Author Topic: DesignCAD 97 Command Structure  (Read 629 times)


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DesignCAD 97 Command Structure
« on: August 14, 2017, 02:10:16 PM »
I am a long time DesignCAD DOS user (1988).  I have been using the DOS version on Windows XP.  I have a newer computer running Windows 7/64 that no longer supports DOS programs.  I am able to 'use' the DOS version with DOSBox but the video emulation periodically goes crazy.  I bought DesignCAD 3D Max but am finding it almost impossible to transition.

I found a copy of DesignCAD 97 for Windows 95/NT.  Is the command structure close to DOS DesignCAD or is closer to the current 3D Max version?  I would prefer just to press the space bar, enter the parameters, and press enter instead of selecting a command from a menu, fill out a form, and then try to figure out why it didn't work.



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Re: DesignCAD 97 Command Structure
« Reply #1 on: August 14, 2017, 08:20:10 PM »

I started with ProDesign (early DesignCAD) in 1987 and have been through all the changes in the program and operating systems. Personally, I like the later versions because a LOT of bugs have been fixed and many new features have been added. But, of course, you have to take the time to learn them.

Even the latest versions will work from the command line - press the space bar, enter the command and parameters, and press Enter. You can even choose to set points first and execute the command later, just like the old DOS version. However, I haven't used the command line or the points first version in probably 20 years so I am not the one to tell you how to do it. There are others on the Forum who still use this mode, so maybe they will chime in.

I have XP, Vista, Win 7 and Win 10 machines with DesignCAD running on them all, and Win 7 64 is definitely the best OS! One reason for using the latest versions is the x64 versions are MUCH faster!

DesignCAD user since 1987


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Re: DesignCAD 97 Command Structure
« Reply #2 on: August 14, 2017, 10:32:14 PM »
Hello David,

What version of DesignCAD 3D Max do you have?

I used DC version 6 (dos) until about 2002.

I found version 7 (the original 16-bit Windows version) to be cumbersome (on cheap laptops of the mid 90s), and used it only to print files I had drawn in version6, using windows printer drivers. Version 13 was the first windows version of DC that I was able to use as a replacement for version 6.

All 32-bit and 64-bit windows versions generate ".dcd" files, which have twice the numeric precision of (and are incompatible with) the 16 bit .dc2 and .dc3 files.

However, all versions up to and including version 17 will read and write .dc2 or .dc3 files natively.

DC versions beginning with 18 use the same ".dcd" extension, but have an autocad-like dimension structure which is incompatible with all earlier versions of DC. Dimensions in these versions suffer when exported to earlier dcd file versions. In drawings saved as .dc2 and .dc3 files, dimensions are exploded to lines, arrows, and text.

Any BasicCad macros for use in dos versions will need to be rewritten for use in any windows versions of DC. Beginning with version 14 the macro language became more powerful, with the introduction of query and change parameters.

Version 26 (2016) has the best DXF and DWG file compatibility, and it can export 3D stl files.

If you want to maintain file compatibility with your dos version, I recommend versions 14, 15, or 17. Avoid versions 16 and 18-25. I use version 26.2.

Here are some tips for the transition:

List of default keyboard shortcuts:

Transitioning will be easier if you learn the keyboard shortcuts, and learn how to change the ones that you don't like.

The commands "duplicate", "move", "select", and "mirror" were altered drastically when DC was rewritten for windows. I depended upon those commands so heavily, that I did not use any windows version of DC until the macro language was improved enough for me to replace those commands with macros that worked similarly to version 6.

If that describes your experience, here are links to starter macros that might make your transition a little easier:

These can all be run from the command line, but I recommend assigning the first 4 to the keys N, M, S, and /.

First startup:

     Turn off "nested groups" In Options/Options/General tab (If you have version 17 or later).
     Set the right mouse button for "gravity". (you can do this in the context menu that appears when you click the RMB)
     Set "Use Single Line Command Bar" (in Options/Options/View) to avoid floating dialogs when running commands.
     Set "preset point mode" to on or off, depending on your preference (Options/Preset Point Mode).
When drawing in version 6, I mostly used "preset-point mode" (set point, enter command); now, never.


PS: Regarding your comments on using the command line, sorry, the coders really drank the Kool-Aid when converting DC to the Windows Interface in the early 90s. You can run commands from the command line or from a single keypress, but the only way to avoid unnecessary click targets is to write macros to replace the DC commands, which many of us do.
« Last Edit: August 15, 2017, 07:48:52 AM by bdeck »


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Re: DesignCAD 97 Command Structure
« Reply #3 on: August 15, 2017, 11:07:25 AM »
Thank you for your responses.

I have version 22 of 3D Max.  Right now I am only using it to export drawings to PDF, print drawings to a laser printer, and make changes to drawings that don't require accuracy.  This latter use is things like changing text and moving it around. 

I still use DesignCAD 6 for all of my designing and printing on a wide platform dot matrix printer.  I need the ability to print out very large templates 1:1.  3D Max/Windows doesn't support my dot matrix printer in graphics mode.  When using DesignCAD 6 on my Win7/64 computer, I print to file and then copy the file to the printer through the command prompt.

I printed out the 3D Max reference manual and read through it over a year ago.  I just don't have the time to try and learn all the new ways of doing things.  I just finished writing and releasing a new software program that took up a year and a half of my time.  Now I am in the middle of a new CAD project but it is irritating to have to keep switching between an old noisy XP computer with DesignCAD 6 and the Win 7 computer that share a large monitor.  I will just keep plodding along learning the new program as I need to.

Thanks for all of your help.