Canadian Consulting Engineer

Review by Claude Milot

The CADD environment at SNC-Lavalin in Montreal consists of a network of several NT servers and over 350 NT workstations with a diversity of CADD products.Specific design softwares are used in differe...

June 1, 1999   Canadian Consulting Engineer

The CADD environment at SNC-Lavalin in Montreal consists of a network of several NT servers and over 350 NT workstations with a diversity of CADD products.

Specific design softwares are used in different disciplines such as AutoCAD and Microstation for 2-D applications, Rebis and PDS for 3-D.

Ninety-five per cent of our work stations are equipped with AutoCAD. The majority of our clients use this software because it is taught in most North American schools, which makes it easier to hire qualified personnel quickly at the onset of a project. We have used AutoCAD successfully in numerous projects, for example, Chemprox (chemical plant), Noranda (magnesium plant), Alcan (aluminum plant), and Procter and Gamble (industrial plant).

As a member of the Autodesk Developer Network program SNC-Lavalin was one of the sites kept by Autodesk for identifying problems and improvements for the alpha and beta versions of AutoCAD 2000. Our view of the advantages and disadvantages of the transition from AutoCAD 14 to the new software are summarized as follows:

Advantages:

Irregular view ports. One of AutoCAD 14’s limitations resides in the fact that metaviews created in paper space must be rectangular shape. AutoCAD 2000 removes this restriction.

ADC (AutoCAD Design Centre). Permits user to import blocks, dimstyles, layers, layouts, line types, text styles and Xrefs of any drawing into the current drawing.

MDE (Multiple Design Environment). Offers the possibility to open several drawings inside the same AutoCAD session. Object drag and drop, cut/copy/paste, property painter from one drawing to another are the main capabilities.

OPD (Object Properties Dialogue). Replaces commands ddmodify and ddchprop. Selects objects to modify, and allows you by pressing on the right button of the mouse to choose properties among the offered options. A box with dialogue appears with properties applicable to the selection.

ESN (Extended Symbol Names). Names of layers, blocks, dimstyles, line types, views were limited to 31 characters. The new limit is 255 characters.

Dimensioning enhancements. The new box of dialogue displays dimstyles in a more intuitive way. Overrides and subfamily accompanying every dimstyle are presented under hierarchy shape.

Multiple Paper Space Layouts. AutoCAD 2000 now looks Excel-like. By default, AutoCAD creates three layouts: model, layout1 and layout2 (maximum 255). Each layout can have its own page set-up and each includes the following items: plotting device, paper size, scale factor, plotting orientation and plotting area. Different page set-ups can be saved within the drawing.

In-Place Reference and Block Editing. With AutoCAD 2000 you can publish an Xref in the current drawing without having to open the Xref. The edition makes itself in the current drawing via the Refedit command. Blocks can also be modified via the Refedit command.

Plotting Enhancements. Various improvements have been brought to plotting. These include: plot settings saved in the drawing, multiple layout, WYSIWYG plot preview, portable plotter configuration (pc3), screening support (controls the display intensity of plotted objects), plot styles assigned based either on an object’s colour (CTB) or per style name (STB), and plot set-ups stored on a per-layout basis.

Plot Style controls the line weights, line types, colour (dithering and grayscale), screening value, fill pattern, line end style and line joint style of drawing objects when they are plotted.

Disadvantages

Some Lisp programs functioning with AutoCAD 14 should be adapted for AutoCAD 2000.

Drivers ADI are no longer supported and are replaced by a limited number of HDI drivers.

AutoCAD 2000 is a very adaptable tool of design and drawing which must be customized to different needs to assure uniformity in the product presentation.

To summarize, we believe that AutoCAD 2000 has many advantages. The few disadvantages we met were related, as in all new software versions, to users facing an adjustment period.


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