The BLADE video watchlist

I did my third and final (for now) BricsCAD Unplugged webcast about BLADE last Wednesday. Here’s the video:

Before I dig into DCL, I start with a brief description of an absolutely brilliant feature that was added to BLADE in V19. If you code in LISP, you’ll love this feature.

Then I move on to some ancient history. Did you know that we can thank the far-sightedness of some slightly renegade Autodesk OS/2 developers in the early 1990s for the dialog boxes we use today? Did you know that you could program dialog boxes for AutoCAD for Mac in 1993 but you can’t today? Can you spot the items of interest in the background?

The rest of the video is dedicated to describing DCL programming and debugging, and I explain how BLADE is the best tool for that job using examples.

If you want to watch all three of the BLADE videos in a row (that’s 1 hour 49 minutes of viewing), Matt Olding has created a YouTube playlist for this series.

It has been an absolute pleasure working with the Bricsys people in putting this series together. Torsten Moses has informed me about yet another bunch of enhancements that are coming very soon to BLADE, so maybe you haven’t heard the last from me on this subject on BricsCAD Unplugged.

More BLADE videos

As mentioned previously, In December I made a guest appearance on the BricsCAD Unplugged webcast series to discuss the LISP development environment, BLADE (YouTube link).

I made another appearance last week describing debugging using BLADE (YouTube link):

If you’re dealing with LISP code for AutoCAD and/or BricsCAD, you really should be doing it in BLADE. It’s the best development environment for AutoLISP/Visual LISP that you’re ever going to get.

I have another appearance scheduled for later today (13 February) in which among other LISPy things, I will be discussing using BLADE for DCL programming. Again, even if you’re AutoCAD-only, I believe this is worth a watch. BLADE is better for DCL programming, too.

Even if you’re AutoCAD-only and not a programmer, you might find my brief ancient history lesson of interest. Did you know that BricsCAD for Mac users can thank a far-sighted early 90s Autodesk OS/2 team for the dialog boxes they use today?

The BricsCAD Unplugged webcast broadcasts run on the Bricsys Facebook page and are then quickly transferred to YouTube. Today’s session will start at about UTC 14:15 (2:15 PM) on Wednesday, 13 February 2019 (click here for your local time)

Video – Steve on BricsCAD Unplugged

Following on from Lynn Allen and Robert Green’s guest appearances on the BricsCAD Unplugged webcast a couple of weeks ago, this time it was my turn. Last night (my time) I was the special guest on the episode BricsCAD Unplugged – Steve Johnson 5 surprises moving to BricsCAD. I’m introduced at 2:12 and appear at 3:30. Here’s the full video: In this week’s episode, you’ll witness: Me discussing the five biggest things that pleasantly surprised me about BricsCAD. (I have more than five, but time was limited). Don Strimbu bribing me with drinks containers. An actual printed copy of Cadalyst …

Explaining the four tiers of AutoCAD license

Yesterday’s tiers Once upon a time, long long ago, you could buy AutoCAD with or without sets of features  called Advanced Drafting Extensions (ADE) containing optional extras such as dimensioning. At one stage you could buy four tiers of AutoCAD license at different prices: AutoCAD AutoCAD + ADE1 AutoCAD + ADE2 (incorporating ADE1) AutoCAD + ADE3 (incorporating ADE1 and ADE2) (Interestingly, the above situation is similar to the current arrangement with BricsCAD, where BricsCAD Classic, Pro and Platinum are available with incrementing prices and feature sets, with BricsCAD BIM and Sheet Metal available on top of Platinum). As almost everybody bought …

IPoC interview – David Kingsley – part 3

Welcome to the second in this series of interviews of Interesting People of CAD (IPoC). David Kingsley has had a long and interesting career, was present in the early days of CAD adoption, and served as an AUGI board member for years. Here is the third and final part of David’s interview. This was the most interesting part of the interview for me, but unfortunately much of the more hilarious anecdotes and other discussions were off the record so I can’t share them. I hope you enjoy what’s left! Steve: What are you most proud of achieving with AUGI? David: …

IPoC interview – David Kingsley – part 2

Welcome to the second in this series of interviews of Interesting People of CAD (IPoC). David Kingsley has had a long and interesting career, was present in the early days of CAD adoption, and served as an AUGI board member for years. Here is the second part of David’s interview which covers his involvement in AUGI, the controversy over how it was managed, and how that ended his involvement. Steve: What was your first involvement with AUGI or NAAUG? At what stage did you get involved? David: I think it was NAAUG in Philadelphia. Paul Jackson came up to me …

IPoC interview – David Kingsley – part 1

Welcome to the second in this series of interviews of Interesting People of CAD (IPoC). David Kingsley has had a long and interesting career, was present in the early days of CAD adoption, and served as an AUGI board member for years. Here is the first part of David’s interview, which covers his career. It’s a long career, so this is a loooong post! Strap in tight for a candid discussion of solar plants, a couple of US Presidents, primeval Autodesk University, Autodesk before and after Lynn Allen, a personal opinion of the current CEO, sailing on an America’s Cup …

CAD Nostalgia Video

For the first video in the new cad nauseam YouTube channel, I’ve had a bit of fun. I unearthed a bunch of my old stuff to show you. Does any of this take you back? Enjoy!

That awkward moment when I just failed to create BIM

I recently updated my resume, and I thought it might be relevant to include an episode from my early career. This post is an expansion on what I had to say about that episode. I was managing a tiny CAD training and development company, Educad. Much of my time there was spent developing software called NIDIS (originally called NEEDS), a project that was started in 1987 or 1988 with Nixdorf Computer as the client. It was intended to take over the market among first the home building companies of Western Australia, then Australia, then the World! What’s special about NIDIS …

AutoCAD 2018 for Mac – welcome to twenty years ago

In the past, I’ve described how AutoCAD for Mac was released half-baked (as I predicted) and has remained half-baked ever since. But wait! Autodesk has proudly announced AutoCAD 2018 for Mac. Skimming through that blog post, I must admit my jaw dropped when I saw some of the new features. This one, for example: This “new feature” was first provided to AutoCAD users in the 20th century. It was an Express Tool in AutoCAD 2000 (released 1999) and was absorbed into mainstream AutoCAD a few years later. The alias editor goes back even further, to the Release 14 Bonus Tools …

AutoCAD 2018.1 released, but only for some

Autodesk has released the AutoCAD (and LT) 2018.1 Update, not to be confused with the earlier ill-fated 2018.0.1 Update. It’s only available for currently-paying subscription and maintenance customers. The “non critical” bug fixes in this Update (by Autodesk’s definition) are being withheld from Autodesk’s other customers. Those of you who have allowed your maintenance to expire due to Autodesk’s development inaction and unjustified price increases can consider yourselves duly punished for failing to fall into line. If you have the execrable Autodesk desktop app installed (not recommended) and it works as expected, this update will present itself to you. Otherwise, …

33 years of AutoCAD upgrades rated – part 5 – summary

In this final post of the series, I’ll examine the patterns that have emerged from the upgrade history I rated in parts 1 to 4. Bear in mind I’m only assessing the DOS (up to R13) and Windows (from R12 on) versions of the full version of AutoCAD. Of course, this only represents my opinion of those releases and is bound to be biased by the uses I and my users have for the software. Your experiences and opinions will almost certainly vary. What can I say? My assessment is based on a third of a century of experience, and …

33 years of AutoCAD upgrades rated – part 4

In this series of posts, I am looking back on all the AutoCAD upgrades I’ve experienced over the years and rate each of them out of 10. See post 1 for information about what the ratings mean. In part 4, I rate AutoCAD 2011 to AutoCAD 2017. AutoCAD 2011 (March 2010): 5 – Object transparency was a very important enhancement for some. The X-Ray and other visual styles made 3D editing more efficient. Object visibility (independent of layers) was handy but has confused some DWG recipients ever since. Selection Cycling, Add selected and Select Similar (which had been in AutoCAD-based …

33 years of AutoCAD upgrades rated – part 3

In this series of posts, I am looking back on all the AutoCAD upgrades I’ve experienced over the years and rate each of them out of 10. See post 1 for information about what the ratings mean. In part 3, I rate AutoCAD 2004 to AutoCAD 2010. AutoCAD 2004 (March 2003): 5 -The return of Express tools was a good start. Better still, Autodesk’s abortive attempt to sell Express Tools as an extra meant some effort had been put into improving them and they were much bigger and better in 2004 than they were in 2000. The death of the …

33 years of AutoCAD upgrades rated – part 2

In this series of posts, I am looking back on all the AutoCAD upgrades I’ve experienced over the years and rate each of them out of 10. See post 1 for information about what the ratings mean. In part 2, I rate AutoCAD Release 12 to AutoCAD 2002. AutoCAD Release 12 (June 1992): 9 – Big, big changes. A mass of UI and other improvements. Lots of new dialog boxes. The first release that retained its predecessor’s DWG format, which was very handy. DCL gave LISP and C programmers the ability to create dialog box commands. The first usable Windows …

33 years of AutoCAD upgrades rated – part 1

In this series of posts I will look back on all the AutoCAD upgrades I’ve experienced over the years and rate each of them out of 10. This is not a rating of the software in absolute terms, it’s a relative rating of the upgrade. That is, the improvement the software made on its predecessor. AutoCAD 2000i is a much better piece of software than AutoCAD Release 2.5, and given the choice I would rather use the former, no contest. But as an upgrade, 2000i sucked and 2.5 rocked. The biggest improving upgrade is the benchmark and gets 10; the …

So what’s actually new in BricsCAD V17?

A big problem I have in communicating the improvements to BricsCAD in V17 is that there are such a huge number of them. This isn’t an AutoCAD 201x-style touch-up masquerading as serious progress, this is a real  upgrade. You know, an AutoCAD V12-style upgrade that veteran AutoCAD users will remember from the good old days before Autodesk got bored and distracted. Dozens upon dozens of new features, improvements to existing features, performance improvements and bug fixes. Lots of stuff that’s genuinely useful. I could write three posts a week on the changes and not be finished by this time next …

The best thing about AutoCAD 2017.1 is…

…the fact that one of the Express Tools finally got an update. Not just a minor maintenance tickle or mere absorption into the core code, either. A real update, resulting in not only bug fixes but genuinely useful improvements in functionality. A little background on Express Tools might help put this into context. The history goes back to 1992 and AutoCAD Release 12. In addition to an impressively full set of paper manuals, people with Release 12 (great value at US$500 to upgrade from any earlier release) obtained a Bonus CD containing 2605 files of free add-on goodness. Fonts, LISP, DOS …

Selfie contest – we have a winner!

Congratulations to Ed Martin, who won the selfie contest with this entry:

1. This is Don Strimbu – a tricky angle on the picture, but his smile gives it away
2. He’s famous for the drawing of a nozzle – a fire hose nozzle to be precise – that he drew in 1984
3. Don used block scaling to simulate a 3D effect on the text, knurling, and fins
4. Autodesk used the drawing in its promotional material starting with an ad in the September 1984 issue of Scientific American
5. Don is now promoting products from Bricsys, notably their BricsCAD product
6. Wow, I really don’t know how long it took him, and it would be cheating to ask him … so I’ll guess. 18 hours?

Some clarifications:

1. Indeed it is Don. It was a privilege to meet him at the recent Bricsys International Conference in Munich, among other notables.

2. Correct, NOZZLE.DWG (we were all upper case 8.3 filenames at the time) which is quite possibly the most famous AutoCAD drawing of all time. It was the first complicated drawing ever done with AutoCAD, and was done in 1983 (not 1984), according to John Walker. See The Autodesk File for more information.


3. Yes, it was block scaling. In addition to the 3D effect, the thing Don came up with that amazed John Walker was using negative scale factors to achieve the equivalent of the MIRROR command. That command didn’t exist at the time, along with object snap and a bunch of other things it would be difficult to imagine life without these days.

4. Yes, it was also on Autodesk’s Task Force Tips’ letterhead for a while…

5. Yes, Don and former Autodesk Senior Vice President Dr. Malcolm Davies (also at Munich) are important figures at Techevate, enthusiastic promoters of BricsCAD in the USA.

6. 18 hours is a bit off. How about 400 40?

I remember using NOZZLE.DWG as a benchmark for comparing AutoCAD hardware back in the 80s. Open the drawing, enter REGEN and see how long it takes to get a command prompt back again. As every single zoom or pan required a regeneration back then, regen time was very important. I remember an HP Vectra taking 17 seconds and an NEC APC III taking 19. An IBM PC without math co-processor took much longer; 2 minutes 39 rings a bell, but I’m not certain. These days, it’s so fast it’s hardly measurable.

Anyway, I look forward to seeing what Ed has to say in this blog’s first ever guest posting. Could be anything!

Selfie of the day – who is this man?

I have just returned from a very interesting trip half way around the world. In addition to learning some fascinating stuff about certain things (to be discussed later), I met some interesting people. One of these people can be seen in this photo, which I took with my phone at a party at a trendy location, just like all the cool kids do these days.
20161020_203442The person who answers all (or most) of these questions correctly (or close to correctly) in the next 72 hours (ish) gets a fun but worthless prize.

  1. Who is this man? (Not the one in the corner, that’s me).
  2. Name the drawing he’s most famous for.
  3. Name the technique he developed to help create this drawing. (It still works today, but now has a much simpler equivalent).
  4. Name the CAD company which used that drawing in its promotional material.
  5. Name the CAD company whose products this man is now promoting.
  6. (Tiebreaker question) Estimate the number of hours he says it took to produce that famous drawing.

I reserve the right to make up new rules as I go along without telling anyone. Hopefully nobody will care too much. I’ll be putting all comments on this blog into the moderation queue until the end of the contest so nobody can see anybody else’s answers, so don’t panic if your comment doesn’t appear.

The prize? The right to create a guest posting on this blog with a subject of your choice. As long as it’s probably legal and not too indecent, you can write what you like. Even if it’s “Steve is a poo poo head!”

I hope I don’t regret this. Good luck!

Edit: contest is now closed, see here for the winner.