CADmep, ESTmep and CAMduct all use the concept of an Attacher. This is what tells Fabrication which way to route elbows and branches.
Most people know how to place and rotate the Attacher. There are a few other tricks to working with the Attacher that you may not know about.
Up or Down, How to Get Around
Depending on your view orientation, you may notice part of the Attacher turns from Red to Blue or Green. As you rotate the Attacher it’s color will change to indicate the direction the arrow is pointing.
Green = Grass (Attacher is pointing away from you)
Blue = Sky (Attacher is pointing toward you)
Depending oh which program you’re in (CADmep, ESTmep or CAMduct) and the keys you press, the Attacher rotates differently. Here’s a chart explaining those nuances.
If you use network licenses or create network deployments of CADmep, CAMduct or ESTmep you may encounter errors. Autodesk incorrectly pathed the Network License Manager files in the SETUP.INI files.
Even if you are using Stand Alone or User Based Subscription licenses but build Network Deployments, if you configure the deployment to include all components in the deployment (recommended if you plan on modifying the deployment later) you can encounter errors.
To correct the errors, you can replace the SETUP.INI files that are part of the installation with the ones provided in the following ZIP file…
Before you overwrite your installation’s SETUP.INI file, it’s a good idea to backup the original. The root of my installation folder looks like this…
At some point, I would expect Autodesk will update their download data and provide the proper files. Because of this, I would highly recommend NOT replacing the SETUP.INI files unless you encounter issues.
If you’re curious what’s different between the two, you can open the INI files in Notepad or other text editor and view them there.
The original file contains this at the end of one of the entries…
Third-Party Component Open Source EULAs:x64\en-US\Tools\NLM.msi
The new SETUP.INI files have updated it to this…
Third-Party Component Open Source EULAs:x86\AdskLicensing\NLM\x64\NLM.msi
Here’s another simple Attacher tip for Fabrication products. If you hold down the Shift key while clicking on the Attacher arrow in CADmep, ESTmep or CAMduct,. the arrow rotates the opposite direction.
Sometimes the best tips are the simplest. They can often be forgotten about or never learned because of that. Here’s a reminder for those that may not know or have forgotten…
In CADmep, or the 3d viewer of ESTmep or CAMduct, you can hold the Control key while clicking the attacher arrow to rotate the arrow 180 degrees. The below screen recordings are both done from CAMduct but ESTmep or CADmep work just the same.
Over the years, I’ve written a number of scripts helpful for managing an Autodesk Fabrication configuration. I’ve given them away in my Autodesk University session I’ve taught so they’ve circulated around a bit.
I’ve rewritten most, streamlined them, made enhancements, added others, etc, etc. Because I’m always updating and changing them, I thought I’d host them here too. I can then just post when I update them.
There’s are 2 sets of scripts covering the following topics…
Debugging Properties Scripts
Job Item Scripts
Library Item Scripts
One set is for use in 2019.0 and earlier versions (but work in any version), the others are designed for 2019.1 and later when Autodesk added support for the Pattern Number property.
You can get to the scripts from the menu or click here. The scripts are free to use for all except employees of ENGworks or anyone working on the behalf of ENGworks. (contractors, consultants, etc.) who are prohibited from use.
When you build content, it’s often desirable to have certain dimensions or options locked. This even applies to connectors, seams and dampers but to a lesser degree.
If you have a lot of Dimensions and/or Options to Lock or Unlock, you don’t have to individually pick each one. You can lock or unlock many very quickly provided they’re in a row.
The trick is simple….pick the button to lock/unlock the first field you want to change, and then while still holding the pick button drag your mouse up or down. This is a fast an efficient way to lock large groups of properties without picking each one.
The following recording shows this process. We’re using Pattern Number (CID) 910 as our example.
When you build Autodesk Fabrication content, you may have noticed one of the properties “Cost Type“. You can see this setting is shown in the following image.
If you do some searching online, you may run across an explanation for some but not all. As Autodesk explains in it’s online help….
Normal – Reads the Material, Fabrication, and Installation tables to generate costs of all materials, fabrication labor and installation labor.
Supply Only – Reads the Material and Fabrication tables to generate the same costs of material and fabrication but NOT installation. (You’d typically use this if you are fabricating for others outside your company.)
Free Issue – Reads only the Install table when calculating costs.
This leaves two remaining values that can be set. These are not documented by Autodesk. These two serve the same purpose…
Demolition – Used as a filter for Labor table value sets
Relocation – Used as a filter for Labor table value sets
Using these values would allow you to build a labor table for relocation that would include uninstall and reinstall time. You could also use the demolition value to build a labor table for removal only of an item.
While you would think these only would apply to an install table, these filter values are also available for the fabrication table. At the very least, this opens up the possibility of using it in creative ways to serve whatever purpose you like.
It’s sometimes easy to miss new things. This is why I want to point out something that was added in 2015. CADmep now has an APPHELP command. You can typeÂ APPHELPÂ at the command prompt to bring up CADmep’s help system.
If you’re online, the help is pulled from Autodesk’s web site from the following URLs…
Only One Concurrent Database Administrator at a Time.
If you use a shared database (such as on a network location), you’ll want to lock down who can edit the database and restrict that to a single concurrent user. Many areas of the Autodesk Fabrication database are large tables. If two or more users have the ability to edit those tables at the same time, you’re asking for problems. That is, the last user to edit the database wins and the other looses their changes.
Here’s how that happens….
User A logs in with full administrative permissions. User B then logs in with full administrative permissions.
At this point, both users are on the same page because they both loaded the database into the computer’s memory.
Now lets say, User A creates some new materials and connectors for some content they are building. At the same time, User B creates a new service and exits.
User B now has their new service written to the database on the server. That’s good. But User A doesn’t have those changes, they opened the database before those changes were made. When User A exits the database, what’s in memory on their computer gets written back. This is their new connectors and materials, but also the original list of Services without User B’s changes.
For this reason, it’s a good idea to create a separate user account used only for Database Administration work and limit it to a single concurrent user. To do this, use the “Configure Users” program that comes with all of the Fabrication products. The following image shows the setting that allows a single concurrent user and all the settings this account could (should) have.
Now if you look closely, you may notice I typically have a couple other Admin accounts in there. Once users are setup, you typically don’t need to mess with them again so I create a separate account only for this purpose but you wouldn’t have to, it could be combined with the “DatabaseAdmin” account.. This is the “UserAdmin” account shown in the image. I also restrict this to a single concurrent user and guard it’s password to only a few select people who really understand how the Fabrication Database works.
For every rule, there’s an exception and you’ll also see a “ReportAdmin” account. This account is NOT restricted to a single concurrent users and here’s why…
When you edit most database settings, you’re editing a large database table with lots of entries. When you edit a report, you’re editing a single file for that report only. The chances that two or more people will edit the same report at the same time is very small. This means multiple users can create multiple reports at the same time and each will save to their own file.
Much like Reports, content (ITM files) are separate file based and will most likely not have more than one person editing the same ITM at the same time. This means you could also create a separate “ContentAdmin” account that lets you setup and delete folders only (no other permissions). Alternatively, you could combine both of the Report and Content accounts into a single “PowerUser” account that does both like in the following image…
Using a less restricted account like this allows more people to create Reports or Content without creating a bottleneck in your workflow. Those creating ITM’s won’t be able to create new connectors or materials or other settings, but they can make new ITM’s that point to existing database entries. This will help you scale your content building activities when you get a last minute request for a large library of pipe fittings. Your primary database admin will use the restricted “DatabaseAdmin” account to create the needed materials and connectors, and you can then have a large number of users making ITM’s using the “PowerUser” account in a safe manner,
Based on a lot of years experience, I’ve been told many times by people that they are careful to not have two or more people go in at the same time and don’t need to restrict their accounts. But I can also tell you, the more I make sure it can’t happen with these restrictions instead of letting them assure me it doesn’t happen because they’re “careful”, the less “unexplained” problems and corruption I see.