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ADT Toolbox

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PROS: lMakes a complex tool a lot easier

CONS: lYou are paying extra for what should have been included in ADT from the start

PRICE: £295

A few years ago, Architectural Desktop (ADT) was launched in the UK to a critical audience that included, importantly, the AutoCAD and AEC user base. Where AEC had previously excelled, ADT stumbled;

release one should never have seen the light, release two had some improvements and release three started to show real promise yet still something was missing. In its current form, ADT 3.3, it is a powerful tool but it remains complex to use and difficult to learn.

Autodesk accepted that it needed to make ADT easier to use and more appropriately configured for the country of use via localisation of the software. There is now a move across Europe to customise ADT for each market, removing some of the usability issues. In the UK CADlogic has been handed the task of kissing the frog in the hope that it will turn into a handsome prince.

CADlogic has been around since the late '80s when Steve Tew left Autodesk to set up on his own as a reseller. Not content with just shifting boxes, CADlogic set about developing tools which would increase the power of AutoCAD. The first one was ParaCAD, a parametric engine that enabled users of AutoCAD to define and edit data parametrically. The company later acquired MultiCAD, a DOS-based tool which it merged with ParaCAD and eventually developed LT Architect and Architect 2000 which enhance the functionality of their namesakes.

ADT Toolbox takes some of the good stuff from LT Architect and Architect 2000, including 2D detailing which is not always addressed comprehensively by many of the 3D design products on the market. It then introduces new easy-to-use interfaces for the creation of walls, windows and doors.

If you are familiar with ADT you will know how complicated the process of working with Style Manager can be. ADT Toolbox takes the hassle out of style creation through simple dialogue boxes, which improve the feedback to the user as the style is developed through pictorial previews.

Walls are created with options for external/internal and cavity construction and clad wall types. Further options are available for colour, cross-hatching, internal and external finishes and wall height.

The Window Style Setup enables the designer to pick from various pre-defined styles, including sash, casement, bay, bow and arched, while able to alter the structural opening dimensions, number of panes and the addition of internal and external sills.

The Door Style Setup has options for single, double, garage, roller-shutter and shopfront designs. Again the variable parameters include structural opening dimensions, threshold, jamb, stop and leaf.

Enhancing the integration of the geometry created, ADT Toolbox can place lintels semi-automatically as it inherits the structural opening size from the doors and windows.

However, the creation of a 3D model really does contribute to the design-development process. Having the ability to extract plans, sections and elevations from the same model makes the extra time investment worthwhile, but the drawings are rarely of sufficient detail for construction drawings and as a result they require more time to bring them up to scratch.

ADT Toolbox makes the job easier. It has inherited some of the functionality of its stablemate Toolbox, and so has some simple-to-use tools for the creation of detailed sections. By selecting the appropriate module from a list of key components or interfaces, one can generate an entire section within seconds. The modules include: foundations, DPC, floor structures, walls, sills, headers, doors, windows, roofs - trusses, tiles and fascias - stairs and timber panels.

Further, if traditional construction is not your bag, there are many options for steel detailing and fabrication including portal frames, UBs, UCs, RSJs, angles, channels, sections and tees.

ADT Toolbox is a welcome addition to ADT. In the few areas it affects, it makes the difference between what ADT is and what it should be. I would like to see CADlogic develop even more tools for ADT Toolbox in the areas that remain complex.

If the advocates of AEC felt they had been kicked in the teeth by Autodesk when they were given ADT as an 'upgrade', CADlogic's ADT Toolbox could be the dentist they need.

ELEMENTS COVERED IN ADT TOOLBOX WALLS All wall types: automatic naming, hatching, component colour settings External walls Internal walls Clad walls 2D DETAILING Building sections Structural steel details for construction and fabrication WINDOWS Window designs Window parameters DOORS Door types Door designs Door parameters RATINGS INTERFACE EASE OF USE FUNCTIONALITY COMPATIBILTY WEB INTEGRATION N/A PERFORMANCE COST

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