Title Block Manager opens the door to managing all types of title blocks.

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2005: a Title Block Manager odyssey

CLEARWATER, FLORIDA, USA — While Title Block Manager, as a program, is far from becoming the software that powers an artificial intelligence system responsible for controlling a spacecraft, the creators of the HAL 9000 (the astronaut-killing, omniscient supercomputer of the book and movie 2001: A Space Odyssey) would be proud of the leaps and bounds made by the Title Block Manager development staff in 2005. 2005 marked a step toward managing existing title block information through artificial intelligence. They year also saw the successful integration of Microsoft Access as an output database for title block data and a dramatic increase of processing speed.

Title Block Manager was conceived on the notion that CAD shops need and want the capability to modify their title block information in batch. Originally, the program was only able to modify a proprietary title block cell that was placed inside a design file. While these title block cells were very helpful with new projects, they were difficult to implement throughout an existing project (one that had been started prior to a CAD shop’s installation of Title Block Manager). Since CAD shops often have thousands – sometimes hundreds of thousands – of active and archived design files containing title blocks that were placed without the benefit of Title Block Manager technology, we wanted to find a way to address this.

In late 2004, the Title Block Manager development team was presented with this problem: “How can Title Block Manager modify existing information contained in a title block?” The solution: create a method by which Title Block Manager can intelligently read existing drawings! This solution, while elementary, is much more complicated in practice than in theory. How is the program to differentiate between information contained in the drawing from that information contained in the title block?

Different kinds of title blocks
Since title blocks vary so much from design firm to design firm, the designers of Title Block Manager had to come up with a solution that was flexible enough to process each type of title block, while having the least possible user interaction and manual input. Axiom CEO, David Greenbaum, came up with the solution: Design an intelligent algorithm that utilizes inputs from the user and element-pattern-seeking software to play a sophisticated game of “hide and seek”, resulting in the automated identification of all title blocks, wherever they may be lurking. All the user has to do is provide a few “clues” (rules) by inputting some characteristics of the elements that compose each of the various types of title blocks in the set of files in question. In an intricate version of “Where’s Waldo?”, the program uses these rules to spot all the instances of each type of title block. [Editor’s Note: “Where’s Waldo?” is a series of kids books where the object is to find tiny man named “Waldo” and other tiny characters in large pictures of scenes containing hundreds of people.]

To state it more technically, Title Block Manager creates rule files (sets of operating commands) from the data input by the user to identify which elements are title block elements. A rule is the roadmap that Title Block Manager follows in order to read existing design files and differentiate between elements that are in the title block and elements that are not. Once the title block elements are identified, Title Block Manager locates all the values within the title block and attaches Title Block Manager-specific linkages to them. With this linkage in place, users can take advantage of Title Block Manager’s batch processing capabilities and automate many time-consuming data management tasks.

Faster speed equals increased productivity
Aside from the capability to read existing title blocks, Title Block Manager versions 3.0a (V7) and 8.3a (V8) boast dramatically faster processing times than the previous versions. Title Block Manager’s functions have been dramatically sped up across the board to offer increased productivity to all Title Block Manager users. Changes to title blocks can now be made in seconds as opposed to minutes!

Microsoft Access
Along with the increased speed of Title Block Manager, the program can now create Microsoft Access tables. Prior to the release of versions 3.0a and 8.3a, Title Block Manager created only Excel spreadsheets containing the title block information. Now, the program has been expanded to create Access tables. This feature gives users the option to either create true databases of their title block data or Excel spreadsheets of that data.

Edit fields
Title Block Manager also has the ability to instantly modify field values of individual title block fields (including tags) by holding down the <Shift> key while clicking the right mouse button. This feature enables users to quickly and easily modify Title Block Manager title block field values.

Free upgrades to existing customers
Title Block Manager maintenance holders, throughout 2005, have had the luxury of numerous updates to the program. Microsoft Access compatibility, dramatic speed increases and the capability to extract data from existing title blocks are all major enhancements. All users with active maintenance receive these updates, at no additional cost, as they are released.

The development staff has been on a rampage this year, providing users all that they need and want from Title Block Manager. Next year promises to be just as fruitful for the development team, which, in turn, will provide users with much more value.

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