My first two titles on www.lynda.com are now available!
Use the links below to check them out!
Up and Running with AutoCAD LT
Using Dynamic Blocks in AutoCAD for Mac
My first two titles on www.lynda.com are now available!
Use the links below to check them out!
Up and Running with AutoCAD LT
Using Dynamic Blocks in AutoCAD for Mac
(or how to choose a good font for CAD & BIM)
So, the new role at Farrells is ticking away and, I have to say, I am enjoying the challenge.
One of the discussion points in the project team I am in is what font to use. And, more importantly, should it be company-specific, or project-specific, or something else or something else, and so on, ad nauseum.
So I took it upon myself to search Google with the search criteria, “Best fonts for use in Revit” and I was blown away by the amount of discussion that goes on about this, and how much of a bone of contention fonts in CAD and BIM actually are.
We have the old school aficionados who still love the architectural style fonts. We have the young turks who want to utilise the up-to-date TrueType fonts and we have the “if it works, don’t fix it” crew who think that RomanS (an old AutoCAD SHX shape code font) is the way to go.
So, what EXACTLY is the best way to go with fonts? Which one do you use? Which one do you standardise on? Well, the answer is this. YOU decide. You decide on which one you want. You then have to implement it in to your CAD and BIM installed software. Now, Revit ships with Arial as the default font, and I have to say that, I find Arial perfectly adequate for my needs. The problem with Revit, is that if you do want to change the font, everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, has to be updated. Your families, hosted families, component families and system families need to be updated.
Then, there is the decision on what TYPE of font to use. Typically, you SHOULD use a TrueType (TT) font. These are the fonts that tend to be in your Windows installation, unless any bespoke TrueType fonts have been created and this is probably the most important decision as Revit supports ANSI (the American National Standards Institute) and most TrueType fonts are ANSI fonts.
So why should you use a TrueType font that is ANSI supported? Easy. All ANSI fonts have a specific Character Map that allows for the use of symbols. How many of you need a copyright symbol on your designs? Did you know that if you hold down Alt+0169, you automatically get the copyright symbol in your current TrueType (ANSI) font? Older style fonts such as RomanS (the old SHX shape code font in AutoCAD) do not support these ANSI symbols, so to get a copyright symbol for RomanS, the quick fix is to draw a circle around a capital C. Crazy, huh? Especially when you can use a TrueType font and have the copyright symbol as part of the Character Map.
So, in conclusion, font choice is in the eye of the beholder, but you MUST make your font decision wisely. Personally, I would always look forward and try to future-proof any of my standard CAD and BIM templates by sticking with regular, well-known, TrueType (ANSI) fonts such as Arial, Calibri and perhaps Verdana. These fonts are well-known but, more importantly, are found just about everywhere on computers, so you will never have a missing bespoke font issue. We all know that AutoCAD substitutes the SIMPLEX.SHX font if it cannot find the font used on a drawing, which can really make a drawing look unattractive, AND, unprofessional.
Stick with well-known TrueType (ANSI) fonts and you won’t go far wrong…..so I WOULD Arial rather than not Arial, as the title suggests….
Steve Stafford’s blog about this is also quite informative, so maybe check it out here: –
Happy CADD’ing and BIM’ing!
I haven’t written any blogs recently. Personal circumstances just haven’t permitted me to do so, but there is now light at the end of the tunnel, so here it is, a blog….finally.
I was very fortunate to spend last Saturday afternoon in the wilds of the Norfolk countryside at a place called Grey Seal Coffee Roasters, where I was attending a coffee brewing experience, which had been purchased for me as a birthday gift.
Before I wax lyrical about my afternoon in the company of David and Tobias, from Grey Seal Coffee Roasters, let me explain what Grey Seal Coffee is all about.
Grey Seal Coffee Roasters is a small independent coffee roastery based in Glandford, a small hamlet in the Glaven Valley in North Norfolk. When I say roastery, I mean they roast their OWN fresh green coffee beans, sourcing them ethically from around the world, selling them to the public and the wholesale trade around Norfolk and throughout the UK. You can find them at their website, www.greysealcoffee.co.uk. They are named after the grey seals that frequent the beaches of North Norfolk.
So, what did I do whilst I was there? Well, the afternoon was ALL about brewing coffee, tasting coffee and learning how to make coffee PROPERLY. There were FIVE (yes, five) methods of making coffee on offer, ranging from the most simplistic up to the incredibly dramatic. The lovely thing was you were able to taste each method as you went which, as a coffee lover, I was sincerely looking forward to!
We started with a simple history of the coffee bean and how it was first discovered, and where. In Ethiopia, in fact. By a goatherd who noticed that his goats got a bit bouncy after eating a fruit (yes, a fruit – bear with me). This fruit contained a pip (or bean). This was your coffee bean and, by chance, they realised that if they roasted the beans, they had a rather lovely beverage. Plus, they still make a drink from the fruit that contains the bean. Call it Ethiopian Red Bull, if you will.
I also learnt where my coffee beans come from. Primarily, most coffee beans come from equatorial countries between the two tropics of Cancer and Capricorn (Ethiopia is one of them). The beans from countries taste different, and brewing processes vary. Plus, I found out that the Robusta bean is used for espresso coffee, and the Bourbon bean is very high quality, a bit like a fine wine.
For our session, we were using the Doi Chaang Peaberry bean from Thailand (which you can order on the Grey Seal website) for each of the brewing processes, so that we could see (and taste) how each different process affected the coffee’s colour and flavour. A bit like wine tasting, if you have ever tried it.
So, FIVE methods of brewing coffee, you ask? Yep, we used five. Some of which I had seen and used before, some I hadn’t. Having been to Blue Bottle coffee in San Francisco on a business trip this year, I had been fascinated by the drip and siphon methods Blue Bottle use and, as luck would have it, those were two of the methods we would see, experience and taste.
We were provided with recipe cards for each method to take home, as well as a bag of complimentary coffee beans. I chose the Doi Chaang Peaberry that we used, as it had such lovely flavour. We used the recipe cards provided by Grey Seal, with some instruction, to learn how to use, and taste, the five brewing methods below….
METHOD 1 – The Cafetiere
I am pretty sure we have all used a cafetiere at some point in our lives. Put the coffee in, put the hot water in on top, press down the plunger. This creates a very muddy, dark coffee with a very rounded flavour, almost fruity, and the oil in the coffee bean is also present. And, like tea, you need to warm the cafetiere first. I have used cafetieres many times, as I am sure you have.
METHOD 2 – The Mokka Pot
The mokka pot is the one you see on the stove top. A well-known brand is Bialetti. Fill up the bottom compartment with water to the valve level. Pop in the basket and fill with your ground coffee, levelling off the surface of the coffee. Screw the top chamber on and pop on the stove over the heat. Once it has stopped bubbling, you have your coffee. Pour and enjoy. I own a mokka pot coffee maker, and have done so for many years. My Sunday morning coffee pleasure, giving a deep, round coffee flavour, with a dark cloudy colour that is slightly more refined than the cafetiere method above. Plus, it is less oily than the cafetiere method.
METHOD 3 – The AeroPress
Invented in 2005 by the man who invented the Aerobie flying ring (bit like a Frisbee), the Aeropress was one method that was totally new to me and I found it quite amazing! The equipment is extremely light plastic (perfect for travellers like me) and it uses a plunger to push down the coffee through the Aeropress, filtering it through a small filter paper, and allowing for easy disposal of the coffee grounds once you are done. It also makes a clearer coffee than the previous two methods, with a nice, clean clear flavour.
METHOD 4 – Drip Filter/V60
Now this method was the one I wanted to see. I mentioned Blue Bottle coffee earlier, and when in San Francisco, I tried a drip filtered Blue Bottle coffee, and was amazed at the clearness of the coffee itself (you could see the bottom of the cup), and was blown away by the flavour of the coffee. And I was not disappointed. The Grey Seal coffee had just as much flavour as the Blue Bottle coffee I had, if not more. The drip filter method is exactly as described. You place a ceramic drip filter on top of your cup or your coffee jug, put in a filter paper and pour in the hot water over the coffee, once you have warmed and “bloomed” as mentioned above. I have to say that this was my favourite brewing method and I did purchase a ceramic drip filter. It creates a beautifully clear coffee, with amazing flavour. I just love the simplicity of this method and the coffee it creates.
METHOD 5 – The Siphon
The siphon method is pretty incredible visually. Sometimes known as the vacuum pot, it bears a passing resemblance to one of the old Victorian oil lanterns, and while we were there, the Grey Seal coffee baristas, used an incredible halogen lamp (imported from Japan) to heat the water in the siphon, which made it almost mesmeric to watch. The siphon uses a vacuum to brew the coffee, and these, again, are another method used by Blue Bottle coffee in the USA. I have to say though, whilst quite technically challenging, the siphon creates the most amazing coffee. Totally clear with the highest degree of flavour experienced on the day. Delightful.
With all of these methods, we used filtered water to ensure a better coffee flavour. You should always use filtered or bottled water for the best coffee plus, it does maintain your equipment by avoiding the dreaded lime scale too.
I also learnt that you should let the coffee “bloom”. This is done by pouring on a small amount of hot water, just enough to wet the coffee grounds and leave it for a few moments. You will see the coffee bubble and crack, with oily bubbles appearing. This is essential to good coffee. Once the blooming is done, pour on the rest of the water using whatever brewing method you are using. Once brewed, pour your coffee immediately. Like tea, coffee stews, and then gives a sour, bitter taste.
Only grind the beans you need. Once you have ground your coffee beans, they lose quality quickly, within days, in fact. And for good quality coffee grounds, use a grinder that has burrs, NOT blades.
I had a great afternoon with Grey Seal. Not only did I experience great coffee, but I learnt lots of things to make my coffee experience even better. And, yes, I was buzzing afterwards! I can only congratulate Grey Seal on providing an informative, entertaining afternoon in great company with people who appreciate good coffee as much as I do. Coffee, when made well, is a lovely beverage, and like wine, once you have experienced the good stuff, you won’t want anything else.
More coffee anyone?
STOP PRESS!!! Exciting news…!
A few months back, Autodesk entered Line//Shape//Space into the Webby Awards competition. The Webby Awards is the Internet’s most respected symbol of success. The 18th Annual Webby Awards received 12,000 entries from all 50 US states and over 60 countries worldwide.
In short: The Webby Awards are a very big deal in the web world, and the the competition is incredibly fierce.
Judges for this year’s Webby Awards included Kevin Spacey, David Bowie, Arianna Huffington, Twitter co-founder Biz Stone, Instagram co-founder Kevin Systrom, Tumblr founder David Karp, Martha Stewart, Richard Branson, and Harvard Law School professor Lawrence Lessig.
Line//Shape//Space was recognized as an Official Honoree in The 18th Annual Webby Awards. A total of six publications were granted this award—and it’s pretty amazing company too; including TechCrunch, The Atlantic Business, and BlackBerry, and very likely that Line//Shape//Space is the youngest site at just 1+ years old.
To use the exact words in the email I have just received,
“This is an incredible honour for us and a big win for Autodesk to be recognized by the Webby Awards, aligned with the top echelon of Internet publications”.
As one of my Autodesk colleagues said in the email, the real hero with this site is the amazing content—so a HUGE congrats to our Line//Shape//Space Editor in Chief Kylee Swenson Gordon!
I work with a wonderful team at Autodesk (you all know who you are!) and it is a privilege to work with you and the incredible team of writers, many of whom I class not just as colleagues, but as great personal friends.
May the great work we do continue!
I love getting my Star Wars quotes in to my articles and blogs, so when I saw the new AutoCAD 2015 interface, I just had to smile. The Dark Side, right? OK, so, you might be thinking Darth and his cosy little relationship with the Emperor, and those aren’t the droids you’re looking for. However, the new DARKER AutoCAD 2015 interface is, as John Evans (a fellow blogger), put it….sexy! And I have to admit I agree with him.
Now, while my beloved AutoCAD Blogger friends were being wined and dined by Autodesk in the lovely San Francisco (missed you guys!), I was teaching an AutoCAD Electrical 2014 course in the wilds of Yorkshire in the UK. Having just got home, and opened up AutoCAD 2015 at 11pm on a Thursday night, the darker interface (John Evans, take note) is STILL sexy!
I thought I had better get a blog in quickly as the 2015 blogs are coming think and fast and I see this AutoCAD Blogger gig as a team effort. We get the story out there for Autodesk as they work very hard to make the product better for us.
So WHAT exactly is new?
After tinkering with AutoCAD 2015 and reading my esteemed AutoCAD Blogger Council colleague’s blogs, I will try to give you an overall heads-up and my apologies for any similarities to any other AutoCAD 2015 blogs out there. Just wish I had been there to get the editorial first hand!
1. DOCUMENTING DESIGNS
After many faithful years of service, the AutoCAD MTEXT Editor has finally had a facelift. When using hardware acceleration, you now get complete transparency of the text editing window and some MS Word-like enhancements such as displaying a bullet and numbering menu next to your MTEXT as soon as you add a bullet or start a numbered list. Other MTEXT enhancements include better Caps Lock handling and column improvements. Also like MS Word, you can now Match Properties within MTEXT and the new TEXTALIGN allows for text alignment of both single-line and multi-line text to other text objects and user-defined points.
The Geographic Location tools in AutoCAD 2015 are much slicker, being wizard-driven and are much improved from AutoCAD 2014. Map data can be captured and plotted, with a map area being embedded in to the drawing with no requirement for internet access. You can also dynamically increase map resolution.
For those of you who attended my Autodesk 360/AutoCAD 360 class at Autodesk University 2013 last December, you will already know how much I LOVE the Design Feed available in both Autodesk 360 and AutoCAD 360. It is now available in AutoCAD 2015 and acts as a messaging gateway to Autodesk 360, allowing you to post messages and images to your team via Autodesk 360. Associating your Design Feed message with an area on a drawing will display a small bubble which when clicked on, will take you to the relevant Design Feed message. Design Feed takes on a display similar to the old MSN Messenger. Internet messaging (IM) with a CAD twist!
Model data is imported using the new Autodesk Translation Framework (ATF), supporting meshes and curves, as well as colours and layers.
3. USER INTERFACE (UI)
The new darker interface with more refined icons (reminiscent of AutoCAD for Mac with the Retina display) makes AutoCAD look current. Plus, being somewhat myopic with my Jasper Conran specs, it reduces eye strain. Much nicer and more comfortable to look at and makes AutoCAD look cool (not that it wasn’t cool anyway, right?).
Other UI enhancements include: –
4. DESIGN & POINT CLOUDS
You may have noticed a silent install of Autodesk ReCap with AutoCAD 2014. In AutoCAD 2015, ReCap has taken over the point cloud role with much needed performance enhancements, along with point size and density controls all in the one slider, thus making the insertion of point clouds much, much easier. New object snap options and colorization tools make the manipulation and visualisation of the point cloud much easier too.
Enhanced colour and lighting control are provided, along with improved cropping tools for the point cloud. There is also a Point Cloud Manager (similar to the XREF Manager) that makes for much easier point cloud management.
5. CHOICES, CHOICES…..
So now you can rent or pay-as-you-go with AutoCAD and AutoCAD LT, as well as make an outright purchase. This is great and gives small and medium enterprise businesses the ability to manage their finances more effectively. They can now use a number of AutoCAD licences for the duration of a project and class it as an operating expense against the project, instead of making a large capital expenditure. This also works well with tax concerns as well. A very shrewd move by Autodesk, and a good one, in my opinion.
6. CAD MANAGEMENT & INSTALLATION
We now have a new Application Manager. Now a standalone application, it allows you to decide when to update your AutoCAD, which in turn downloads and installs the updates seamlessly. It also provides a full update and information service, allowing for easy management of service packs and hot fixes.
So when do we get our hands on the official release of AutoCAD 2015 and other associated 2015 products? March 28th is the official release so only a day to go!
I think Autodesk have done a great job with AutoCAD 2015. There are some great user enhancements in there and a shift towards usability rather than pushing the cloud. They have listened to the user base and brought in some great new features and commands. Nice work, Autodesk.
Also, a big thanks to Shaan Hurley (Between The Lines) for posting our AutoCAD 2015 blog links!
So, enjoy your AutoCAD 2015 releases and happy CADD’ing!
Sometimes I get the opportunity to meet and talk to some very interesting people in the CAD world, and this year was no exception. This year, I met the Jonathon and Matt Harris, owners of Orphanage Guitars, at Autodesk University 2013 in Las Vegas.
Orphanage Guitars are using the Autodesk Product Design Suite to its full extent. So much so, Carl Bass, CEO of Autodesk, had Matt Harris on the mainstage at Autodesk University 2013, demonstrating one of their guitars designed using Autodesk Fusion 360.
As you all well know, as a singer and songwriter, I have a love of guitars and music so to meet accomplished musicians who have taken their entrepreneurial skills forward using Autodesk products is manna from heaven for me, so I took the time to run the Not Just CAD! Ten Questions past them in a recent interview.
1. What was your first experience with guitars?
JH – My first experience was in the 3rd or 4th grade, when I traded in my go-kart for a Cort guitar, which was a Stratocaster replica.
MH – Years later, when Jonathon (JH) was away with his girlfriend, I started playing the Cort (guitar) and buying guitar tab books (such as Metallica). This, in turn, motivated JH to play more and we started a band with a mutual friend.
JH – I played bass guitar with Matt (MH) playing lead guitar in our band, Gypsy Love Hound. Later on, we were in a band together for six years called Aunt Dick – named affectionately after one of the band member’s room-mate’s relatives.
2. What motivated you to build guitars?
MH – Autodesk Fusion 360 Beta….it all made sense.
3. How did you fall in to using Autodesk products?
MH – I started using Autodesk products straight out of school, working for DEKA R&D. At the time, the present CEO of Autodesk had a close relationship with the company. I became one of the CAD experts in the company and then moved to work with an Autodesk reseller, M2 Technologies. I continued to use Autodesk products as part of my own design consultancy, Redpoint Studios, and we’re continuing with Orphanage Guitars.
JH – I worked with an architectural firm, Karlsberger, who were originally using Microstation, but then switched to AutoCAD around 2000. The workflow then switched over to Autodesk’s 3D Studio MAX for architectural visualization projects and sun studies. I also use Autodesk products in my own web/visualization consultancy, Demo38.
4. How and when did Autodesk approach you?
MH – Autodesk caught wind of my firm, Redpoint Studios (www.redpointstudios.com). We were using every tool available in the Product Design Suite, which was unique. From there, we were invited to join the Fusion 360 team at AU2012 to have discussions about the future of Fusion 360. My company, Redpoint, was highlighted in an Autodesk documentary and we made four guitars for Autodesk, one of which was demonstrated at Autodesk University 2013.
5. What sort of workflow do you use to create an Orphanage Guitar?
MH – I start sketching using Sketchbook Designer, and then use that design as an underlay in Fusion 360. I then model up the body in Fusion 360 and bring that geometry in to Inventor, using my pre-built Inventor templates to virtually “route” the guitar body for pickups and electronics. From Inventor, I take the model in to my CAM program to machine it up. At any point, I can render the guitar in Showcase for visualization.
6. What sort of marketplace are you aiming for?
JH – The boutique guitar market for players who want their own style and can’t find exactly what they’re looking for. Our guitars will start in the $2,500 range – we allow the player to design their own guitar body shape, configure any specification for their neck, spec their own woods, choose their own top wood, spec any electronics, any hardware… All customs come with a 3d digital proof which they can spin, pan and zoom to preview their guitar before going to CNC.
7. How do you want to take the business forward?
MH – One side of me wants to do the organic process; word of mouth, old school – then after that, once our internal processes have settled – push the online configurator that is about ready to launch.
JH – We have a mix of orders to fulfil right now with a lot under the hood still being determined.
MH – We are working on a hollow body design right now, and also getting help with manufacturing from established luthiers while building the business.
8. Can you see yourselves partnering with other guitar manufacturers?
MH – We would be open to it, we could build partnerships helping to automate some of their processes. Also by making other parts for other guitar builders.
JH – Assisting other luthiers with 3D digital scanning – to help them produce complex parts repeatedly and accurately.
9. How big do you see the company in 5 years?
MH – As big as our wives will let us! (Laughter). Our ultimate goal would be making 30-40 guitars a month.
JH – We want it to grow over time and want to work together.
10. Which would be the most perfect guitar player to have as a client?
MH – Dave Navarro – a cool guy, with a lot of creative influence on the process. I respect his style, very rhythmic….and would like to think my playing style is similar. I also wouldn’t mind making guitars for Miley Cyrus and Bieber (lots of laughter).
JH – It would have to be a group…Nine Inch Nails – the drama, the soundtrack, the aggression, I love the range.
So there it is. Ten questions with the great guys from Orphanage Guitars.
You can find them on their website – www.orphanageguitars.com.
Here’s to a great 2014!
I am always on the lookout for blended methods of learning.
The classroom and Instructor Led Training (ILT) is STILL paramount to learning, but the classroom is only one place to learn. Due to the many new technologies out there; YouTube, video training and the like, so there are now many different ways in which you can “blend” both pre and post-learning skills in to what you learn in the classroom.
I mention YouTube as a prime example. You can view YouTube on your PC, laptop, tablet and phone, making it VERY accessible.
One of the larger UK-based Autodesk partners and resellers, Symetri, has created short YouTube tips and tricks videos on their YouTube channel.
Here is an example of what you can find on the Symetri channel. This video shows you how to use visibility states to merge a number of standard AutoCAD blocks in to one dynamic block.
This is great material for post-classroom blended learning.
Check it out!