Friday, October 15, 2010

What have you done with CADD Lately?

So what have you done with CADD today?  I’ll bet no one has asked you that question in a while.   Which is a shame because it is a question that we need to ask and answer continually?  CADD (and notice I use the double D’s) is an acronym for Computer Aided DESIGN & Drafting.  Twenty some years ago CADD was a new and exciting field that held (in my opinion) great promise and adventure.  Yes I meant adventure because CADD was going to free the engineers and designers to explore new and exciting designs and alternatives.  It was going to as I once wrote turn us into Leonardo Di Vinci. 
Unfortunately it didn’t quite turn out that way.  It seems if you look around CADD became just an electronic pencil.  Yes it did give us a quick way to produce cross-sections and it made all of our lettering readable but it didn’t create more designs or even less paper (my best guess we use at least 3-5 times more sheets of paper than we did before CADD).  This might not be so bad if we were creating 3-5 times more designs and design options but alas we aren’t.
The paper issue points out one simple thing that everyone could do with CADD but generally don’t.  That is review, mark up and distribute information electronically rather than always producing a hard copy then distributing it.  Unfortunately old habits die hard. 
MicroStation has hundreds of commands how many do you use, 10, 20 maybe even 30?  That unfortunately just scratches the surface of the product.  With the most recent SS1 version Bentley moved around some commands along with adding new menus and palettes.  Rather than complain about the changes (which is our first reaction) think of it as a chance to explore the MicroStation interface and learn some new tricks.  Try out some new commands, open up the MicroStation Help file and see what’s new and how you might use them to do your work in a different way.
The next time someone asks you what you have done with CADD I hope you can tell them about something new you have discovered.  
(note: this post will also appear in the Nov. Issue of the NCDOT CADD News [but I liked so much after writing it] that I thought it would make a good blog post hope you enjoy it too.)