AutoCAD tip – which drawings use an xref?

Here’s a tip I just rediscovered while cleaning out my old emails. It applies to all recent AutoCAD releases. Let’s say you have a drawing that you think has been used as an xref by at least one other drawing, and maybe more. How can you find out which drawings use it as an xref? First, turn on DesignCenter. You can do this with Tools > Palettes > DesignCenter, the ADCENTER command, or Ctrl+2. Pick on the Search button at the top (the magnifying glass thingy). In the Search dialogue box, change the “Look for” item to Xrefs (but have a look at what else you can search for, you may find that useful too). You can pick Browse to tell it where to look, and you can make it look down into all the subfolders if you like. Type the xref name into the “Search for the name” field and pick Search Now. DesignCenter has lots of handy features, such as the ability to drag a block from one drawing to your current drawing without opening the drawing containing the block. Some of the features are hard to find (like the xref search above), but they are very useful once you know about them. Another handy tool for obtaining all sorts of information about xrefs is the Reference Manager, which was introduced in AutoCAD 2004. This is a standalone program, for which you can find a shortcut in the same Start > Programs > Autodesk > AutoCAD 200x menu as AutoCAD itself. There’s too much good stuff in there to cover in a post like this, but many people are unaware that it exists and I just want to raise awareness. For details, please check out the Help from within Reference Manager itself. Note I sent most of the…

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AutoCAD for Mac review in Cadalyst (circa 1989)

A comment from Kal on Between the Lines mentions an AutoCAD Release 10.5 for Mac. My memory of ancient and useless AutoCAD trivia is usually pretty good, but this time things are a bit foggy and I need some help. I definitely remember there being some kind of half-release of AutoCAD for Mac*, but I’m not sure it was an official designation. I do remember a Cadalyst review at the time, possibly by Art Liddle. I would estimate it to be from 1989, give or take a year. The then-new Mac release reviewed was some kind of hybrid between R10 and R11 (I think), with most of the feature set of one release and the DWG format of another. I had thought the product was called R11, but I could be wrong about that and maybe it was 10.5. Is there anybody out there with a complete set of Cadalyst issues that goes back that far? Mine only goes back to mid-1995. If so, can you locate that review? * Two decades ago, with a much smaller and simpler code base that was already non-platform-specific, Autodesk had to cobble together a hybrid release to provide native Mac support. How much harder would that task be today?

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Cadalyst lives!

I was happy to receive an email from Nancy Johnson this morning informing me that Cadalyst is going to continue. From March onward it will be published by Longitude Media, led by Seth Nichols, former VP of digital media at Questex. Nancy will continue to hold the editorial reins. Questex still owns Cadalyst, but Longitude will be publishing it under license. Press release

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Interesting times ahead for Cadalyst

As many of you may know, I’ve been writing for Cadalyst since 1995. Yesterday, I read in David Cohn’s summary of the history of Cadalyst that in 1991, Lionel Johnston sold CADalyst to Aster Publishing for $2.2 million. How times have changed! Today, current owner Questex doesn’t think it’s worth keeping alive. I’ve been aware for some months of uncertainty about Cadalyst’s future, and Questex has finally decided that it doesn’t have one. Most of the staff have been laid off, with a tiny skeleton staff keeping things ticking over until the end of the month. As a Contributing Editor (i.e. writer), the financial effect on me is small, but others are less fortunate and have my sympathy. There’s still hope, though. This is the official word from Editor-in-Chief Nancy Spurling Johnson: Questex Media Group has decided to divest itself of Cadalyst, effective the end of February. A few of us are working actively on an employee buyout. We believe in Cadalyst and the CAD market and are positive about the future. There’s a lot to work out in the near term, but we are very, very optimistic that we can make this happen and not only keep Cadalyst moving forward, but make it a more valuable resource than ever for our readers and advertisers. As Questex seems to think the Cadalyst name isn’t worth anything, with a bit of luck the employees won’t have to dig too deep to buy it out, and a long tradition will continue. With the unfortunate demise of AUGI World and uncertainty about any replacement, there’s a hole in the market right now. Sure, it’s a depressed market, but it still has a hole in it and even in a depressed state that market is surely much bigger now than it was in the…

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Cadalyst goes bi-monthly

As you may be aware, I’m a Contributing Editor (i.e. writer) for Cadalyst magazine and have been writing the Bug Watch column since 1995.  Back when Cadalyst was thicker, Bug Watch appeared in the printed magazine every month, but it has been exclusively on-line for a few years now. Cadalyst’s owner, Questex, recently announced that Cadalyst will be moving from 12 to 6 issues a year, effective January/February. However, the Cadalyst site already shows the effects of the bi-monthly schedule, with the current issue being November/December. I wrote Bug Watch columns for both November and December, and they are both listed in the on-line current issue. It’s not yet clear what will be happening with Bug Watch next year, but as soon as I can tell you what’s going on I will do so. Bug Watch has been rather tricky to find for some years now, so I don’t know how many of you still read it or find it useful. I don’t know how many people read printed magazines these days, either. I still buy some magazines myself in other areas of interest, but it’s much less frequent than it used to be.

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Autodesk discussion group alternatives

As I’m typing this, the Autodesk discussion groups are down for maintenance again. Let’s hope that when they come back up, some of the problems are fixed. In the meantime, if you’re an AutoCAD user and have something to ask or say, where can you go? Here are a few suggestions. I like the AUGI forums. It’s an even more modern, more graphical and less space-efficient web interface than the new Autodesk one, but there’s a good community there and, hey, the search feature works. Mike Perry and colleagues run a tight ship, so please read the rules and be good. If you have something to tell Autodesk and want practically no restrictions in the way you say it, submit a new message on dear Autodesk, or vote for the existing messages you like. It’s looking a bit bare and empty at the moment, so go fill it up. As a Cadalyst person, it would be remiss of me to avoid mentioning the Cadalyst forums. The Swamp is biased heavily toward CAD programming, so if you have a LISP question then head there, but it also hosts general CAD discussion. In this community, you are expected to be courteous and professional. Old-timers like myself will remember that the CompuServe ACAD forum’s Take 5 section was carried over into the AutoCAD discussion groups. It was kept going for a few years before Autodesk felt it was getting out of hand and killed it. That community refused to be killed, and actually still flourishes for newsgroup (NNTP) users at the t5 dot dynip dot com server. R. K. McSwain suggests the CADTutor forums. If you wish to point out any other sites I’ve missed, please let me know and if they’re relevant I’ll edit this post to include them. While I was…

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The Ribbon Man interview – fluff?

Looking at the comments, it seems not everyone is happy with the Matt Stein interview. If so, I’m sorry you feel that way about the piece. In my own defence, I would point out the following: I like to think my work at Cadalyst represents a balanced viewpoint. I pride myself on being fair. Whether Autodesk deserves praise or criticism for something, I provide it. But an interview isn’t really the place to do that. An interview is supposed to be an opportunity for the interviewee to say things, not a platform for the interviewer’s opinions. My job as an interviewer is to extract information, not provide it. In my opinion, the best TV interviewers listen a lot and say very little. Confrontational interviewers can be fun to watch, though. I have many other opportunities, both here and in Bug Watch, to express viewpoints that may conflict with what Matt had to say. Matt doesn’t have a blog or a regular Cadalyst column, he has this one chance to put his point across to Cadalyst readers. I think it’s fair to let Matt make best use of that opportunity and not beat him down with a confrontational style. I think it’s important for readers to understand the thinking behind the user interface changes. You may not agree with Autodesk’s thinking (in fact, I often don’t), but if you know what the thinking is, you can argue against it more convincingly. I don’t want to go into too much detail about this because it involves private correspondence, but getting this interview published at all was an effort and a half. Anyone who wants to get access to an Autodesk employee’s comments for publication has to go through Autodesk’s PR people. While the people I dealt with were pleasant and cooperative, the pace at which things happened…

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The Ribbon Man interview – part 2

The second and final part of my interview of Matt Stein has now been published on the Cadalyst site. There were some other questions I would have liked Matt to answer, but some unfortunate logistical problems prevented that from happening. Never mind, I guess it ended up plenty long enough anyway!

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