Macros from the past: Part 3 (AutoCAD Auto Update)

I was doing some early spring cleaning on my backup drive and found some old remnants of past AutoCAD and Inventor macros that I thought would be cool to share. I’m going to share these one per blog post. None of these are really functional anymore and some only exist as saved screenshots but it’s neat to see what’s possible with some good ole’ fashion, down and dirty coding. You can read the 1st part of this blog post series here, and 2nd part of this blog post here.

The next macro I wanted to share is the “AutoCAD Auto Update” macro. This was a really cool macro that functioned as the backbone of the AutoCAD deployment. The macro was used to synchronize the AutoCAD client for company standards, deploy updates and track usage. It worked by launching a local VBA macro upon launch of the users AutoCAD session. This local macro would then locate a network shared macro that could be customized to run different update operations such as file transfers, settings changes as well as running hotfixes or service packs.

The macro also recorded user sessions to a centralized database. This data was used to closely track software usage patterns to better identify how our designers and engineers were using the software.

I’m hoping these example macros can show what can be possible when you see a shortcoming in the base software package. AutoCAD and Inventor both make coding VBA macros very easy with well written documentation and samples. Next time, I’ll share some Inventor macros that make iProperty editing a breeze.

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Permanent link to this article: http://cadtoolbox.com/2011/03/07/macros-3/

Macros from the past: Part 2 (AutoCAD Batch Plot)

I was doing some early spring cleaning on my backup drive and found some old remnants of past AutoCAD and Inventor macros that I thought would be cool to share. I’m going to share these one per blog post. None of these are really functional anymore and some only exist as saved screenshots  but it’s neat to see what’s possible with some good ole’ fashion, down and dirty coding. You can read the 1st part of this blog post series here.

This is the 2nd macro I want to share with you, AutoCAD Batch Plot. This macro was the basis for the conceptual idea behind my Swift Prints Inventor add-in. Printing from any CAD application, including AutoCAD isn’t very painful but it still takes quite a few mouse clicks to get  the plot settings you desire. This macro pre-configured standard plots to the printers in use. Settings for size, orientation and scale, and other settings were preset. A user only had to select the desired paper size and how many copies they needed to print the AutoCAD drawing.

At the time, this macro was really advanced as far as offering some very quick methods to plotting an entire drawing package. The macro batch plotted an entire drawing package as a bid or construction package which was limited to 8.5X11 or 11X17 plots. Drawings were limited to this size as faxing was the standard method at the time for transmitting drawings to suppliers. The macro worked by the user first copying all the files into either one of two folders named, for 8.5X11 or 11X17. Once the macro was launched it would traverse the folders plotting the drawings and deleting the files after a succesful plot was sent. You could plot a few hundred drawings in a few minutes. Of course, printers were a bit slower back in the late 90’s and the few minutes it would take to send the plot could result in an hour or more of actual printing.

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Permanent link to this article: http://cadtoolbox.com/2011/02/28/macros-2/

You Tube: A Day Made of Glass… Made possible by Corning

I really had to share this really cool video that shows some stuff that may or may not be coming in our future. It shows what can be possible using various Corning glass technologies. I really want to know who’s going to follow all these people around cleaning the finger print smudges from all of these touchscreens. Idea: glass for touchscreens that kills bacteria and removes KFC grease.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Cf7IL_eZ38

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Permanent link to this article: http://cadtoolbox.com/2011/02/24/glass/

Macros from the past: Part 1 (AutoCAD Batch Mode)

I was doing some early spring cleaning on my backup drive and found some old remnants of past AutoCAD and Inventor macros that I thought would be cool to share. I’m going to share these one per blog post. None of these are really functional anymore and some only exist as saved screenshots  but it’s neat to see what’s possible with some good ole’ fashion, down and dirty coding.

The first is a Batch Mode Operations tool for AutoCAD. This macro was used to batch process an entire folder of drawings by updating the drawing number and renaming the file. It also could update some title block attributes. This tool was used to copy an entire projects design from one plant location to be used in another plant location. Since the designs had the tendency to diverge once the equipment was installed, the drawings needed to be separate
and unique. It would have consumed a  few weeks of someone’s time to copy out the files, rename them and update the title block values. This batch tool could accomplish the same task within a few minutes.

The other function of the macro was to batch extract title block attributes to an Access database. The macro would create a database in the selected folder if one did not exist already. The macro allowed you to add the attributes from the files or update the values if the filename already existed in the database. You could also remove entries based on the current batch. This allowed you to keep your drawing properties synched to the database. I was in the process of adding the functionality to feed the database properties back to the drawings when the project was shelved.

Here’s what the exported database would look like:

This entire tool was completely designed in VBA (Visual Basic for Applications) for AutoCAD (circa 2001 or so). Next set of posts, I’ll show you some more cool tools you develop using VBA. I’m so glad I save everything. Now I just wish I would have saved the actual macros.

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Permanent link to this article: http://cadtoolbox.com/2011/02/24/macros/