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A good time to update your CAD

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The Millennium Bug seems to have spared us, but for many reasons it's still a good time to get the latest CAD version

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As the dawn travelled round the world on 1 January this year, the much-dreaded Millennium Bug failed to make any significant appearance. This said, the potential problems are not yet over and many software vendors have patches posted on web sites to ensure that application will transfer to the new century with few if any problems.

Whatever software you are using, from word processing to a high-end cad system, it is worth your while to make sure you are running the latest versions. In many cases, this will involve a simple download which will automatically update you. However if you are running older versions of software, now may be a good time to consider upgrading.

While the major players in the cad market may have been taking it easy over the holiday season, British developers have been very busy. Cambridge's Informatix Software has, for example, completed a co-operative development effort with French developer Abvent which will allow its modelling application to fully utilise Abvent's rendering environment, Artlantis. Informatix is providing a free download from its website allowing users of its microgds cad system to export models in Artlantis format.

For its part, Abvent recently announced that Artlantis Render 3.5 will be able to save rendered images in Epix file format, the native format of Piranesi, also from Informatix and reviewed in the last issue of Architech (aj 2/9.12.99). For more information visit www.informatix.co.uk or call 01223 363014.

Another British company hard at work is Lichfield-based cadlogic. Its latest product, Architect 2000, is designed to provide additional functionality to Autocad users. Developer of archcad, cadlogic is also known for its add-on to Autocad LT, lt Architect.

Designed to sit on top of Autocad, Architect 2000 adds significant 2D drafting functionality while maintaining full compatibility with Autodesk's own aec package. While Architectural Desktop, the successor to aec 5, provides a great deal to those wishing to design in 3D, it can be seen as overkill for smaller jobs or for those who do not need 3D. Priced at £595, this package is ideal for those who already own Autocad 2000 and wish to create a more-efficient working environment.

Architect 2000 adds a single toolbar to the Autocad environment which in turn provides single-click access to all the additional functionality. The first icon on the toolbar opens the walls toolbar which allows users to create any wall type quickly and accurately via a simple dialogue box within which styles can be created and saved. Wall-drawing command then automatically picks up the style with the additional benefit of allowing parametric doors and windows to be placed within them.

All doors and windows within Architect 2000 are fully parametric and can be edited at any time. Dialogue boxes provide access to all the parameters of an object based on a number of common styles. Styles can be edited quickly and saved to provide users with the means to create their own libraries of objects. Both door and window object contain plan and elevational information allowing elevations to be automatically generated from plan views. While this does not provide true 3D functionality, it does greatly speed up the drafting of elevational elements.

As well as these elements, users are offered complete control over the creation of staircases. Again, staircases are offered in a number of styles which can be customised quickly as required. Handrail, baluster and newel- post details can all be entered along with tread thickness to produce very accurate, detailed drawings. A neat check box allows designers to ensure staircases will conform to the current Building Regulations by imposing constraints on the rise and going.

A roof tool allows simple gable and hipped roofs to be designed within a dialogue box. A thumbnail view provides feedback in plan and isometric view. While this is a simple solution it is excellent for quick sketch designs. To complement the wall and roof tools, a comprehensive range of structural steel elements is available within Architect 2000.

Hundreds of standard architectural symbols are also supplied with the software, many of which are also parametric. This allows key dimensions to be entered, with the symbol then automatically sizing itself. This is excellent for items such as bathroom and kitchen fittings or office furniture. Other tools include timber stud panel design and automatic section generation. The parametric wall sections and trusses that are in Architect 2000 allow you to create building section detail quickly and easily.

While Architect 2000 does add to Autocad, it replicates the functionality of lt Architect, the Autocad lt add-on design by cadlogic. If you already own Autocad 2000, then this is very useful. For more information visit www.architect2000.com or call 01543 419886.

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