Friday, February 25, 2011

Drawing Properties

I described here how we use the drawing file custom properties for our 1 File for Multistorey to store the project data which is automatically grabbed by the title block and cover page.  Well an email to support (subscription is useful for something occassionally) turned up this link and an excellant autolisp file that can bring a preset list from a .cvs file right into the drawing custom properties ready for you to add the project data to.  (There are 2 lisp files posted at this link.  I used the first issue for .cvs files.  The 2nd amendment looks for .xls files but it didn't work for me).

Commands impdwp, expdwp and clrdwp import, export or delete (clear) drawing properties. Once you have them in your template they can just be updated for the next project but if you already have a project and want to bring the data in, here is an easy way to do it.

Been to Archidigm lately.  They have released a new ACA door style set and checking out his windows and the many display options to get detail quickly and efficiently is impressive. He has video's of his street kit in action.   And don't forget his intensive Development Guide.  Purchasing one of Odin's products get's you access to his classroom and there is a treasure trove of info available for your ACA obsessing delight.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Doing it by the Book NOT

As a user since ADT3 for must be 6 or so years it's only in the last couple of years that I have hit an upper air stream in terms of productivity increase with ADT/ACA.  I feel that I have finally 'got' how it works and more importantly how to work it.  That includes not doing as I am told.  Well not always.  We all use this product for lots of different types of projects and the requirements of a hospital project have very different demands to a 2 or 3 storey residence or a back room extension.  The product is really developed with the hospital in mind but my work is mainly residential.

Here's some ways I have NOT done it by the book:
  • Development of a 1 file for multistorey approach using custom (simple) autolisp programming, custom layer standard.
  • Developing my own simpler Layer Key Standard with many less layers.
  • Practise that avoids dependance on the 'latest' interface such as using keyboard commands rather than point and "oh where is it this time?" click chase the ribbon.
  • Return to solids rather than MassElements for modelling certain one off library elements.
  • I've abandoned aecSlabs in favour of using aecSpaces.  They are so much more easily edited.  They don't have edge styles though but they do have componants and can be rendered.  I do still use slabs but not mostly.  Unfortunately spaces stretch oddly, if you 'grab' their centre point the whole space moves instead of stretching as the old area objects did.  
  • Getting to know the Roof Object intimately and understanding what it can do and not converting to the slow, less intelligent, cumbersome Roof Slabs.
  • Just knowing all the ways that won't work and the ones that will and knowing how far they will work so I don't have to fiddle.
So I thought I'd share some experiences that were successful and simple and worked.  They may or may not work for you in your situation but might be worth considering.

example 1
I don't use the Project Navigator for small projects and will build multilevel projects in the one file.  However one advantage of the PN is in regenerating elevations without getting unwanted elements added in (like text) and having any new modelling elements automatically being part of the selection set (when the file is saved and the X-ref is reloaded).  So on certain projects I may create a 2nd file to X-ref (overlay not attach) the model file into, set up the elevations including room elevations, sections etc and x-ref that back into the model file to complete the set of drawings.  The advantage is the 2nd file will have all the right layers turned off and on so only desired elements are captured in the elevation (like in the PN) and also once the x-ref is selected, any new elements added to the main file are automatically selected for the next refresh or regeneration of the aecElevation.  You can do all of them at once!  You can x-ref in the model several times, renaming each instance if you want to set it up in different layer configurations for different purposes.  A section or internal room/cabinet layout may require different layers than the elevations.  Changes to the model file need to be saved, and the x-ref's reloaded in the Elev file, saved and then may be reloaded back into the main file if that is where they are inserted onto a sheet.  Another advantage is the aec elevation/section objects are not in the main file in your way. When x-ref'ing the Elev file back into the main file, only the required objects are shown, the unwanted portions are x-clipped out. BTW 'overlaying' and not 'attach'ed means the x-ref will not travel with the file when x-ref'd to another file.  Here that would cause a circular reference and won't work.  If you organise the Elev drawing space as you want it, you only need to x-ref it back once into your main file for correct placement ready for the sheets (already set up in my tabs from the template drawing.  This means all the drawing sheets are in the one file.
In the above 2nd file (Elev), layers are not really important, only where you need to sort items like in a floor plan that is displayed several times in different ways as a working floor plan, sketch plan, reflected ceiling plan, electrical plan, landscaping plan, site plan, roof plan, rafter plan, ceiling timber plan etc. so I often simplify the numbers of layers I use.  Using .stb plot style greatly helps this.   Having a seperate file does allow some multi-user access to the one project if you need that.

example 2
I recently modelled 4 single floor units in the one file (lets call it SITE drawing). That file was then x-ref'd into another file(s), clipped down to one unit (per file) and the full drawings for that unit produced in that file.  The benefit I found in this method was that altering an aec style updating all references as it was all in the same (Site) file.  (On larger projects you can use project standards but this is an extra process and is not on the fly).  As the complete model was in the main file, there is only one reference of the model and coordination was automatic.  I wanted this fine coordination as I was also using the file for rendering and exporting to 3DWF although that is a pretty dissappointing option at this point but I wanted to experiment with it and wanted to keep it all together.  Rather than a seperate file I like to keep the file always at a ready to be re-rendered at any point rather than having that as a seperate file.  This keeps all the documentation side out of my modelling file for rendering.   I am about to use this method on another project of 10 small single storey homes as it was quite efficient. 

Don't forget there are lots of ways to work on one area of your model (as opposed to having to split it up into x-ref's).  Using Layer Isolate or the the object isolate tools are good ways to get data out the way quickly.  Available on a right click is the Isolate Objects tools.  You can hide lots of components you don't want to see for a while even if their layer gets turned on.

Anyway, don't think that the method presented as THE way is always the best way.  Not that it's usually the wrong way!    Sometimes it's just the long way.


Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Free Tree Downloads

If you are into rendering in any way you may have seen which offers a tool for creating and editing trees and plants.  Well they have just released quite a portion of samples for you to try out.  Among the strange list of download options for max, maya and terragen you also have the old 3ds format for 3DStudio which I think is now a defunk product.  Using the 3dsin command, these tree files (oops see below) can be brought into AutoCAD for rendering.   Each zip folder downloaded contains a number of 3ds files along with bitmaps (tif) for leaves, bark etc to be applied to the tree. Whilst the tree is modeled, the leaves are a single face for a bitmap to be applied. 

There are some tricks to getting the 3ds file into AutoCAD though.  It seems it can't handle so much data (another memory handling problem?) and so you are best to load portions of the info at a time.  But oh dear in trying to test this thru my ACA2009 crashed each time trying to bring the file in. So I loaded 2011 which can save the files down to 2009 (for non ACA items) though I am wondering what the translation does to the material definitions.

FAIL again.  Crashed every time with xfrogs 3ds files?  I had loaded a couple earlier so perhaps I need to reboot.  I'll report the problem with xfrog and see if they offer any solution.

If you get past the crashes, and the load fails, try loading without leaves and roots. once imported, do it again and this time load the leaves (do you need the roots?).  I have a technique for simplifying the number of materials so I might not assign any material, using my own oft repeated material (e.g. Leaf1). In this case the leaves are just a square face and require the leaf bitmap to look somewhat realistic so I might include materials. I also don't allow multiple layers and put it all on layer 0.

Anyway, until I get it successfully loaded I can't post a picture of what you might expect.  If I do I will update this post with a sample pic but it's all there on xfrog's site.

er...happy rendering