Bill Burchard is Corporate CADD Manager for Psomas, a California-based survey, civil engineering, and GIS consulting firm. His most recent books include Inside AutoCAD 2000 Limited Edition, and Inside AutoCAD 14 Limited Edition.

PC Draft
By Bill Burchard
PC Draft
Drafting Program
1756 Costa Del Sol
Boca Raton, FL 33432
Phone: 1-800 622-7568
Email: [email protected]

List Price: $249.00

PC Draft, by Microspot, is a drafting program that replaces the drafting board with an easy-to-use computer-based application. Intended for those who do not have the time nor the need to learn and use complicated CAD (Computer Aided Drafting) applications, PC Draft provides the basic tools necessary to draw, edit and dimension simple objects. PC Draft's goal is simple: To give you the ability to quickly get up-to-speed in drafting your designs.

Setting up your Drawing
PC Draft provides a simple approach to setting up your drawings. First, you select your drawing units. Next, you choose your scale. Finally, you layout your sheets.

You select your drawing units from the Document Scale & Units window, shown in Figure 1. From this window, you choose English or metric drawing units, set the type of linear and angular units displayed. You also set the drawing's scale from the Document Scale & Units window, which sets the ratio of objects in the drawing versus their real-world counterparts.

Figure 1

For example, you may set the drawing's scale to 1"=1', where one-inch in the drawing represents one-foot in the real-world. You define the sheet layouts using the Drawing Size window, as shown in Figure 2. This window allows you to quickly drag your cursor over the grid to highlight the total number of sheets you need to draft your design.

Sheet sizes are based on the currently selected print device, with the overall drafting area available depending on the size of paper indicated in the Page Setup window, shown in Figure 3. By selecting the size of paper, and then highlighting the total number of sheets, you define he overall size of your drafting area.

Drawing and Editing Tools
PC Draft provides a Tool palette that allows you to quickly select the type of object you wish to draw. Available objects include text, lines, and parallel lines. You can draw rectangles, circles, arcs, and ellipsis. There's also a nifty tool for drawing lines perpendicular to existing lines or radial to existing arcs. Other tools allow you to draw multi-segmented straight and curved lines, and multisided closed polygons.

Figure 2

PC Draft includes a Dimension palette, which automatically dimensions objects. You can create horizontal, vertical, slope (which draws non-horizontal and non-vertical dimensions) and perpendicular (which draws dimension lines perpendicular to straight lines and edges.) You can also dimension circles and arcs with diameter, radial, or angular dimensions.

PC Draft's editing tools let you trim, fillet and chamfer lines. You can attach multiple line objects to form a single object, or join two closed polygons to form a single object. You can break multi-segmented objects into individual components, and add or delete
individual vertices of multi-segmented lines and polygons. You can also rotate, copy, delete and mirror objects.

Working with Layers
PC Draft allows you to create multiple layers, on which objects are drawn. Analogous to clear sheets of paper, layers allow you to organize the objects drawn on them. By making a layer active, and then drawing the desired objects, you can control the objects visibility by turning the layer on and off. Additionally, by changing the layer's position relative to other layers, you can place objects drawn on one layer on top of those objects drawn on another layer.

Figure 3

Working with Symbols
Another useful feature of PC Draft is it Symbol Libraries, which allow you to save and organize frequently used objects. By creating an object once, and then saving it in a Symbol Library, you can later recall the object and insert it into the current drawing.

The symbols in the libraries retain all their drawing attributes, such as their scale, rotation and object information fields. With online Symbol Libraries, you can create electrical and architectural symbols, or commonly used images, like logos, notices and figures, and automatically insert them into your drawings.

Creating Reports
PC Draft includes a useful feature that allows you to automatically create reports that list and itemize the objects in your drawings. These reports can be used to count the total number of objects in your drawing, and can be used to create a Bill of Materials. Additionally PC Draft's reports provide detailed information about the properties of objects in your drawing, such as perimeter, area, length or other measurements.

Reports are dynamic, and any change you make to your drawings will reflect in your reports. For example, once you create a report, if you change a wall's length in your drawing, you don't have to duplicate the change in the report. PC Draft automatically updates the data in the report for you.

While experienced users of advanced applications such as AutoCAD or MicroStation will find PC Draft's features limited, those who are new to CAD drafting applications will find it easy to get up-to-speed with PC Draft and to start producing 2D drawings. If you need to create simple drawings of basic objects such as your home's floor plan, or the layout of furniture in your office, this tool is useful. In contrast, if you work in 3D or need modeling or parametric design capabilities, PC Draft is not for you.

One other important point to note about PC Draft is that while it can import and export DXF files, it's limited in its ability to translate certain objects. For example, PC Draft does not support xrefs, 3D objects, solids or block attributes. Additionally, unused objects such as blocks or layers may cause problems during import if not first purged from the original drawings.

PC Draft is a useful drafting application that's easy to learn and easy to use. With PC Draft, if your drafting needs are simple, you can quickly learn to draw and dimension objects, as well as control object visibility using its layered drawings. Additionally, with a nominal investment in time, you can learn to use PC Draft's features to help you organize and recall frequently used symbols, and to automatically create reports of the objects in your drawings. For those new to CAD drafting, PC Draft will let you easily create and plot your 2D design drawings.