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Features List 13
From CAD User AEC Magazine Vol 22 No 9 - SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2009
Bluebeamís Revu 7 now has a dedicated CAD Edition, aimed at the growing number of CAD users who prefer to distribute their documentation in PDF format, says david Chadwick
In spite of having Adobe's Acrobat loaded on my main desktop PC, I use Bluebeam Revu on my laptop. That's the machine I use for walkabouts, and the one I use when I am away from the office and need to do a bit of document markup or proof-reading.
I have recently loaded the latest version, and am pleased to see that the original colour scheme remains exactly the same. Now that's not something Iíd normally focus on when reviewing software, but I really do get a kick out of the cool, sophisticated blend of greys bordering the PDF document on display. It's a refreshing change when you compare it with different software packages and is redolent of the chrome and leather interiors of stupidly expensive sports cars! But this isnít just the latest version of Revu 7 - itís also the CAD Edition. It installs toolbar buttons in AutoCAD or Solidworks (as well as MS Office) making PDF creation a one button job, and bringing across scale, line weights, merged lines, plot style tables and page sizes. It can also convert CAD and Windows files into other formats - DWF, TIF, JPG, GIF, BMP, PNG, PSD, EMF, WMF, and PCL - so perhaps I can now discard my old copy of Coreldraw which, I must admit, I chiefly use for file conversion. For those not familiar with Bluebeam, it is obviously a competitor for the ubiquitous Adobe Acrobat. The company wanted to make handling PDFs easy - and they did! Itís intuitive and pretty comprehensive, with a full range of markup tools and some useful additions that Adobe hasn't quite got around to installing in Acrobat yet. Some of the technologies introduced by Bluebeam include the Markup Lists and Tool Chest, the latter recording every annotation you ever make. Multiview enables you to view your document in split screens - 16 versions if you want to - and in a number of viewing configurations, either single page, side-by-side or continuous. And, because it can do that, itís simple to put different documents side-by-side in order to compare the text.
Now thatís something I can really appreciate as, not being as well organised as I should be, I often canít remember what amendments I have made between text documents, and need the quickest way possible to find out exactly what I did! Itís a lot more critical when it comes to CAD drawings, which can be compared in exactly the same way. Revu automatically scales, rotates and aligns two drawing revisions, highlighting all identified differences with clouds - one of the Mark-up features. And that's where Markup Lists comes in, a list of all the markups you have made, allowing you to click on the list and step through all the changes you have made - including the automatic ones produced by Document Compare.
PDF Markup is simplicity itself - just point and click, using the side bar to select from a complete list of mark-up tools. You can even modify what you have, changing colours, fills, opacity, lineweights and fonts or whatever, using the markup properties panel. The Markups list can be customised to suit the way you want to work. You can even insert your own columns, run searches, create a PDF from the list, or export it as a .csv file or excel file. Besides cataloguing your annotations, you can use Tool Chest to drag them from Recent Comments, where they are stored, and make them available for future jobs by placing them in My Comments, also in the Properties panel, for further customisation on use. There's a further Markup tool that CAD users will appreciate - the ability to flatten markups into layers. You can already create layered PDF files, but how would you like to organise your markups in distinct layers that you can toggle on or off? Or, if you want to integrate markups with the PDF document, you just click Flatten on the menu - all quite simple. Another handy tool that makes life easier is Profiles. Bluebeam Revu is fully customisable, but it also allows users to just specify one of a set of eight profiles, which are geared towards their needs - designers, lawyers, construction professionals, tablet users or just power users - emphasising those features that each would use most.
WORKING WITH CAD
The CAD Edition contains numerous features that make PDFs an ideal collaboration tool for engineers and architects working on the same projects. You may remember the results of the CAD survey that we published in the last issue that pointed to a significant number of CAD users preferring to use PDFs as the main technology for publishing their documents. Software like Bluebeam Revu can only serve to make it even more popular.
On the Bluebeam website there are sections entirely devoted to the softwareís integration and compatibility with two principal CAD software developers - AutoCAD and SolidWorks. Suffice to say that the list of versions supported is far too long to include here, beyond the conversion capabilities outlined above. The sections outline some of the CAD oriented features though, such as batch processing of conversions, and the ability to produce multi-document PDFs of drawing sets, including Layout and Sheet Control, and the ability to add customised stamps to individual files in a batch. You can also create PDF Booklets using Bluebeam Stapler, dragging and dropping MS Office documents, and either saving them all in a designated folder or converting them to any of the 10 file formats that Bluebeam supports (outlined earlier in the article). The software's email capabilities are geared up towards CAD as well, enabling you to convert to PDF and set up emails at the same time - sent compressed and with multiple files in a single email, if required.
We mentioned the general markup features of Bluebeam Revu earlier, and the ability to handle CAD drawings with Document Compare. It goes further though. You can take-off all sorts of information from a drawing using the Measure Profile tool, which allows users to measure lengths, volumes, areas, perimeters and angles. It even has a count feature.
There's a simple task you have to perform first - and thatís to calibrate the measuring tool. All you need do is select two widely separated points in the drawing, of known dimensions. Click on the first, then move to the second, holding the mouse wheel down. That will give you the calibration figures you need to set up the measuring tool. To measure volume, you have, of course, to include a depth measurement as well.
OTHER CAD FEATURES
As with all the comprehensive tools I cover in these pages, I soon run out of space, and can give no more than a flavour of the softwareís substantive CAD features. Many of these fall within document handling, as you would expect and include Page Setup and Security.. Page Setup lists a very wide range of page settings, plot styles and so on, and the ability to define paper sizes, plot areas, scales and offsets, and to store an unlimited number of global settings for different types of print jobs.
Security features for AutoCAD enable users to enhance the security of documents by setting passwords and restricting many of the features to designated users - printing, copying text or graphics, creating form fields and annotations, manipulating form fields and the creation of bookmarks - and, of course, including the ability to add digital signatures to drawings.
It's worth checking out the Interactive Features for CAD as well, which include the ability to transfer hyperlinks from AutoCAD and SW drawings and MS Office documents (Word, Excel, PowerPoint) to PDF, together with all file property data for easy file search and management. www.bluebeam.com
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