Autocad 2015 from the Dork Side

I was actually asked to blog and tweet on behalf of both myself and AUGI during yesterday's blogger event in San Francisco, so, you can find my notes on the 2015 release over on BLAUGI:

As you know, I don't work on the design side, I work post-construction and often don't use many new features "in production" because I am not actually producing new drawings often. So, I tend to really appreciate the little tools that make consuming and reusing data easier for me and my users. This release has a few of those.

See the above BLAUGI post for a long list, but, here are my personal favorite top 3:
  • Help's Find command button tool
  • Command preview
  • Lasso selection

There are others in that vein as well, check out the list to see which might be your favorites.
A 'bigger' feature would be the continuing refinement of the point cloud support in AutoCAD is something that excites me as an owner. Reality capture (of existing conditions) is a process that has become drastically more affordable and accessible to a much wider audience in the past few years, very exciting.

AutoCAD 2015 wasn't the only thing we discussed, I am planning another blog post later this week to fill you in on the rest of the stuff we went over.


Notepad++ formatting tip

I've used the Notepad++ application to edit before, usually HTML. But, now, I'm using it to edit Archibus views.

When chatting with my friend, James Castruccio, he mentioned I should be able to tweak a setting in Notepad++ that would automatically apply the XML formatting to the AXVW files when I opened them, rather than manually selecting it from the Language menu every time.

I poked around a little and couldn't see an obvious setting, so, I did what any self-respecting cad geek would do, and posted a question on the AUGI Forums. 



Richard Lawrence provided the solution I used.


Under the Settings menu, click the Style Configurator

In the Language list, scroll down to select XML (or whatever applicable format you need) from the list. The Default Ext textbox will populate, then you can add what you would like to add in the User Ext field (in my case, AXVW).

This will save a few clicks and picks for me per day.

Although, on occasion, I'll still manually toggle, such as when accessing SQL components.


Archibus View Field Size Tip

One of our lease specialists asked me to add a comments field to our Taxes and Insurance form (aka task) in Archibus, which would allow space for notes on some of the more obscure situations they run across. In addition to wanting to display all of the text at once, the notes field will serve as a visual break between the current and historic data being displayed.



From the Archibus Help File:

colspan – When the field is presented in a form containing multiple columns of label – value pairs, this attribute allows a field to cover more than one column.

Valid Values: a ‘small’ number between one (the default) and the number of columns used as the panel attribute.

Optional: yes

Since this panel is formatted to have two columns, I set the colspan control to 2.

Editing the .axvw file, I modify the entry for the applicable field.

" <field name="cmts_cam" table="operating_expense" colspan="2" /> "

Also note that each field is paired up with another (either another data field or a placeholder), so I had to remember to remove the second line in this pair, so that the pairs below it in the form were not shifted.



The first change basically did the job, but, I wanted a bit more control over the appearance of the textbox, so I decided to use the style control and input the size in pixels. It did take a couple of tries to get it to line up just how I wanted, but, once you’ve got those numbers handy, you’re gravy for the next time you edit that form, or another using the same panel with the same attributes.

(I am sure there are apps out there that will allow you to measure screen pixels to find the number faster, if I run across one, I will post about it.)


" <field name="cmts_cam" table="operating_expense" colspan="2" style="height:40px; width:743px;"/> "


Remember, you still need to keep the colspan set to 2, otherwise, the style width will push the whole first column wider.


And with that final tweak, the view receives the users’ seal of approval, which means my first of many .axvw edits is completed!


Excel: Concatenating Fields

My next big task at work is adding our hundreds of branch locations to the Work Order & Preventative Maintenance (CMMS) system in Archibus.

Our consultant has a portal where we log in to the system, so, the first step is supplying them with a list of usernames and email addresses to import. The data I have available does not list this information together, so I needed a quick and easy way to produce it.

Concatenating a name to create an email address

While I could just copy the name column and do a find and replace to append the domain, I like concatenating, because it’s so quick and easy.


Just type an equal sign, the first cell name, an ampersand and then the second cell name.

Since I want to drag and copy this down the entire column, I still want to point the latter half of the equation to the top cell. I type a dollar sign in front of the cell number, so it will not increment to match the row number (if I were copying this formula to different columns, I would put a $ in front of both the column and the row, like “$F$1”).



If I were joining other data, such as the city and state fields, I would want to add additional formatting like a comma and a space. All I have to do is place some more &’s and surround the addition with a pair of quote marks.


The above is a shorter way of using the =CONCATENATE function.


MS Excel has an Autofill feature, so, start typing the word, and when it shows up at the prompt, hit Tab to insert the whole command into your cell.



Then proceed as you normally would when typing an expression in, using parentheses to surround the data and commas to separate the components you wish to include.



Archibus Processes, Users and Roles

As I mentioned in an earlier article, we've recently upgraded from v18 to v21, and will be implementing some new features.

As a part of the feature roll-out our consultant, Talisen, has recommended that I perform 'User Experience Testing'. This is basically an audit of our users, the roles we assign them to and the processes or tasks which should be assigned to those roles.

Some of it was basic database cleanup, removing old employees and contractors, but, some of it was an education. I had not yet been called upon to support any of my users in compliance, accounting, or legal, so, I've gotten to learn how they utilize our data.

(If you'll be controlling roles and processes, I'd recommend taking this System Administration class. It was an excellent introduction to this topic, and others. http://www.archibus.com/index.cfm?circuit=training_detail&template_id=475&pagesection=Training&menu_id=47 Some of the topics will also be on offer at the Archibus Users Conference this May http://www.archibus.com/nexus/ )

Security Groups

The first consideration in user permissions are Security Groups, which will control what data your users can view or edit. Each user can be assigned up to 10 security groups.
As you can see in the screenshot below, the Task titles in the System Administration Domain are pretty self-explanatory.


A user's Role controls the applications, tasks and data they can access.


Whether you call them Processes or Applications (I favor the latter, as evidenced in my illustration above), they are how we break down to a particular business process.

When assigning Applications to Roles (or to individual Users), you can drag and drop a whole Application, or expand it to just select one of the Tasks within it.

Note: If you fail to assign an Application to a User, they will see nothing but a blank screen instead of the Process Navigator.


The name Task is fairly self-explanatory here; clicking on the task launches a View, which allows you to access the data and tools to complete that particular task.