Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Semi-Automatic & Automatic FTP Uploads and Downloads

Ever wonder how you can upload and/or download files from an FTP site automatically?  Well, I did recently.  So I tried to figure it out...

I had no luck with the FTP client program FileZilla, which is a good program and was already installed on my computer, but I did not see a solution for automation.  Nor could I find one on their support site and other forums.

Core FTP Pro FTP client has a built-in function that will enable you to schedule file transfers.  Yay, but the Pro version is not free, so I did not go there.  However, the free version, CoreFTP LE, has command line functionality.  In other words, you can create a batch file (.bat) to do the automation for you.  Once I discovered this, I stopped looking for other FTP clients or solutions.

If you have never worked with a .bat file, it is just a text file with commands and file names in it.  To create a .bat file, just create a .txt file with Notepad (Windows) and rename the file extension to .bat.  Use Notepad to open the .bat and do your editing.  If you are a Mac user, I'm sure there is an equivalent solution, but I do not know what it is.

Two example commands for uploading and downloading with CoreFTP LE are listed below...

Standard upload of a file with a site profile named 'mysite' into a remote directory /upload/:
"c:\program files\coreftp\coreftp.exe" -s -O -site mysite   -u c:\path\file.dat   -p /upload/

Download all text files from a remote directory /downloads/
"c:\program files\coreftp\coreftp.exe" -s -O    -site mysite   -d /downloads/*.txt   -p c:\windows\desktop\   

Copy & paste one of these examples into your .bat file and change the site name, file name and path accordingly...

Instead of testing this on your large CAD or BIM files right away, I would use a small PDF or something to start testing with.  Otherwise you may be waiting a long time before it finishes or terminates unsuccessfully.  Then after that works, change the file name in the command text to what you really want to upload/download.

For more CoreFTP code examples go to...

I like to put a pause statement at the end of my bat files.  This keeps the command window up after it finishes and it will let you see if it executed properly or not (you get prompted to Press any key to continue...).  I also like to add an ECHO or REM statement at the front to help describe what is going on. 

When your done editing, just double click on your .bat file to see if it works.  If it doesn't, check and edit your code and try again.

See link below to see how to use REM, ECHO any many more commands...

To have Windows run your batch files automatically when you want them to run, you can use Task Scheduler in XP or Windows 7 . 

However, for slow activity projects, I prefer the semi-automatic option of just double clicking my bat file whenever I want to do an upload.  Otherwise, you give the impression that there are real updates going on, when actually it is just a mindless upload and may confuse your recipients.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Another Revit Architecture 2013 Review - New Features That Matter To Me

Revit Architecture 2013 has been out for a while now and I have finally had a chance to look at it.  I have read the new features lists and read some other blogs.  There is an array of new features that cover a lot of ground, but I'm focusing on what will actually help improve my production or model management...

  1. Project Browser Search - Halafrickenluya!!!, it is about fricken time.  You can actually search the hundreds or thousands of views or families to make sure something has not already been created before you decide to create it for the big project you are working on that dozens of other people have already worked on and used their own naming conventions, and not have to manually expand and collapse all the family and view types in the single panel palette called the project browser, that takes fricken forever.  (that is the longest sentence I have ever written in my professional career).  It works more like a search in a word processor by taking you to the closest match, but it at least it does that.  - Great, but should have been done years ago!
  2. View Types - Create your own view types in addition to the default types Floor Plan, Ceiling Plan, Area Plan, etc (excluding area plans and sheets).  Nice.
  3. View Templates Control - Views are tied to their templates.  When you modify the view template, all the views that use it will be modified accordingly.  This is excellent for people who like to have predictability in their construction documents (which should be everyone) - Very cool.
  4. Dimension Enhancements - You can now delete an individual segment from a multi-segment dimension chain.  This will help speed things up a little.  Wow, that must have tested the developers to do that one.  This functionality was not important to do before this release? See video demo for the other new features  - Helpful
  5. Family Editing - You can edit a family by simply double clicking on it.  Excellent!
  6. View References - Add a view (detail) links in your note blocks and schedules.  Before I would use a section mark and remove the flag and leader.  This is way better.  See demo at Revit OpEd - Very Nice
  7. Loop Arrow Style - New arrow type in the form of a loop.  I have used a custom loop leader in AutoCAD since 1989.  It is nice to be able to use one again.  Nice.
  8. Stair by Component - Create a stair without sketch mode.  A more logical approach to modeling don't you think?  See demo at -   Nice.
  9. Selection Sets - You can create a selection set and isolate it, hide it, and apply graphic settings to all the elements in the selection.  View filters can be created that use your selection sets.  Very nice.
For a more in depth review of Revit 2013, here is a nice blog post...

Thursday, June 7, 2012

How Many Computer Montiors Should I Have For BIM?

I have worked with CAD and BIM for 23 years now.  Back when I first started in the AEC industry, all the CAD stations each had a big CRT monitor of a minimum of 17".  Hopefully 20" or 21", because bigger is better...  The GUI window in which you did your actual drafting needed to be as big as possible.  But before Windows, that was not a big problem (Not with AutoCAD anyway).

Big ole CAD monitor

But now that our drawing software has moved to filling our GUI with icons, palettes, buttons, etc, our drawing window has been shrunk down.  Because of this, you will need a bigger and wider monitor, or  better yet, multiple monitors.

Too many tools, not enough drafting space

Many companies and independent users have moved to using dual monitors.  This is much better than one.  But, I'm here to tell you that the best solution I have found is to have 3 monitors.  I have tried 4 monitors, but it is just too much.  Too much for me anyway.

I use them all in landscape orientation.  One on my left, one in the center and one to the right.  See image below.  This helps me use less paper by utilizing a PDF as my redline/markup.  I can use the built in yellow highlighter as I finish each item.  I have played with making one or more be in the portrait rotation, but it just does not flow well for me.

The image below shows my markup on the left, the main Revit program in the middle, and my file/project management tools on the right.  When I'm using a markup, I move my properties palette to the monitor on the left.  With Revit, you need to have as much vertical space as possible for your project navigator (on the right hand monitor).  I wish Autodesk would take a lesson from Graphisoft and create something as dynamic as ArchiCAD's navigator (it requires less screen real estate).

Triple monitor screen capture
My monitors are not actually that close together.  That image above is the result of a screen capture from a remote desktop session.  The side monitors are rotated approximately 20 degrees inward to accommodate for my pivoting head.

I believe the next logical step would be to have one large curved monitor to do what the 3 above do.  Such as the Ostendo CRVD.  I think Ostendo should send me one to test...

If you only have one video port on your computer, then you will need a port adapter, or a new video card.  Here is a Google search to start looking for a port adapter...

My computer already had dual ports.  Here in my office, we had a Toshiba Dynaport device designed for laptops that nobody wanted to use.  I connected it to my desktop computer and I was able to attach a third monitor (after I downloaded the driver for Windows 7).  Sweet!!!

Tell your boss that 3 monitors will make you more productive.  The extra cost will pay for itself over time, and clients will be impressed :)

My workstation at the office...

Monday, May 7, 2012

Reverse The Order Of Sheets In Acrobat Pro

Have you ever recieved a PDF of scanned sheets and found that all the sheets were in reverse order?  How annoying!!!  Well, I did today, so I got on Google to look for a solution.

I found a solution at this post here...

Per this post, I downloaded a java script file and put it in a specific folder.  Closed and reopend Acrobat Professional and there was a new command under the Document menu called Reverse.  It resorted all my sheets instantly!!!

If the above link does not work...
  • Open Notepad (or a Mac equivalent if you are a Mac user) copy and paste in the code at the bottom of this post.
  • Save the file as Reversepageorder.js
  • Copy the file to C:\Program Files (x86)\Adobe\Acrobat 9.0\Acrobat\Javascripts, or wherever your Acrobat Javascripts folder is.  You may need an administrator password
  • Close and reopen Acrobat Professional
  • Document>Reverse

 app.addMenuItem({ cName: "Reverse", cParent: "Document", cExec: "PPReversePages();", cEnable: "event.rc = ( != null);", nPos: 0

function PPReversePages()
 var t = app.thermometer;
 t.duration = this.numPages;
 for (i = this.numPages - 1; i >= 0; i--)
  t.value = (i-this.numPages)*-1;
  t.text = 'Moving page ' + (i + 1);
}// JavaScript Document

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Sketchup Style Push-Pull Modeling in ArchiCAD 16

Archicad 16 has a new tool/object called Morph.  The first thing that grabbed my attention was the Sketchup style push-pull functionality that is provided.  It is what I have been wanting to see for a long time!

Here is a demo on the ArchiCAD YouTube Channel...
AC16 Morph Push

More on ArchiCAD 16

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

PDF Thumbnails and Preview in Windows Explorer - Windows 7 64 bit

Are you using Windows 7 - 64 bit, and not getting a thumbnail preview of your PDF files in Windows Explorer?  

Well... the fix in the hyperlink below may be the solution.  It worked for me.
(close all programs before installing)

If you scan multiple hard copies to PDF with a scanner that automatically names the files, you most likely will need to rename those files.  It is a pain in the ass to have to open each one individually, to see what it is in order to rename it.  Well, it you can view them in a large icon preview, then you do not have to open each one in order to know what it is.

Or you can change the view option to Details, and turn on the preview pane...