Speed and Usability Focused New Release 3.0.0.545

June 25th, 2012

Greetings DraftLogicers,

 

We are pleased to release build 3.0.0.545 to you.  We have been very busy since our March 2012 release, we have some excellent new speed and usability features to share with you!  What follows is a summary of the differences between this build and the prior.

Given the extra functionality and fixes, we strongly recommend you implement this build ASAP.  Detailed update instructions are available, please email me if you have not already received them.  Call Dean at 780-906-2888 if you need any assistance in doing the updates.

THE NEED FOR SPEED

Do you feel the need for speed?  So do we!  We’re always optimizing the speed with which our functions complete, usually getting a few percent here and there, so good but not headline news.

Well, this build includes about a 75% increase in speed in our ‘Load Calculator’.  “So what,” you say, “I never run the Load Calculator.”?  Well, in reality, you run the Load Calculator with all reports that have anything to do with power tree protection or conductors…so that includes the Single Line Diagram, Panel Schedules, Motor Schedule, Kitchen Schedule, and Bill of Materials.  OK, so we know the Load Calculator is an important part of many reports.  Depending on the size and complexity of your power tree, the Load Calculator used to take anywhere from tens of seconds (e.g. our tutorial 26.5K ft2 school) to over an hour (e.g. a 700K ft2 Automated Warehouse/Distribution Center).  That was the March and prior releases.

With this release, the Load Calculator is approximately FOUR TIMES FASTER.  So although you may not notice it too much on small projects, you will definitely notice it on the large projects, i.e. the Single Line Diagram for a 700K ft2 Automated Warehouse/Distribution Center we designed that took 75 minutes start to finish to generate with the prior releases now takes only 16 minutes!

 

ANNOTATION ORGANIZER DIALOG

You asked, we produced:  the DraftLogic Electrical Annotation Organizer now has a snazzy new dialog to run it with!  The dialog allows you to control all aspects of the Annotation Organizer tool & further allows you to create, save, edit, and delete templates of settings.  Our June 2012 release includes the dialog with a number of preloaded templates suitable for the most commonly needed metric and imperial plot scales.

Learn more about how to use the Annotation Organizer through its dialog at this forums entry:

http://www.draftlogic.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=12&t=119

Get a quick overview of what the Annotation Organizer does at this web page:

http://www.draftlogic.com/cms_pages.php?id=139

Please give the new user interface for the Annotation Organizer a try and let us know what you think.

AUTOMATIC DRAWING VALIDATION 

We have added an automatic drawing validation that checks your drawing for the most common trouble spots.  It will completely automatically fix issues that we are 100% confident can be resolved without your interaction & identify the rest with error arrows.  This tool checks out the issues that are behind about 70% of our support calls, specifically issues with:  room boundaries, room IDs, floor boundaries, floor match blocks, duplicate blocks, and bad polylines.

See the Drawing validation blog entry for the feature announcement:

http://www.draftlogic.com/blog/2012/06/automatic-drawing-validation/

See the Drawing validation forums entry for detail on what it does and how to take advantage of it:

http://www.draftlogic.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=8&t=116

 

SUPER LUMINAIRE TAGS PART 2

The new luminaire tags can be placed in several density levels and with a buffer, scale, and maximum service distance that you choose.

The ‘Luminaire Tag Mode’ is the density level that tags will be placed at.  You can select from: One-to-One, Dense, Thin, and One per Room.  You dictate the buffer distance that the luminaire tags will look to have with anything in their collision group (i.e. other lighting related plot items).  The ‘Luminaire Tag Maximum Distance’ is the furthest that a tag can be from a luminaire and still be considered as ‘servicing’ it for the Dense & Thin tag modes.  As per the other parameters, the buffer and maximum distance are input in inches.  The ‘Luminaire Tag Scale’ is a value from .1 to 10 where ’1′ means the tags are placed at the same scale as the luminaires.  Smaller values (i.e. below 1) will result in tags that are smaller relative to the luminaires, and larger values mean the reverse.  Lastly, ‘Luminaire Tags Avoid XREF Entities’ is a yes/no value to tell DraftLogic Electrical whether it should attempt to avoid collision with xref’d entities or not.  Typically, the architect source is your xref.

This release includes luminaire tag automated placement with three enhancements versus March’s version:  faster execution, specific handling for centering in tbar cells, and some further enhancements throughout.

Please try the luminaire tag automated placement out with various settings and let us know what you think and if you have any suggestions to enhance the use/results.

See the forums entry for more detail on how to use the new luminaire tag automated placement:

http://www.draftlogic.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=115

See our blog for the announcement of this new functionality:

http://www.draftlogic.com/blog/2012/06/new-and-improved-luminaire-tagspart-2/

 

NEW CLIENT and SERVER UPDATE INSTALLS

For those who have already updated to DraftLogic Electrical V3, we have new update installers to take you from whatever version you were on (i.e. 3.0.0.###) up to this version (3.0.0.545).  The server and client update installers take care of all the updates except the database update for now.

 

IMPLEMENTING THE RELEASE

For those who have already upgraded to V3.0, this update will take 10-15 minutes.  See the attached instructions on downloading and installing, it has been written to apply to this and future updates so file references are generic (files specific to this update are mentioned below).

Give me a call or drop me an email if you want to arrange a time for me to execute the updates or a complete V3.0 installation for you via WebEx.

The two upgrade packages & database update needed for this specific update are:

‘DraftLogic_Electrical_V3.0_ServerUpdateOnly_545.exe’

‘DraftLogic_Electrical_V3.0_ClientUpdateOnly_545.exe’

‘DraftLogicDatabaseUpdate_3.0.0.545_20120625.zip’

 

The database update is for all three databases.  Good news it is the one that does not contain any database pointers, so if you are OK with replacing all your library data with our base library data, you can completely overwrite the ‘DraftLogic’ database as per the attached PDF and you are done.

 

*** If, however, you have added data that you desire to retain in any of your four libraries, you MUST contact me and let me know what data you have added & we need to execute a manual update by running SQL scripts to make the updates without harming your added data!

 

 

Regards,

Dean Whitford
Chief Executive Officer
DraftLogic
Phone 780-906-2888 (9AM to 6PM MTN time)
Email dwhitford@draftlogic.com
Blog http://www.draftlogic.com/blog
Visit us on the Internet: www.draftlogic.com

 

Annotation Organizer Dialog

June 24th, 2012

You asked, we produced:  the DraftLogic Electrical Annotation Organizer now has a snazzy new dialog to run it with!

The dialog allows you to control all aspects of the Annotation Organizer tool & further allows you to create, save, edit, and delete templates of settings.

Our June 2012 release includes the dialog with a number of preloaded templates suitable for the most commonly needed metric and imperial plot scales.

Learn more about how to use the Annotation Organizer through its dialog at this forums entry:

http://www.draftlogic.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=12&t=119&sid=e48ca9a13920c08ac804bf4a00b83066

Get a quick overview of what the Annotation Organizer does at this web page:

http://www.draftlogic.com/cms_pages.php?id=139

Please give the new user interface for the Annotation Organizer a try and let us know what you think.

Regards,

Dean Whitford, CEO
DraftLogic Inc.

New and Improved Luminaire Tags…Part 2

June 23rd, 2012

The June 2012 release of DraftLogic Electrical includes further improved luminaire tag automated placement with three enhancements versus the earlier version: faster execution, specific handling for centering in tbar cells, and some further enhancements throughout.

See the forums entry for more detail on how to use the new luminaire tag automated placement:

http://www.draftlogic.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=115&sid=19bdf5d530398a7ce7e7d6f43d4d5315

 

FUTURE ENHANCEMENTS

At some point in the future, we desire to release the luminaire tag automated placement with three enhancements versus today’s version: even faster execution, better logic for maximizing the number of best location placements versus secondary placements, and last but not least, some enhancements based on your feedback.

So, please try the new and improved luminaire tag tool out and let us know how you would like to see it enhanced!

Regards,
Dean Whitford, CEO
DraftLogic Inc.

 

Automatic Drawing Validation

June 21st, 2012

After working with a variety of DraftLogic Electrical users for some time, it became apparent that certain issues in the drawings were much more common than any others.  These are issues related to room and floor boundaries & duplicate symbols.  In order to minimize the time that these issues cost our users, DraftLogic Inc. has built an automatic drawing validation tool that will be included in our June 2012 release.

 

What is Checked?

Most of the ways that a room or floor boundary can go wrong are checked, things like unclosed polylines, overlaps, missing or too many floor match symbols and room IDs.  Including these and other checks that are done, there are well over twenty conditions checked in this first release of the automated drawing validation tool.

 

Does the Automatic Drawing Validation Tool Do More Than Identify Issues?

In addition to checking for common issues, the automatic drawing validation tool will resolve issues that have only one possible resolution, saving you immense time in tracking down and fixing this type of issues.  So things like unclosed polylines, zero length lines,  zero length segments in polylines, and completely duplicate blocks are all automatically dealt with and reported to you.

 

When Does the Automatic Validation Happen?

The automatic validation happens on load of any DWG and also at critical points in the reporting process, for example before the single line diagram or panel schedules are created.  You can trigger it anytime you want using the ‘Check Blocks & Polys’ tool from near the bottom of the Drawing Discovery tool group on the Command tool palette.

 

We Need Your Feedback

Please let us know what you think of the drawing validation tool & if there are any tests  you disagree with being done (especially any of the automatically fixed issues) and if you have an idea for another test that would help you with a troublesome area.

Since the test automatically runs on drawing load and we did not want old error arrows causing confusion versus new ones dropped by the drawing validation tool, we are now clearing all error arrows from the DWG on load.  Let us know what you think of this, as it prevents you from leaving unaddressed error arrows in a save for reloading tomorrow.  The only way to do that now would be to WBLOCK the errors out and xref them to the drawing after loading in the new AutoCAD session…so very inconvenient if you want to keep error arrows active between saves!

 

For More Information

See the detailed forums entry about the drawing validation tool at this forums page.

 

Looking forward to your questions & feedback,

Dean Whitford, CEO
DraftLogic Inc.
dwhitford@draftlogic.com
780-906-2888

DraftLogic Electrical and AutoCAD 2013

May 17th, 2012

Autodesk Release Cycles

Those who have been using AutoCAD for a while know that Autodesk releases a new version of AutoCAD each and every year.

Fortunately for those who develop software top of AutoCAD, like us at DraftLogic Inc., three years of AutoCAD releases are considered something of a ‘family’ wherein major changes are avoided so that applications like DraftLogic Electrical need little or no alterations to work between each new member of the same family. Unfortunately, there are usually ‘third-party application breaking changes’ between the families…

A New Family

AutoCAD 2013 is the start of a new family of versions & true-to-form Autodesk has included some major changes that affect developers like DraftLogic Inc. & applications like DraftLogic Electrical.

DraftLogic Electrical Current Release Cannot Be Configured In AutoCAD 2013

So you have likely already guessed that DraftLogic Electrical does not work as-is on AutoCAD 2013. This is pretty definitive, as both our Visual Basic and our ObjectARX code will not load run as-is…so no workaround to make things go.

2013 Compatible Release Soon

We have completed a preliminary assessment & have identified a fair amount of work that needs to be done to build an AutoCAD 2013 compatible version of DraftLogic Electrical. Given what we know so far, our estimate is that we will release an AutoCAD 2013 compatible version in six to nine months. As work progresses, we will be able to update you with a more definitive release date.

Dean Whitford, CEO
DraftLogic Inc.
dwhitford@draftlogic.com
780-906-2888
See our website at www.draftlogic.com

Challenging Times Require Creative Solutions

April 18th, 2012

If you are like most engineering companies, 50% to 70% of your overhead is comprised of salaries & benefits for your staff.

Electrical Design Services Becoming a Commodity

The electrical design business has been commoditized for most of us, there are many firms doing the same thing in a competitive market so the profit margins to a great extent are determined by market forces. If we all use the same tools and processes to create designs and drawings our profits are limited by these market forces.Minor changes to process and the level of effort we place on the design and drawing creation can result in small but positive improvements to the bottom line but for the most part we are limited by the tools we use.

 

Negative Productivity Pressures
The pressure towards BIM (Revit, for example) has not helped profitability and has placed even larger burdens on the production staff to get things done in a timely manner. For all projects we have talked to our clients about, productivity losses on having to do a project in BIM are about 30-40%.
So what is the answer, how do you balance the demands of your clients, the need to pay staff well to keep them and at the same time maintain a profitable level of business operations along with your reputation?

 

Where Can You Have the Most Effect?

As mentioned in the opening sentence the largest single expense is your staff salaries so that is the place to begin to create efficiencies.


New technology is available to help you achieve the following goals:

  1. Increase profit margins (see the revenue per employee effects here)
  2. Reduce production costs (productivity information here)
  3. Improve accuracy (read here about error reduction)
  4. Expand deliverables (see the list of completely automatically generated reports here)
  5. Free up cash flow to reward the high level producers in your firm and keep them

Seek out these new technologies that will bring freedom to the way you do business.

 

Commitment to Process Improvement

In order to take advantage of these tools you must show some commitment to change that will be required to break out of the old costly production habits. Those companies and individuals that are eager to change and embrace the new tools will benefit and move ahead of the pack.
Using the power of the computer on your desktop and harnessing it to ramp up production to the next level is one way of achieving the list of goals noted above. Leveraging automation is possible to achieve huge gains in productivity. In most cases the design process is a compilation of repetitive error prone tasks that can be significantly reduced with the new tools available.

By empowering your staff with the right tools to rise to new production levels will not only impact the bottom line but you will free up your most valuable resource, time! Time to pursue other clients, other work, or simply to reduce the overtime grind that we so often face in critical times.
Fortunately for us the software tools that we have at our disposal today are becoming better to help us achieve these goals.

 

Change is Never Easy
It often takes courage to implement change, even though it will be beneficial for all involved it still takes what appears to be a leap of faith and pushback will be encountered without question. It is human nature to oppose anything that can take us away from our familiar path.


Find the technology that is as non-disruptive as possible, integrate it into your work flow, train your people properly and your company and its staff can soar to new heights.
DraftLogic Electrical is one of those companies bringing revolutionary tools to your company.

 

Gerry Stebnicki, President

DraftLogic Inc.

Fault Levels Calculation Workflow and Time Comparison

April 4th, 2012

DraftLogic Electrical Versus Traditional Methods

Calculating fault currents for a transformer circuit

Situation description:

Project has 10 dry type transformers feeding panels. System voltage is 347/600 as service entry, transformers are feeding a variety of panel loads at 120/208 volts and one 277/480 volt panel. All panels and transformers are in a plant like building environment so sizes, locations and feeder sizes and lengths are varied.

Panels and transformers are located on the drawings and the designer has been requested to calculate fault levels at the panels downstream of each transformer to ensure that the appropriate breakers are selected for this project. Loads have been assigned to each panel but feeders and transformers have not been sized.

Using traditional methods where a designer is using an on line app to check voltage drop and some form of calculation spreadsheet to assist with the fault level calculations here is an analysis of the tasks and estimated time needed.

Typical workflow using traditional methods

1. Size transformers based on panel loads (loads are known). Estimated time 15 minutes

2. Size 20 feeders from code tables. Estimated time 45 minutes

3. Scale length of each feeder (20 ) on the drawings and check voltage drop based on expected load and selected conductor. Estimated time 40 minutes

4. Change conductor size if needed to satisfy voltage drop tolerance. Estimated time 15 minutes

5. Use fault level spread sheet to calculate fault levels for each component of each feeder, typically this will require calculation of three segments per feeder, the section from the transformer feeder breaker or fuse to the transformer, the transformer let though and finally the last segment from the transformer to the downstream panel. An estimated 70 combined mouse clicks and key strokes per transformer circuit. For 10 such circuits an estimated 700 keystrokes mouse clicks and keystrokes needed (each one an opportunity for error). Estimated time at only 10 seconds average per entry = 116 minutes

6. Collate results and prepare report for review. Estimated time 10 minutes.
Summary; Many steps needed, extensive human input for each step resulting in many opportunities for errors to creep into the process. Estimated total cycle time 241 minutes or 4 hours.

If a change is needed because of load variations the whole or part of the process must be repeated.

Same task using DraftLogic Electrical

Assumes panels were placed on the drawing using DraftLogic Electrical software which will automatically draw the single line and calculate all loads, conductor sizes based on voltage drop settings and will also calculate fault levels automatically at all critical points in the system from MDP to all downstream devices.

1. Select “single line” from report dialogue box and click ‘ok’. Estimated time 30 seconds.

2. Wait for automation to perform all calculations, size feeders and generate fault levels. Estimated time 2 minutes.
Summary; Only two steps needed, that take a couple of minutes to execute all required calculations and prepare a report for review in the form of a completed single line diagram. Estimated total cycle time 5 minutes. Using these tools all power tree objects are dealt with not just transformer circuits, the entire power tree from MDP to all downstream devices are sized, voltage drop is calculated and feeder sizes adjusted, all lengths automatically entered with adjustment factors vertical drops and connections within panels allowed for and fault levels calculated for all objects.

If changes occur, make the adjustments to whatever parameter is altered and re-run the process.

Conclusion

DraftLogic Electrical vastly decreases the time taken to do this task the first time around, taking only a few minutes versus four hours for the traditional method!

Not only does DraftLogic Electrical provide this incredible productivity gain, it also minimizes the opportunity for error. As you can guess from the number of manual actions and calculations being made in the traditional method, it is highly likely that errors will creep in to the manual process.

Lastly, these gains in productivity and accuracy only multiply as the work needs to be done over and over to accommodate for change requests and ‘what if’ design scenarios.

Gerry Stebnicki, President
DraftLogic Inc.
sales@draftlogic.com
780-906-2888
See our website at www.draftlogic.com

New and Improved Luminaire Tags…Part 1

February 29th, 2012

Question: which building electrical design software automatically places luminaire tags for you? DraftLogic Electrical, of course! Well, you likely all very well knew the answer to that one. DraftLogic Electrical has been automatically placing luminaire tags for you since day one, and further to that it has been automatically categorizing and sequentially numbering the tags to allow for the completely automatic generation of a luminaire schedule.

Although we have always provided you with industry-leading automation like that in the automated luminare tags and luminaire schedule, We at DraftLogic have always wanted to give you more control over the luminaire tagging and also to make even ‘smarter’ placements. With today’s release of DraftLogic Electrical, that is all coming to life.

With the new luminaire tags, you now have lots of control over the results of the automated placement. You choose one of several different density levels and a buffer, scale, and maximum service distance (i.e. distance that multiple luminaires will ‘share’ the same tag).

In about 8 weeks, we plan to release the luminaire tag automated placement part 2 with enhancements versus today’s version: faster execution, specific handling for centering in tbar cells, and last but not least, some enhancements based on your feedback.

See the forums entry for more detail on how to use the new luminaire tag automated placement:

http://www.draftlogic.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=115&sid=19bdf5d530398a7ce7e7d6f43d4d5315

As always, please email, call, or chat us if you have any questions!

Regards,
Dean Whitford, CEO & Gerry Stebnicki, President
DraftLogic Inc.

Keys to Success for Learning to Use Software Built for Complex Tasks

February 10th, 2012

Learning New Software Blues

You know what?  I hate reading software manuals, attending software training courses, and watching training videos as much…or even more…than you do!  I can usually get away without doing any of that…with typical ‘consumer grade’ applications.  It is an indisputable truism, however, that not all software can be made simple and intuitive enough so that a reasonably intelligent person can sit down and effectively use it without having to do any of these horrible horrible things  :)

In Our Experience

We at DraftLogic Inc. have been working with new clients and with potential clients that are setting up pilot projects and trials of DraftLogic Electrical.  Since what happens in the initial learning phase of the software determines whether implementation moves forward or not, we have learned some key factors that determine success or failure across all sites.

These key factors apply to all software that has a tough job to do. What do I mean by that?  Well, typically speaking, the more complex and knowledge intensive the end product, the more complex the software to help users create a quality end product. For example, consider AutoCAD, Revit, and enterprise resource planning products.  Each of these products requires a minimum base level of product knowledge before a user can be truly productive with them.  Sure, someone with reasonable computer experience can sit down and draw some simple entities in AutoCAD, but you and I both know there is no way that someone without experience or training will be able to create professional quality output without some training!

So let’s dig into these keys to success that you can apply to almost any software built for complex tasks, using DraftLogic Electrical as our ‘case study’.

DraftLogic Electrical is going to make your design time both more enjoyable and more productive. It does this by automating boring, low skill, and error prone tasks; thus freeing up much more of your time to be able to concentrate on the important design decisions. You will finish your projects faster and even be able to deliver more value to the client in the shorter design time.

The Three Keys to Success

There are three key things that are all necessary to be successful with DraftLogic Electrical. If you can make these commitments, it is highly likely that you will be very successful with DraftLogic Electrical, i.e. your design productivity will, at a minimum, double and you will enjoy your design time more. The more of these commitments that are not met or are only partially met, the more likely it is that you will not be successful with DraftLogic Electrical and you will miss out on a great opportunity.

Firstly, your company must allocate you paid time during regular workdays to do the video training. The hours required in total are 20-24 if our tutorial school is used as the sample, up to approximately 30 hours if you select one of your projects to try things on.  The video training must be completed in a span of no more than two weeks–any longer and you’ll forget the basics before you learn the other features! In our experience, it is also not going to work if the company asks a designer to learn DraftLogic Electrical ‘as they go’, ‘during lunch times’, or ‘at home in the evening/weekends’.

Secondly, you must go carefully through the entire training video series, pausing the videos often and trying each function on the tutorial school data.

Thirdly, you must not ‘spin your wheels’. We want you to have a positive learning and use experience, not get frustrated trying to figure something tricky out. Call for support when: there is a concept in the training videos that does not seem to make sense, a function does not work when you try them it the tutorial data, or there simply seems to be some instruction or information missing.  Spend a few minutes reviewing the video, quickly check for information in the forums, and perhaps read the particular section for the function in question in the user manual…but other than that, pick up the phone and call 780-906-2888 for help.  Spending a few minutes on the phone with us will save you many more minutes of frustration.  We have noticed that some folks tend to email rather than call, please be aware that email might not get looked at for some number of minutes so it is always best to call if you have a question that needs to be answered in order for you to be able to continue.

In Closing

I have two last suggestions.  The first is for those trying to help clients learn their software–you need both the executives and the users to buy-in to the above to make the learning process work.  The second is for those who have to learn any software built for a complex task–think of the end state of improved productivity with less effort that you will be in after training…that should help you to stay focused and gain maximum benefit from the training.

Happy Software Engineering,

Dean Whitford, CEO

DraftLogic Inc.

 

PS:  interested in seeing a sample video training program?  Check ours out.

DraftLogic Christmas Availability

December 22nd, 2011

Hi everyone,

Most important of all, Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!

Now back to business…DraftLogic will be available for support throughout the Christmas season, with only sporadic absences of a few hours.

So please call/email/chat as you need for assistance & we will either be immediately available as per usual or be getting back to you within a 1/2 day.

Note the holiday season may be a opportune time to upgrade your site to DraftLogic Electrical V3.0 if you have not already done so!

Kindest regards to you and your family this holiday season,
Gerry Stebnicki, President & Dean Whitford, CEO
DraftLogic