So Long, Dirt Modelers! ! !

As most of you know, DC CADD has grown into a new and exciting company. We are no longer DC CADD. . .we are Enceptia. With a new company comes a new blog. I will no longer be posting here, but will be posting directly to the Enceptia website. Once there you can find blogs by me as well as others in the company:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I will keep this blog open and check on it from time to time because I know some of you still reference some of the blogs I’ve posted over the years.

I look forward to seeing you at the new blog!

What’s HUB-anning? ? ?

Today Autodesk introduced The Hub.  Here you can “access the latest content resources to help you imagine, design, and create a better world and discover the right resources for you.”

 

Once you’ve accessed the Hub you’ll find content based off your specific industry:

Once you’ve accessed your industry content you will see that there are helpful videos, documents and links to other websites (these are just a few):

A fine Inquiry on Elevations

This little tip comes from my buddy, Dee Nolen, who contacted me awhile back about the ability to lavel elevations at specific stations along a design profile.

This doesn’t label them but it gets you the answers needed and is much quicker than the zoom in and pick on the profile line method. Select the Inquiry Tool found under the Analyze Tab (to the far right).  Specify the inquiry type as “Profile Station and Elevation at Point.” The command line tells you to pick points, but you can key in specific station in the dialog box and it will display the elevation below.

Subscription Center FYI

This a just a quick FYI for those of you who are having issues logging into Subscription Center.  If you are attempting to login and only receive a blank screen this issue may be your web browser.  Currenlty Subscribtion Center is not compatible with IE10.  Autodesk is working on trying to resolve this in a timely manner, but for now you can use IE9, Firefox, or Google Chrome.

Geotechnical Module Stability in 2014

According to some chatter on the Civil 3D discussion forum, there have been some reported issues with the Geotechnical Module Stability in 2014.  As of now, the official word from Autodesk is:

“We have been made aware of some performance issues with Civil 3D when the Geotechnical Module is installed and are working diligently to resolve them. In the meantime, in order to mitigate these performance issues with Civil 3D we are recommending that you uninstall the Geotechnical Module until we release an updated installer on Subscription.”

Deploying Autodesk Design Solutions in the Cloud

CAD and BIM, and most commonly AutoCAD and/or Revit, can be installed on a centralized server or servers for use by geographically-dispersed designers. There are several methods for achieving this, but care must be taken to comply with the Autodesk License and Service Agreement (LSA), formerly known as the End User License Agreement. This article discusses the merits of each and is intended to be a primer rather than a detailed implementation guide.

Cloud computing is a very popular topic, as it promises a lower total cost of operation. However, when it comes to CAD/BIM in the cloud, cost savings are harder to achieve because of the extreme hardware and higher bandwidth requirements. Unlike typical desktop applications (e.g. Microsoft Word, Excel), AutoCAD and Revit are intense graphical applications demanding more resources. This reduces the ROI for cloud computing, but this is changing rapidly as technology improves. It is also important to note that the system requirements for Autodesk Revit are significant greater than for AutoCAD. The type of work and size of projects will also affect system requirements. Thus, the primary justification for CAD/BIM in the cloud is performance when geographically-dispersed users are working on a large common file or model.

Another obstacle is that most CAD/BIM vendors have not yet determined how to charge for their products (e.g. on a monthly or quarterly basis) to accommodate public cloud use. It’s a vastly different business model, and they are moving slowly—as it has huge implications for everyone involved. For now, private clouds, which require each customer to deploy their own private systems, are often the only realistic solutions.

There are several ways to deploy Autodesk design software in a private cloud. These may be broadly categorized as One-to-One or Many-to-One implementations.

One-to-One

The One-to-One method allows a remote user to log into a single physical or virtual PC. It provides a separate computing environment that supports only one user. Many individual virtual PCs can be installed on one physical server.

1. Remote Connectivity to a Physical PC. This method allows remote users to connect to another PC via GoToMyPC, LogMeIn or other remote connectivity solution. This is, by far, the easiest solution to deploy, and it can be done with minimal expertise. If existing PCs are used, the cost can be quite minimal, although it doesn’t scale well. The disadvantage is that these remote connectivity solutions are not optimized for CAD, and the performance may be less than acceptable. They lack the ability to support hardware acceleration, which is important for quality graphics. It also requires management of a complete physical PC. This solution is probably best suited for small virtualized implementations with less-demanding 2D drawings. Autodesk allows both Standalone and Network licenses to be used in this manner. Autodesk does not officially support this type of implementation.

2. Multiple Virtualized PCs on a single physical server. This uses the concept of virtual computers, also known as virtual clients, virtual desktops or remote desktops. A single physical server is deployed with multiple virtual PCs. This method requires significantly more expertise, as the selection of the specific hardware components and their drivers can greatly affect performance and stability. This method allows one powerful physical computer to host 4-12 virtual computers. It reduces the overall hardware costs, but increases the setup, tuning and deployment costs. Virtualized PCs allow for easier systems management, and it scales well. It can easily be hosted in a datacenter or within your own offices. Most hosting service providers do not offer virtualized PCs running Windows 7 or 8, as they still focus on offering virtualized servers. But private clouds can be built and leased to your specifications. Autodesk allows both Standalone and Network licenses to be used in this manner. Autodesk does not officially support this type of implementation.

Many-to-One

Many-to-One implementations utilize a single server operating system as a host to multiple users. Terminal Server (now called Remote Desktop and Remote App Services) and Citrix XenApp and XenDesktop are the most common solutions. The significant difference with the Many-to-One strategy is that all users are sharing the same server operating system environment, whereas the One-to-One method allows each user to have their own individual client operating system environment.

1. Microsoft Remote Desktop Services. Formerly known as Terminal Server, this ubiquitous functionality is free with almost every Microsoft Server operating system although it does require low-cost access licenses for the remote users. This method allows multiple remote users to log in to a single server and share the common resources. Graphical performance is improving with the recent addition of RemoteFX. Autodesk allows only Network licenses to be used in this manner. Autodesk does not officially support this type of implementation.

D|C|CADD has deployed a non-optimized Remote Desktop server in a hosted environment with AutoCAD, Revit Architecture, Revit MEP and Revit Structure for testing and evaluation purposes. Performance is quite good from a variety of remote devices.

Installation and configuration are more complex than regular Network deployments, and special attention must be paid to the IT requirements.

The hosted applications can be deployed as Remote Apps, where only the AutoCAD or Revit application is remotely available, or as Remote Desktop, where an entire virtual desktop environment is remotely available. One benefit of this deployment type is higher security. It can be configured so that the drawings or models cannot be saved off the central server.

2. Microsoft Server with Citrix. Citrix XenDesktop and XenApp are the only implementation types officially supported by Autodesk. Microsoft Remote Desktop, as discussed above, shares common technology with Citrix under past cross-licensing and technology sharing agreements. XenDesktop looks and functions the same as Remote Desktop, and XenApp functions the same as RemoteApp, but Citrix provides significant features and functionality to provide better graphics performance and user administration than the lesser Microsoft product. Autodesk allows only Network licenses to be used in this manner. Autodesk officially supports this type of implementation.

D|C|CADD has deployed an optimized Citrix server in a hosted environment with AutoCAD, Revit Architecture, Revit MEP and Revit Structure for testing and evaluation purposes. Performance is quite good from a variety of remote devices such as an iPad (although these apps are not designed for touch devices), Android phone (not recommended because of the tiny screen), laptops, desktops and $500 netbooks. Bandwidth is the primary obstacle, but we’ve found it to be very usable, even with WiFi and Hotspot connections.

Installation and configuration are more complex than regular Network deployments, and special attention must be paid to the IT requirements.

The hosted applications can be deployed as Citrix XenApps, where only the AutoCAD or Revit application is remotely available, or as Citrix XenDesktop, where an entire virtual desktop environment is remotely available. One benefit of a Citrix deployment is higher security. Citrix can be configured so that the drawings or models cannot be saved off the central server.

If you use third-party add-ons with your Autodesk software, make certain that these applications are technically and legally supported in a cloud computing environment.

One final consideration is that your Autodesk right-to-use licenses are for a specific geographic area. If you purchased your licenses from D|C|CADD or another Autodesk Partner in the USA, your licenses are restricted to use within the United States or Canada. The same applies to licenses purchased in other geographic areas of the world. If you wish to have users from other locations use your cloud-based software, contact Autodesk or your Autodesk Partner for information about acquiring Extra Territorial Rights.

D|C|CADD is available to provide knowledgeable advice and consulting services to help you successfully implement a cloud-based Autodesk design solution. Contact us at Info@dccadd.com or (800) 454-5499.

Please note:  The information above is time-sensitive as the technology, systems and licensing requirements continually evolve. While D|C|CADD has made every attempt to validate all information, please confirm and refer to the official Autodesk System Requirements posted on autodesk.com. Unless otherwise noted, all information applies only to the Autodesk 2014 versions. There are different licensing requirements and mechanics for older versions. Please let us know at Support@dccadd.com if you spot an error in this document.

Suppressing the Suffix on Angular Dimensions in AutoCAD

A couuple of years ago our very own Mark Martinez found a work around to suppress the suffix on angular dimensions that Autodesk recently posted as a technical document in their knowledge base (tech doc:  TP00010).

Here’s the doc with some bonus information that Mark provided to me later:

Need to suppress the foot (ft) ‘ suffix from angular dimensions? Without exploding or creating another dimension style for only angular dimensions?

  1. Create the initial dimension style with the ‘(ft) suffix.
  2. Create a substyle for Angular Dimensions (New, Use for Angular Dimensions).
  3. Create an angular dimension.
  4. Initialize Properties (Modify-Properties) and select the angular dimension
  5. Open the Priamry Units category and remove the ‘(ft) from Dim suffix
  6. Select the angular dimension and right click, select Dim Style-Save as New Style…
  7. Select ‘initial dimension style$2′ and OK.

This will update the Dimension substyle for only Angular dimensions where the ‘(ft) is suppressed.

 

The bonus information spoken of before. . .

Later versions don’t automatically add the DXF Substyle suffix when saving.

In step 7, the value of 2 represents the angular dimension, but here is a list of other values that can be used:

0 = Rotated, horizontal, or vertical

1 = Aligned

2 = Angular

3 = Diameter

4 = Radius

5 = Angular 3 point

6 = Ordinate

The Short and Sweet of Styling with Force

Often when teaching about Civil 3D labels styles I’m posed with the question as to what does that “force insertion” setting does:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I usually run into this while explaining point label styles because thats where we are first introduced to them.  However, this hase very little impact on point label styles.  It’s more geared to work when you are labeling lines, arc segments, or spline segments.  Here’s the explanation as stated in the Civil 3D help file:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s an example of how it can work (now I know I have to edit the labels a bit more, but it’s just to get the idea across:

 

Quick tip to update the SSM

This blog comes from my very good friend Lisa Pohlmeyer who is a Civil 3D pro and has shown me many software tricks through the years.  She’s an amazing resource to know.  Once again, thank you, Lisa, for this quick tip.

She writes. . .

I’ve always been frustrated not knowing if my Cover Sheet drawing has an updated TOC or not.  Although I have my update field settings all checked via the options (OPTONS > User Preferences tab) . . .

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

when I open the Cover Sheet the table may not be current with what’s listed in the SSM.  It’s a table with fields linked to the Sheet Set, so why don’t they update? I could verify this by changing my SSM, opening the Cover Sheet drawing and the TOC would not reflect those changes.  All my other fields in my drawing that are linked to my sheet set update, like the SheetNumber, ProjectNumber, even the custom field update, but not the TOC.  The only way I could be sure is to manually select the table, rt-click and choose the option to Update the Table Data Links.  After talking with several of my colleagues, this seemed to be a prevalent issue. Publishing the entire sheet set from SSM without checking the TOC first is still not an option, but I’m working on it.

 

I began to think about a way to run that command (Update Table Data Links) when the drawing first opened, I tried UPDATETABLE and used the All selection, didn’t work.  I tried UPDATEFIELD and again used the All selection, still didn’t work.  Then I decided to dive into the CUI and search for the command that actually ran from the rt-click after the table was selected.  Instead of drilling down through menus, I decided to search the command listing instead.  I first searched for UPDATE, no luck. I then tried DATA, bingo!

I found DATALINKUPDATE. Some options were required, I chose U (for update):

Then I chose the K option (for all data links):

 

 

And voila!  The TOC was updated.

 

Now to get this to run when the drawing is opened.  If you have an acaddoc.lsp in a folder that’s listed first in your list of Support Folders in the Options Dialog, it will be loaded automatically when each drawing is opened.  We use this file for setting variables, preloading lisp files, etc. and place it in a user folder on the network.  This file is not associated with the install/repair of AutoCAD, so it doesn’t get overwritten.

 

I appended this line in my personal S::STARTUP function so that any STARTUP function defined elsewhere isn’t overwritten.

(command “DATALINKUPDATE” “u” “k”)

 

This is an example of my startup commands, yours may differ

;startup commands

(princ)

(defun-q mystartup ()

(command “-plotstamp” “OFF”)

(command “proxygraphics” “0″)

(command “fontalt” “arial.ttf”)

(command “navbardisplay” “0″)

(command “navvcube” “off”)

(command “geomarkervisibility” “0″)

(COMMAND “datalinkupdate” “u” “k”)

(princ “\nMY FILE IS LOADED”)

)

(setq S::STARTUP (append S::STARTUP mystartup))

 

You could accomplish this by creating a script file that is run automatically.  The result would be the same.

 

Now, if only this would work by being able to just open the SSM and Publish the entire Sheet Set without opening the Cover Sheet first, but alas, I haven’t been able to figure out that part yet.  Baby steps.

 

If you want more information on the S::STARTUP function, look at the Customization portion of the users guide.

 

Since I started this adventure, I have since found out that items such as these worked well prior to 2012, but 2012 and beyond don’t process the S::STARTUP function until the drawing becomes active, at least according to this post http://bit.ly/12kMlXW and that would make sense why it’s not processing from the PUBLISH command from the SSM (it’s publishing in the background).

 

I’ve posted to the AutoCAD Printing/Plotting discussion group if you’re interested in following.  Maybe someone has a solution to being able to publish from the SSM without having to open the cover sheet first.  http://autode.sk/12kMbzS

 

The adventure continues…

If it sounds too good to be true. . .

I don’t know how many times I’ve spoken with users who call having trouble activating “their” software aftere purchasing it from an online software store.  Of course, they inform me that they have the serial number and product key, but it won’t activate for some reason.  I then look up the serial number only find out that:

  • The serial number is registered to someone else
  • The serial number exists, but for a different software (eg. they are trying activate Civil 3D but the serial number provided is for AutoCAD LT)
  • A combination of the previous two

This leads me to have to clarify a few things on the legal side of software ownership. . .

  1. When you purchase software you are purchasing the right to use the software.  What you’re really purchasing is that serial number.  Remember, the DVD, CD, thumb drive, or download of the software means absolutely nothing unless you have a valid serial number.
  2. Upon purchase of the software, the serial number is now assigned to you or your company (whatever name it was purchased under).
  3. When you proceed to activate your software you need an activation code.  In a standalone license scenario, that activation code is sent to you via Autodesk.  For your protection that activation code is only good on this one computer.  So basically, the serial number, the MAC address of the computer, and the activation code all work in synch.  That activation code cannot simply be taken to another computer and re-entered.  In a network license scenario, the license file manages all that from the company server.

So what does this mean to you?  If you are searching to purchase software and you find a smoking-hot deal online that sounds too good to be true, it probably is.  We get phone calls all the time from people who purchased their software from an online “software store”.  Usually the advertisements are enticing.  I’m not pointing out any particular websites, but here are a couple of screen shots:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Half the time what your are purchasing is the media (DVD, CD, thumb drive) from an individual who has legally purchased and activated the software.  They turn around and try to sell the media, serial number, and their activation code online.  Remember, the serial number, activation and the MAC address of the computer are all basically married to each other.  The seller either does not know this or is run a straight out scam to whoever takes the bait.  Then the buyer receives “their” software in the mail only to find out that it cannot be activated because the serial number is no longer legit and it isn’t registered to them.  Most of the time the individual then contacts their local Autodesk reseller to get some help on this.  That’s when the individual gets upset with us because we cannot do anything except help them purchase a legitimate license of the software.

What else does this mean to you?  Well, if you are working for a company and decide to leave and start your own business you cannot simply take an unused license with you.  If you are a company buying out another company you  cannot simply purchase their computers with all their software on it, or take ownership of their software altogether.  There must be some paperwork involved in order to properly transfer all those licenses to the new company.  Technically, if you acquire a company (not just its assets) you can apply for a transfer of license.  If it is found to be a true acquisition or merger then there are usually no issues so long as the proper paper work is filed.  According to the Autodesk end user license agreement (EULA), you know that page upon installation of the software that we all just click “I accept” or “agree” to, you cannot simply hand over your software to hand over, or sell, your software to someone else because you have no use for it anymore.

 

These next three images come directly from the EULA. . .

 

This is why, when you purchase your software from someone that is not authorized by Autodesk, you cannot activate your software:

By the way, this isn’t just an Autodesk policy.  Most software companies have these mechanisms set in place.  And due to the fact that, most of the time, users fail to read the license agreement, they find themselves illegally pirating software and may not even know it.

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