BIM for the rest of us

BIM for the rest of us

With major architectural firms already firmly on the BIM bandwagon, we thought it was time to look at some of the initiatives, products and organisations that are helping make BIM a less disruptive, more affordable alternative for the rest of us, starting with the mighty UKGov BIM Mandate…

The BIM Mandate

The UKGov BIM Mandate has been established by the UK BIM Task Group, and has been driving BIM adoption across the UK construction industry. The government intends to require collaborative 3D BIM with a completely electronic document trail on all its projects by 2016, and is also using the initiative to drive a 20% drop in the sector’s carbon emissions.

A significant number of larger companies have fallen in line with this already (nothing motivates like the thought of suddenly finding yourself ineligible for contracts) but we’ve not seen the same level of uptake among SMEs – the small-medium enterprises that most jobs rely upon for completion. And, given that so many projects rely on them, it’s essential that this sector of the industry gets behind the initiative.

Regional BIM Workshops

The Government itself has been very proactive in providing information and direction to the industry itself. UKGov have set out their delivery requirements and are working with the industry to develop standards to ensure we can achieve these within the timescale set out.

Under the auspices of the Construction Industry Council, they have set out a series of BIM Focus events around the country to promote the initiative to a wider audience. These free half-day workshops are designed to educate attendees on all things BIM, with presentations on Government policy from members of the BIM task group, advice on how to get in touch with the new ‘BIM Hubs’, local case studies which show how BIM is impacting your region and of course the chance to network with BIM-positive fellow professionals and take discreet notes on their best practices.

You can find out more about the BIM Focus events here.

BIM Hubs

The events are also your chance to find out more about your nearest BIM Hub. These 11 centres were set up by the CIC in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Newcastle, Hull, Leeds, Manchester, Wrexham, Nottingham, Cambridge, Coventry, Exeter, Bristol, Cardiff, Northampton, London and Belfast in order to spread the word about BIM in their area and drive adoption of best practices. The BIM Focus events are part of this, but they’re also a chance for you to find out more about how the BIM hubs will work in your area and get involved with shaping their future.

The BIM Focus events are effectively the inaugural meeting of the BIM Hubs. The attendees of the Focus events are invited to volunteer to form the management team of the Hub, which becomes a local self-help/knowledge sharing/collaboration group with information links to the UKGov BIM Task Group, and will become the local information source for BIM information within different regions.

Open BIM and the rise of affordable software

BIM adoption amongst SMEs has been held back due to the perceived cost of investment in the technology around BIM. Whilst BIM is a collaborative process, it is expected that adopters do invest in 3D information modelling solutions to communicate their designs.

Collaboration within the industry requires interoperability between different modeling tools, and an Open BIM solution where we can transfer data between different vendor solutions is essential. The level of investment required is quite significant for smaller organisations and the choice of vendor solution is crucial – no-one wants to adopt the “Betamax” solution. Without interoperability we won’t know which horse to back and we can’t make an informed decision, so we tend not to do anything.

Revit Autocad

However, recent developments in software have reduced the investment level so that it is now easier for smaller companies to get started with BIM. Autodesk have released an entry level BIM solution, Revit LT, that is aimed at the smaller companies and is pitched at an affordable price point. Revit LT does not enjoy the collaborative tools of its big brother, but the modelling functionality of Revit LT and the competitive price will hopefully encourage many more SMEs to get on board.

More about Revit LT
Vectorworks _architect _2013_box

Another vendor, Nemetschek Vectorworks, have recently released their new 2013 version of Vectorworks Architect, which offers their architectural customers access to many more BIM tools than the previous version. Unlike Revit, Vectorworks runs on both Windows and Mac platforms, and can be an effective, low cost CAD and BIM solution for cross-platform environments.

Sign up for our free Vectorworks BIM webinar

Want to know more? Give us a call on 03332 409 306 or email For all the latest news, follow @WeAreJigsaw24 on Twitter or ‘Like’ us on Facebook.

BIM fans rejoice, Revit LT is here

BIM fans rejoice, Revit LT is here

BIM is the biggest thing in construction right now, and with the UK Government Building Information Modelling (BIM) Strategy under way, the industry has to respond. But a major sector might feel disenfranchised with BIM, since the entry level BIM tools such as Autodesk’s Revit haven’t traditionally been that affordable for smaller firms. This may be about to change with the release of Autodesk Revit LT.

We’re all familiar with AutoCAD LT and its relationship with AutoCAD. Essentially, Revit LT is to Revit what AutoCAD LT is to AutoCAD – a fully compatible entry level application, with some features removed. Many practices, especially smaller ones, will view this release with great interest, as the price point is very attractive. £1500 for a suite that includes both AutoCAD LT and Revit LT is a real bargain, and if that gets practices more involved with BIM, then we’re all on to a winner.

Major step forward for BIM

High-end Revit users have previously commented about what’s missing from Revit LT and how this precludes it from being a valid BIM tool – it doesn’t enable collaboration, there’s no multi-user file access, conceptual modelling, links to analysis software or in-place editing. But at entry level, I think it’s a valid and usable tool that presents a major step forward into Building Information Modelling for sole traders and smaller organisations.

Larger companies will feel that an investment in Revit LT implementing training and developing content is far more attractive at £1100 than Revit at £5000. And I believe that innovative users out there will find new workflows to get around missing features.
It’s a shame Revit LT doesn’t feature conceptual modelling tools, but it does do a lot more than I expected – most users working in SketchUp can carry on using it, as Revit lets you import SketchUp data. Without IFC or gbXML export, you can’t link to other software though (e.g. energy analysis of share files with other Revit users). An LT RVT file is identical to the Revit RVT file, still letting you coordinate information in Navisworks and, if the Revit LT uptake is large enough, it won’t be too long before we start seeing analysis software vendors develop a link to RVT.

Ideal for smaller projects

I can see Revit LT being ideal for small projects with a single architect on each, and it can be used with a view to produce plans, sections, elevations and schedules from the model. Users get the benefit of importing content from the National BIM library, and are able to make their own components too.

– Out now and ready to ship, you can head to our site to get your copy of Autodesk Revit LT or Autodesk AutoCAD Revit LT Suite.

For more information on Autodesk Revit LT, call us on 03332 409 306 or email For all the latest news, follow @WeAreJigsaw24 on Twitter or ‘Like’ us on Facebook.

13 (ish) reasons you need Vectorworks 2013

13 (ish) reasons you need Vectorworks 2013

The wait’s over, architects, construction types and designers – Vectorworks 2013 is now finally out. Of course, if you’re a Vectorworks Service Select customer, you already knew that, have downloaded it and have been smugly modelling and rendering incredible designs since it came out on the 18th. But for the rest of you, here’s the lowdown on the reasons why you need Vectorworks 2013, including tools to improve your efficiency, boost your BIM workflow and ratchet up your render speeds.

Extra efficiency

There are a huge number of efficiency improvements in Vectorworks 2013 – all small individually, but when put together they can save loads of time in the design process. Improved Navigation Graphics will speed up the pan and zoom functionality of the software, which means no more compromising on speed when working with high graphic content models and images. The Plane Mode option lets you determine the default behaviour of 2D tools, then select objects by plane for quick selection, navigation and modification. You can now also edit multiple symbol definitions by selecting multiple symbols from the resource browser and editing their insertion options to apply the changes to all selected symbols. A real time saver!

Other new features to speed up your design include the Display Light quick preference, which allows you to toggle the visibility of light objects from the quick preferences bar (saving yourself a search through a long list of menu items), and the ability to align Leader Lines with a simple menu command – another small change with major results. In addition to the default line types provided, you can create your own custom options in the resource browser with Custom Line Types, and incorporate text or 2D geometry to produce a variety of line type styles. This will be an incredibly useful addition for developing your own line types to enhance your drawing.

Then we have Hyperlink Objects. A completely new tool in Vectorworks 2013, this lets you add links to objects in the Vectorworks model or in another application document, link to a website or use hyperlinks to navigate around the Vectorworks document. This is great for passing work on to clients who might not be using Vectorworks, as hyperlinks retain information when written to a PDF file. You can now also produce more professional looking reports and schedules by displaying images and 2D attributes in Worksheet cells.

Better modelling tools

Working in Vectorworks, you can get involved with some fairly detailed models with lots of information. The Clip Cube feature is a simple feature to isolate objects without turning off layers and classes, letting you quickly select and modify the cube volume to identify enclosed objects for viewing and editing. In 2013, the Lighting Device object has been re-engineered with new capabilities and significant speed improvements. Lighting device parameters are fully customisable with custom fields, multiple device labels and easy edit tools to display lighting devices based upon device attributes. This gives you more control than ever over label legend containers and beams.

Improved BIM functionality

Many of us have been expecting an improvement to the BIM functionality of Vectorworks, and with 2013 there are a number of new features that move the product forward as a valid BIM solution. The Auto Hybrid object controls the 2D appearance of your custom 3D object to better represent its appearance in 2D view mode when producing 2D plan documents in projects. The Roof and Roof Face improvements will also simplify the roof drawing process. They’re now based on a parasolid modelling kernel, so faces can accept 3D symbols, handle complex models and create quick roof designs.

One of my favourite new features for BIM is the Create Detail Viewport. This lets you create cropped viewports referenced with a drawing label on a sheet layer, or detailed views of plans, elevations and sections, giving you better navigation between views. The auto update feature of this viewport is a significant improvement to document efficiency within Vectorworks. We also welcome Enhanced Door and Windows Capabilities to Vectorworks 2013, providing greater flexibility in creating custom door and window options. We can also edit multiple selected door or window objects from within the object info palette. This was one of the most requested improvements on the Vectorworks customer wishlist.

Working with spaces will become a lot easier with the Optimised Space Object tool, which has undergone some drastic evolutions – it’s now a lot easier to define your space by picking bounding walls. Also, the space updates immediately as you modify or move your walls, and if you remove bounding walls between two spaces, your spaces merge.

Most importantly of all the BIM enhancements though, Nemetschek have increased the supported number of export file formats. One of aspect of this is the ability to export gbxml file formats, which provides Vectorworks interoperability with programs like IES for energy analysis. Along with IFC export improvements and fbx format export, Vectorworks is now even better placed to work collaboratively in a BIM project environment.

Enhanced rendering options

There have been some exciting rendering enhancements to Vectorworks 2013, with the new Arroway Texture Import leading the pack. Our rendering is only as good as the quality of our material textures, but with high quality Arroway textures in the default library and the ability to import high quality wood, concrete, stone and flooring textures, we can make medium visualisations or high resolution renders for the best effect.

Non-Blocking Renderworks Rendering now allows you to render multiple views in the background as you continue to work on your model, reducing render and re-rendering times. There’s also the option to cancel one viewport render without interrupting the others. Lastly, solar animations will look better than ever in 2013 with the Physical Sun and Sky capability. This uses the heliodon tool to produce detailed renderings and solar animations with high quality lighting at any time of the day.

All in all, Vectorworks 2013 is one of the most feature-packed versions ever, really catering for the needs of architects and creatives alike. As well as the usual rendering and performance boosts, Nemetschek have really taken on board the fact the industry is heading to the next phase of BIM, listened to their customers and delivered the ultimate product in Vectorworks 2013.

For more information on Vectorworks 2013, call us on 03332 409 306 or email For all the latest news, follow @WeAreJigsaw24 on Twitter or ‘Like’ us on Facebook.

Getting BIM-ready with Building Design Suite

Getting BIM-ready with Building Design Suite

We all accept that we could do with a little more training, but the reality of the situation is that we just do not have (or cannot make) the time for it. Work gets in the way and, however much we may need it, most of us simply don’t have the option of taking one or two days out of the office to attend a training session. Well, we’ve got good news: we’ve teamed up with the man who writes the manuals, Jonathan Pickup,  to offer you an alternative training programme that fits into your daily routine.

How does it work?

Jonathan runs a professional-level, instructor-led course that is delivered to you at your desktop in manageable one hour sessions. I wasn’t sure how this would work, so before we agreed to team up with Jonathan I tried it for myself. I attended two hour-long sessions a week, spread over the week so that I could fit them in around my work schedule. The course was well structured, and with only four people attending we all had enough time to address our own issues throughout the sessions.

I found that working our way through the manual, which in itself is comprehensive and has embedded video tutorials, allowed us to improve our program knowledge and develop more proficient ways of producing our drawings and models. Because each course is limited to four attendees, there’s always enough time for it to feel inclusive, and for everyone to have their questions addressed.

When is it?

We’ve got our first series of Vectorworks Essentials training booked to take place on the following dates in September 2012:

Tuesday 4th  09:00 – 10:00 am

Session 1 – Vectorworks interface and basic concepts

Thursday 5th 09:00 – 10:00 am

Session 2 – Creating a model and drawings

Tuesday 11th 09:00 – 10:00 am

Session 3 – Text and dimensions

Thursday 12th 09:00 – 10:00 am

Session 4 – Creating drawings (in detail)

Tuesday 18th 09:00 – 10:00 am

Session 5 – Making a 2D drawing

Thursday 19th 09:00 – 10:00 am

Session 6 – Introduction to 3D modelling

Tuesday 25th 09:00 – 10:00 am

Session 7 – Drawing a building

Thursday 26th 09:00 – 10:00 am

Session 8 – Introduction to worksheets

This course covers all the essential parts of Vectorworks that you need to know to work effectively. In this course you will learn the best ways to work, and how to harness the power of Vectorworks, making it a great course to complete before moving into a more industry-specific course. If you’re new to Vectorworks and need to get to grips with features like applying graphic attributes to objects, editing text and dimensions, creating drawings from 3D models and organising information to create drawings from scratch, it’ll really help you get up to speed.

What’s the damage?

£245 plus VAT, which means it clocks in at considerably less than some of the more concentrated training schemes. You’ll also get a copy of the Vectorworks Essentials training manual, written by Jon, which forms the basis of the course.

Ready to reserve your place? Drop us an email For all the latest news, follow @WeAreJigsaw24 on Twitter or ‘Like’ us on Facebook.

AutoCAD LT 2013 for Mac: The verdict is in…

AutoCAD LT 2013 for Mac: The verdict is in…

Autodesk have finally released AutoCAD LT for Mac in the UK. We asked Jigsaw24 CAD consultant Richard John to put the software through its paces and see if it lost (or gained) any key features on its way across the pond. Here’s what he had to say…

First, the facts: AutoCAD LT for Mac 2013 is now in stock, and you can buy it outright or crossgrade from your current PC version. The native Mac OS X version comes as a 612Mb .DMG file download – not a major strain as long as you have a decent broadband connection – or on disc. The software provides full compatibility with the PC version, but users on 2012 or earlier should bear in mind that, in line with past policies, Autodesk have changed the .DWG file format for the 2013 release.

Before we start, let’s get the specs out of the way: I run Autodesk LT for Mac 2013 on a Macbook Pro 6.2 with a 2.5GHz Intel Core i5 processor, 4GB RAM, 250GB disk and Mac OS X v10.6.8. Got that? Then let’s crack on…

Finding your way around

It’s been quite a while since I took on a big project in AutoCAD LT, and until you really get into the software, you just don’t realise how much work Autodesk have put into its development over the last few years. LT 2013 for Mac is a dedicated Mac OS X development – if feels like Mac software, and there’s no tell-tale PC ribbon (as one of those people who just can’t get into ribbon menus, I’m quietly glad about that). But my old favourites are still there, including the command line, which is floating and can be placed anywhere on my screen. The command line lets me key in those drawing commands that I still remember, and I believe it speeds up the drawing process – especially as Autocomplete suggests command options as I type, which helps me when I forget the actual command I want.

Autodesk do a great job of keeping their YouTube channel up to date with ‘how to’ videos and feature showcases (a good starting point for 2013 is here). These helped me find out what new features are in LT 2013, but I also had a lot of fun just exploring the menu and toolbar options available. Like most users, I never get update training and tend to miss out on some of the lesser-known updated features in the new releases. If that sounds familiar, I recommend you follow Lynn Allen’s Tips and Tricks blog for advice on some of the more under the radar updates.

What’s changed in AutoCAD LT for Mac…

Looking for Grips? Now called Multifunction Grips, these now offer extended command options when you pick on a grip point – I just love the options available when we select Grips on dimensions, they really speed up drafting and annotation. Select an object, right click and you get ‘add selected’ and ‘select similar’ – really powerful tools to help you work through the drawing process.

Don’t you hate it when your screen gets cluttered with icons and menus? You can now use the Clean Screen option to clear everything apart from your drawing area. Drafting seems so much easier. You just need to remember Cmd+0 to get back to your menus and toolbars.

A feature called Multitouch Gestures will be familiar to all Mac users. You can use the trackpad to pan and zoom around the drawing area. This is really easy to use, unique to the Mac version and really helps sell the Mac feel of the software.

What’s new for 2013…

You can use Project to organise and manage layouts from different drawing files in the new Project Manager palette. Launch layouts in the Project to open them for editing, or to publish all layouts in the Project.

We have been able to work with raster images for a while in LT, but now we can attach PDF files in the drawing as an underlay and add vector objects over them, as well as snapping to points.

In fact, LT now offers so much functionality that I don’t see the point of investing in its big brother AutoCAD, unless you do need that 3D modelling functionality. LT offers so much for the professional 2D drafter, and the entry level price point makes it very affordable and appealing to Mac users.

Hot-swapping Mac and Windows versions

I know a few Mac users using LT via Parallels or Bootcamp, and a few who avoid it because they’re worried about the possible performance penalty. Well, Autodesk will allow you to swap out your Windows version of LT 2013 for the Mac version for free. In fact, if you buy a standalone licence you can activate it on Windows or Mac – the same serial number will work for both, with a maximum of two activations.

LT for Mac and the cloud

I do use a lot of cloud services these days, I find it really useful to be able to move data between my Mac and Windows setups, access it from my iPad, share it with colleagues and back it up securely – all of which are made easier by cloud services. In LT 2013, I can upload my drawing directly to AutoCAD WS (the mobile arm of AutoCAD), but was disappointed not to find the online tab that exists in the PC version, which links your desktop software to the Autodesk 360 cloud services site.

So what’s the verdict?

Two thumbs up. This is an excellent release for anyone who doesn’t need 3D capabilities and doesn’t rely on the cloud. Autodesk have finally delivered a professional, .DWG compatible drafting solution for Mac users at the right price point.

Want to know more? Pick up AutoCAD LT for Mac at our website, call our team on 03332 409 306 or email For all the latest news, follow @WeAreJigsaw24 on Twitter or ‘Like’ us on Facebook.

The drafting face-off: AutoCAD LT and Vectorworks

The drafting face-off: AutoCAD LT and Vectorworks

Deciding on new software means thinking about what you need it to achieve. For an all-in-one, affordable 2D drafting solution, AutoCAD LT is a great choice, but if you want to add 3D drafting to your workflow, Vectorworks Fundamentals is the way to go.

We’ve weighed up the main points in favour of each program, so you can see which you should be looking at before you make an investment…

Drafting tools

AutoCAD LT is promoted for entry level 2D drafting and detailing, but now offers everything you need for general CAD work. It can work with Xrefs, raster images, dynamic blocks and PDFs, and Autodesk have added new features to the most recent versions of LT that were previously reserved for bigger brother AutoCAD. These include support for the AutoCAD WS mobile and web app, the Sheet Set Manager organisational tool, and other powerful tools such as Associative Arrays (maintain relationships between arrayed objects), Multifunctional Grips (now for lines, arcs and dimensions) and Delete Duplicate Objects (removes unnecessary geometry).

You wouldn’t expect to see a professional modelling solution within an entry level program, but Vectorworks Fundamentals punches above its weight, providing conceptual design tools and powerful 3D modelling functionality for professional free-form solid modelling designs. In that sense, it should be compared to the full AutoCAD package’s range of 2D and 3D tools for drafting, modelling, annotation and presentation.


While LT doesn’t have solid modelling capability, it manages to produce some excellent 3D surface models in the hands of the capable user. There’s no rendering capability either, but again you wouldn’t have to look too far to find a compatible and affordable renderer such as Photoshop or Shaderlight for Google SketchUp. With Vectorworks,you have the option to add the Renderworks integrated renderer module, and the new CINEMA 4D rendering engine provides advanced functionality to produce quality photorealistic and artistic render images.


LT shares the same flexible user interface as the fully-featured AutoCAD and as it’s customisable, you can set up the screen to look and function how you want. Vectorworks also features a customisable GUI, with tool palettes and drop-down menus to suit the user’s way of working. Both programs pick up a point here for their layout and ease of use.


Since LT works in the native DWG format, it’s easier to use with AutoCAD users as it maintains the integrity of the DWG drawing and can be used for annotation and detailing on a drawing project. Vectorworks operates in its native .vwx format but also includes .dwg import and export functionality with mapping tools to allow Vectorworks users to work seamlessly and share drawing data with AutoCAD users.

Both Vectorworks and AutoCAD LT will also run on either Windows or Mac, which means they’re ideally suited to a drawing office where employees have a choice of platform.

Making a decision

AutoCAD LT was developed as a cheaper entry-level alternative to AutoCAD and has since grown to become the best-selling CAD software globally, even out-stripping AutoCAD. The full version does include enhanced 3D drafting and programming capabiliy, but if you’re only going to be using it for 2D drafting and detailing, it’s a solid all-in-one solution.

If you do need to work in 3D however, the modelling tools in Vectorworks Fundamentals mean it’s a cut above AutoCAD LT. For a similar price, you can take your project from conceptual design to parasolid 3D modelling. Even if you work primarily in 2D, being able to create quick 3D volumes during the concept stage provides big advantages, including the ability to take live sections, so it’s very useful to have these tools at your disposal.

Already a Vectorworks veteran or an AutoCAD convert? Let us know your opinions in the box below. For more info, call us on 03332 409 306, email, follow @WeAreJigsaw24 on Twitter or ‘Like’ us on Facebook.

– Visit our store to buy the latest versions of Autodesk AutoCAD LT 2012 and Nemetschek Vectorworks Fundamentals.

Why you should upgrade your drafting software

Why you should upgrade your drafting software

Moving up to new versions of software can be daunting, especially when rolling out the latest release across the whole company. But while you may be comfortable working in legacy versions of AutoCAD LT or Vectorworks, you’ll be missing out on the new features that your employees and clients are crying out for.

The most obvious improvement is speed. As hardware technology advances, software is able to benefit from faster processing, which means less time sat waiting for commands to happen, and better graphics performance. It also means you can take advantage of support for the latest third party plug-ins designed to give greater functionality to your workflow. Most importantly though, is if you’re running the newest drafting software, you’ll be more compatible with the people you’re working with.

Another thing to bear in mind, if you’re still using Windows Vista and plan to upgrade your Autodesk software this year, you may want to consider upgrading your old oeprationg system too. Upgrades or new releases and services are no longer supported on Windows Vista.

Below, I’ve picked out some of the key new features in the latest versions of Autodesk AutoCAD LT 2013 and Nemetschek Vectorworks 2013.

Upgrade to AutoCAD LT 2012


AutoCAD LT 2012 is optimised for Windows 7 and new 64-bit processors, has support for the latest DWG technology and includes dozens of new tools designed to increase productivity and collaboration. Some of the major new updates since the 2009 release are:

  • AutoCAD WS collaboration.AutoCAD WS is a web and mobile application which allows you to access .DWG drawings anywhere in the world.
  • PDF support. 2012 brings the ability to create high-quality PDFs and attach them to drawings.
  • Sheet Set Manager. This new feature organises and manages collections of drawing sheets into named sets, making it easier to know which files belong to which projects.
  • New drafting tools. Enhancements include Align Objects, Associative Array, Delete Duplicate Objects, Hide and Isolate Objects, Create or Select Similar Objects, improved External Reference controls.

Upgrade to Vectorworks 2012


As well as improved graphics performance and an updated interface, Vectorworks 2012 also includes improved BIM capabilities, and advanced 3D modelling and rendering. Here are a few of my favourite new features:

  • Push/Pull. This new tool allows you to edit solid faces and planar objects by simply pushing or pulling, with interactive feedback and instant results.
  • Improved rendering. Renderworks is now powered by the award-winning CINEMA 4D 64-bit rendering engine which gives render speeds up to seven times faster, right inside Vectorworks.
  • 3D drafting. Working in 3D has been simplified, so drafting any shape, on any plane, in any view can be done with the tools you know how to use from your 2D workflow.
  • Custom hatch. You can now save your newly customised tiles and hatches as standard ones to be easily reused.
  • Find hidden objects. Just press the ‘B’ key while you’re using the Selection tool and you can easily see and select objects that are hidden behind filled objects.

Are you already running the latest versions? Let us know what feature you couldn’t live without in the comments box below. For more info, call us on 03332 409 306, email, follow @WeAreJigsaw24 on Twitter or ‘Like’ us on Facebook.

– Visit our store for more information and to upgrade to the latest versions of Autodesk AutoCAD LT 2013 and Nemetschek Vectorworks.

Our top 5 tips and resources for AutoCAD LT

Our top 5 tips and resources for AutoCAD LT

AutoCAD LT is full of little tools like PEDIT that can help improve your 2D drafting workflow, but how to use them isn’t always obvious. Luckily, there’s a wealth of resources out there to assist you, the best of which I’ve listed below. I’ve also added a couple of favourite tricks I use in my own workflow as a starting point…

1 – PEDIT join

Having first learnt this command back in the days of my uni course, the time PEDIT has saved by allowing me to create, explode or amend a polyline in AutoCAD LT has since made this a personal favourite. When creating cavity walls prior to discovering the PEDIT command, I used to draw each line individually and then spend a lot of time (and I mean a lot) trimming afterwards. Why didn’t I just use the polyline from the off? Well I prefer the initial flexibility of creating individual lines (plus I could never quite get the hang of it).

Acw 1644u

How to use PEDIT:

1.    Create the shape you want to turn into a polyline.
2.    Type ‘PEDIT’ and hit enter.
3.    It will ask you to select a line you want to turn into a Polyline, so select any of them.
4.    Once you have selected a line you will be asked if you want to turn it into a Polyline, so make sure it has a ‘Y’ in the answer box and hit enter.
5.    You will then be given a series of options – you need to select ‘Join’ or hit ‘J’ and hit enter.
6.    Select the whole shape and then hit enter.
7.    Hey presto! You have a turned the individual lines into a Polyline and can now easily offset it.

2 – Keyboard Commands

These won’t be new to some, but using keyboard commands is much easier than looking for the buttons. They’re a life saver when you have to switch between AutoCAD LT versions where the interface is laid out differently and it’s sometimes surprising that you can create a plan using so few commands. With the new AutoComplete function in the 2012 versions of AutoCAD LT, even if you forget the full command name, you can start to type and it will come up with all the options. My most commonly used commands are:

•    L- Line
•    Tr- trim
•    Mi – Mirror
•    OFF- offset
•    C- Circle
•    PEDIT- Polyline edit

3 – LT Unlimited

Working for Autodesk, Kate Morrical has had bundles of experience with AutoCAD LT, so her LT Unlimited blog is a great place to find insider tips and tricks. I’d recommend that anyone working in AutoCAD LT check out her blog and subscribe to the RSS feed for regular LT gems delivered right to your computer.

Visit Kate’s blog at LT Unlimited.

4 – Lynn Allen

Lynne Allen’s blog is a great source of information. Granted the tips she writes about are for AutoCAD rather than AutoCAD LT, but the majority of the 2D functionality is the same so always worth a browse. If you’re considering an upgrade from AutoCAD LT to AutoCAD, it’s also a good showcase for the added features you’ll receive.

Check out Lynn’s blog here.

5 –  Autodesk University

If you’re working in AutoCAD LT and haven’t used Autodesk University before, then you should get familiar with it fast. Among the resources on offer are online classes, newsletters and blogs full of tips from like-minded people that will make you wonder how you coped before.

Visit the Autodesk University here.
So there are a couple of little tricks I utilise in my workflow, and three banks of information I would recommend every AutoCAD LT user get acquainted with. But this list is far from exhaustive, and we’d love to hear about any favourite tips you have, so please share your knowledge in the comments box below…

For more information, call us on 03332 409 306 or email For all the latest news, follow @WeAreJigsaw24 on Twitter or ‘Like’ us on Facebook.

– Visit to find out more and buy Autodesk AutoCAD LT 2013.

The current state of BIM

The current state of BIM

Last week Construction News suggested that Tesco was considering dropping its plans to roll out BIM across all of its new build construction projects, and since then there’s been plenty of surprise registered on Twitter. Given the current situation, the timing of this may seem rather baffling. Take into account these developments over the past month for instance:

– The NBS announced that the preliminary results for their second National BIM Survey showed that BIM adoption in the UK has doubled from 13% to 26% over the previous 12 months;

– The UK’s biggest privately-owned building firm, Laing O’Rourke, reveals it feels their use of BIM was the ‘main catalyst’ of their appointment on the Leadenhall Street (aka the Cheese Grater) build;

– Leading authority on town planning and infrastructure software, Adam Strafaci, published an article saying that, while BIM has gradually been transforming the building industry for years, it is only now that infrastructure specialists are catching on;

– The first round of students graduate from The BIM Academy at Northumbria University, all securing jobs or further study as a result;

– CAD software giant Nemetschek Vectorworks announces its collaboration with NBS in the development of the UK National BIM Library, set to be launched in November.

With the tide moving in favour of BIM, it seems unthinkable that Tesco wouldn’t consider the situation ripe for them to push forward with their original mandate. It’s also quite disappointing for someone who has championed BIM for years, as having the world’s third largest retailer adopt BIM would undoubtedly help convince many other major businesses to follow suit. On the other hand however, one thing that this will do is create debate around BIM: debate which can only be considered healthy and a great opportunity for all sides to ensure that BIM progresses in the best possible manner for everyone involved.

It should also be pointed out that Tesco’s exact phrasing of its original intention was ‘evaluating its potential for future use in our construction processes’. That seems perfectly reasonable and it can be argued that many businesses may find themselves at the same juncture in the near future as a multitude of factors (recession, cut-backs, technological advances and legislative decisions) converge to create a lengthy period of change. In the ensuing fallout, many people seem to have skipped over the point that, in such an environment, there is room for everyone to have their say about standardising and shaping BIM in order to realise its full potential.

The Jigsaw CAD team is perfectly placed to help companies of all sizes adopt and implement BIM: offering advice, software and a RIBA-approved introductory seminar. Give us a call on 03332 409 306 or email For all the latest news, follow @WeAreJigsaw24 on Twitter or ‘Like’ us on Facebook.

Why BIM is not a piece of software

Why BIM is not a piece of software

Contrary to some claims from software manufacturers, you can’t go out and buy BIM; it’s not a one-stop solution that you take home and start using.

In truth, BIM applications (such as Revit and Vectorworks Architect) are only one part of the BIM workflow, and a single piece of software won’t allow for intelligent design and automatic updates where changes are made.

A conference event I attended in 2010 helped explain what BIM really is. Speakers such as Richard Saxon from RIBA, Tim Broyd from ICE and, of course, Paul Morrell (the Government’s Chief Construction Adviser) all expanded on BIM being more about collaborative working throughout the lifespan of the building, underlining that it is about an entire workflow and requires the adoption of a different philosophy.

The role of software in BIM

It should be pointed out that software does – understandably – play a role in BIM, but cultural change is more of a factor than financial investment. In the words of Paul Morrell, BIM is only “10 or 20% about technology – the rest is about cultural change.”

There are a number of BIM-friendly applications available including Autodesk Revit and Vectorworks Architect. If you consider switching from AutoCAD to Revit, there are obvious benefits. Once you’re up to speed, you’ll be able to perform energy analysis, instantaneous updates and enjoy limited requirements for line arcs and circles. Revit also gives you the power to run reports on all of the components, which can then be used to help forecast project costs. Admittedly the switch isn’t an instantaneous one – some training will be required – but, ultimately, you benefit from BIM-friendly features that you won’t find on AutoCAD.

When it comes to Vectorworks, a lot of users don’t seem to be aware that they’ve already got a very good solution at their disposal. Personally, I struggle to understand the reasoning behind switching from Vectorworks to Revit (unless, of course, the client specifically requests it). Vectorworks is capable of instantaneous updates and report running and you can unlock its full capabilities with only a day or two of training, a much cheaper and less time-demanding solution than switching software. At the moment, the built-in energy analysis tools are fairly limited. However, plenty of third-party software is available and capable of doing this better than Revit anyway.

We’re in the process of putting Vectorworks and Revit 2012 through their paces so expect more in-depth analysis soon.

Collaborative Working

Now I’ve said that, I imagine a few of youare thinking “how does that constitute collaborative working if we’re all using different bits of software?” Well, in an ideal world, everyone involved in a project would use the same application. However, everyone has their own preference and the fact that someone uses Vectorworks, and someone else uses Revit (or MicroStation, ArchiCAD, etc) doesn’t matter – so long as all the information is imported and exported in the same file format.

Navisworks Manage 2012 Box

Enter Navisworks. Autodesk’s excellent project management software allows you to take collaboration a step further. It essentially acts as a central repository for everyone’s models, information and documentation, creating a complete model so you can thoroughly analyse the complete building. Navisworks supports a whole host of file types, including Excel, DWF and FBX, so you can import your working schedule and create an animation timeline of the work actually occurring.

Roundtable discussions and cultural change

Paul Morrell Mugshot

The importance of software in BIM was recently discussed in more detail at a roundtable discussion hosted by NBS. If you’ve got the time to set aside a few hours to watch the videos, you can find them here, but I’ll try to summarise the main points for you.

So far, a lot of people have only concentrated on the modelling aspect of BIM, Paul Morrell is keen to point out that the real key to BIM is the ‘I’ at its heart: Information. BIM draws together all the information about a building: its design, construction, maintenance and composition, enabling the efficient and ongoing management of a project. Morrell has previously underlined the fact that BIM is more to do with cultural changes across the entire industry than anything else. This news should come as a relief to small architectural practices which have been holding back in the belief that they can’t afford BIM software, when in fact what they need to do (adopt these cultural changes) is relatively cheap and easy.

In short, BIM requires everyone to have the same way of thinking and working, but not necessarily the same software.

We can help with every aspect of your BIM workflow, from hardware and render farms, to software licences, consultation and ongoing support. Get in touch with us for more information about adapting to a new BIM workflow, or to enquire about the capabilities of Navisworks and other BIM-friendly software, call us on 03332 409 306 or email