Guest blogger and CAD expert Shaun Bryant offers up today’s post on how to speak CAD like a pro, breaking down 13 common CAD terms that you might come across whether you’re an architect, designer, contractor, PM, or installer. Enjoy!
CAD is a BIG subject nowadays, and for the CAD Jedi padawans new to the CAD environment, it can be somewhat daunting—lots of abbreviations and buzzwords that can confuse and, sometimes, take you down the wrong road. I’ve lost count of the times I’ve had to assist a classroom trainee to distinguish the difference between an AutoCAD drawing file (.DWG) suffix and an AutoCAD drawing template file (.DWT) suffix. To the uninitiated, they look exactly the same when you work on them, but the suffix difference means that they perform very different things in AutoCAD.
Today we’ll look at some pieces of CAD jargon that commonly cause confusion and chaos in the CAD world. I could literally write a book on CAD jargon, abbreviations, and buzzwords, so this list is by no means exhaustive!
Sometimes pronounced affectionately as “gooey”, GUI stands for Graphical User Interface. If you use a computer each day, you’re using a GUI each day, whether you work on a PC or a Mac. It is that screen in front of you that uses graphic symbols (icons) and a keyboard and mouse (or, if you’re really slick, one of those new touchscreens). We have moved along from the abacus, don’t you know?
Fig.1 – The AutoCAD 2014 Graphical User Interface
This is the native AutoCAD file format, e.g HOUSE_ELEVATION.dwg. It stands for DraWinG and is one of the most recognized file formats for CAD drawings, as specified by Autodesk. Autodesk develops the DWG file format regularly, and you’ll notice that it changes every three subsequent versions of AutoCAD. However, you can always save back to older versions of the DWG file format using the newer versions of AutoCAD, thus preserving backwards compatibility and legacy data. We’ve already talked about how to open DWG files in AutoCAD 360, but if you need a refresher, check out this blog post.
As mentioned above, the DWT is the AutoCAD drawing template file format. It stands for DraWing Template. You use a DWT file to open new drawings (DWG) in AutoCAD. You can create user-defined DWT files that bring in all the drawing settings necessary to work productively, such as layers, lineweights, units, and so on, but it is NOT a file format used for active design and working drawings. Rather, it is a drawing/file management tool.
Sometimes affectionately pronounced “d’wiff”. (Which begs the question, can we call a PDF a “p’doof” or a DWG a “d’wig”? Sorry to digress, but there’s plenty of geek banter in the CAD world, and that was some of it.) DWF stands for Design Web Format and is an Autodesk-specific electronic file output format used in the majority of Autodesk products. DWF files can be viewed in the free Autodesk Design Review software.
DXF stands for Drawing eXchange Format and is a commonly used file format (published by Autodesk) that allows for the exchange of binary CAD data in open file format that can be recognized by other CAD platforms. DXF can also be published on other CAD platforms in a more compact version. Historically, it was used much more before CAD software vendors released their native file formats to each other in an effort to ease the transition from one CAD platform to a different CAD platform. For example, I would use DXF to work between earlier versions of AutoCAD and MicroStation.
XPS stands for XML Paper Specification. Originally created by Microsoft, the XPS file format allows for a compressed open file format for document exchange, supported by the likes of Microsoft Office and Internet Explorer, among others. You’ll notice that later versions of MS Office save to a default file format such as DOCx in Microsoft Word and XLSx in Microsoft Excel. Even AutoCAD can output to a DWFx. This encourages the use of documents and designs in a web-centric environment which, let’s face it, we can’t escape from nowadays, right?
I love this one. It sounds like a cartoon character who should be up there with Woody and Buzz Lightyear (to infinity and beyond!). In fact, it stands for a highly complicated mathematical algorithm called Non Uniform Rational B-Spline which AutoCAD and many other CAD software platforms use to create a method of geometric, free-form surfaces used for modeling complex shapes, based on spline curves. If you remember logarithms from school, it uses them…somewhere, I believe (he says, trying his best to remember his school days).
An XREF is an eXternal REFerence file. Typically used in AutoCAD, for example, to reference or link an external drawing to your current working drawing. You might want to XREF your plumbing layout drawing (XREF) to the structural drawing (CURRENT) to check for pipework clashes with structural walls and steelwork. XREFs are a great method of saving on drawing file space, since an XREF normally only increases your current drawing file size by about 10% when referenced to the current drawing. A superb drawing management tool when used effectively on large CAD projects.
Now here’s an extra-large topic, all wrapped up in three little letters. BIM stands for Building Information Modeling, the subject matter of which is just HUGE!
Wikipedia outlines the origin of BIM as follows:
“The concept of BIM has existed since the 1970s. The term Building Information Model first appeared in a 1992 paper by G.A. van Nederveen and F. P. Tolman. However, the terms Building Information Model and Building Information Modeling (including the acronym “BIM”) had not been popularly used until Autodesk released the white paper entitled “Building Information Modeling”. Jerry Laiserin helped popularize and standardize the term as a common name for the digital representation of the building process as then offered under differing terminology by Graphisoft as “Virtual Building”, Bentley Systems as “Integrated Project Models”, and by Autodesk or Vectorworks as “Building Information Modeling” to facilitate exchange and interoperability of information in digital format. According to Laiserin and others, the first implementation of BIM was under the Virtual Building concept by Graphisoft’s ArchiCAD, in its debut in 1987″.
BIM is certainly the flavor of the last few decades when it comes to CAD, with numerous CAD vendors developing specific packages that facilitate BIM in the design process. Typical examples include Autodesk’s Revit, Graphisoft’s ArchiCAD, and Nemetschek’s VectorWorks.
Fig.2 – Autodesk Revit with a typical project
The word RENDER has numerous definitions. Artistic rendering is the shading or texturing of an artistic image. A house can have cement rendering (or stucco) on its outside walls. On a CAD platform, rendering is the generation of an image from a 3D model by way of a computer program. This is the basis of CGI (Computer Generated Imagery) and CGI animation in Hollywood blockbusters like Transformers and Harry Potter. You can render in AutoCAD, you can render in 3ds MAX, you can render in most CAD products. The main aim of rendering is to generate a realistic raster image from your 3D CAD model, normally for presentation purposes. Architects now use games console 3D artists to generate their architectural 3D renderings!
11. DWG TrueView
DWG TrueView is a software application developed by Autodesk that allows for the viewing of native AutoCAD DWG files. It also includes DWG Convert, which allows the user to convert from one DWG format to another—for example, from 2013 DWG file format back to 2010 DWG file format. You can find a download of DWG TrueView here on the Autodesk website . Now, if you’re using a Mac, need to edit as well as open DWG files, or are just looking for an easier way to open and view drawings, you might want to use AutoCAD 360 instead or alongside TrueView. AutoCAD 360 provides an on-the-go, web-based alternative to TrueView (you can learn more here).
WCS stands for World Coordinate System in AutoCAD, and it is the default coordinate system for all AutoCAD drawings. It uses the X and Y axes in 2D drafting and the X, Y, and Z axes in 3D modeling. I always teach this in every AutoCAD class I run, so that my trainee CAD Jedis understand the basics of how AutoCAD works. You would be amazed at how many AutoCAD users don’t know what WCS is, let alone what it stands for!
UCS stands for User Coordinate System in AutoCAD. The UCS uses the WCS (above) as its base, but allows the AutoCAD user to customize the coordinate system to aid 2D drafting and 3D modeling by creating temporary coordinate origins and angles (2D) and coordinate planes (3D) that can be saved and restored when needed.
In Conclusion, dear CAD Jedis…
As I said earlier, I could write a book on this stuff. There’s so much to learn, and I know it can be daunting. But the answer is simple. We now have a great resource for checking out jargon—it’s called the Internet. Just Google what you need to know and dazzle your friends and colleagues! That way, you’ll know your D’WIFF from your P’DOOF. Right?
Shaun Bryant provides Autodesk product consultancy and training as the director of CADFMconsultants Limited and serves as a director on the board of Autodesk User Group International (AUGI). You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org
Integrating AutoCAD 360 to Improve Project Efficiency: Part 4
Now you’re ready to wrap it up, so this week we’ll focus on how AutoCAD 360 product features can help you at invoice/closeout—the final phase—as well as with ongoing management of the job.
Phase 4: Invoice/Closeout and Ongoing Management
Keep Documentation Together for Final Inspection and Invoice
As you take photos of the finished job, you can store them in the cloud along with all other documentation—including drawings, notes, manuals, and warranties—to be easily accessed later. This way, everyone on your team as well as your client can have access to all relevant documentation that’s all in one place. Set permissions to View for clients—or allow them downloading access if they wish to store files elsewhere.
Keep As-Built Drawings Clean as a Whistle
At this stage, your CAD draftsman has produced as-built drawings of the finished product. If he or she has used Design Feed to deal with notes, markups, and photos throughout the job, these drawings will be easier to deal with. All changes and documentation will be in one place—in Design Feed—but won’t be sitting in the drawing itself, needing to be cleaned up.
Have Everything on Hand for Inspections
Set permissions for your project manager to have viewing and note-adding access as they conduct the final inspection, in case anything still needs to be addressed. During your City Inspection, pull up any notes, drawing files, or other documentation on your smartphone or tablet using the AutoCAD 360 mobile app.
Carry the Efficiencies Over into Continued Management
In the coming months, you might be carrying out routine inspection and servicing, using the Design Feed to add notes and photos and then exporting them to Evernote if necessary. Your notes will still be associated with the relevant drawings even after the job is complete—and you can recall any files stored in the cloud and access them via the mobile app. It’ll maximize efficiency to have all relevant files in one place and easily accessible for whoever is overseeing the continued management of the job.
And now it’s time to break out the champagne and congratulate yourself on a job well done! We’d like to think it was done more efficiently and professionally with the help of AutoCAD 360. Are there spots we missed where you think AutoCAD 360 would have helped you be even more productive and efficient during your project? Let us know, and check back next week for more tips and tricks.
Integrating AutoCAD 360 to Improve Project Efficiency: Part 3
This week we focus on the AutoCAD 360 product features that can help in the procurement of materials and the installation process. At this point in a project, high productivity and good communication are crucial.
Using AutoCAD 360 both on your mobile device and via your web browser back at the office can bring a lot of value to your project by increasing productivity, saving you time, and enabling others on your team to be design contributors. Here’s how.
Phase 3: Procurement & Installation
Provide Drawing Access to All Those Working on the Project
Before installers get to work, a number of different groups need access to relevant drawings—for simple viewing, markup, or even minor editing purposes. By sharing drawings through Design Feed and setting permissions to View or Edit, different people working on the job will have access to the most up-to-date drawings via their smartphone or tablet (through the mobile app) or via their browser (using the web app).
View, Markup, and Provide Comments While on the Job
On-site changes made on the fly by installers due to clashes between services can be documented by installers, project managers, site foremen, or anyone else who has been granted editing capability. These can be brought to light without site inspection by adding notes and photos to a CAD drawing, and all parties working on a drawing can be notified via email when changes are made.
Multiple people can work on a drawing at once, so field markup can be cleaned up and changes implemented by a draftsman (or someone else) in the on-site or off-site office in real time. These office changes can be made quickly and easily via AutoCAD 360 or on AutoCAD or AutoCAD LT so long as they are connected to and using Design Feed.
Handling Punchlists Towards the End of the Project
Create punchlists in Design Feed and then share them with the appropriate people, or export them to Evernote if need be. You can also add GPS locations to punchlist items using the AutoCAD 360 mobile app, adding photos directly to relevant points in the drawings or tagging photos with their GPS location. This makes it easier to locate items that need to be addressed, saving you time.
Ok, three project phases down, one more to go—next week, we’ll cover how to use AutoCAD 360 at invoice/closeout and also during the ongoing management of your project. In the meantime, check out all our latest blog posts at www.autocad360.com/blog.
Last week we covered how AutoCAD 360 can be easily integrated into the first stage of any project—the Pre-bid/Bid and Contract phase. This week, we’ll give you the run down on how you can use AutoCAD 360 in next phase, once you’ve been awarded the contract and are ready to get into the planning and design.
Phase 2: Planning and Design
Take Detailed Notes and Photos On Site
As you visit the site, take additional photos, make detailed notes, and acquire permits, you can use AutoCAD 360 to store everything in one place. This makes for easier retrieval and documentation later. If you prefer, you can use a 3rd party site like Dropbox, Box, or Egnyte for file storage and access your files through AutoCAD 360. (For a quick tutorial on how, click here.)
Access New Drawing Files and/or Drawings Received During Phase 1
When your architect or CAD draftsman sends you new drawings, or if you need to reference drawings stored during the Pre-bid/Bid and Contract phase, you can open them in AutoCAD 360. You can then store them along with your photos, notes, and permits—no need to scan hard copies, upload them, and use up valuable space on your hard drive.
Develop and Overlay Schemes onto Drawings
As you start getting into load calculations and the like, you can open drawings you’ve received from your client, architect, or general contractor and overlay scheme designs directly on top of those drawings. AutoCAD 360 makes it easy to overlay schemes onto drawings using tools like edit, draw, measure, and layers, and features such as color palette, view modes, and units. You can also use AutoCAD 360’s GPS feature to position and track yourself within your design using the built-in GPS functionality of your mobile device, and to add comments to your drawings regarding precise geographic locations.
Create Takeoffs, Finalize Parts Lists/BOMs, and Share Them with Suppliers
At this stage, you’ve completed the first major draft of your schemes and are working out your takeoffs and finalizing your parts list/BOM. When you’re ready, you can export your lists from AutoCAD 360 to Evernote and then easily share them—as well as the entire drawing—with your suppliers. (For more info on how AutoCAD 360 integrates with Evernote, check out this post).
Alright—we’re halfway there. Next week, we’ll talk about how you can use AutoCAD 360 as a collaborative tool in the Procurement and Installation phase, and then wrap up this series with Invoice/Closeout and Continuing Management. In the meantime, check out this post on Design Feed – the best way to add notes and markup to your drawings. See you next week!
Over our next few posts, we’ll explain how some of the different functionality in AutoCAD 360 can be easily integrated into the way you work today. As we’ve said before, AutoCAD 360 can save you time and money and help you be more productive at every stage of whatever project you’re working on.
In the coming weeks, we’ll look at the different ways AutoCAD 360 can complement how you’re already working during every phase of a given job:
- Pre-bid/Bid and Contract
- Planning and Design
- Procurement and Installation
- Close-out/Invoicing and Continuing Management
Today, we’ll tackle the Pre-bid/Bid and Contract phase.
Phase 1: Pre-bid/Bid and Contract
Receive and Store Electronic Drawing Files
When you receive .DWG files from your architect or general contractor, you can open them directly from email or upload them to AutoCAD 360—saving you the hassle of having to scan print drawings, save electronic files elsewhere, or hunt through old emails to find them.
Visit the Site
While you take photos and make notes on site, you can add them directly to the drawing files you’ve received. You can also create initial sketches to include in your proposal using AutoCAD 360 or Sketchbook (even if you don’t have CAD experience). After making a site visit, you can share your drawings, photos, and notes with relevant team members—just choose whether to grant them View or Edit permission.
Generate and Present Your Proposal
Using AutoCAD 360 ensures that all drawings, notes and photos are stored together in one place, so you can access them anytime, from anywhere, on your mobile device—and you can pull them all up in a snap. And you’ll impress your client when you walk into meetings with a sleek tablet or smartphone instead of a pile of paper plans and photo prints.
In our upcoming posts, you’ll see how AutoCAD 360 can help collaboration and communication between CAD draftsman, PM, foreman, installers, and clients more easily and efficiently throughout your project. In the meantime, check out this tutorial post on getting started with the basics in AutoCAD 360.
As we’ve mentioned in previous posts, the Design Feed provides an easy way for you to document drawing and site changes, and communicate with your team members—saving you time (and money). We think it’s invaluable—but you should decide for yourself. Here’s a rundown of the pros and cons of incorporating Design Feed into the way you work:
- All of the items associated with a job are in one place. Design Feed is the perfect place to store all parts lists, notes, punch lists, and photo documentation associated with a job. Be sure to check out our posts on adding photos and adding notes to CAD drawings if you haven’t already.
- Lets you easily incorporate collaborators. Save yourself the back and forth between your Project Manager, CAD draftsman, installers, and anyone else on your team. Design Feed lets non-CAD users and designers collaborate directly from a central location.
- Less clean up when the job is done. Using Design Feed to mark up drawings and make notes means less to clean up during the revision process and when you finish a job.
- It notifies your team when notes are added. Whoever you tag in Design Feed posts are emailed automatically when notes are added, saving you time—no need to email your team separately to let them know there’s been a change.
- It’s not what you’re used to. Using the Design Feed may be very different from your usual workflow. We’ve engineered it to be easy and intuitive, but like anything else, there will be a learning curve as you get used to doing things differently.
- Notes are hidden when you print. Once a drawing is finalized, the Design Feed will have kept track of all your notes and changes, but you won’t see them when the drawing is printed out. There’s an easy workaround for that—just export the drawing’s notes to Evernote. More info on how to export CAD drawing notes to Evernote can be found here.
We hope it’s been helpful to see the Design Feed pros and cons laid out in one place. Keep your eye on this space—more tips on using AutoCAD 360 are coming up soon. Sign in to AutoCAD 360 and start using Design Feed today!