(Oct. 2000 issue):

Book Review: CADD PRIMER

By Tony Zilles (Editor:

The CAD shelves of every bookstore Iíve ever been into (and thatís lots) are brimming with books on all sorts of magic with CAD. Most focus on specific programs and detail their peculiarities. In doing so the basics of CAD use are often obscured or even ignored in the favor of product specific information. This greatly reduces their value to the person wishing to acquire a knowledge of CAD systems from the ground up.

As the title indicates, the CADD Primer sets out to provide general information about CAD and assumes very little prior knowledge on the subject by the reader. In doing so it fills a glaring void in educational and reference books on CAD.

The information in the CAD Primer provides forms a solid basis for further learning and the application of fundamentals to specific disciplines and CADD programs. It is aimed at students of design and technical drawing, technical professionals requiring a quick overview of CADD and anybody who ever wondered how drawings were created with a computer. The information in the book is generic in that it does not address the details of any one CAD program in particular. It also makes a clear statement that it is not a "how-to" book, a factor that further enhances its value in my opinion.

Plain English is used throughout, which makes for very easy reading. Since CAD blends of a traditional technical communications and computer technology, there is a mountain of jargon to contend with. The CADD Primer successfully cuts through gratuitous jargon and at the same time gently introduce the reader to important terms connected with the technology. Each chapter introduces and defines a few new words before using them in a context that helps learn what the words and terms mean and become familiar with them.

The CAD hardware and software chapter is written with a great deal of insight. Rather than dwell on technical aspects that are certain to become obsolete very quickly, Duggal overviews the important technical features that apply to CAD applications. Any reader will quickly come to understand what aspects of hardware and software are important for CAD purposes and be able to apply it in the prevailing situation.

All CAD programs enable you to make precise drawings. Although different programs go about the details in different ways, the basics remain the same. The CAD Basics chapter deals with basic drawing, coordinate systems, prototypes and the basics of drawing standards.

In the Drawing Tools chapter Duggal describes the many automated drawing facilities that the CAD user has at hand. Apart from basic geometric linework, the CAD user needs to master hatching, dimensioning, text and other graphical elements that comprise the language of technical drawing.

Unlike the manual drafter who can see all parts of the drawing laid out on the board, the CAD user usually only sees a small portion of the drawing on the screen at any time. Graphic display controls therefore form an important part of any CAD system. The Views/Display chapter guides the reader through the various facilities that can be used to work on various portions of a drawing.

Even when creating a CAD drawing out of thin air, editing tools are of vital important to trim, chamfer, fillet, move and copy. And that is even before there are design changes to contend with. The chapter on Editing will open the eyes of every reader to the potential for timesavings in using CAD systems.

Every CAD program uses layers to separate drawing elements into manageable categories. This importance is highlighted in a separate chapter that explains how layers function and how they can be used wisely to manage your information.

Once the preserve of high-end engineering systems, 3D design is now readily accessible on the desktop of most CAD users. It remains a complex area of CAD and the Introduction to 3D chapter explores the use of 3D views as well as solid modeling basics.

Most CAD users still need to get drawings on paper as the final stage of the design process. Getting a drawing off the screen and onto paper in a recognizable form can take a variety of twists. The Printing & Plotting discusses the variety of output options and the interesting situations that apply to the production of large format paper documents from CAD systems.

Like any tool set the potential value is only extracted in the hands of a skilled user. In the Maximizing CADD chapter, Duggal describes the use of symbol libraries, drawing standards, customization and third party add-ons as means to achieving the most from your CAD program.

The excellent CADD Industry Resources section at the end of the book connects all readers with the Webís top information and product-related sites.

The generic nature of the CAD Primer makes it an excellent starting point for anyone starting out with CAD today. The material is entirely unbiased and even-handed. A good understanding of CAD fundamentals makes it easier to move between different programs and extract the maximum benefit from the tools at hand.

The CADD Primer is an ideal book for high school or college-level study of CADsystems. It is also suitable for those considering CAD for work or hobby use but who are confused or intimidated by the technology and the jargon that goes with it. The CADD Primer contains all the information that very quickly becomes second knowledge to those who use CAD systems on a regular basis. Most "old hands" learned the information the CADD Primer contains over many years. For the new recruit, the body of "must-have" basic information presents a great hurdle within itself, even before learning a particular CAD program and the discipline that you intend to use it with. All the basic information anyone could need is available, accessible and affordable in the CADD Primer. Highly recommended.