DBUG Meeting Notes, June 17, 1998
Host: Finanical Concepts Inc.
Introduction & FCI Overview
A dozen hardy souls braved rain, thunder, hail and worst of all, traffic, to make it to the DBUG meeting on the south shore at Swansee. FCI asked one of its clients, First Fed, to make its new, state of the art, headquarters building that FCI designed, available to DBUG for this meeting. After the social hour in the new cafeteria, the group moved into the new training room facility, that in addition to a first rate computer projection screen, also had some 25 seats with individual computers and monitors built into each desktop.
Ed Small of FCI welcomed the group. He noted that this facility, which opened last October, was started on Generic CAD (a 2D package) then was finished on DataCAD. FCI does all financial institutional work and has 25 employees, with 5 architects and 5 interior designers and 1 CAD Manger. They have 11 stations total and run 2 Lantastic networks. At times, they have had their own in-house DataCAD user group meetings "DFUG" and are working on their own CAD Manual and Detail Library. They have made one person responsible for updating each and ask that all new details are sent through this person for incorporation into the set.
BASIC LESSON: DataCAD 8: What's New
Evan Shu then presented DataCAD 8.05 and reviewed and demonstrated the new features such as 1) adjusting ambient light intensity in the Quick Shader (you can set the "Intensity" option from 1 to 10); 2) the new Pen Table option that includes Map to Color and Percent Density which in addition to color printing, also would allow you to map all pens to black, then change some to "half-tone" grays; and 3) demonstrated the Save as Bitmap option vs. the Alt-Prt screen alternate, with the Cheap Trick of re-sizing the window to achieve your desired cropping.
One basic lesson that Evan emphasized, no matter what version of DataCAD you are running, is that it pays to know about the various standard file formats that a session of DataCAD generates. He presented a diagram (see Figure 1 back) that showed the relationship between DC5, BAK, ASV and SWP file formats. He noted that it is very important to know where your SWP file is being stored because in case of lockup the SWP file is your most current drawing file and should be renamed and opened first as way to save the most information. If that version isn't available or doesn't load properly, then work your way down through the ASV version or the BAK version. He also explained the role of the "semaphore" files for Networking use and Display List. He noted that the "engine" files of DataCAD are DCAD.EXE and DCAD.OVR for DataCAD 7 and below but for DataCAD 8, they are renamed DCADWIN.EXE and DCADWIN.OVR.
He demonstrated how to set LLC's recommendations to Optimize DataCAD 8 performance in Win95:
1) Control Panel, System, Performance
set both File System and Graphics on "Full" speed
2) under Virtual Memory, disable Windows control of your virtual memory, and set both the Minimium and Maximum of virtual memory to be 2 1/2 to 3 times your RAM (i.e. if you have 32 megs, set it between 80 & 96MB.)
3) under the File System menu, under typical role of this computer, change it to Network Server (enlarges your cache memory even if not on a Network).
Evan said that running this configuration, he is able to successfully run DataCAD 8 Windows and DataCAD 7 or 8 for DOS in simultaneous sessions, gaining the benefits of multiple sessions. He demonstrated this ability by opening up a file in each version and then transferring a footprint layer from one file to the another, without needing to close either program session. Evan said that in addition to this multi-session ability, he recommended having both DataCAD 8 for Windows and DataCAD 8 (or 7.5) for DOS installed together under your C:\DATACAD path so that both can share the same templates and macros.
Advanced Lesson: Advanced Topics in
Templates and Symbols
Mike Smith next took over to present a number of special interest topics relating to symbols and templates. He re-iterated the basic difference of a symbol file being the actual image placed in your drawing file versus the template file being only a directory of symbol file locations. He opened up a typical template file with a word processor (like Notepad) and showed what the header and template box divisions looked like.
Mike then went in depth to explain the two distinct ways of creating template paths: the
relative path method (starts with SYM)
versus the absolute path method. With the absolute path method, it is very clear where your symbols must be located because the full path
is spelled out in the Template file, e.g.
versus the relative path method
would allow that symbol to be stored in a variety of other locations, as long the SYMBOL PATH setting (per CONFIG, Quote
key shortcut, or PREFERENCES in D8) is set correctly for the path under which the SYM path is stored. For example, if your symbol
path is specified as
then the relative path method would APPEND (add) its path on and search for the symbol under
Mike noted the advantages of the Relative Path Method was that it allows your to freely relocate your SYM directory at will; it makes it easy to transfer and copy TPL and SYM directories to other users with re-writing any templates, and it will co-exist with templates written via absolute path.
He said the disadvantages are if your symbols are not under a SYM path in the DataCAD root directory, mixed absolute and relative path symbols will go very wrong, and that if your symbols are not in that root SYM path, KEEPING your relative path templates working properly takes a lot of user intervention (i.e. re-setting your symbol path.)
Mike went on to describe his new Cheap Tricks Ware (http://world.std.com/~eshu/ctw/ctw.htm) offering, the CSI Templates (B105), which reorganizes all your DataCAD standard templates in CSI, 16 division, format matching the 16 division SYMBOL organization offered by LLC's installation.
He gave a plug for the shareware utility "Ultra Edit" which allows multiple editing of all TPL files at once (10 minutes to change 200 templates) and is found at http://www.idmcomp.com.
Finally, Mike described DataCAD's AUTOPATH feature for saving symbols as "a good concept gone awry". . . "the problem is that every time DCAD accesses a different symbol with an absolute path the Configuration program's symbol path is updated to this new path. So if you are not careful, you will wind up with symbols in very different locations I would suggest that you don't use Autopath." Under Preferences, "make sure the box is UN-checked on all your drawing files."
You can check out Mike's DCAD Web site for other helpful DataCAD tutorials at
At the end of evening, in much better weather and with much sunnier spirits, the small but hardy band left Swansee for a more pleasant drive home.
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