Monday, May 9, 2022

1 Million Registered Users On The Portal CADforum.cz

The international web portal CADforum.cz operated by the Czech company Arkance Systems has already recorded its millionth registered user.

Over the 22 years of its existence, CADforum.cz has become a trusted source of technical information on Autodesk software products for professionals and students, not only from Czechia, but also from all over the world. This web service provided by Arkance Systems is a proven repository for tips and tricks, CAD software utilities, libraries of 2D/3D CAD and BIM blocks. The user community readily exchanges experiences and advice in the discussion forums, helping less experienced users to better use Autodesk design tools. Arkance Systems customers can also directly access the professional Helpdesk.

Some of the most popular content here includes over 9,400 tips and tricks for AutoCAD, Inventor, Revit, Civil 3D, Fusion 360 and other Autodesk products, hundreds of freeware CAD utilities with over 12 million downloads, over 44,000 blocks, models and symbols, thousands of discussion posts, online converters, viewers and other web tools, AutoCAD command dictionary. The most used online tools on CADforum are the physical units converter, the map coordinate converter, the STL converter, the barcode generator, the 1D/2D/3D optimization - nesting, or the web-based 3D USD file viewer.

The CADforum portal offers international content in English and separate content in Czech. And it is from the English-language part of the portal where the majority of the over 895,000 registered users come from, with the remaining cca 105,000 coming from Czechia and Slovakia. According to the international overview of user groups - "Autodesk Group Network" - CADforum.cz is today the world's largest online community of Autodesk product users (it is twice as big as the official group AUGI - Autodesk Users Group International). Most registered members come from the USA, UK, India, Canada, Australia, Brazil and the Philippines.

From the history of CADforum: 20 years of CADforum.cz


About Arkance Systems

Arkance Systems belongs to the European group Arkance (Monnoyeur Group). It has 125 employees in the Czech Republic and Slovakia and almost 600 employees in 11 European countries. It is one of the largest resellers of Autodesk products in Europe, has the highest status of Autodesk Platinum Partner and is also an Authorized training center and Application developer. It delivers CAD, CAM, BIM, PDM and GIS solutions for both large organisations and smaller companies. Some of its software applications can also be found on the Autodesk Apps store.

See also www.arkance-systems.com, www.cadforum.cz, facebook.com/CADstudio, linkedin.com/company/CADstudio, youtube.com/CADstudioCZSK

Friday, December 17, 2021

The 18th Christmas CAD freeware giveaway by Arkance Systems

The Year 2021 is coming to its end, the Christmas time, so we at Arkance Systems CZ (former CAD Studio) have decided to continue our tradition and again give out decorated presents - our free tools for all CAD users, so they can extend capabilities of their Autodesk design software. But do not miss also hundreds of other useful CAD applications, web tools and CAD/BIM libraries offered for free on our portal CADforum.cz.

As a part of the tradition, this year's Christmas-tree utilities by Arkance Systems include (all can be downloaded from Freeware):

  • ScaleBB/RotateBB - a LISP application for AutoCAD - scales or rotates multiple objects in relation to their individual reference points or bounding boxes. See the Tip


  • CopyBlockE - allows to copy-in a selected "borrowed" block from an external DWG file into your current AutoCAD drawing, or update that block from the foreign DWG, while maintaining its attribute values. Supports also dynamic blocks. See the Tip
  • GeoCode - to our AutoCAD app for forward- and reverse geocoding (conversion of address/location), we have added the support of the API of the what3words mapping service and an easier link to Google Maps - see the app page

  • RRename - an enhanced version of the AutoCAD app for mass renaming of layers, blocks, layouts, linetypes, style, groups or Civil objects using regular expressions - now supports more object types and allows global (multiple) string replacements. See the Tip
  • GeoRefImg - one of our most popular freeware apps, now allows to insert images directly with automatic placement to their georeference position, scale and rotation (by their World file), including mass-insertion. See the app page
  • CADexcel - we didn't forget AutoCAD LT users, this add-on for MS Excel allows mass import of XY/XYZ coordinates from an Excel sheet into AutoCAD (LT) - as points, polylines or blocks. See the Tip
  • Snake - modified two variants of the interactive game "Snake" in Visual LISP for AutoCAD
  • F360 Diry (Holes) - a useful plug-in module for Fusion 360 - bulk-selects all faces of the same color (according to an example), creates a selection set from them, which you can then use e.g. for CAM operations. See Download.

  • najdiDiry (findHoles) - an iLogic macro for Inventor, also locates holes, on the first solid in the current IPT document. After you select the holes, you can e.g. change their color or bulk-change their diameter using direct editing. See Download
  • exportujPlechy (exportSheetmetal) - an iLogic macro for Inventor - bulk-exports all sheetmetal unfolded shapes from an assembly into DXF, with preset settings, explained in the Tip, for download on Download
  • SelectParentOccurrence – a simple iLogic macro - in an Inventor assembly model, selects the parent component. See Download
  • HELUZ - in cooperation with HELUZ, we have prepared a gift for designers in the BIM application Revit - the application "HELUZ Lintels" inserts and displays the structural elements of lintels and additional bricks of the lining into the model in Revit. It also produces layout plans, documents for construction companies. See details and download (in Czech)
  • Converters - we have also extended function of the Converter section on CADforum.cz - so e.g. the online converter of mapping coordinates now supports the German coordinate system Gauss-Krüger. The new web app BarCode generates CAD versions of various types of barcodes. The IFC viewer displays you BIM model in the IFC file format - online, without installing any viewer software. See CADforum - Converters

CS+

- and many useful functions (parts are free, not only for customers) offered in our Arkance Systems bonus tools - "CS+":

  • InventorTools ("X-Tools", X-Tools LT) - additional tools for Inventor users
  • RevitTools (aka Holixa Tools for Revit) - set of useful BIM tools for Autodesk Revit
  • CivilTools - set of useful tools for Autodesk Civil 3D
  • PlantTools - set of useful tools for the piping software AutoCAD Plant 3D
  • VaultTools - set of useful tools for the PDM software Autodesk Vault
  • PowerTools - set of useful tools for the CAM software Autodesk PowerMill
  • FeatureTools - set of useful tools for the CAM software Autodesk FeatureCAM
  • FusionTools ("F-Tools") - additional tools for users of the CAD/CAM/CAE software Autodesk Fusion 360

And as usual - all these CAD utilities (and many other) can be found for download on our Freeware download page, some also on Autodesk Apps - or you can still try to write a letter to Santa Arkance Systems.


Best Wishes for 2022

Let's build 2022 together!
arkance.net/2022

Saturday, April 17, 2021

CAD Studio has changed name to Arkance Systems

CAD Studio, part of the European group ARKANCE, has changed its name to Arkance Systems, as part of its ongoing integration.

CAD Studio, the largest specialized supplier of CAD, CAM, GIS and BIM solutions in Central Europe, has been on the market for over 30 years. Since last June, it is part of the fast-growing European group Arkance. Following a planned change of identity, the company has now changed its name to Arkance Systems.

The name change affects both the CAD Studio itself (Arkance Systems CZ s.r.o. since April 2021) and its representative office in Slovakia (Arkance Systems SK s.r.o.) and the recently acquired Varinex-CAD Studio in Hungary (Arkance Systems HU Kft.). The company's headquarters are moving from Ostrava to Prague in the Czech Republic and to Bratislava in Slovakia.

The company website can be found at the new address www.arkance-systems.cz (the English content will move to the planned update of www.arkance-systems.com).

Arkance Systems CZ is one of Autodesk's largest European partners. It is the author of a number of popular add-on applications and Czech software localizations. It offers solutions for engineering and manufacturing, construction and architecture, mapping, infrastructure and utilities, 3D visualization, document management and facility management. It has successfully implemented CAD/CAM, BIM, PLM, GIS and multimedia solutions for thousands of customers in Central Europe and other countries around the world. 130 employees of the original CAD Studio and 470 employees of the entire Arkance Systems group are ready to help both small and large customers to streamline design processes and connect them with other corporate agendas. The solution offering leverages all disciplines of digital design, primarily using Autodesk technologies, including the latest "2022" product line.

The ongoing facelift affects the company eShop (now on shop.arkance-systems.cz), CAD Forum portal (www.cadforum.cz, currently with over 960.000 registered users), Helpdesk portal, blogs and social media channels.

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

20 years of the CADforum.cz portal



Exactly 20 years ago, the CADforum.cz web portal by CAD Studio was started, then only as a web interface of the existing e-mail discussion forum for users of Autodesk CAD software. Over time, the portal has expanded to include additional sections and features - a CAD knowledge base, a library of CAD/BIM blocks, a download pool of CAD utilities, a database of AutoCAD commands and variables, videos and training materials, a physical unit converter, online STL and other CAD format converter, map coordinate converter with geocoding, an overview of service packs for Autodesk products, online nesting applications, and more.

Today, this portal has over 93.800 registered users from Czechia ad Slovakia, plus another 834.800 registered users from all over the world in its English version. It records over 1.3 million displayed pages monthly. Autodesk Group Network lists CADforum.cz as the world largest online community for Autodesk products' users (more than 2x larger than the official AUGI - Autodesk Users Group International).



The original look of the website from the deep archives of the Wayback Machine:
and the English version of it, added a couple of years later:

From time to time, we reward the most active members from the Czech forum on CADforum.cz, because it is the questions of users and the answers of more experienced ones, that bring one of the most useful information resources on this portal. On the occasion of the 20th anniversary, we are restoring this tradition and a quick look into the forum statistics we can easily find out that these gentlemen can now look forward to a gift package from CAD Studio:

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Autodesk University - Better starts here



Under the title "Better starts here", the traditional annual conference "Autodesk University 2019" was held in Las Vegas, USA last week. This year's event attracted a record 12,000 participants from around the world, which is reportedly the maximum even for the giant Venetian Hotel. The very extent of the conference, hundreds of specialized seminars and various community meetings - even the planning, catering and navigation for such a large number of participants is certainly a demanding logistics operation.



The main topics of this year's AU 2019 conference were data interconnection, data as the basis of all processes, automation and ways to design and create better products, buildings or entertainment projects - faster, cheaper, with less material, less energy and less environmental impact. Continuous education is an essential condition for creating better projects - according to current studies, technical knowledge has a half-life of only 4.5 years.

The trend of automation can be seen best in the generative design technology (GD). Already in 2015, Airbus saved 45% of the weight of the cabin partition thanks to this technology. Now it uses GD for a much more important part of the aircraft - the wing design. Or for optimizing the layout of its new assembly hall in Hamburg. Generative design tools in Autodesk Fusion 360 have also helped to lighten the iconic VW Bus in its electric remake version. The same building technology helps to design the layouts of buildings or development projects - see Project Refinery and the existing visual tool Dynamo.

Especially in the construction sector there is another trend to save costs and, especially (also in the USA) the increasingly scarce workforce of construction workers - the use of manufacturing processes. An example is Skystone and its construction (production?) of the highest modular hotel for the Marriott hotel chain. Thanks to the factory production of complete hotel room modules (including equipment), the hotel construction in the confined space of New York Street has been simplified to a simple assembly, free of dust and noise, with a minimum number of workers and lower costs. Will the future construction sites be transformed into Lego-like production plants?

Autodesk announced its partnership with Virgin Hyperloop One, the company developing a new type of vehicle with a promise of cruising speeds of over 1000 km/h. The development of this vehicle and its infrastructure requires cooperative design and BIM construction tools.

New capabilities are offered by the Autodesk Forge, developer platform, including its ability to programmatically (Forge API) control a virtual AutoCAD, Inventor, Revit, or 3ds Max in the cloud. This makes design and configuration automation even easier and more affordable.

But at the conference, you may come across other attractions - for example, quite surprisingly, you can find here a booth for live dogs (to pet), but you can also find artificial ones...


For example, this is how the Boston Dynamics scanning "dog" obeyed at the Autodesk Blogger Party:


An important part of the Autodesk University is collecting suggestions from participants - users of Autodesk products. We are glad that we were able to convey also some input from Czech users.


Recording of the opening keynote of the AU 2019





Manufacturing


One of the first news announced at the AU 2019 is collaboration of Autodesk with ANSYS and direct integration of Autodesk Fusion 360 models into the ANSYS Mechanical simulation tool, and thus the extension of FEA methods in Fusion 360.


Fusion 360 is also involved in another exciting news - the offer to try the generative design for free - till the end of the year. Use the Fusion 360 Trial version, the free Personal or Startup version, or your Product Design & Manufacturing Collection license to experience "Generative Design" yourself. See Free Generative Design.

Fast development of Fusion 360 does not stop - it will soon include complete electronics design features, including PCBs, internal lattice grid creation for 3D printing, a number of new CAM control functions for CNC machines, improved generative design, substantially improved 3D mesh model conversion to solid models, pricing estimator by the aPriori module and other (see about the time 44:00 in the keynote below).

But Autodesk Inventor is not left behind either. After the new version 2020.2 we are awaiting other announced interesting new features of this application - e.g. the dark environment, pallete optimization, etc. For the first time, Autodesk shows a public "roadmap" of further development of this application, which has celebrated 20 years of development - see the public roadmap.

Also Autodesk Vault PDM users will soon see exciting new features, including the shape-duplicates search function.

Recording of the manufacturing keynote





AEC


Interconnection, common, shared data between professions and throughout the full lifetime of the building - this is the foundation of news in construction and AEC.


The main innovation introduced here is the Autodesk Construction Cloud™ - a common data platform combining software tools, the network of designers and builders, collaboration tools, and advanced data analysis tools. The Construction Cloud is based on the BIM 360 CDE platform, PlanGrid, Assemble, BuildingConnected and other tools for design (BIM, team cooperation), planning (coordination, bidding), construction (administration, handover, quality) and operation (asset management) of buildings. More at construction.autodesk.com.


During the AU 2019, Autodesk has introduced an update to the most popular BIM application - Autodesk Revit 2020.2.

Many interesting examples of BIM design automation were built on Refinery, a tool for generative design in construction projects.

Unity company introduced Reflect, Revit's add-on for easy creation of virtual and augmented reality - AR and VR from BIM projects in Autodesk Revit.

Two years before the devastating fire, Paris's Notre Dame Cathedral was accidentally scanned using Autodesk ReCap into a detailed 3D point cloud. Today it is a key source of data for the BIM model creation and reconstruction of this historic building.

Recording of the AEC keynote





AU Exhibition


An interesting part of each AU is the accompanying exhibition where partners and sponsors of the conference present their complementary products. Here are some of the interesting exhibits.

This "little 3D printer" prints objects made of durable and solid concrete. Maybe urban furniture or a house.



Do you use any Autodesk design software? This model of a light construction and the two models of imaginary devices you may have seen somewhere...




At the exhibition you could see a complete Fusion 360-based production line - from milling machines and lathes to various 3D printing methods from Fusion 360 models.


You could also see the electric VW Bus enhanced with Generative Design components.


Virgin Hyperloop One exhibited a prototype "pad" - a vehicle for Hyperloop.


The Boston Dynamics "dog" has a practical use for 3D scanning of hard-to-reach building spaces.


The mobile, in this case rather "mobile" AutoCAD:



Conclusion


From behind-the-scenes information and discussions with Autodesk employees. Much is spent on Learning - both in terms of linking to a CAD product (AI-driven contextual assistance) and in user profiles (lifelong learning, from student life to professional phases of user's career, linking to colleagues).

The recent unpopular shutdown of technical support for older Autodesk versions (while quite common in the industry, similar to mobile phones, Apple, Microsoft) allowed Autodesk to shut down as much as 8 old, difficult to maintain, legacy systems.

The AU closing party (co-sponsored by conference partners: HP, DELL, Lenovo, ANSYS, Unity, nVidia, AWS) took place in big style - a closed Las Vegas street including all bars, pubs, stages and the High Roller wheel - reserved just for AU participants.



Personal note:
- When you go to AU "in a desert", you usually do not expect to pack your umbrella.
- Even in virtual reality you can have a beer.

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Hard life of an Apple developer

For about 13 years we have been running and extending our free conversion utility Units Converter (converter of physical units, see the section Converters on the CADforum.cz portal) with more than 750 different measurement units, including historical and international units (asian, south-american, roman, greek, austro-hungarian), including conversion of roman numbers, etc.

It is certainly no programmer's miracle, rather a day-to-day effort collecting various interesting units of measure, but when you quickly need to transfer pressure in pounds per square inch to something normal, or to find out what is the mass of a grain of salt, or how many pints have you drunk last night, this converter may be useful for you.

We offer the same converters also as an add-on application (palette) for AutoCAD (see Autodesk Apps, over 5000 downloads), as an add-on for Inventor (part of X-Tools), for Fusion 360 (part of F-Tools), and since the last year also as a mobile application for Android devices - see their appstore Google Play. One of the goals was to maintain the same, compatible appearance on all these platforms. Porting the original web application to each platform was very easy in most these cases.

About a month ago, we decided - based on a couple of customer requests - to launch this simple app also for the minor mobile platform, Apple iOS.

After the actual development, or rather modification of the app for iOS and its testing, came the moment of the actual publishing of the app to the Apple App Store (iTunes). Apple's entire infrastructure of application definition, upload, and verification is terribly complicated and confusing - especially when compared to the competing Google Play. In addition, not only the development but also the full administration of their apps must be performed on a Mac (Google is tolerant and you can use any device for this).

Being a novice to this development platform, we were expecting some technical hitches - digital signatures, iOS version compatibility and such things. But what was our surprise when Apple has completely rejected our app as "Design Spam".



After several rounds of pointless e-mail discussions, we asked for a telephone consultation. But talking to Apple's own certain Ms. Eweline was rather rough. Right at the first contact with a paying customer, this lady appeared very arrogant claiming that the application violates their rules, is not unique and that she rejects it, while hinting we have copied it somewhere.

Despite repeated inquiries, however, she was unable to say which specific rule we have violated, she just repeated vague "snowflake" wording about great user experience, ensuring security (security? of a converter with no permissions?) of AppStore visitors, about usefullness (for Eweline?), about safe and enjoyable experience, entertainment (entertainment?) value of this conversion tool, about lack of uniqueness (that thay already have other converters on their AppStore, sic! don't say), including a fascinating recommendation of "giving the app different content and different features" (like shooting Klingons while Lady Gaga singing?). I would understand any specific rules and requirements (their house, their rules) for colors, fonts, logos, compatibility, etc., we already know similar requirements from Autodesk Apps, but not that some Ewelina pulls ad-hoc rules out of the air.

The essence of their complaints is best expressed by the quote - we don't have any specific rules, but you have violated those rules and until you correct the violation, we will not approve your application - a pure Catch-XXII case:

„We understand that there are no hard and fast rules to define useful or entertaining, but Apple and Apple customers expect apps to provide a really great user experience.“



We do not intend to re-create this freeware application just because of some strange (non)rules for the Apple App Store, disrupting its compatibility with the other supported platforms. We will also write off our developer account fee, as Apple does not refund money when the app is rejected. We are sorry to thousands of users of our Units Converter, but you will not find this application on your iOS.

PS: A detail illustrating this company's business conduct - they wanted to know when to call when we asked for a phone consultation. In eager anticipation of an important phone call from the very Apple, I proposed a very benevolent availability schedule in my Monday message: call me anytime between 8:00-11:30 or between 12:00-15:00 local time (GMT+2, Prague). They replied: OK, we will call within 3 business days. They called on Friday at 11:43...

A strange and weird world of Apple, I do not recommend to dare to go into it for anyone with technical mindset and thinking.

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Comparing performance of SHX and TTF text fonts



There is no longer a recommendation for using the simplest SHX font to quickly display texts in AutoCAD DWG drawings - i.e. the Txt.shx font. With the help of our new freeware utility CMDtimer - see the tip - we have compared performance of regeneration of a drawing containing an extensive text array containing a total of about 210,000 words.

This comparison has brought quite surprising results - with the super simple font Txt.shx, it took about 0.7 sec to regenerate this test drawing, while with the TrueType font Arial.ttf it took a mere 0.5 sec. This value has not changed even when we tried to "disturb" the TrueType fonts by setting a nonstandard font width factor/oblique angle. SHX fonts contain significantly fewer vectors, but they are displayed directly by AutoCAD, whereas TrueType fonts are displayed by the Windows graphical engine according to AutoCAD requirements.

Specific results will, of course, depend on the CPU speed, video card performance, screen resolution, zoom level, memory performance, probably also on the AutoCAD version, but victory of the TrueType TTF fonts will not be affected. So trust the default Test Style settings in the AutoCAD DWT template - the preset TrueType font is not only nicer but also faster than older SHX fonts.

Specification of the test PC: HP Z240, i7-6700 3.4GHz, 32GB RAM, nVidia K620, Win10, AutoCAD 2019