Archive for AutoCAD – Page 4

Day 1
The first day of Autodesk University 2012 was kicked of with the AUGI volunteer breakfast with lots of traditional high cholesterol yummy foods, awards for some of the dedicated volunteers, and discussions of changes happening within the membership area.  After breakfast, it was off to get things started with the annual key-note address.  Although the concept of talking about the tools and capabilities available now, instead of all about the future was refreshing, the keynote session was nowhere near as interesting or inspiring as last years.  I left just before the end to check in at the office back home then headed out to start the classes/sessions.

My focus this year was on learning as much as possible about Revit MEP.  As our firm is stepping in to the Revit arena I signed up for as many Revit related classes as I could no matter the discipline.  My first class was a bust as it was more of a sales pitch for a product that was not yet ready for the US market and the presenters, although I am sure were very competent had a major language barrier and we’re so hard to understand that I left after about 20 minutes.  My second class was on creating HVAC content in Revit, but was really more about just creating content in general and was one of my favorite sessions of the trip.

The last class was on migrating AutoCAD standards to Revit and was another favorite.

Myself and my buddy Scott from Texas ended the evening at the Imagint customer appreciation even in the Mix lounge.

Day 2
The grab and go breakfast was not a good start for a day of learning, with huge muffins and slices of breakfast cakes.  The carbs and caffeine pretty much set you up for a mid morning crash and the need for lots more caffeine.

This days  sessions we’re more on Revit optimization.  Another favorite, Lynn Allen’s 90 tips in 90 minutes was very fun and educational, especially the newer versions tips.

The day ended with the AUGI annual beer bust which we skipped out on in favor of a brisk walk to Outback.   In lieu of beer and munches I chose a salad, steak, and baked potato with a sweet bowl if vanilla ice cream for desert and another brisk walk back to the hotel.

Day 3
I skipped the grab and go carb fest today and had a banana and pumpkin loaf from Starbucks (not much better).  My first session was on personal branding with Curt Moreno from Kung Fu Drafter and Marielle Covington, a social media manager from Autodesk.  This was also a good session.  The day ended today with more AutoCAD tips from Jeanne Aurhus and then back to the room to rest for the closing AU appreciation event at the Hard Rock hotel.

The closing session at the Hard Rock Hotel was quite the production.  Autodesk was celebrating its 20th Autodesk University event in a big way.  Think of the resources and cost to move around 5,000+ people from the Mandalay Bay Hotel alone to the Hard Rock via buses.  Autodesk rented out the entire entertainment area of the Hard Rock which included about a dozen bars, dance floors and stages with live entertainment in each area.  There were women dressed up in all kinds of getups from cowgirls to 10 foot tall guitar players and Vegas style dance outfits. Did I mention food in every area and open bar!  Knowing I had an early flight, I contemplated not going, but I am glad I did!

The good and the bad:
Every event has some great moments that create good memories and some that create bad ones and AU is no different.

AU App:
The all new AU app was a great way to verify my next scheduled class and location and was far better than carrying around a paper list – as long as I could get a WIFI or cellular signal.  No ability to download course material from the app to me was a disappointment as I used it on both my phone and tablet. Not being able to see full course titles was another disappointment, hopefully these will be addressed by next year.  Great addition to AU experience though.

The grab and go breakfast was a disappointment.  Lunches were really pretty good with good options for veggies, proteins and carbs.  The snacks were as expected with cookies and pretzels, coffee and soda, and water was always available.  This years ice cream fell far short of last years.  I left a class 5 minutes after it was done and the ice cream was all gone, last year I had more than one while walking between classes.

The best evening food was at the private customer appreciation event thrown by Imaginit. Thanks Kim! : )

I stayed at the Mandalay Bay hotel, which made trekking to the conference easier, but still not short.  You get lots of exercise at this event for sure!  The room was clean and roomy, but a few things were buggy.  Pillows were very uncomfortable, the bathroom door handle kept falling off and the doors the bathroom were very loud when closing which would wake up one of us if the other went in the middle of the night.  We had to close them because we could not see how to turn off the lights under the bathroom counter.  Wireless access sucked and my cell signal came and went.  This was not a very “Connected World” experience!

Overall the event was very informative and enjoyable!  The bags were nicer than least years, a place to carry a water bottle or coffee  thermos in my case was a nice benefit.  One thing that  would have been nice is to have “You Are here” stickers on the event mapping boards – with the complex being so big, it was easy to get turned around.

Thanks to all the event sponsors, floor personnel, instructors and of course AUGI and Autodesk for their work and investments in keeping this going!  Hope to see you next year!


With each new version of AutoCAD there is typically a mass public release of blog posts, web updates and press releases with what the newest version does compared to the last or previous versions.   This is helpful for those that are considering making the move, but many skip multiple releases before taking the plunge.

I know of multiple companies that I work with locally that are moving to the recent version from as far back as 2004, 2006 and 2008, and a lot has changed between then and now.  When considering the big jump, looking at the most recent new features may be enough to convince them to move to the current release, but they and others that choose not to may be missing out on many other changes and additions that were added in previous releases.

Many companies, all over the world that take the plunge are very often modifying the new versions of AutoCAD through the menu systems, toolbar changes and shortcut commands to get back as close to the old way of doing things as they can get, because “they cannot afford to be inefficient while learning the new software”.  It would be unfortunate for these companies to be using the latest version of AutoCAD in their old way, not realizing that some of the most efficient new features are buried just below the surface.  If these users learned more than just the tools that they typically use, they could be even more productive.

To educate some of these users as to a lot of the features that they may not even know exists, I have put together an AutoCAD Features by Version list and saved it here as a downloadable and printable PDF.

What is it:
A list of AutoCAD features by version since 2004.

To address users that may not be aware of some of the powerful features now in AutoCAD because they are still using older versions or using the new version just like their previous one.

How was it assembled:
Compiled from AutoCAD’s Release Matrices and various blog and website posts.

This list is not 100% accurate, but is hopefully pretty close to the actual new features introduced for each release of AutoCAD.  This list was composed from various Autodesk’s release comparison matrices, blog posts and websites that discussed each release as they came out. The Autodesk matrices were not consistent as to how the products were indicated as new and improved and each Matrix release had an inconsistent set of categories, so the mergers of features may be off.

Although I started out showing which features were improved with each version, that become very cumbersome so I removed it.  AutoCAD gets improvements on a regular basis, so the most exciting thing is when a completely new feature gets implemented.

This is meant to be a living document that will be updated as new versions come out and corrections brought to light. If you are aware of any discrepancies or are aware of an Autodesk version or other source that has created a more comprehensive version of this list, I would love to hear about it.

Download AutoCAD Features by Version PDF

Send any comments or questions to:


While reviewing an E-News Letter  recently from our Autodesk vendor I came across an interesting link in their featured Blog posts that took me to an Autodesk help site. Here I found a help series labeled “The Hitchhikers Guide to AutoCAD“.  Now if you are new to AutoCAD or have been a long time circle and line jock, but not much on more advanced features, this might be a good spot to start your climb.  This does not by any means have the info to make you an advanced Rock Star AutoCAD user, but if there is one or more areas that you have not ventured in to, like  creating your own Blocks, using Paper Space, using multileaders or Mtext, in lieu of the old Dtext that so many still use, these are straightforward, easy to understand  mini-tutorials on how to so these things.

Below is a basic capture of the home screen and the cool graphic that they use.

Welcome to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to AutoCAD—your guide to the basic 42 commands you need to create 2D drawings using modern AutoCAD or AutoCAD LT.

This guide is a great place to get started if you just completed your initial training, or to refresh your memory if you only use AutoCAD occasionally. As you can see from the illustration, the 42 commands are grouped together according to types of activity. In addition, these groups are arranged sequentially to follow a typical workflow.

  1. Basics: Review the basic ways to control AutoCAD.
  2. Viewing: Pan and zoom in a drawing, and control the order of overlapping objects.
  3. Geometry: Create basic geometric objects such as lines, circles, and solid-filled areas.
  4. Precision: AutoCAD provides several features to ensure the precision required for your models.
  5. Layers and Properties: Organize your drawing by assigning objects to layers, and by assigning properties such as color and linetype to objects.
  6. Modifying: Perform editing operations such as erase, move, and trim on the objects in a drawing.
  7. Blocks: Insert symbols and details into your drawings from commercial online sources or from your own designs.
  8. Layouts: Display one or more scaled views of your design on a standard-size drawing sheet called a layout.
  9. Notes and Labels: Create notes, labels, bubbles, and callouts. Save and restore style settings by name.
  10. Dimensions: Create several types of dimensions and save dimension settings by name.
  11. Printing: Save and restore the printer settings for each layout. Output a drawing layout to a printer, a plotter, or a file.

Link:  The Hitchhikers Guide to AutoCAD

If you are new to AutoCAD or a casual user, I highly recommend you check this out!

Once you have checked it out and let me know what you think!


One again I find myself motivated by a Blog post by a fellow blogger and AUGI cohort the Kung Fu Drafter (KFD) at on the topic of Standards or more so what they should be called.  KFD discussed how one should consider changing the more common name of “Standards” to “Best Practices”.  In the post, KFD made some good points about the struggles we face with Standards – like the big one of “those things that your management always tell you that you need but never got around to developing”.  One that he did not mention directly, but inferred is that of the frustration some feel with having to follow standards, especially if they do not like them or had no input to their creation.  In the post, KFD made the statement that:

“…there is almost nothing good that comes of calling your documented processes standards.”

And to this I agree one hundred percent!  I have seen many places where management, business owners or newby CADD managers with a big ego think that they know best on “how” to do something.  Sometimes they are right, but often they are wrong.  As KFD said in his intro – “…there is more than one way to draw a polyline.”

But two statements that I struggled with the most were that “the difference between “standards” and “best practices” is minimal.”  And “A ‘standard’ is a documented process…” I struggled with these because I see them as completely separate things.  My view of ‘Standards’ maybe somewhat limited, but I look at them as a production result or something ‘used’ vs ‘done’ to create a desired result.  We have standards to create something uniform and consistent.  But the processes, techniques, or practices that we use may not be the same.

Standards vs Best Practices

In looking at some definitions of Best Practices on the web I found the following on Wikipedia:

A best practice is a method or technique that has consistently shown results superior to those achieved with other means, and that is used as a benchmark. In addition, a “best” practice can evolve to become better as improvements are discovered. Best practice is considered by some as a business buzzword, used to describe the process of developing and following a standard way of doing things that multiple organizations can use.

Some consulting firms specialize in the area of Best Practice and offer pre-made ‘templates’ to standardize business process documentation.

And on the

A method or technique that has consistently shown results superior to those achieved with other means, and that is used as a benchmark.

The first definition mentions ‘standard’ and ‘standardize’ with the first being about “a way of doing things”, while the second usage discusses “templates to standardize business process documentation” i.e. creating a document that standardise how you do things, both of which would follow KFD’s line of thinking.

When looking for a definition of Standards” on

  • Something considered by an authority or by general consent as a basis of comparison; an approved model.
  • An object that is regarded as the usual or most common size or form of its kind
  • A rule or principle that is used as a basis for judgment: They tried to establish standards for a new philosophical approach.
  • An average or normal requirement, quality, quantity, level, grade, etc.

And on

  • General: Written definition, limit, or rule, approved and monitored for compliance by an authoritative agency or professional or recognized body as a minimum acceptable benchmark.
  • GATT definition: “Technical specifications contained in a document that lays characteristics of a product such as levels of quality, performance, safety, or dimensions. Standards may include or deal exclusively with terminology, symbols, testing and methods, packaging, or labeling requirements as they apply to a product.”

So, my definitions would be that:

  • Best Practices” are the best known method, technique or proven processes used to achieve an end goal –  a ’standard’.
  • Standards: are usually established by an authority (a rule or principle) or by general consent (defacto standards) as a basis of comparison. Typically used to achieve a specific look, quality, quantity, level, grade, etc. or obtain specific results or create a safer environment.

I think every AEC firm company needs some form of ‘Standards’ but where I look at things a little different from KFD is that rather than setting up the processes as the standards, I believe  a company needs both a set of ‘Standards’ AND a set of ‘Best Practices’.  Things that I would see in a set of Standards include: (Think National CAD Standards)

  • A Standard set of Layers
  • Standard line weights used for the Standard layers
  • Standard Fonts used for standard Company Styles
  • Standard Title Blocks, drawing Blocks, and annotation Symbology

Basically – A standard looking set of documents for your company.

Now, as to how you get there, i.e. what process you use, I can recommend some ways, by doing certain tasks or steps – kinda like best practices. But, if you want to use scripts or layer states to control your layers, or if you use toolbars in lieu of the Ribbons – I don’t care if it achieves the same results.

CADD managers may document steps to get a result, and may be it is a non-flexible result so that a specific process has to be used, but this may be where some good automation get’s setup.  The more arduous things are and the more steps one has to use, the more likely they will find their own way or  shortcut to get a result (like exploding in lieu of redefining blocks).

CADD Managers beware –  by labeling your company “Standards” as “Best Practices”, I believe you are offering up that the desired result is flexible or has ‘elasticity’ not something I would want too many people interpreting on their own.

Standards are something necessary and need to be defined, monitored and controlled while Best Practices can be taught but may vary by individual.  Don’t get me wrong, sometimes what some users may choose to use as a process is less than optimal….  Because there are many different ways of doing things, we can teach “Best Practices” and encourage them to be used, but in the end we require  “Standards”.

 Thanks to this thought-provoking post by KFD, I have added  “Best Practices” as a category to this blog and will start updating my existing post’s  categories to reflect it.  And this has also prompted me to put together a post dedicated to some useful business “Best Practices”.
Thanks Curt…


In a previous post I listed some videos for AutoCAD 2013 by Brian Benton and Revit MEP 2013 by Simon Whitbread, all published through Infinite Skills. Below are some additional resources that combine Blog articles, Videos and websites. I will update this post as new ones are found. If you have found some useful resources that you would like to share, send them to me and I will get them posted or add them as a comment to this post.


AutoCAD 2013:

Added Resource Link

08-24-2012 Lynn Allen’s AutoCAD 2013 Tips and Tricks Booklet

08-24-2012 Autodesk’s Features Demos/Tutorials

08-24-2012 Lynn Allen’s AutoCAD 2013 – “See What you have been Missing”

Revit MEP:

Added Resource Link

08-24-2012 YouTube – Starting a project in Revit

Note: There are tons of videos on YouTube that show you “how to do something”.
Go to and enter a search for a topic you are interested in.

08-24-2012 Club Revit video on New Revit MEP 2013 features

Upgrading to new software, especially technical software like AutoCAD can be a tough transition.  If you’re a few versions behind, it can be quite daunting and frustrating when dealing with the new tools and interface.  I know of  at least five firms that I work with that are making the leap from older versions of AutoCAD (2005, 2006 and 2008) to the current 2013 version of AutoCAD and two are taking the leap into Revit.

With such big leaps comes big learning curves and unfortunately many will opt to just get it back to how it looked before rather than take on learning the new tools and features that the software offers.  There are productivity gains to be made for those that take the time to learn them and I hope the firms I know and the many others out there that are making similar upgrades try to learn about some of the new tools available.

As I put together  training material for our staff, I will also post some of it here, at least on major things that might help others along with their journey.   Some  items I foresee I will post about will be on the interface, customization, menu conversion from older versions, and new tools and tricks.

I am not sure on the suspected release of the 1st service pack for 2013, but I typically don’t recommend making the full move to production usage until it is released.  Each new software has bugs and you don’t want to be the one discovering them on active projects.

Some Training Videos:

Below are three videos that I currently recommend for anyone making the transition to the new AutoCAD or Revit MEP software. These videos are all distributed by the same company (Infinite Skills) but are by a couple different authors.

AutoCAD 2013

The first is AutoCAD 2013 by Brian Benton.  Brian is another old-timer in the CADD community, and is very well known for his technical skills.  Brian is a fellow member and contributor to AUGI, maintains a blog, has written multiple books and has done a variety of training videos.

You can learn more about Brian here.  This video covers the latest version of AutoCAD, version 2013 and is written in such a way that it benefits both the novice AutoCAD user and someone who just needs to get familiar with the new features of 2013 and possibly a refresher for commands you have long since forgotten.  For those that use AutoCAD  LT, he does a version for that as well. – $99.95 / $9.99 for IPAD streaming **

Advanced AutoCAD Techniques

Advanced AutoCAD Techniques The second video, also by Brian Benton is written based on the 2011 version of AutoCAD, but the topics covered are useful in almost any version.  Although I have used many of these techniques and tools myself over the years, the reminder and refresher on some long since forgotten was great and the detail on some that I have never used was very helpful.  This is another good deal to add to your reference library for only – $99.95  / $9.99 for IPAD streaming **

Remember – no matter how long we have been doing things and how much we think we know, we can still learn about tools and techniques that make us more productive by stretching and enhancing our skill sets.  Sometime we just need to re-evaluate how we’ve always done it.

Revit MEP 2013

The third video is on Revit MEP 2013 and is by Simon Whitbread.  I stumbled on this one while searching for MEP training videos for the electrical engineering company I currently work for.  To stay competitive and keep up with the current business trends in our industry, our company is diving into Revit MEP.  Although the company has been doing AutoCAD since its inception over 17 years ago, Revit is another beast entirely.

In order to get up to speed quickly, we are doing a multifaceted approach to training that combines formal classes through our local reseller – (Imaginit), videos and written reference material.   After watching some of the sample videos, this one made the cut and will be added as another training tool in our arsenal.  If you’re getting in to Revit and video training is an option, $99.95 is a very good deal for something you can watch over and over.  With dual screens and headphones, this is a good way to get your feet wet as you follow along.

These are just a few resources I found and as I find new ones I will follow-up.

For those that are making the move, feel free to share your experiences here by posting in the comments section or putting out some questions or issues that you are having.  Remember that you have to register to post and if you are wanting to keep up with future posts via your email, subscribe to the blog or follow me on Twitter.


** 08-11-12 Note – When I originally wrote this article, I was looking at the Infinite Skills store through their IPAD app and did not put it together that the $9.99 version was IPAD only and the downloadable video was $99.95.  Thank you Brian, for straightening me out.   Sorry for any confusion or inconvenience.  Savings like this for the streaming content make an IPAD even more worth while.

AutoCAD Upgrades

Are you planning on upgrading to AutoCAD 2013?  For users that have older versions of AutoCAD and have not upgraded in a while (versions older than 2010), now would seem like a great time to do so.  Between the discounted pricing and 0% financing you have a great opportunity to get up to current technology levels.

Current upgrade pricing for AutoCAD, which is valid for versions 2010 through 2012 is $1995.  Prior to that would typically require a new purchase at $3995.  But every so often, Autodesk will come up with a special promo to try to bring some of the no-up graders and non-subscription folks back in to the fold.  Now is such a time.  Autodesk’s “It’s time to make the move” promo allows you to upgrade for slightly more than the standard upgrade price of current users. Older versions of AutoCAD (not LT) can be upgraded to AutoCAD 2013 for $2240.  $2240 vs $3995 seems like a pretty good deal – about a 44% discount!

A couple tidbits.

The current Autodesk “It’s time to make the move” promo” expires July 13th.

In looking at the requirements for the promo on the Imaginit site, I saw that Subscription is required, but was assured by our reseller that it was not currently required for this promo.  It was.

The 0% financing is available on all Autodesk software, but only until July 13th or their budget of $7 million in funding runs out – whichever comes first. (FY13-Q2-0-Financing-T&Cs-Finall)

This is an excellent time to look at getting into Revit by upgrading to a Building Design Suite.

Now your mileage may vary depending on the deals your specific vendor offers you.  Currently my data is based on Imaginit, ( and specifically the Tampa office.  If you are interested in benefiting from this offer, maybe give Iris a call at 800-706-1000 x:102.

It’s your move…

Now separately I am curious to know what folks are running out there and would appreciate it if you would please fill out the very quick/short survey below about your current software. Should take you less than a minute.  Adding personal info is optional and will not be shared.

Survey Link:  Take short 5 Question survey


Some people just can’t seem to make the leap to paper space – even though there would be many productivity gains to do so.  As I have been told and heard, we are quite content with how we do things now and see no reason to change.  Many people resist change as they believe it will slow them down or be too hard to learn.  You can usually tell the ones that are natural resistors to changes in AutoCAD software features by the rest of their AutoCAD tools and methods.

–      Older versions of AutoCAD  (2004 – 2010 still very common)
–      Working in Model space only
–      Inserting templates DWGs with blocks and layers rather than using Layer states, automated scripts and DWTs.

Although I prefer to convince those to change their ways and learn something new, sometimes it takes and in-between method to boost their productivity and understanding and so, I offer this productivity tip.


Working in model space and using different scales:

A common practice I see is for some firms to draw various plans with different scales, all on one sheet and scale it up or down to make it look right.

Example:  A building plan is setup to plot at 1/8″ scale with blown up part plans on the same sheet at 1/4″ and 1/2″ scales.  The most common problem is the most obvious – they are not drawn to scale.  Yes, when plotted they will scale out properly with an architects or engineer’s scale, but while working on it they are not.  I.e. you want to draw an air handler, mill work, or represent a piece of equipment that is 2′-4″ off the south wall and 4′-9″ off the east wall. So how do you place it?  For a 1/4″ scale blow up, you would double the distance for your offsets – so 4′-8″ off the south wall and 8′-18″ or 5′-6″ off the west wall.  The more odd the dimensions, the more math you do and the more chances you have to make mistakes – and trust me – you will make mistakes.


This one is pretty easy, but even so, I have made a few assumptions.

The user:

  1. Is familiar with and uses Xrefs and understands clipping.  (If you are not using Xrefs yet, WOW… I do not know what to say – except I am here to help and I charge reasonable rates!) – Seriously – you are missing out on so much productivity – use them!!
  2. Knows basic scaling (i.e. if you are working on a 1/8” drawing and you want to attach a 1/2″ drawing, you scale it up by 4)


  1. Create a separate DWG file for each of the alternate scaled items.  (YES – if you have a lot of blow-ups you will have a lot of additional drawings, and if that is the case – are you sure you do not want to consider Paper Space?)
  2. Draw each of these to the scale you want represented and using the xref command, attach them to your 1/8″ scale drawing and scale them up appropriately.
  3. When you need to modify the enlarged plan, just select it, right-click and select open xref.  Note: If you choose to edit the xref n place, you will be using the current dimstyle, textstyle, etc. of the 1/8″ drawing and not the enlarged drawing – choose open.


  1. Accuracy – Your drawings are to real scale, not only when scaled on paper, but while your editing them.
  2. Productivity – Multiple people can be working on a sheet – one on the master drawing and others for each of the enlarged details or blow-ups.
If you can’t get over the Paper space hump right now, at least setup your drawings in a way that can be more productive and accurate until you do.


4 Color Markups?

4 color markups

This post is in response to another post that I recently read on the Kung Fu Drafter’s blog titled Stand Up for your Markups by Laying Down Some Rules…”. 

Worth it?

I have been involved in the architectural and engineering world for over 25 years and have been on all sides, from hand drafter, designer, CADD drafter and designer, CADD manager, Project Manager and even have done and still do CADD and IT consulting.  I have marked up drawings, drafted markups and reviewed other’s work from someone else’s markups, but until I read this post I had no exposure to the “4 Color System”.   My first thought was that it seems to put a lot of extra work on the person doing the markups, the more I read, the more I saw an “us and them” picture developing.  As the first couple paragraphs stated, the work is done as a partnership – and this requires work from both sides.  I feel for those that endure horrible markups and hope that they can find a way to communicate this frustration without causing additional conflict.  Unfortunately, for those that do endure scribble and hieroglyphics, multiple colors will just make them more colorful.

It has Logic

Using separate markup colors has logic, and I am all about logic, setting a standard is good too because standards combined with automation are in my opinion the best way to create quality and cost-effective output.   I am all about logic – well logic and foresight.  Logic requires thinking about more than a single project or task and foresight allows us to look down the road and see the big picture.   The 4 color markups obviously were created with logic and foresight; although it seems a bit heavy on the designer.  If I were the person marking things up, I would have to keep picking up and putting down various color pens or pencils as I reviewed and marked up the drawing – annoying? Yes.  efficient? Not so much. But I am only one of many.

Agree and Disagree

For this methodology, there are a few things I agree with and a few I don’t.  Black is definitely a bad color for markups for the great reasons given.  Red is a common if not the ‘most common’ color for markups and has kept the pen and marker companies in business for years.  The blue – probably a good idea, as some drafters may not truly understand what they are drawing and will just go ahead and throw it on the drawing – although this may be where experience and training helps.  Drafters should have a decent idea of what they are drawing and be able to notice something out of character.  For me, the red pen has pretty much always worked.  The green pen – I do not see the reason for it at all.  If it needs to be gone, mark through it with a red pen.  The yellow pen confuses me.  Who uses that?  Is this a highlighter that the designer uses to highlight stuff he/she has already reviewed? If so, that’s ok as a checklist for themselves, but I’m not sure how the drafter benefits.

Size Matters

The idea of giving each person a different color highlighter is good for small offices if you can get everyone to stay firm – of course this relates to any standard.  What I have found useful in the past and especially with large drafting departments is that everyone can highlight their work in any color, but when they start their work they write their name on the sheet in the lower right-hand corner and run their highlight color over it.  If this person is out sick or has to pass the work to someone else to complete, the second person writes their name and highlights it in a different color and then uses that color to highlight their completed markups.  This way the designer knows who to go back to if they have questions related to the work or wants to explain something that the drafter misunderstood.  Using this method would work for most firms – unless you have a dozen people working on one redline; you should never run out of highlight colors.  Even with all the color options, there are a few things that the drafter needs to do as well – it is not always the designer’s fault.

As to the statement:

Comments that are poorly written lead to confusion in the drafting room. The wrong word is typed or the wrong size is used and it is nobody’s fault but the person who marked the page up.”

I agree with the first line, but the second one I believe is unfair and inaccurate.  It would be easy to discount mistakes by saying that I could not read your markup, and that is why it is wrong but in reality, I was distracted and not focusing on the markup or in a hurry and did not want to try and think through what the designer was saying.  Maybe I did not want to walk to their desk or call their extension to get clarity – this would be part of the partnership.


Creating good markups ARE the responsibility of the designer whether they are being done by an architect, engineer or an architectural or engineering ‘designer’.   Bringing to their attention or to their bosses attention that they tend to be hard to decipher is the job of the drafters.  Clarifying the markups is the responsibility of both the designer and the drafter not solely the markup originator.  If after years a drafter cannot decipher markups from someone they have been working with or a particular type of work that they have been performing maybe they need to get more knowledge about what it is they are drawing.  The less detail a designer needs to put on a drawing to get the point across the more money and time they save.  The time savings allow them to put more time into more important details.  If the CADD drafters are constantly too new or keep getting moved around before they have a chance to figure out what they are drawing then there are bigger issues in your company then how markups are done.

One Solution

When I run into a clarity issue, I have a personal solution.  I keep three highlighters nearby – Green, Orange and pink.  When I finish something, pick up a red-line etc… I highlight it in Green, if a word, paragraph or line does not immediately make sense, I look at what it relates to, think what it might mean (this is not the first redline I have done) and if I still don’t have a clue I highlight it in Orange and move on.  When I am done, (or think I am) I go back over the markup quickly double-checking that I picked up everything, on large or complex markups I highlighting in pink as I go indicating it was double checked.  I then take the markups to the designer/engineer/architect etc… and go over the orange items.  Once it is clear, I finish up and return the markups along with the final plots to them.  If the person that did the markups is not available and I have other projects or priorities to move on to I have already established an understanding that the orange means I am not clear on something and they get back with me or sometimes pick it up themselves if they can.


Now to be fair, I can see situations where the “4 color” system may come in very handy.  If you are working in a standalone Drafting shop or your markups are sent overseas or out-of-state to drafters, the additional clarity would be helpful (still don’t see the need for Green though).

The statement:

“It’s not always easy for CAD managers to push procedures up the command chain.”

could use its own response post, but for brevity’s sake, let’s just say ‘pushing’ anything ‘up’ is not often successful.  Starting at the top of the department or division and discussing a better way to communicate markups would be best, and one that does not add additional burden to the person doing the markups.  Talk it over and maybe you can offer a solution and get them to believe it was their idea.  Things will go a lot better the more we get away from the “us and them” attitude and maybe even get us back to that partnership originally mentioned.  Yes – I know it is often easier said than done, but not impossible – don’t give up before even trying.  And a final point… Having drafters “Lay Down some Rules” may not the best way to start working on a partnership.

This response post is in no way meant to slight the writer, as it is obvious that the topic came from years of experience and frustration.  We don’t all have to agree on one method of doing anything to make progress; we just need to think through the issues, find a compromise that works best for all sides and work to get it in place.  The information that is shared on the Kung Fu Drafter blog is very informative and is obviously based on a lot of experience – which of course is why I subscribe to it.



AU 2011 Wrap-up

Day 3, the final day was more of the same; food, classes and walking.  Thursday was a special day – there was free Haagen-daz Ice cream (I had 2).

Sessions for me Thursday included more Revit MEP stuff, CADD management and office politics and using an IPad for doing CA work.

Overall impression of AU 2011:

Classes were numerous, I missed a few that were full.  The majority of classes that I did attend had great content and I did not hear anyone complaining.

Staff – lots of helpers all pretty friendly.

Expo was pretty good, mix of vendors, I only visited about half a dozen.

Food was plentiful at the expo and between classes.  With the exception of the the Thursday breakfast, all the meals were very filling and had a variety of choices.

Hotel – The hotel rooms were very nice, but getting around the hotel was a bit confusing because of how it was laid out. The first night was  bit frustrating trying to find the registration area.  Wireless was crazy expensive, so I staid away from that.

Future Attendees:
Some recommendations for those that may be planning to come next year:

– Pedometer (you’ll be amazed how much walking you’ll do)
– Comfortable shoes (see above)
– Portable charger(s) – batteries ran dead pretty quick in searching for signals for regular and wireless signals and there was a fair amount of available outlets.

I am looking forward to the opportunity to go again next year.