Saturday, February 23, 2008

File management fun...not

This post is just a warning to those of you out there that work on large projects, and there are frequent changes to files and revision files have to be kept. What a pain.

Where I work, we have all the drawings kept in a directory, and under that directory is a folder called Superceded. The plan is say you have a drawing called 5046034.dwg and it becomes rev A, you copy the original to Superceded and then rename it to 5046034A.dwg.

Well, somewhere in the piece I was renaming and renumbering files, and I used the "drag and drop" technique. It appears this works fine on c: drive but not on a network drive, as the dragged files suddenly reappeared in the next session. Needless to say, the engineer was very confused and upset!


File Management

The standard way the firm has kept files in the past has been to chuck em all in one honkin' great directory and call them things like: 5046032.dwg want to find something? You have to have a good memory, or you make a temporary Excel or Access file. Some of our projects might have as much as 500 drawings in one directory.

Which is OK except that you are now typing out the title block all over again....which seems inefficient.

After all the shouting is over these all get put into a program called EDMS, which is nice, but who wants to manually key in all that stuff? Not me, said the draftsman!

I had encountered another firm, where some bright spark decided to give a name to the drawing file, for instance 5046-032 Sugar Surge Hopper G.A.dwg.

I thought this was a much better idea, and adopted it, even if it did mean that I had to type the title twice. I can even admit to it's major drawback, that it does use up space in the file open dialog box.

It does have one advantage: You can use a dos batch file to extract all the file names to a text file, then they can be further carried to Excel and or Access. I call mine getem.bat---all it has is one line


It outputs the listing of the files to a file called "thelist.txt".

I would imagine there are people out there using Autocad's data extraction techniques to populate databases with things like drawing no and title.

Ahhh.....but I don't use that File Open Dialog--I use a permanently open Windows Explorer to open my drawings from.

Another refinement I tried to introduce was putting different groupings of drawings into different folders. For instance all Layouts would have their own folders. Each grouping of plant would have its special folders. We did try, but this was "not the way we have always done it..."


Ahh....revisions....don't you just love them? Whoever wanted these, was mired in the good old days of manual drafting. There is just one big problem: Now we work on 3D models, the concept of revisions is almost unmanageable.

Someone I know says the people he deals with have actually given up on revisions. Which if you think about it is not such a bad idea. After all, all you are trying to do is provide a snapshot of the drawing at a particular time. What is wrong with (say) if you change something, take a PDF of the drawing, and save it somewhere, with the date printed on it?

Maybe the drawing should be considered a moving target until the magic "Issued for Construction" stamp gets put on?

Autocad R2009

R2009 Autocad.

In a nutshell as far as I can see, it has a few killer features:

1. The ability to have a permanently open layer dialog box. Only useful for some.

2. Click on something, and a properties box comes up. This is a bit disconcerting at first, but I predict some will just love this one. You can choose what properties will normally appear.

3. This is the absolute most wonderful item: Soldraw now does its thing on BLOCKS!(same with the section tool)

4. There are preview gadgets for drawing files and layouts, which in time may become a more useful feature, once we all get used to them.

5. The ribbon. I know I have raved on about going to keyboard entry, but my natural laziness has prompted me to use the ribbon. The reason is I have 2 screens and this really is a replacement for the Dashboard, which I have been using.

6. There are some 3D visualisation tools that may grow on me.

So there you go:
It looks prettier than R2008. Not a big consideration for some, but we spend 7-9 hours a day looking at it.....

It also allows me in my daily work to do a section on a set of solids, some of which might be a block, and have them appear....which would be worth the cost of the upgrade.

Monday, February 18, 2008

New Personal Blog

I have now realised the error of my ways. What started out as an Autocad blog has now ended up a personal photo gallery.

SO........I have now got a new blog, just for the personal stuff. It can be found at

What with all my building work at weekends and a weeks holiday, I have not had much time to rave on to the (it appears) two or three visitors I do have. (Or are they just web bots trawling?????)