Monday, 23 November 2015

Two Quick and Easy AutoCAD Cleanup Tools

We all try as CAD users to keep file sizes down, since we all know smaller files Open faster, Save faster, Autosave faster, and Regen faster.  They also Recover faster! 

That said, we probably all use PURGE to remove unused elements to reduce file size. But did you know there is a lesser known feature 'hidden' in the Purge command we can use to remove unused Registered Applications, or Regapps?  

There's another way to lighten your files: use SCALELISTEDIT to remove unused annotation scales.  Let's examine both and lighten up our drawings!

Let's -Purge some Regapps!

Purging Regapps is easy;  the hardest part is finding the command, which is only available in the command line version of the Purge command.  To invoke the command line version, simply prefix any command with the "-" minus sign: in this case: -Purge

A lot of options appear in the command line version of purge, but in this case, the purge option we want is Regapps.  

To select it, simply type R [enter]
Then, hit [enter] to have AutoCAD purge all unused Regapps
Lastly, hit N [enter] to avoid having to verify each Regapp to be purged.

 AutoCAD will not delete active Regapps, so you can use the "*" and "N" choices rather confidently.  In the image below, we see that there can be plenty of these existing in a drawing.

Pro Tip: If you want to remove Regapps from multiple drawings, see here for a multi-file Regapps tool by Autodesk!

SCALELISTEDIT - Quick cleanup of annotation scales
Another possible source of file bloating may be Annotation scales, which copy/paste from drawing to drawing, and also inhabit files via XREF. 

The SCALELISTEDIT command will show a dialog box with all the drawing scales in the current drawing.  The example below shows about 700 scales.

Clicking the Reset button on the right of the dialog box allows the unused annotation scales to be deleted, and replaced with your choice of metric, imperial, or both default lists.

A few clicks later, your file is 675 scales smaller!

 So, there are 2 quick and easy ways to make your files smaller, and faster!

Got a file cleanup tip you want to share? let us know in the comments area!

Monday, 16 November 2015

Autodesk University 2015 Survival Tips

Autodesk University 2015 is fast approaching; in just a few weeks, thousands of Autodesk users and leaders will gather in Las Vegas to meet, mingle, share, network, and learn.  I have had the good fortune to attend several previous AU’s (This year marks my 10th AU), and have some suggestions to help improve your AU experience:

If this is your first AU, I strongly encourage you to attend the Freshman Orientation on Monday at 5:00- 6:30.  You’ll learn all about the conference and get great advice from the always amazing Lynn Allen.  You’ll also get your first opportunity to network with other attendees! 

Network! Probably the most valuable take-back from AU is the networking  (since many courses are online nowadays, anyways.)  Bring business cards, chat up people, sit at a table of strangers, introduce yourself! Find peers and connect with them, and share successes and challenges: it'll be far more valuable than the pure tech side of the conference!

Take a certification exam, they are usually free at AU. The best time to beat the crowds at certification is first thing, I mean FIRST THING in the morning, otherwise there will be a long queue.  

Go to the AUGI meeting on Wednesday at 5:30 and the AUGI reception after; there's free food and drink, and a beer mug for you at the AUGI booth!  When you get your mug, make sure to get it filled, and have a chat with fellow users. If you aren't an AUGI member, stop by and sign up: it's free!

The keynotes are awesome, make sure you check them out, and if crowds aren't your thing, remember, the keynotes are live-streamed, you can watch them from the comfort of your room if you like.  Either way, check them out!

The AU app is great for keeping track of your schedule, but I always print a hard copy at 25% scale and tuck it in the back side of my AU credentials.  It’s  instantly accessible, since you’re always wearing your name tag.

To preserve battery life of your mobile device, turn off all the extras in your phone, such as Bluetooth, NFC, and Location services.  

For international visitors, turn off data roaming too, unless you get yourself a travel package for your mobile. 

Make sure you have your battery charger with you, bring a spare battery or a portable charging stick along; you’ll probably notice your phone battery gets depleted faster away from home.

Las Vegas is the desert, and it’s really, really dry, so remember the following:

Wear comfortable shoes: there’s a LOT of walking, it might be close to a quarter mile from the elevators to the conference entrance. By week’s end, your feet will be sore and tired.  Help them out by making the walk as comfortable as possible.

There is a 'secret' shortcut to the expo: instead of taking the hotel elevator to the casino level, and walking the big loop through the casino,  get off the elevator at the Canal shoppes level.  A quick walk alongside the canal, and over a bridge or two, and you'll be at level 3 of the Expo!  This area is also reasonably quiet, with benches for relaxing, and uncrowded restrooms!

Typically, you get a conference bag.  Use it!  Take it with you, and every time you see tables with bottles of water, toss a couple in your bag. 

Take chap stick with you; the air is dry, and you’ll likely need it.

Rest up! AU days are long, they start early, and go late.  A few hours’ sleep goes a long way; get it while you can. 

Remember: Pace yourself! You need energy for the wrap up party on Thursday night!

For the most comfortable room, request a humidifier for your room when you check in; the extra moisture will help!

Leave space in your luggage for any shopping or freebies you may acquire while there for the trip back home.

International travelers, make sure your passport is valid and not expiring soon. Also for international folks, I try and use my credit card as much as I can, instead of cash, since buying $USD always comes with a exchange fee, but credit card companies typically only charge the current rate, without a fee.

A taxi from McCarran to the Venetian will cost between $20-$25 USD.  There are shuttles available, too, at $7- $10 per person.

Try and take a few hours and be a tourist! See a show, or just take a stroll and sight-see.  Make time and get outside for some fresh air every day.

I hope these few tips help make your AU2015 the best it can be! See you there!

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

BAK to the DWG Board

What happens when you cannot open your AutoCAD drawing file?  Maybe the file is corrupt.  Perhaps you accidentally overwrote it with another file?  What if you accidentally closed without saving?  Hopefully, AutoCAD has a recoverable backup that you can access.  Here are a few things you can do to help have a usable backup in place.

Autosave is a feature of AutoCAD that saves your file (or a portion of your file, more on that later) to a specified location, at a specified time interval.  The file will have either a SV$ or AC$ file extension.  When AutoCAD closes normally, these files are deleted by AutoCAD.  That’s why you may not see many AC$ or SV$ files there; normal exits clean these files up.   

The automatic save files are saved in a location specified in OPTIONS > Files > Automatic Save File Location.  A good approach is to create a folder dedicated for automatic save files: I create a folder in the root of C:\ named ACADTEMP


In order for AutoCAD to create automatic saves, you have to enable it in the Open and Save tab of OPTIONS (see orange highlighted area).  The box below it allows setting of the time interval between automatic saves.  10 minutes is a reasonable value for smaller files; larger files may cause slowdowns with frequent auto saves, 20 or 30 minutes would be more appropriate.

Why are there 2 extensions, AC$ and SV$?
When Automatic Save is enabled, and the specified time increment elapses, AutoCAD performs a save. AutoCAD either saves the entire file (SV$), or a portion of the file (AC$).  Trouble is, AC$ (partial saves) are not valid AutoCAD files, so are not useful as a recover tool.  You can, however,  force AutoCAD to make every automatic save a full save (SV$) by setting the Incremental save percentage to 0.  Setting this value to something other than 0 will cause only some of your auto saves to be full saves, reducing your chances of having a viable file to recover.  Long story short, the larger the value of the ISAVEPERCENT variable, the fewer SV$ and the more AC$ you end up with, reducing your viable recovery files, so keep it at 0.

BAK files
By checking the Create backup copy with each save box (see green highlighted area of image), every time you save a file, the previous save file becomes a BAK file.   

By default, the BAK file is saved in the same folder as the drawing file.  If you want the BAK file in a different location after every save, use the AutoCAD variable MOVEBAK to specify the location where BAK files are stored. (a value of "." puts the BAK file in the same folder as the .DWG file)

By creating a dedicated folder for auto saves, turning on Automatic save, Setting ISAVEPERCENT to 0,  and turning on backup copy, you greatly increase the chance of restoring work in the event of abnormal exit, corrupt file, or accidental overwrite.

Do you have a save/recovery strategy? Share your thoughts and ideas in the comments area!