String Theory - Nov 2013 - How to Make a Good Forum Post

How to make the best forum post

If you haven’t posted a topic on the AUGI forums yet, or if you get tired of all of the back and forth questions from users who pop into your thread, I have got some surefire tips for getting the best answer to your question from your fellow AUGI members.

Title – Just as when composing emails, be sure to have a descriptive title when you create a new thread. This serves three purposes. One benefit of a clear thread title is that other users looking for answers will know if you’ve got a question (and potentially an answer) that will help them, too. Another good thing is that users who are only popping in really quick, say during a break or lunch hour, are more likely to realize they can help with a thread because they recognize an issue they’ve encountered, without having to click into every thread with a vague title like ‘help!’ The final benefit of a clear thread title is the ‘Similar Threads’ feature. If you scroll down to the bottom of any thread, you can see a short list of other topics just like it, which can provide additional information about your issue.

Question - What is your objective? After you’ve clearly stated your problem or end goal, then you might want to outline the troubleshooting steps you’ve already performed, in order to save time from receiving advice you don’t really need. Also, note the steps that you took when encountering the problem, and whether or not the errors consistently repeat each time (reproducible), or are intermittent.

Specs – Now that you’ve drawn in other users with your clear topic and let them know what your objective is, you’ll probably want to include a footnote about your basic hardware, software and operating system stats. Trust me, this can prove vital in some queries. For example, many answers will differ based on whether you’re using Windows 8, Windows 7, Windows XP or one of the Mac OS’s. The service packs on your OS’s aren’t always as important, but, just to save time, you might consider including them, too. You’ll notice that some forum users have signatures that contain their system configurations, so they don’t have to retype it when asking new questions. The amount of RAM you have, or whether your graphics card is on Autodesk’s approved list (with an updated driver) are all questions that experienced troubleshooters will ask you, so, you might as well save time and include them. The product-specific subforums will include prefixes to indicate the version of Autodesk software you’re using, to make it easier to indicate release number as you’re posting a new thread.

Files – A picture is worth a thousand words. Sometimes, a screenshot of your objective or your wonky behavior will reveal a lot to someone, where words might take longer and fail to get across the vital aspects of your problem. Some users even link to quick videos to demonstrate their problems (or solutions), but, be warned, many companies block sites like YouTube and Screencast, so, be aware and ensure it’s clear which site you’re linking to, so folks know whether or not they want to click your link.

Also, you might want to upload a DWG or RVT file to allow other users to test your situation. These steps aren’t absolutely necessary, but, in order to respect the free time that others are giving to your cause, it is quicker and easier for you to upload a file with the situation you’re experiencing, than for another user to create a test file and try out potential solutions on it. Obviously, when uploading a test file, you’ll likely want to take a minute to delete titleblocks, any unnecessary drawing entities and purge the file to make it more compact for uploading (and remove any data your company wouldn’t want you to make public).

Follow up – Did one (or all) of the solutions suggested work for you? Please be sure to post the resolution to your problem, so that the next person who searches for an issue knows whether you found a fix or not.

Is it necessary to follow every single step outlined above to post a question on the forums? No, not at all. But, trust me, it is far more efficient for everyone involved to supply the right information up front. Depending on the complexity of your problem, you might use less or more of these tips. Never hesitate to start a thread or give advice, that is why we’re all here.

Now, on to some featured threads with String Theory!

CAD Management – Design Review Discontinued

CADTag did not post his topic in the Collaboration forum, as one might expect, because, as he says, the sunsetting of this program will result in changes for CAD Managers and their methods. He goes on to say that, “there is a strong need for a DWF view, review, comment, and markup tool that works with the current/future releases of AutoCAD and the DWF/DWFx format. Right now that's Autodesk Design Review, and AFAIK there's nothing equivalent available - certainly nothing that has the integration with AutoCAD.”

Rkmcswain posted links to posts by Scott Sheppard, of Autodesk, “Autodesk Design Review 2013 will continue to be available for download from our website, but Autodesk is focusing on delivering enhanced cloud and mobile workflows that integrate with desktop collaboration. Enhancements to the desktop viewing experience will most likely come from that work, and not a desktop-only solution like Design Review. The DWF file format did not change as part of the 2014 releases, so Autodesk Design Review 2013 works perfectly with the 2014 product line.
Thank you for the question. I am not here to delude anyone. If you want an electronic review process, given the current state of Autodesk 360, Autodesk Design Review is still the way to go. But the original question was is Design Review being discontinued, and the answer is yes, it will eventually be replaced by Autodesk 360. Until that time, the 2013 version is available for download from the Autodesk site and works with the 2014 product line since the DWF format did not change.”

Wanderer opines that, while a fan of cloud for personal use, as a Facilities CAD Manager, she has always single-sourced files from their user-owned and operated network and see downsides to cloud work and linking results.

BIM Management – Cover Sheet Development

User michael380822 is very experienced with AutoCAD, but, new to Revit, so he’s looking for some guidance on the proper methods for preparing all of the necessary information for the cover sheet; construction notes, project directory, key maps, etc.

a_queenan chimes in first with advice: “First change your sheet number to whatever the cover sheet number will be. Under the view tab, you can create a drawing list and then drag that to the cover sheet. On our templates, we have the cover sheet already started with detail lines blocking out where things like the client logo and site map will go and just insert them when we start the project. We don’t have a separate family for cover sheets, we just make the views we need in the template and have it started that way. [For the project information - ] I made a family that contains that information. I set it to the titleblock category and then populated it with the parameters that are appropriate (in our case, <Client>, <project Address> I think).” a_queenan also provided a sample file to demonstrate.

Additionally, user rodromlo584320 suggests making use of shared parameters to control information in sheets.

Navisworks – Scaling An Avatar

User didier.delaporte wants his Avatar to show in proper scale to his models. RevitNinja chimes in to save the day with this advice: “In the collision settings, there are controls for height and radius. Enable "3rd person" and you should be able to see the change after you adjust the numbers and hit "OK."”

AutoCAD MEP – File Disappeared from Project Navigator

JHARSH poses a problem: “I have a couple of files that have disappeared in my Project Navigator. The .xml files have also disappeared from the folder and I am assuming that is why project navigator can’t read the files. I have tried to open the files and "save as new construct" but it says the file already exists, and I still can’t get project navigator to read the file.”

DKOCH provides the following advice: “Deleting the XML files will cause AMEP to "lose" the files in Project Navigator. If it will not let you add the files with the files already in the desired folder, moving the files to another folder with Windows Explorer (you should not have to rename them), and then opening the file and saving as a new construct should work.”

Raster Design – Arrowheads not visible

dalexmed941333 reports: “we can't seem to see the arrowheads on any of our dimension or leaders or blocks. We've checked the settings on the dimensions and scale, and not sure what else to check.”

Jmurphy responds that this is a known issue, which was resolved by a hotfix from Autodesk, that corrected a problem with closed, filled objects not displaying.

Civil 3D Pipes - drawing lines in profile at real pipe fitting angles

User bryanflippin417406 is searching for an elegant solution for scaling exaggerations for deflections and bends.

CADtag ruminates: “well, that would depend on the amount of exaggeration. At a vertical exaggeration of 5, for a 45d bend, you could draw a line from a base point using "@1,5" to set the angle. For a 22.5d bend, you could double the X distance and maintain the vertical distance.”

Then Jpaulsen chimes in with: “You can convert the angle in degrees to a grade (rise/run) using trigonometry. The TAN of the angle is equal to the grade.
For example, the TAN of 22.5d is 0.4142 results in a grade of 41.42%. You would draw this in AutoCAD using @100,41.42.
If your profile has a vertical exaggeration, apply it to the grade. For example, if your profile is exaggerated 10 times you would use @100,414.2.”

Inventor – Tips and Tricks

Many of the products on have ‘tips and tricks’ forums, or, at least, a ‘sticky’ thread at the top of a forum, where users can share some of their handy shots of wisdom.

brendan.henderson has a couple bits of advice: “I find it very useful to use Demote on Frame Generator members that have other operations (trim/notch/hole/etc..) done on them. It's often too difficult to detail these in an IDW or DWG of the Frame. Just demote the member once and the BOM will follow with the item and it is still referenced by the Frame Assy.
But beware as demote the member a second time and the link is broken.”

“Stumbled on a tip when working in an IDW and using the Breakout command. Started breakout, selected the view, then chose From Point. This is where it gets interesting. I could not see an edge of the item I wanted to break through on this view so I chose a point on the part FROM ANOTHER VIEW. And it works. Absolutely rapped with this one.”

David Gaskill shared: “While in the sketch mode, use the E key to extrude, no need to get out of sketch mode. This also works for Revolve (R) and a few other commands. It saves a few clicks.”

Plant 3D – Drawing a 3D Curved Line

Kenny Koala for advice: “I need to draw a line that curves through all 3 Cartesian co-ordinate planes at the same time. ie. X,Y & Z planes. This is for a fan blade. My problem is, AutoCAD does not seem to allow this in any of its line drawing formats. 3D polylines can only be straight. 2D polylines can be curved but only in 2 planes.”

Rkmcswain and vmichl offered suggestions involving the UCS and SPLINEs, but, they did not work as the original poster (OP) was hoping. He came back to report his own work around: “I had to draw the curve in plan, then also in side elevation, extrude both as surfaces so they intersected each other, then trace a 3d polyline onto the resulting intersecting line. I could then use the resulting curve as my sweep line.”

I hope you’ve enjoyed some of the threads in this month’s edition of String Theory.

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