App review: Autodesk AutoCAD 360 for iPad

App review: Autodesk AutoCAD 360 for iPad

Tablets like iPad have completely revolutionised design review, letting architects in the field collaborate with clients and colleagues on the fly. Take Autodesk’s AutoCAD 360 mobile app – using this, you can open up DWG and DWF files, mark up and annotate them, then quickly ping them back to stakeholders without the need to head back to the studio to log on to your email. It’s the future of design review, it’s free, and we love it! 

What is AutoCAD 360?

AutoCAD 360 (Autodesk, free) is an easy-to-use drawing and drafting app that lets you view, edit, and share AutoCAD drawings on iPad while you’re on the move. If you’ve been an avid AutoCAD user for a while, you might remember their mobile app was formerly called AutoCAD WS. Now, Autodesk have rebranded it with a ‘360’ to bring it in line with the web-based 360 tools in the desktop version of AutoCAD, and given it a few brand new features too.

What can it do?

You can break down AutoCAD 360’s functionality into three areas: viewing, editing and sharing. First, you can open and view 2D and 3D DWG drawings that are stored in your free AutoCAD 360 online account, seeing all aspects including external references, layers and image underlays, and using multitouch zoom and pan to navigate around. Edit-wise, AutoCAD 360 lets you draw and edit shapes, select, move, rotate and scale objects, and add text annotations directly on to your drawing before saving your edits back to your AutoCAD 360 workspace. When it comes to sharing, you can add comments and images, and invite responses using AutoCAD’s Design Feed. You can also share designs directly from the app, print remotely from your device or plot designs to PDF or DWF to share via email.

Opt for a paid AutoCAD360 Pro Subscription, and you also get access to advanced features including: new drawing creation, larger file size support, connectivity to third-party storage (including Dropbox, Box and more), advanced layer management, properties and attributes, block libraries, drawing coordinates, priority support, increased storage space, new tools and much more.

How will it benefit my workflow?

Letting you seamlessly share drawings with colleagues and clients across a range of devices, Autodesk 360’s powerful design review and markup tools can seriously simplify site visits. All you need is an internet connection and you’re away! It’s already been a hit too, with over 12 million people having downloaded AutoCAD 360 since its arrival, so we can see the app becoming an essential part of the design review and approvals process.

Where can I get it?

AutoCAD 360 (Autodesk, free) is available for iPad, iPhone and iPod, and you can download it either from the App Store on your device, or by heading to iTunes. There’s also more info on Pro subscription pricing.

Want to find out more? Check out Autodesk AutoCAD 2014 here. You can also give us a call on 03332 409 306 or email CAD@Jigsaw24.com. For all the latest news and tips, 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.

Rendering

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.

Interface

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.

Compatibility

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 CAD@Jigsaw24.com, 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.

How to get Google Earth working with AutoCAD 2012

How to get Google Earth working with AutoCAD 2012

AutoCAD 2011 had the great function of being compatible with the Google Earth Extension, but a problem with the installer means Autodesk’s new AutoCAD 2012 can’t be detected.

To fix this, and get Google Earth Extension compatability, follow these steps from the Autodesk Labs website:

1.   “Download the zip file from Autodesk Labs.

2.   Extract the appropriate MSI file (e.g. the 64-bit one) from the PublishDWGtoGE_32_64.zip file.

3.   Go to Windows Start > Run then CMD to launch the cmdline.

4.   Enter msiexec /a DwgPublishToGEX64Installer.msi

5.  The /a starts the installer but instead of the standard installer, it runs the network setup and allows you to extract files to a directory.

6.   Copy the these files to your install directory of your desired AutoCAD, e.g. AutoCAD 2012.

7.   Load the cuix file by doing the following:

–   Select “CUI” tool from the ‘Manage’ ribbon. Or, just type ‘cui’ on the command line.

–   Scroll down on the top half of the dialog until you find ‘Partial Customization Files’. Right-click and select ‘Load Partial’ and pick GoogleEarth.cui from the AutoCAD Roamable Root Folder folder.

–   Restart acad and you should have the Google Earth extension in the ribbon.

8.  Load AeccDWGToGE.arx file using APPLOAD command or arx/load or some other way. You might want to select it as one of the apps to load at start up in APPLOAD if you’re going to be using this often.”

Read the article in full and download the Google Earth Extension driver file from the Autodesk Labs website.

Visit Jigsaw24 for more information on Autodesk AutoCAD 2012, call 03332 409 306 or email CAD@Jigsaw24.com.

How to use Google Earth with AutoCAD

How to use Google Earth with AutoCAD

On one of our browses through Autodesk blogs and forums, we came across this little gem of a tip that enables you to use the mighty Google Earth Extension right in your AutoCAD project, and vice-versa.

The advice comes from Scott Sheppard, who has worked for Autodesk for 17 years, so really knows his way around AutoCAD-based products. On the Autodesk Labs blog, he gives a few simple steps on how publish your 3D models from AutoCAD-based products directly into the Google Earth application, import a Google Earth image into AutoCAD, drape a Google Earth image onto a 3D mesh in AutoCAD and attach time span information to your model.

1. Make sure you have a compatible version of AutoCAD

When I say compatible version of AutoCAD, I specifically mean:
AutoCAD 2011 Family
* AutoCAD 2011 (32-bit and 64-bit)
* AutoCAD Architecture 2011 (32-bit and 64-bit)
* AutoCAD Civil 3D 2011 (32-bit and 64-bit)
* AutoCAD Map 3D 2011 (32-bit and 64-bit)

AutoCAD 2007-2010 Family
* AutoCAD 2007-2010 (32-bit only)
* AutoCAD Architecture 2007-2010 (32-bit only)
* AutoCAD Civil 3D 2007-2010 (32-bit only)
* AutoCAD Map 3D 2008-2010 (32-bit only)

One of the key points here is that the 2011 family is the first one where 64-bit is supported.

2. Make sure you have the compatible version of Google Earth

The Google Earth Extension is compatible with Google Earth 5.x. It is not compatible with Google Earth 6.

3. Get the installers from the Labs web site

1. Navigate to http://labs.autodesk.com.
2. Click on Sign-In to login with your Autodesk Single Sign-on user name and password.
3. Navigate to http://labs.autodesk.com/utilities/google_earth_extension_beta/.
4. Click on Download Now.
5. Understand that installing the technology preview means that you will need to accept an end user license agreement and click on DOWNLOAD.
6. Save PublishDWGtoGE_32_64.zip to your computer.

You now have all of the installers for the various versions of AutoCAD.

4. Run the installer that matches your version of AutoCAD
1. I happen to have AutoCAD 2011 on a 64-bit machine running Windows 7.
2. As such, I select the C:\Users\sheppas\Documents\PublishDWGtoGE_32_64.zip\PublishDWGtoGE\2011\64-bit folder.
3. I drag and drop DwgPublishToGEX64Installer.msi to my My Documents folder.
4. In My Documents folder, I double click on the msi file to run the installer and follow the on-screen instructions. Even though I am the only one who uses my laptop, I install the technology preview so that it is available to all users of this computer.

If you repeat these steps as appropriate for your system, you now have the technology preview installed.

5. If you are having problems, check that your install went well

The following commands should work from the command line.
* IMPORTGEIMAGE
* IMPORTGEMESH
* GETIME
* PUBLISHKML

The following files should be in your AutoCAD folder:

One of the wish list items was to make the technology preview compatible with the ribbon interface.

If you’ve got any AutoCAD 2011 architecture tips to share, let us know in the comments box below. Call us for more information on 03332 409 306 or email CAD@Jigsaw24.com.

AutoCAD: Mac or PC?

AutoCAD: Mac or PC?

If you’ve managed to avoid the news that AutoCAD for Mac was released this month, then where have you been hiding? This new release from Autodesk is an important step towards giving people a choice of platform in their CAD workflow, but what should you choose to run AutoCAD, Mac vs PC?

It’s difficult to ignore the fact that over the past few years, Apple have managed to take the computer market by storm. Their Mac-based platform has become the computer of choice for creative professionals and it’s increasingly showing its face in businesses up and down the country. With more and more PC users opting to switch to Apple computers (take a look at Apple’s yearly sales figures to see how significant this is), you have to ask yourself why.

Apple design both their hardware and operating system, which means you don’t suffer from system conflicts. Macs benefit from better protection against viruses than PCs. Macs are notorious for being hardwearing, and come with a lower total cost of ownership than their PC equivalents.

What do you do if you want the benefits of a Mac but still need to work in AutoCAD?

Until now, Autodesk users in the construction industry have not been able to choose the platform they work on unless they opted to run Parallels, Boot Camp or similar virtualisation applications. These let you run Windows (and a Windows version of AutoCAD) on your Mac system. The problem, though, is that by running software through a virtualised desktop, you can suffer from reduced system performance when compared to running it natively on a Windows-based PC.

But apart from a slightly more sluggish machine, this is also an expensive option if everyone in your office needs their own copy of the virtualisation software in order to get on with their work. So unless there is a compelling business argument for running those Macs, then it’s likely that the PC option will always win.

That’s exactly why the release of this new AutoCAD is such big news. Not only is it going to benefit the end user, it’s also a sign that Autodesk have started to think outside the box in their approach to the entire CAD market.

If you take a look at AutoCAD for Mac, you will still see the majority of the functionality that comes in previous versions. The result is a typically AutoCAD setup that makes use of a lot of the functions that are native to the Mac.

One noticeable difference is the user interface – the ribbons are out, and in is a cleaner, streamlined screen. This lets users hide additional icons at the sides of the screen, providing a larger working space.

 

The new interface also comes with the ability to dock the side bars.

 

A big addition to the Mac-based AutoCAD is the ability to use the trackpad for editing designs more intuitively. If you’re working on a MacBook, MacBook Pro or MacBook Air, AutoCAD will use the Multi-Touch functionality to pan and zoom around the drawing. If you’re using a desktop-based Mac, the new Magic Trackpad will give you the same freedom.

The Mac’s Spotlight search function is also utilised. It provides a very intuitive search function from within the AutoCAD application which lets you search for commands, and highlights their location in the menus.

 

Obviously, that doesn’t even begin to over the functionality in this new release (you can find out more by clicking here), but one final thing that’s worth pointing out is that you don’t need to download the relevant plug-in to upload drawings to AutoCAD WS. As the new application is already built into AutoCAD for Mac, all you need to do is select the upload option in the File menu.

Should you change to AutoCAD for Mac?

Well, AutoCAD for Mac certainly appears to be a sleeker version of AutoCAD, adopting the style of the Mac perfectly, and if you’re onboard with the Mac platform (ie improved user interface, more security against viruses etc.) then I’d certainly recommend that you start to take a look at AutoCAD for Mac. But if you’re happy with the PC software and the way it functions on your computer, then in truth, you should probably stick at it.

Only Autodesk hold the answer whether this Mac release is a hint at where they are taking their CAD applications, but given how Apple and the Mac platform are positioned in the market, Autodesk would be pretty foolish not to expand on their Mac portfolio.

Want to find out more about the Mac and PC CAD divide or got a question about which platform is right for you? Get in touch with us on 03332 409 204 or email CAD@Jigsaw24.com or take a look at our full range of AutoCAD for Mac products.

Print in 3D from Revit with STL Explorer

Print in 3D from Revit with STL Explorer

In response to demand in the industry for 3D printers, Autodesk have developed an STL export plug-in for Revit 2009. The plug-in allows Revit users to generate STL files from Refit files at the click of a button.

STL files are used directly by the majority of 3D printing and / or rapid prototyping solutions to produce true three-dimensional models of your building’s design. Previously, STL files were only available to the Revit community using 3rd party software, but the team over at Autodesk Labs have made an official Autodesk version available to the public.

Both 32-bit and 64-bit versions of the Revit family are supported.

Click here to download from Autodesk Labs

To Get Started

–   Download the ZIP package that contains the installer, installation and user instructions, and a feedback form.

–   Unzip the downloaded ZIP file.

–   Follow the Read Me file to install the STL Exporter.

–   The next time you open Revit 2009 you will see a new option called Export STL under the Tools: External Tools menu.

To Use It

–   Load a model and select a 3D view that you want to use as the basis for your print.

–   Using the instructions in the Read Me file set up your 3D view in one of the Revit 2009 family of products.

–   Export the model using the command under the Tools: External Tools menu.

–   Make any required changes to the STL file using an STL viewer.

–   Print the STL file using a 3D Printer.

–   Enjoy the fruits of your labour!

Note on Scaling

Regardless of settings in Revit, the STL exporter always sends out your file in feet. To make the scale for your final product, you will need to scale it (based on a conversion from feet) at the time of import into your secondary application.

Supported Applications

The STL Exporter is compatible with the following applications:

–   Autodesk Revit Architecture 2009

–   Autodesk Revit Structure 2009

–   Autodesk Revit MEP 2009

Call us on 03332 409 306 or email CAD@Jigsaw24.com with all your CAD workflow questions!