Tag Archives: PDF

The impact of yearly CAD file upgrades

Proyecto-La-Moto-RzRFactory-Foto7The impact of yearly CAD file upgrades on Architectural Design practice

With many larger projects lasting several or more years in the design process, and an equal number on site, CAD packages may well go through several yearly updates either to fix bugs, or add improvements. This practice of forcing practices to update their entire drawing file structure to the new version to allow the new program to work, is disruptive, and may  have unknown consequences, on the information stored in the many files.

By not allowing backward compatibility, and insisting on older files being updated before being available to the teams, so often forces practices to freeze the CAD version for the duration of a project.

The implementation of BIM and the move to 3D drafting and its constant improvement, is going to offer major obstacles in this philosophy of program freeze.

This paper examines how the almost constant yearly upgradings of CAD technologies and programs are affecting Architectural Technologist’s production of information, from initial Architects concept design, through working drawing creation, and detailing. Its sharing amongst the design team, and beyond to the contractor and finally the impact of archived drawings not being readable with current software as older versions become unsupported.

Stephen J Scaysbrook is Visiting Professor of Architectural Technology at Birmingham City University. He is particularly interested in the uses of CAD technologies,together with the improvement and use of BIM on the building fabric.


Architectural Technologist – My Evernote Personal Evernote gets better

Apple Earth loading with lat and long showingI love Evernote, I save most things to it, I search and use the information I now keep in my personal Archive of information, almost daily, so often its several times a day. But one thing bugged me was if I managed to scan a pdf on its side I could not rotate it, well, those very nice people at Evernote, have solved this and made an update to the desktop app for, I think just the Mac, that allows you to, yes, rotate the pdf, but they did not stop there, they also gave some of the Skitch functions to it, so I can now also markup a copy and send it out, so cool and so useful. watch the ever so useful video below, or go to the Documentsnap site to read the full article and also see the video there.

Have you played with Apple maps lately, its getting rather good, ok, I still use Google maps, just because there is a street view, and it’s saved my bacon on several occasions, just because I wanted to see a street elevation, or worse, I did not take a street view on my survey,,,, it happens !.

Apple maps now comes as a standard with the Maverics update,  and its not bad, but Google maps still wins, just because of Street view, and it has the ability to give me a link, to embed into say a web site, something I do for one of my clients whose site I manage and keep up to date.

you might also want to zoom completely out of Apple Maps to see there equivalent of Google Earth, still not in the same ball park as Google earth, but interesting all the same, what you might want to ask is how long before they catch up with certain features. Todays photo is of a screen capture I managed to get as Apple maps was loading, and building the screen, it show the lines of latitude and longitude and I thought this would be a great shot to show my class, as to why we don’t use Lat and Long in the building industry, rather we use a Northing and Easting grid.


Architectural Technologist – PDF and how to reduce it’s size

Shop front archWe all use PDF files to send drawings to clients and contractors, plus just about every one else in the universe, but if your not careful, the file size can run away with you, so be vigilant on creating a pdf, and make sure your not creating a file thats just to big.

I work on a Mac, so I will only look at whats we can reduce and manage pdf files. I use  Vectorworks as my main cad package and within this I have two main methods of creating pdf files, one via the print command and using the pdf button, or exporting to pdf, I use both, but to try and keep files manageable, I limit the resolution to about 100 DPI, and unless i an specifically asked for it, I uncheck the export design layers and export classes as pdf layers.

Next open up the newly created pdf file in Preview, select the file, right click, and select open with, Preview,  and go to the export menu under file, look at the bottom of the dialog box and select the Quartz filter drop down menu, and choose “Reduce file size”, which I reduced the test file i created from 73.3 MB to 57.7 MB ok still to big to send via email but you get the point.

In this case i could split the file into three and sent three separate files, or I might put it into my Dropbox public folder and send a share link for them to download.

Todays photo is just a nice arch to a shop front I saw in the local village to the survey I did in the rain on Saturday.

Architectural Technologist – Google V’s Dropbox

I am, a big user of Dropbox, I have all my files stored there, doing so I have saved my bacon several times, when hard drives have failed, I simply replaced the drive, reloaded Dropbox signed in and watched my files down load.

But as always the others have noticed, in particular Google, and there are now several who try to copy them, all giving some edge over Dropbox, but never completely out gunning them, so I stay, the file sharing is particularly good, and it's the basis of my practice, with my partner working at home some 40 miles away, several friends who I also work with living in one case half way round the world in New Zeeland.

But there is one area that is increasingly becoming irritating, that's the Dropbox viewer, it's does not like the larger PDF files I tend to have to generate of my gardens, and some plan sets, they tend to be quite big, so I have moved just one file collection, my project pdf's, that i use onsite, over to Google Drive, and I am quite impressed with it, it can handle the large PDF files, and has quite a nice interface.

Will I move all my files over to Google drive, not a chance, I still rate Dropbox as the over all best cloud repository, sharing is easy, and it's has become the defacto standard amongst the Architectural community, and I still can't forget the twice it has saved the day with hard drive failures, it stays, and if they get a better reader, then the one folder will be moved back.

Today is an Asbestos survey day, a good friend of mine has specialised in Asbestos surveys, I supply him with basic plan outlines and he marks up the PDF plans online and writes the report, I take the marked up plan and update the master drawing ready for him to send out, it's a relationship that works well, the plans are online, I taught him to use both Google drive and goodreader, the latter being the iPad app we use for markup, it's so simple to use. So whilst he checks the building, I survey, only this time the client is mine and I have already drawn the building, so I get a chance to check my drawings and watch my friend work.

Our clients like this service, it's neat and efficient, photo set are stored in the cloud and links added to the PDF plan set, we don't clog up drawings and reports with large photos, they are best left in the cloud, which means we can use both still and video visual aid to highlight problems. I will show this in detail in another blog, it's a workflow that works well for us, but needs a little work to make it happen.

The CPD here is the constant review I take of the cloud, it's way of working and what benefits it will bring to my clients, and what changes I need to make to my day today activities, we have had video for a while now, but recent improvements, in the cloud, the larger file storage area, and easy to use links are making them an essential part of surveys now.


Architectural Technologist – Hard drive failure

On the Vectorworks tech list this morning was a note from one of the users asking what could be done when your main hard drive fails and you have lost all your Vectorworks drawings except for the sent pdf's.

My answer was to import the existing PDFs into Vectorworks, rescale the PDF, make up a viewport and send to a new sheet, you now have a way to either print, or make markups and additions to the PDF and send out as a proper drawing, by adding new design layers, to add or mask.

It's a fix I know, but it's saved my bacon once, and no one was the wiser, I then had the pain of tracing over the old drawing, but at least I had something to work with.

Of course the real answer would be not to use a server in the office, but use google Drive or Dropbox to save all your drawings to, I have had two major hard disc failures in recent times, both were saved by my use of Dropbox, I reinstalled a new drive, added Dropbox back and watched as all my files down loaded.

Today's photo is of the Roman numerals, I want to use on a project. I like the middle font were the diagonal is slightly less bold, nice.



Architectural Technologist – BIM for the terrified

What a great title for a tech book, but the title says it all, and for once it's a great read, ideal for the newbee, but also for the experienced Technologist, who needs to catch up on BIM or just recap, then this handy, free, downloadable book is there for the taking.

This is not the usual hard text with some rather boring tech pictures, it's a good interesting read, with a lot of great and easy to understand graphics.

The CPD here is so obvious, and for me a complete hour to read through, often going back over an item to recap, but as always I took detours to look up items, check facts and even download some symbols, so I am claiming two hours for this.

And of course this is clipped to my Evernote account for easy reading and search.


Architectural Technologist – What’s best iCloud, Dropbox, Google Drive, or Skydrive

The only reason I ask the question about what or which drive apart from the one in my MacBook Pro, I should use is due to a small but significant problem I have at present, let me explain.

I currently use Dropbox as my preferred method of storage, simply because the sharing is so good, I run a virtual office, my business partner lives about 40 miles away, but the moment I update he see's it within seconds, brill, better still having lost a couple of hard drives over the years, the backup Dropbox represents is worth everything, just reinstall Dropbox on the new system, log in and sit back and wait. Looking at the various comparison blogs Dropbox Vrs Google Drive, Dropbox might be a little more expensive. But up until now I have been more than happy, and certainly better than owning and maintaining a separate hard drive.

We have produced a large 6 page atlas of the botanical garden we look after drawingwise, which we want to distribute via both dropbox to the internal staff, and as a down load from the web site.

As you all know, I am Mac based, and Dropbox works very well on my iPad and iPhone, the sharing is almost instant, I use it mostly for viewing PDF files, and it's here where my small problem lies, in that the more complex PDF garden Atlas would not load.

It seems that the Dropbox viewer has a problem not with the size of file, but the complex nature of the PDF, as I have a lot of symbols and graphics it just will not load it, I tried it with google drive and it works just fine, but Dropbox just will not have it.

Up until recently, I have dabbled with Google Drive simply because I have a google account, and use gmail, plus Docs, mostly for the spreadsheets, so as a fall back for the IOS Google viewer is great, and the recent changes to the sharing have made me re evaluate the two, I mention Skydrive, simply because it's there, but as I have no interest in any Microsoft products except Skype, there it will remain.

Apple iCloud is another option, but is so specific to Apple product, good that it is, it seems not to be an option for me.

So where does this leave me, I want to allow clients to use the iPad to view my Atlas PDF files, but until they ie Dropbox sort it out I either swap to google to store and distribute the file and use their reader which works just fine or wait awhile, I think the wait option Is on the cards, but if the client insists then Google it is.

I have left a report on the Dropbox site, hopefully I get some sort of response, looking at some of the results I got from a search, it might be they already know of the problem.

Today's photo is of a grave stone, a little morbid you might think, but just look at the letting, the font is very nice, crisp and clean and will last so long, there are several other examples on stones over 100 years old and still very legible.