Tuesday, 13 November 2018

Preview .LSP files in Windows Explorer

I have a lot of old lisp files to review and decide on what to keep and what to archive. Rather than having to open each file with notepad you can setup a registry setting to be able to preview the files in windows explorer as per the process explained here.
These are the registry entries you have to enter
and this is an example of the results in windows explorer preview window when you click a lisp file. Note you can add a file extension of any file that you know is a text file to do the same.

Monday, 12 November 2018

Split and Joint Hatches

Reminder to myself to split and join hatches you can use the Architectural desktop commands not documented in Civil3d by typing in “Aeclineworkdivede” and “Aeclineworkmerge” as explained in these blog posts.


Good to add hatch areas into one hatch and also trim hatches.

Wednesday, 7 November 2018

Getting 3d points from 3dfaces

Sometimes you get just a Tinn from a survey to get points for the vertices you can use the lisp routine call 3DF_to_3DPoint that you can download from here

Download the file type appload at the commandline in Autocad and then load this file and type “3DF_to_3DPoint”

You will get a whole lot of points but there will be 3 at each corner you how have to use DataExtraction command to export to a text file the xyz of each point and then remove the duplicates in Excel and re import the points as Civil3d points.

Tuesday, 6 November 2018

Cad Standards Management


We have 5 licenses of the software CadStandardsManager from CAD Masters this software lets you import drawings and compare drawings and xrefs against the company standard reasonably quickly in one operation. However is reasonably pricey, this the case i plan to reserve the licenses of CSM for the designer in the office who regularly check other peoples CAD work as they can use the tools to swap out non standard items such as layers and block quicker in CSM than using the built in Autodesk tools.

To provide other CAD uses with the content of the cad standards database one option will be to use the free tools from the CadManagerTools (CMT) website for managing inserting standardized content for layers, Blocks and Details. The are called






Each place of software takes I little bit of setting up of the text files and databases that sit in the background but this is not hard. Below I explain the workflow to setup the .lay file for the layerlibrary manager from an existing drawing template.

Note: There are also built in Autocad cad standards checking tools but these require a drawing standards file called a .dws to be setup for comparison against and they do not provided the quickest tools for swapping out and replacing non standard cad data.

CML Layer Library Manager Setup

CML Layer Library Manager reads a .lay textfile to gives the cad user a list of standard layers to search and choose from. The .lay files can be saved central on a server in a common location and the user interface pointed to the shared location. On the Aireys Queenstown server the .lay files have been setup in the

The .lay textfile has the following format.


One of the shipped Example file


In order to create a .lay file for the users to see from an existing drawing template, you can use the following workflow

1. Download the free lisp routine from Lee Mac Programming called Layerextract.

2. Open the drawing you want to extract standard layers from.

3. Type appload and browse to the Layerextract.lsp file and load it.

4. Type Layerextract at the commandline to start the routine the following dialog box appears.

5. Setup the settings in the dialog box as follows.


6. Open excel and Browse to the txt created. On opening the text file use fixed with as the delimiter and make sure the column dividers in the preview are move so that the column split occur at the right locations.

7. Within Excel

  • Change the order of the Plot and Plot Style columns


  • Change the column for Plot Style to Transparency and make all values in the column zero.
  • Change the text in the Plot column from “No” and “Yes” to “Plot” and “Noplot” using the find and replace tool with in excel.
  • Make sure something is typed in the description column for every layer if not these will not be able to be inserted into the drawing form the into the Layer Library app later.

9. Save the edit file as a csv file from excel. This is so we can swap the “,” separator for a “|” later in Notepad++

10. Download and install the free program Notepad++

11. Using Notepad++ we edit will amended csv file to have the default separator for imported into layer Library manager.

12. Use replace to swap the “,” to a “|” save the file to the network location you are pointing the layer  library app too.


Installing CadManager Tools

Note to myself I recently downloaded the free layer, block and linetype management tools from the CadManagerTools website. They installed and ran ok in 2018. But in 2016 they needed the location of the folder of the installed .dll added to the trusted locations. As per the images below




Monday, 5 November 2018

Mapping Project Xref’s and Dref’s

Ok i have progressed my workflow for mapping the xref relationships within a project folder a bit further and have been able to add the layout name and thumbnail image to the chart as discussed a bit in this forum post.


To get the layer names I have been able to modify the list code. For the thumbnail images I have still not been able to automate the process but that is not a kill as just makes the chart look nice.

I did however find a tool by CadManagerTools  called BatchinEditor that has tools built in for exporting preview images to files of different image formats. If you look at around the 7:30min mark in this youtube view you will see the process in action. As the tools is reasonably price and has I lot od additional functions I will most likely purchase a licence to give it a try.

The next step will be to map the dref relationships it looks like it is achievable from this post but may need to be done with .net and not lisp to get the text file.



Monday, 29 October 2018

Mapping Project xrefs in a social network chart

At the end of last year I had the thought that maybe it would be helpful to map all the xrefs of a project into a social network chart to see how a project had been put together using external references. I thought it would let you quickly see visually how  someone had set up the files and newbies would be able to see how I had put projects together in the past.

I posted a request in the forums to see if anyone had seen a tool along these lines, but the post received no replies. So I figured out away to do it reasonably quickly with some free lsp code available here and the social networking chart tool for Excel called Nodexl. The process is not as slick as i would of like but you get the idea.  Here is the workflow i used.

1. Copy and paste the lsp code from this forum post into notepad and then name the file something and add the .lsp extension.


2. Open cad and then type “appload” and browse and load the lisp file created in step 1. Type “Batchfindxref” to start the lisp program. Go to the project folder where you have all the dwg files for the project stored. How wait for the program to export a .csv file of the xrefs found in each file.

You should see something like this:-


3. Now go to the Nodexl website and download the free basic version. Once installed start the Nodexl template by going to start and type Nodexl. Now copy column A and B from the csv file into column A and B in the Edges tab of the Nodexl Template. You can now press the refresh button and the graph will update showing the relationships but with no labels on the nodes. To add labels to the Vertices go to the Vertices Tab and in column H add the name to be used. Now refresh the graph again and the labels will be added.



There are various options for the graph style you can try different types and re lay out the graph various times to get some thing that looks ok. You can then manually move the vertices to make the graph clear. Once you are happy you can right click on the graph and save an image file of the graph.


The graph is not the clearest with you have long file names and I have not found a way to rotate the text that would help with the overlapping labels.

I think it would be possible to program something up in cad (but do not have the time) that would do a similar thing with say multi leaders that are linked together and contains the xref name, layer , file path and hyperlinks to the file and maybe a thumb nail preview of what is in the file.

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