my long list of what it would look like.  He was very appreciative of my video series on youtube that allowed people to see it was actually much more capable that is at first evident.  I even discovered several tricks that he did not know of.  He even then created his own blog to demonstrate his new tool's flexibility.

We were on polar ends of faith and had some vigorous, robust discussions about the existence of God and the meaning of life.

Around 6 months after my last email conversation with Sergej, a programmer from Autodesk emailed me to say he had heard some news.  Sergej seemed to have suffered a heart attack alone in his home after having gone out dancing.  I know he enjoyed dancing and travel, having sent me many photo's on cruise ships and European cityscapes.  No family were known so his employer, Softtech Gmbh were kind enough to take care of his funeral.  "The burial was held on September 15, 2014 in Neustadt an der Weinstraße. He was placed to rest underneath a beautiful tree in the cemetery, and a headstone has been placed to honor him as an individual. Following his death, an obituary was placed in the newspaper" (picture above).

RIP my friend.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Vectorworks 2015 announcement and sigh! ACA

Here's an impressive presentation for Vectorworks 2015 showing some great features.  Some like Curtain Walls ACA has had for years but others like walk-throughs look much more impressive.  It's named 2015 because it's being released just prior to the year 2015 unlike Autodesk which pretends to release next years software a year earlier and instead gives you software at least 5 years behind, some parts are back in the 90's.

Interesting that at 23 seconds in it shows you an intelligent graphic way of using the numbered keypad to quickly select views  and animates the changes in view on screen called transition animation.  I showed how to use lisp to do this when I started this blog.  See it again here under the sub heading View Direction. (I could never figure a way to graphically illustrate this cool tip).  Of course we now have the view cube in ACA but I still use the numeric keypad, just like I mostly ignore the ribbon.

ACA has had it's strengths and still competes well but without continued improvement especially in the weak spots like walkthroughs but without continued real improvement it's just getting old.  I for one doubt I will ever trust Autodesk again with my time. Personally I am much done with learning something unless it's going to be productive (make me money!) and I have spent considerable time on each upgrade not spending time learning great new tools and tricks (because there are none) but trying to learn workarounds for new major bugs that have been introduced.  It's sad when the biggest items introduced into new releases are faults in the software!

Here's a screen grab from my walkthrough using Autodesk Designreview tool. I can simply export it from ACA as a .dwf, open in Designreview and take a rehearsed walkthrough and capture the screen as a movie, post on youtube for clients to review. Problem is, half the time the export fails for no given reason and the result quality is about level with the games I was playing in the 90s and the controls are terrible, requiring extra limbs and the dexterity of an octopus. Have you seen flowing water rendered live in the latest games??

Now I do know that Autodesk released a new product that can do quality renders, swap materials and walkthroughs.  But 2 things were evident.  The quality still looked out of date and there didn't seem to be ANY entourage componants to the package.  ie. no trees, plants, cars, people.

Back to Vectorworks (now under the same ownership banner as ArchiCAD), at 1:28 they show a level constraint system that automates heights. VisionRez accomplished some of this with their add-on package to ACA with cabinets etc.  This is really a must in 2014 software.  I have been mulling over in my mind how I can do with with software (lisp?) but a hard coded solution would be great.

Smoothing mesh objects display. ACA still renders with tessellations visible. Max has tools to smooth angles of a certain number (ie, smoothing a curve approximating mesh) but with Autodesk we are caught in their protection of each product niche and so tools are held back from Autocad rendering so you will still buy Max.  Understandable but it's not serving the customer - we are way down the list of importance for Autodesk.  I recently started trading and saw their stock price had fallen to the low 30's and was tempted to buy. I would like to get some joy from Autodesk and I knew they certainly look after their share holders.

Vectorworks seems to have some new site working tools, something which is actually present in ACA but are like a pick and shovel, not a drill and bandsaw.  ie. they can do the job but you don't get the idea that they are specifically designed for the task.
You can use Mass Elements (using the DRAPE command) and then massgroups ( a command they continue to hide from the ACA interface unless you have one in the drawing already) to take the survey and turn it into a 3D site and then cut chunks from it using "Massgroups & additives and negatives" to change the shape.  You can use the same to create more complex roof shapes.

This is what I did on a recent project to model a steep site for a pool desk and outdoor area so we would have a firm idea of how the levels would actually work.  Using this technique, you always have the original slope untouched and can edit the cuts and fills as required.  However it is always a 'basic hammer tool' and never has any real intelligence you expect from a aec package. It cannot then tell you how much cut and fill etc.

Here's a pic of a quick scheme for a dam I created and posted somewhere to illustrate how to use MASSELEMENTGROUPS to alter terrain without actually altering the original terrain. ie. Once you have created the terrain using the DRAPE command on your contours, you can then add a ME box as a negative shape to cut out the dam shape. The water of course is just a big box that is created to fill the entire model (not close to the edges though) so that it looks like it 'fills' the space to level, dam & river.  Again though it really only serves as a make do for quick illustrations.  I can't calculate how much capacity the dam has except to run the measurements of the cube I use for a negative and deduct how high it (it's not visible here) stands above the (high) waterline.  Having said that, 20 years ago I am sure an engineer would have loved these types of tools.  But, it is 2014.

I've used Autodesk Designreview to create video walk throughs and quite frankly the quality is embarrassing. But that's the thing with Autodesk.  Rather than take a main product (like ACA) and develop it fully they would rather spend millions on a niche product, spend time with it, release it for free and then loose interest a couple of years later. Any time spent learning the product becomes wasted time as they've moved onto the next bright idea like a child with AHD.  I don't want to spend my life learning your next bright idea software package.  I need to earn money to support my family and our dreams.  It's why I stuck with ACA and never 'upgraded' to the 'sweets' er.. sorry, 'suites'.  I'm sure there is something useful in there but all I saw was paying more money to spend many hours learning a new software package so I can do what I do now.  No thanks.  Hence the learning about the stock market.  I want to work for me & mine, not Autodesk.

As my teenage son takes over my pc and starts shooting his mates online I drool over the (realtime rendered) visuals that look at a glance like photo quality movies. These are games obtained for well less than $100 and they often have tools to create your own environments.  I've dabbled at times with the idea of importing models into Far Cry's CryENGINE environment so my clients can wander around enjoy gardens moving in the breeze, water flowing (no weapons) but my brain is swamped because ACA's WYSIWYG (1978) paperspace view no longer works in 2015 (finally fixed).
Here's a scene from Crysis and don't get put off - the buildings are supposed to look decrepid, it's part of the ambience of the game. This level of rendering, lighting & texturing is available and common in games today and some have probably passed through Autodesk software and remember! this is live realtime playtime rendering. It's a screen grab.  No sitting for minutes or hours waiting to see if you missed modelling something.
Imagine if we had access to this power of presentation somewhere in Autocad / ACA?  Why not? Now I understand that CAD programs are much more accurate and operate differently but really, come on (aussie expression). It's only software.

In many ways I can see that Vectorworks is still catching up to ACA.  Had ACA development continued it could be a very strong package.  As always, the strength of Autocad (ACA) is it's flexibility and the weakness of Autocad (ACA) is it's flexibility.  Sometimes you just want to be told what to do and not have too many options but power is well... power.  But it does seem like for several years now, much more so with ACA, they have just played with the interface and the colours or given you yet another flawed way to do what you could do before.  Little to no new real functionality. Certainly in ACA.

So .... yes I am still here.  Many have picked up on my tips on the Roof Object and just maybe, one day, just maybe Autodesk will spend the money on upgrading this brilliant tool. The video's were a great way to illustrate lots of good stuff in ACA.  Many great tips are still in my head. Maybe some can still leak out.

Hope you are having a rewarding and productive day.


Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Are you up to date?

Thanks to friend Chris for a link to an AUGI page for updates to ACA back to version 2010

Contains the very welcome link to ACA2013 Service Pack 1 along with other updates to ACA, Autocad, Civil, Revit, Inventor and 3DSMax.

Some info on ACA SP1 from David Koch.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Roof Object Tips & Secrets Video Series Now on YOUTUBE

After a ridiculously silly time delay I've finally put up a video series on the roof object.
If you are doing residential work I sincerely believe these tricks will make your work a lot easier!

These video's are a must see!!

Here is the link to a separate blog page dedicated to the video's on the Roof Object tool.  
You can watch there or just click on the YOUTUBE video link inside the video itself near the lower left and it will open youtube itself. 
Under the video on youtube is my YouTube Channel with this and other series.
Or here is the link to the Roof Object Playlist  (link fixed)

In the video's I show you not only the basics in using the Roof Object but SECRETS hidden since it was first released.  Some tips from the RO creator himself.  Some even he didn't know!

The basics
  1. How to create a Roof Object from the Ribbon
  2. How to Create a Roof Object from the command line
  3. How to create a Roof Object from a Tool Pallete
  4. How to create your own Roof Object Tool with your own custom properties
  5. How to add Gables different ways
  6. How to alter the slopes of each edge or all.
  7. Projecting a wall to the roof line.

But wait there's more! What are the secrets never told (except here) for the Roof Object

  1. How to add vertices to the Roof Object                                   (yes we can!!)
  2. How to edit the Roof Object after creation.                              (yes we can!!)
  3. How to get the Roof Object to overhang itself.                         (yes we can!!)
  4. Common issues that will have you stuck.
  5. Alternatives to Exploding into dumb roof slabs
  6. Cutting Holes in the Roof Object  (Dormers, Skylights)          (yes we can!!)
  7. Complex Roof assembly like adding a turret to a corner        (yes we can!!)
  8. Easy calculation tools for setting heights/distances right there in the RO tool
  9. Create edge styles for eaves, gables etc.
  10. Some practical samples of complex Roof Object problems.
Do you want to create Renderings of your projects to sell the deal to the client
  1. Creating tools to quickly decorate the Roof Object for rendering.
  2. How to apply materials quickly and efficiently for residential work.
If you have a complex roof that you would like to see done in a video.  Let me know by sending me a link (dropbox?) or you can place a comment with your email (I wont post) and I will email you for contact.  UPDATE: I have now created the above roof in no 14 of the series

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

MultiLevel In 1 File Series on YouTube

I've uploaded some quickly produced video on my Maverick Method of constructing multiple levels in 1 file.  Done late into the night so I can hear myself fade to a whisper to ensure my wife doesn't spoil my foray into a media career for waking her up!

As well as MY YouTube channel itself I have also a side page here to list the video's available.
The Playlist for this series seems to mess the order up.

At the moment the sample file and lisp is only available by posting a comment here WITH your email (I will NOT publish and have not) and I will email to you.  Perhaps soon I will post them somewhere that you can just grab them anonamously.


Thursday, December 1, 2011

I've gone YouTube

I've finally got a video up on my youtube channel, intended to be the first of a number to explain my idiosyncracies and the method behind the madness in the way I use ACA. 
A few ideas are planned but this first one takes a light dive into explaining my Mult-Level in 1 file approach for residential and small commercial projects.  Sorry I did spend a little too long on my pretty picture but it is just an intro!   Let me know what you think.

On googling my blog I came across this interesting link placing my site in the top 2 million for the UK and in the top 19 million in the world.  Haha!  I guess there is a lot of people in the world so I should feel good about it but I do think they may be over estimating it's worth.  Apparently most visitors are from Turkey so welcome to you all.  Once we fought but now the best of friends hey - we have an important history together.  Hopefully you can understand my accent on youtube.
It's great to see despite not being able to blog much lately it's still of value to some.

I should also mention AU - Autodesk University which has just begun.  If you have subscription it's free and there is a number of previous year classes that can be accessed which are still very relevant. I've just downloaded recorded movie files & pdf's for classes on Rendering in Autocad to see if I can pick up any good tips as well as Advanced Modelling etc in ACA.  Don't forget that you can get benefit from some AutoCAD classes as well as ACA.  Might have to wait for this year classes to be uploaded.  I did try to partipate in a live class last year but the lag and the timeframe (early morning for me) saw me falling asleep in class.  The opportunity to be able to download previous year class video recordings is a fantastic learning opportunity.  They are BIG files but well worth the cost (free).

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

I'm liking that the ACA master himself is getting into rendering inside ACA and I am looking forward to learning further how to get the best out of the system.  Archidigm has a new post of a very nice internal render on his front cover.  My feeble attempts at internal renderings are humbling but I would like to get there.  I notice his furniture featured which is available as content at a very good price. 

He's also written another article on rendering materials across X-Ref's and some of the problems you have.   He notes that RMats work a little differently than other objects.  When you bring x-ref's together for the purpose of rendering a model, all the materials are brought into the file and become part of that file.  So you can then alter the materials in the host file unlike for e.g. a wall style which needs to be edited in the original file, saved and reloaded.  Unload the xref and the materials remain (unless purged). Update the material in the original file and the material is NOT updated in the host file unless it's deleted and then reloaded by reloading the xref.  These complications are why I like working in a 1 file approach.  Recently pulled my 1 file model into another file just to do the render (as it was after doing the CD's) and I certainly confirmed the simplicity of my approach as I encountered the problems Odin addresses.  However if you require a team to work on a project together then splitting the file using the Project Navigator can be a good idea despite the drawbacks or you may just like breaking the project into manageable pieces.

I like his pick of how many steps it takes to swing a door in Revit.  Not knocking Revit overall of course but it's nice to see that ACA still has the ascendency in some areas.

Anyway just thought I'd post to let you know I am still alive.  Barely breathing but still kicking.