Remember some of the basics to make your drafting experience easier. The @ sign is your friend

Some of the basics of how AutoCAD works tend to be forgotten. One of this is the capacity to enter relative coordinates by using the @ sign before the coordinates. This will allow us to set a point, line end point, etc a certain distance from the point we clicked before.
This is specially useful when we draw rectangles using the RECTANGLE command. If we know the dimensions of the rectangle we want to draft, we can just click on the point we want one of its corners to be and enter @X,Y (being X=width and Y=height). By entering the @ sign the coordinates of the second corner will be relative to the first one, while if we didn't enter the @ sign, entering X,Y only, we would be entering coordinate points related to the UCS 0,0,0.
As a quick example, if we want to draw a rectangle 1 unit high by 2 units wide, we will do the following:
• Enter RECTANGLE command (or click rectangle icon if you use icons)
• click to select the point of the first corner
• enter @2,1

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### AutoCAD: Creating a Tool Palette with multiple Blocks at Once

You don't need to manually add each Block to a tool palette, it can be done with just a few clicks.

Not so long ago, I wrote a post explaining how to transfer Tool Palettes from one computer to another. The following post also explained how to create a new group of palettes.
What I found out today is how to create a new Palette from a file. This is very useful if we want to generate a palette with a lot of Blocks that we have stored in a single file. With just a few blocks, or with blocks in different files, we would manually drag and drop the blocks into the new palette. That becomes tedious if we have to do it for a lot of blocks. The solution is quite simple:
We make sure first that we have active the group of palettes where we want to add the new one. We also need to have the drawing containing the Blocks open. From the design center ("Ctrl + 2" or ADCENTER command) we select the file with the blocks we want to add, right click it and select "create palette". See the image for a visual aid to do this.
The result will be a palette with the anme of the file, and ALL the Blocks that the file contained, organized alphabetically.
Thanks to Aarti for this tip.

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### Photoshop: Zoom using the scroll wheel

Did you know that you can use the scroll wheel to zoom in and out in Photoshop?
Catala - Castellano
Changing from one software to another is sometimes annoying. There are certain things we give for granted that it is hard to get use to not have them in some software.
One of this things is the zooming feature using the Scroll Wheel. It is a very standard feature in most CAD programs. But it is not the default setting for Adobe software.
Luckily there is a work around. If we want to be able to use the scroll wheel to zoom in and out in Photoshop, we have two options. We can get used to press Alt (option in MAC) and then use the scroll wheel. This is the default setting in Photoshop. Or we can configure PS to zoom in and out automatically when we turn the scroll wheel.
To do that we simply need to go to Edit --> Preferences --> General. And check the box "Zoom with Scroll Wheel". Easy and simple, see the image below.

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### SketchUp: VRAY plugin works also on version 7

ASGVIS has announced that their VRAY plugin for SketchUp is ready to work on SketchUp 7 too.

ASGVIS released some time ago a plugin to be able to use VRAY render inside SketchUp. Recently they announced that the plugin itself is ready to be used in the recently released new version 7 of SketchUp.
The only tricky part is that you can not have the plugin running for both versions 6 and 7 at the same time. So, if you are just planning to try version 7 but keep version 6 maybe you want to hold on before switching Vray t thenew version.
I tried it with version 6 some time ago and I sincerely didnñt manage to get good results. But the gallery that ASGVIS has only proofs that it is proably just due tome not putting enough time into it.
You can download a free 30 day trial here and give it a shot. The license is nearly \$800 so you better be sure it is what you want before investing that money, specially considering that competing NextLimit sells its software
with far more functionality plus all availale Plugins for \$995.

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### AutoCAD 2009: Disabling the annoying information pane

Turn off that white information pane that shows when you hover over an XREF, Block, etc

Sometimes new features are more an annoyance than a real benefit for the user. AutoCAD 2009 has some of these. One of them is that white box or pane with information that shows when you keep the cursor over an XREF, Block or almost any type of object.
AutoCAD 2009 has awesome new features and although this one might be useful in some way, I find it extremely annoying. Well finally someone told me how to disable it. It is simple.
Go to Tools --> Options --> User Preferences. There, uncheck the box that says "Display hyperlink cursor, tooltip, and shortcut menu.
I haven't found any system variable for this (i think there is none so far) so it will have to be disabled by accessing the OPTIONS dialog box. Click on the image to get a view of the Tab and box you need to uncheck to disable this feature.
Update: There´s been a couple of comments saying this trick is wrong. It is not, everything I post here is verified by myself, I repeat, I only post stuff that I checked that works. I think the confusion of some folks is to what d0 I mean by "annoying white infomation pane" See the picture please on the right to understand what I meant.

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### AutoCAD Architecture: Hiding 2D objects (actually obscuring them)

Trying to find a way to hide single objects I came across a way to obscure them.
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Someone told me today at work that Microstation has an option where you can hide objects regardless of their layer. I really don't know if that is true (haven't used Microstation for almost two years) but I was asked to find a similar command in AutoCAD. Be aware, I wasn´t successful.
But every failure has a part of learning, in the process, I discovered the AEC Tool: Obscure. You can access it by selecting geometry -- Right click -- AEC Tools -- Obscure. Or you can directly type the LINEWORKOBSCURE command.
See the two pictures below to appreciate what this command does.
On the image above we want to hide the withe and red geometry behind te white geometry. The process is simple. We select the geometry we want to show as hidden (in this case the white and red rectangles), right click -- AEC Modify Tools -- Obscure. Then we will be asked to select the geometry that is going to create the obscuring boundary. We select the two blue rectangles. Done, see the result below.
See how all the "hidden" geometry becomes dotted lines, and how even the solid hatch filing the central rectangle is "hidden" behind the blue rectangle. I say "hidden" because there is nothing actually hidden here, what ACA does is break the original geomtrey using the boundaries we gave it, and change the geometry inside those boundaries to a layer with hidden line properties.
It ia a useful command, but don't forget that this is pure 2D. I am still tring to figure out a way to configure the properties of this hidden geometry layer. By default the layer is called Aec-Detail-Hidden, but I know that this can be modified (as wellas the layer properties) because in my company when using this command the hidden geometry comes in one of our standard hidden layers. Will investigate a bit more and post the solution if I find it. Or do you knowhow to do it?!?

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See the new features of the latest SketchUp version.

Thanks to Jim and his SketchUp Plugins blog I got the link to the video below that explains the new and very cool features added to the new SketchUp 7.

I have to confess that I didn't even know that version 7 was already out (I only know that I know nothing). So if you feel like trying all these new features (and dynamic components look like the most awesome addition so far) here is the link to the download page.
Update: today mornig (Nov 17th) google has oficially released SketchUp 7 on the official sketchup blog.

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### Learning to Use Adobe Products

Adobe has a grat video Library to learn to use their products
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I started updating my portfolio this weekend (with the current state of the Architecture Industry you never know when you will need to have it ready) and I wanted to use Adobe InDesign because I had read is the best software for composing great looking professional layouts.
My knowledge on this software is so far very limited so I wanted to learn from tutorials or whatever resources are available. Looking through the help files, I found a link to video tutorials.
The best thing of this finding is that the video tutorials are not limited to InDesign, but to all the products Adobe has in its Portfolio. I followed 8 of the videos about InDesign and I can say they are very easy to follow and each one concentrates on one topic. I think it is a great resource to learn some basics and some advanced tricks so I´ll be using this on the next months. Anything that I find worth mentioning will of course be posted here.
Hopefully if I get good enough on using InDesign, I might even start a new category dedicated to this program. Architects don´t generally use InDesign (at least no company where I've been ever had it installed) but I believe it is a great tool.

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### AutoCAD: Editing Aliases "on the fly"

With this command, you don't need to acces acad.pgp to edit your aliases
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There is an Express Tool Command, ALIASEDIT, that allows us to edit the Aliases we use in the current session of AutoCAD. Previously, we had to acces acad.pgp, change the Aliases there and restart AutoCAD.
With the command ALIASEDIT you can change any Alias while working, making the process much simpler (and also reducing the chances of screwing up the acad.pgp file).
Changing and adding Aliases is to me the number 1 step to do to improve your wirk speed. Some people prefer to use icons or access commands throught the menu bar, but to trully speed up your workflow you should alwas have a hand on your keyboard and another on the mouse.
ALIASEDIT can also be accessed through the Menu Bar.
Express - Tools - Command Alias Editor
I am going to post soon a list of the ALIAS modifications that I use that make me work more efficiently. And remember that not so long ago i published a List of Express Tools.

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### How far could you go with Architectural Software?

You learn AutoCAD, then Photoshop, then SketchUp, then Revit, then 3DMax...See how far others have gone...

If you followed similar steps as I did, probably you started in School learning som CAD software. I was actually taught Microstation SE back in 1998. Together with this you probably learned some image editing program like Photoshop or Corel Draw to improve your presentations (I actually love the discussions between people with vector shaped brains because they learned Corel first and those with Raster shaped ones because they stated with Photoshop).
Soon after that comes the attempt to go 3D, not only for presentation purposes, but also from the design point of view.
Before @last software released SketchUp (yes, Google didn't create SketchUp, they bought it in 2006) crossing the 3D threshold was too much for many. Many of my friends back in School would say "I can't do 3D", nowadays it seems to me impossible to imagine an architecture school without almost all the students using SketchUp or something similar to design their buildings.
The use of 3D modeling programs is vital as I see it in the design process. Some old school guys say that real models are better, but I respectfully disagree. While a real model is a great tool to show to clients and to get a sense of scale of what you are doing, it rarely allows you to understand the real effect of the buildings and spaces you are creating. Modeling in the computer allows you to get that view from the human position as if you were in the project.
The hard step to do next is to have the ability to use 3D not only for design purposes but for presentation. Reaching and acceptable level of Image realism (enough to look professional with a client or to not let your professor make fun of you) takes some time. The most challenging part is to be able to stick to one rendering program/plugin and develop your skills fully.
In many years I've got into 3D MAX, V-Ray, Maxwell, Cinema 4D, Rhino... I have to say that for the easy of use so far Maxwell Render has proven to be the easiest to use (although render times sometimes skyrocket when using Multilight).
Many have followed this road before, and some have been extremely successful in getting the most of the process, reaching levels of excellence with Computer Graphics Software that allowed them to jump to other fields thanks to that.
I was reading in CGArchitect an Interview with Tino Schädler, who starting with an Architect background made it to the Film industry after becoming truly proficient with Maya.
Thanks to Tino, i got to discover some CG Artists who have done great jobs lately. Like Joseph Kosinski. For most of us involved in Architecture Software and struggling to work smarter, it seems a very long shot to ever reach similar levels, but as the end of this post I thought it would be nice to dream a bit.
Those levels of imagery require of course full time dedication, super powerful computers and time, but as read in Tino's Interview, improving those skills (even if it doesn't mean that you will turn into a CG Artist) can only help you on your daily struggle for better designs, better buildings (and better pay).

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### AutoCAD: Things that SHIFT can do for you

Do you know that the SHIFT Key can make your life much simpler?

After many months finding tips about how to work smarter and easier, I realized that some Keys in the keyboard really make a difference on your work speed. That is the reason why I want to start a series of posts explaining what some of these keys can do for you, to improve the way you work.
We will start with the SHIFT Key, since it is the one that so far has proven to me more useful. This is a quick list of how SHIFT will make you work faster with AutoCAD:
• SHIFT while drawing a line will lock the perpendicular inference. It is like a temporary activation of the ORTHO mode. If you press SHIFT, a tooltip with similar to the macro Icon of digital cameras appear to show you that ORTHO mode is temporary active.
• When using FILLET or CHAMFER, pressing SHIFT while selecting the second entity will override the fillet radius or the chamfer distances with a value of 0. Very useful if you want to keep certain radius or chamfer distance but once in a while you need a sharp corner.
• When Selecting Grips of an object, holding SHIFT will allow us to select multiple grips (deeply explained here).
• When we are selecting objects, pressing SHIFT will allow us to deselect any of them.
• When using TRIM or EXTEND, pressing SHIFT will toggle between one command and the other (i.e. if you typed TRIM and press SHIFT and select the object, it will extend instead of trim).
• For object snap tracking, object points are automatically acquired. If you press SHIFT you will avoid acquiring points for object snap tracking.
• SHIFT + SPACEBAR: cycle through selection peviews If selection preview is turned on, you can cycle through the objects by rolling over the object on top to highlight it, and pressing and holding SHIFT and then pressing SPACEBAR continuously. When the required object is highlighted, left-click to select it. If selection preview is turned off, hold down SHIFT + SPACEBAR and click to cycle through these objects, one after the other, until the one you want is selected. Press ESC to turn off cycling.
• SHIFT + RIGHT MOUSE CLICK: Will call the Osnap contextual menu (see more here).
• SHIFT + TAB: When working with Dynamic dimensions, it cycles backward through all editable dimensions (TAB only will cycle forward)
• On AutoCAD Architecture, when we draw Walls, SHIFT allows us to choose the Justification Line. Once we started drawind the wall, by prssing SHIFT we will cycle throught the different possibilities (left, center or right)
I have to confess that 2 or 3 of these tips I never use them, but some others have become so fundamental to my workflow, that is hard to imagine how I worked without them for so long.

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### Architecture Software Acronyms

What do all these acronyms stand for? CAD, CAM, BIM, IPD, CAE, AEC...Not so long ago, a friend of mine started publishing in his blog a list of Acronyms related to the Business Intelligence field. For a long time I wanted to do something similar, so finally that pushed my laziness away and here comes the list.
Since this website deals with Architecture related software, I'll try to list all those acronyms related to this topic, or at list the ones that I am acquainted with. The list might get updated as new abbreviations develop or I get to know them. Here is the list:
• CAD: Computer Aided Design. Sometimes also referred as CADD (for Computer aided Design and Drafting). The most basic one (and the one that gives name to this website). Although originally understood for 2D drafting with a computer, nowadays is also used to refer to 3d Design. Most of the big names in CAD software deliver products with strong 3D modelling capabilities. The Almighty AutoCAD is the industry most widely spread CAD package in the construction industry.
• CAM: Computer Aided Manufacturing. Originally Computer Aided Machining. Is the use of computers (and designs generally prooduced with CAD systems), to streamline the production of goods.
• CAE: Computer Aided Engineering. Although in many countries the functions of CAE software are performed by Engineers and not by Architects, in some places like Spain, the Architect still plays the main role in this field, specially on Building Structural Analysis. The tasks accomplished with this software are analysis, simulation, design, diagnosis of built solutions (and thus, of buildings) and many others. The software range might go from CAD/CAM software to Structural analysis programs, Heating and AC system calculators, etc.
• AEC: Architecture Engineering and Construction. The explanation is kind of obvious, software or any tool related to these 3 fields. The abbreviation is used by many BIM software to name some of the tools such as the AEC Polygons.
• BIM: Building Information Modelling. This is were the industry seems to be strongly moving to. BIM means not only building a 3D modell of a building, but also adding to these model all sorts of real life properties, such as materials, plumbing, structure, etc. It is in certain way like building in a computer a complete model previous to the construction of the real thing. ArchiCAD is known to be the first BIM software (released in 1987), other big names on BIM are Revit by Autodesk, Allplan by Nemetschek or Bentley Architecture (the BIM version of Microstation).
• IPD: Integrated Project Delivery. Not very extensively explained, seems to be a step forward from BIM. A way to not only build a model that has all the information of a project, but also to create an interconnection between Architects, Owners and Constructors (and all providers involved in the process) to minimize costs and maximize building efficiency. In this video, you can see a brief (and a bit stressing) introduction to IPD.
• CGI: Computer Generated Imagery. A wide meaning of this would be any image you produced using the computer (kinda obvious eh!). The use of the term refers mostly to 3D imagery and animations produced using any of the softwares explained above (and many others)
There are other 3 letter Acronyms related to architecture like GMP (Guaranteed Maximum Price) and others, but I am not going to explain them here since they have few to do with Architecture related Software

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