Monday, 29 June 2015

eTRANSMIT on All Frequencies, All Languages

Sending AutoCAD data is more complicated these days, since a dwg file can be connected to other drawings, images, PDF files, spreadsheets, and can contain custom fonts, linetypes, and hatches. Sending a dwg file on its own can leave the end user missing important information that may be contained in external locations.  When someone requests a "CAD file", users need to be diligent that the recipient gets the drawing and all dependencies related to it.  AutoCAD has a command that does this: ETRANSMIT.

Why should I use this?
ETRANSMIT is a powerful command; it gathers a list of all external elements (files, images, spreadsheets, PDFs, materials, CTBs, STBs, etc) and allows users to compile them into a folder or zip file.  It allows users to ensure a drawing file has all of its dependencies included when sending an AutoCAD drawing. ETRANSMIT also creates a text file listing the documents in the transmittal.

How does it work?
The command opens a dialog box displaying a list and table tab of every drawing dependency. Next to every item is a check box for selection of included elements; only checked items are included when the transmittal is created.  Users can fine tune each and every component included. You must save first, since ETRANSMIT can only be invoked immediately after a save is performed. 

OK, what happens after that?
Once the contents are determined, users select the transmittal setup, which can be saved with a custom name.  The transmittal setup determines several settings:

  •  Package type (Zip, exe, or set of files)
  •  File format (2000, 2004, 2007, 2010)
  •  Transmittal save location
  •  Pathing options (organized, single folder, or as-is)
  • Other options, such as password protection, XREF binding, and fonts/materials inclusion

On the bottom of the Modify Transmittal Setup dialog is a description area, where you can name your setup.  This is the name that appears in the transmittal setup description.

So many choices!
With so many options, here are a few tips:
  • Use Zip as the package type: just one file to deal with, and the *.exe file may get stopped by firewalls or email filters. 
  • Keep the file format as current as you and your destination's versions allow.
  • Uncheck Materials, unless you definitely use them in the drawing files.
  • Include fonts, since different versions of AutoCAD use different .SHX libraries.
  • Give your setup an intuitive name (Zip - No folder structure preserved, etc.)
There's plenty more features available, too, such as password protecting your transmittal, or binding XREFs.  

Comment and share your settings/tips!

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

DIMASSOC: Keep Dimensions Dynamic

Dimensions can be both the most convenient or most bothersome aspect of CAD annotations.  Today, lets look at an AutoCAD variable setting that should help DIMinish your anxieties.

Guilty by Association?
First, it is worth noting that dimensions in AutoCAD can be placed as intelligent, dynamic objects that react to changes in your drawing, or can be nothing more than an arrangement of lines and text that gives the appearance of a 'normal' dimension.

The AutoCAD variable that controls the behaviour of dimensions is DIMASSOC.  The value of DIMASSOC at the moment a dimension is created sets the property for the dimension.

DIMASSOC can have a value of either 0, 1, or 2.

DIMASSOC is a drawing variable, which means it's value is set separately in each drawing; it is not stored in any dimension style.

A setting of DIMASSOC of 0 means that created dimensions are exploded to lines, solids and text.  This is rarely a desired output, since it is not dynamic.  DIMASSOC of 1 means that created dims behave as one object, and will update as the positions of the dimension are adjusted, but does not update if the OBJECT it is dimensioning is modified.  DIMASSOC of 2 creates dimensions as single objects that will automatically follow modifications to the object it is dimensioned. 

Let's observe the difference in the following example:

The figure below shows two linear dimensions, each appearing the same as the other.  The dimension above the line has DIMASSOC=1, and the dimension below has DIMASSOC=2.

Both dimensions will update if the dimension grips are picked and the dim is grip edited. 

In the next figure, the bold line has been stretched 25 units to the right.  Note the upper dimension, with DIMASSOC=1 has not changed, but the bottom dimension with DIMASSOC=2 has automatically followed the object.

Setting DIMASSOC 2 makes your drawings and dimensions 'smarter!"

If you happen to have a dimension that is not associated to the object it describes, you can associate it with the AutoCAD command DIMREASSOCIATE.  This neat command will prompt for dim objects to re-associate, then prompt for the locations on the objects.  AutoCAD will then re-associate the dimensions.  FANTASTIC!

What's your DIMASSOC set at? Share your thoughts and  experiences.