Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Know and learn your input options for increased productivity!

Warning: The following blog contains my ranting for today

Recently I was teaching an “Advanced” class with students that have been using Autodesk software for years. I was helping one student and I told him to start the line command. With his left hand on the keyboard and his right hand on the mouse he typed “LINE” and hit the “ENTER” key. He drew the line and then I told him to zoom in on it. He moved is mouse to the Ribbon and fishes for the “ZOOM WINDOW” command. Now keep in mind this gentleman had been using Autodesk for 10+ years.

I wish I could say this is the first time I had seen this in my class but it’s not. I see this frequently while teaching and visiting client sites.

If you are going to type your commands (I do frequently) at least use a command alias. Instead of typing “LINE”, type “L” and tap the “Spacebar” to enter. Sure it only saves 3 keystrokes (Only?) but multiply that by hundreds throughout your day. Learn the command aliases and even customize your acad.pgp file to suit your needs. It is very easy to do with the Express Tools.

What about using the Zoom command? I encounter many students who do not know how to use the wheel to zoom. Zoom in and out by rotating the wheel, direct where you are zooming by placement of the crosshairs, hold the wheel down to Pan and double-click the wheel to do a Zoom Extents. I rarely use an actual Zoom command.

You can save a lot of production time just by using the tools available for inputting your data into your drawing. Taking a little time to learn your options can go a long way in improving your performance. Do you think those competing in a drawing shoot-out will actually type “LINE” to start the command? It’s highly unlikely.

Until next time, don’t wear the keyboard out! ;-)


Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Autodesk Products and VBA - VBA is Going (Gone) with the Wind

Unless you are a VBA programmer this won't mean much to you, but I felt it was important to let you know a little about futures in AutoCAD programming:

AutoCAD 2011 and AutoCAD-based verticals no longer ship with VBA (Microsoft’s Visual Basic for Applications). The 32– and 64-bit versions are still available as a download from VBA will not be supported by AutoCAD 2012. The VBA module will no longer be available as a download then.

 We can point ti Microsoft as the reason for this change. They discontinued the sale of new VBA distribution licenses back in 2007 and they are not planning any further development. This leaves software companies and customers in a bind. Microsoft has promoted the use of VBA as a “universal” programming language only to abandoned it.

This means that programmers need to stop writing new VBA code now and eventually port their VBA code to other APIs. Autodesk was unsure which of Microsoft’s APIs might be the most future-proof one:
“We are still at an early stage in evaluating what (if any) in-product IDE should replace VBA. However, at this time, we do not expect to be embedding VSTA into Autodesk products. Revit software is currently the only Autodesk product that incorporates VSTA. However, our review of in-product IDEs will include an evaluation of whether VSTA is the best long-term IDE solution for Revit. Therefore, we encourage Revit add-in developers to concentrate on creating professional add-ins using Visual Studio rather than VSTA when possible.”

The elimination of VBA does not affect AutoCAD’s ActiveX COM (common object model), which was also designed by Microsoft originally.
For now, Autodesk’s recommends moving your VBA code to a .net language, such as VB.NET using Visual Studio 2008, including the free Express edition available from
Autodesk provides the following resources for migrating VBA code to .net, and plans more in the future:
• AutoCAD VBA to VB.NET Migration Basics – on using .net COM Interop to simplify migration
 < devtv-autocad-vba-to-net-migration-basics.html>.
• AutoCAD .NET Developers Guide – contains many comparative samples of native .NET API and the VBA code required to perform the same task ( 2010/ENU/AutoCAD%20.NET%20Developer's%20Guide/index.html>.

TIll next time