BricsCAD documentation – a tale of three systems – part 3

In this third post in what was supposed to be a two-part series, I have more to say about the BricsCAD documentation system. See here for part 1 and here for part 2.

Developer Help – Addendum

In this comment from Bricsys API person Torsten Moses, he informed me about the availability of the Lisp Developer Support Package (LDSP) in the Bricsys Application Catalog. As always, when presented with new evidence I am prepared to re-examine my position on anything. Therefore, I will now further discuss the BricsCAD developer documentation.

The first thing to mention is that the existence of the LDSP package is not obvious. To somebody who uses BricsCAD as-provided and as goes burrowing down through the Help system looking for information, that system is still broken. The …

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Script for creating AutoCAD Classic workspace

Edwin Prakaso at the excellent CAD Notes blog has done something that, in hindsight, is blindingly obvious but nevertheless very useful to a multitude of people. He’s written a simple script file that sets up the Classic workspace (or something close to it). It works in any recent AutoCAD or AutoCAD LT. Here’s the blog post:

AutoCAD Script to Create Classic Workspace Automatically

Edwin uses Microsoft OneDrive to store the script file, so if your workplace restricts access to Cloud storage you might need to download it at home.

I’ve added a reference to this script to my post AutoCAD 2017 – Putting things back to “normal”.

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Return of the bullshit – baked beans edition

In an October 2015 post I’ve only just noticed, snappily titled No More Software Like a Can of Baked Beans: Why Software Subscription Serves It Up Fresh, Autodesk VP (edit – now CEO) Andrew Anagnost bravely attempts to sell Autodesk’s move to all-rental software. This is a rather belated response, but fortunately there is no statute of limitations on skewering spin so let’s get started.

How does he go? On a positive note, top marks for creative writing! The general theme is a strained and somewhat Californian analogy in which perpetual licenses are like canned goods (bad), and rental is like fresh produce (good). However, it’s presented well and professionally written. Among the highlights are:

  • Perpetual software licenses are like high-fructose corn syrup – no, I’m not making this up. Stop laughing at the back there!
  • This is a change that is simply a better …

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AutoCAD 2017 for Mac released, still half-baked

AutoCAD 2017 for Mac and AutoCAD LT 2017 for Mac have been released. Here’s a video highlighting exciting and innovative new features such as drawing and layout tabs. Despite such stellar advances, it’s safe to say that AutoCAD for Mac remains half-baked, even after all these years. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

According to Autodesk, these are the features missing from AutoCAD 2017 for Mac:

Tool palettes
New layer notification
Navigation bar
Sheet Set Manager***
Steering wheel
Feature finder for help
Model documentation tools
Dynamic block lookup parameter creation/editing
Table style editing
Multiline style creation
Digitizer integration
Geographic location
Simplified, powerful rendering
Material creation, editing, and mapping
Advanced rendering settings
Camera creation
Point cloud

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BricsCAD startup LISP bug fixed

In my previous post I have a real problem with BricsCAD, I related my then-latest interaction with the Bricsys support system:

Steve Johnson
05-12-2016 05:30 UTC

I don’t know if this is a BricsCAD problem or a DOSLib one, so I am reporting it to both Bricsys and Dale at McNeel. I’m also not sure if this was happening in earlier versions.

If I load DOSLib during an S::STARTUP call and then use the (dos_msgbox) function later in that call, this fails the first time round because BricsCAD things the function is not defined. Opening a second drawing results in the call working as expected. I’ve chopped down our startup routine so you have an example.

; error : no function definition ; expected FUNCTION at [eval]

Awesome Bricsys Person
05-12-2016 12:32 UTC

Hi Steve,

There was a regression introduced in V17.1.10 that caused …

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Restoring the Classic workspace in AutoCAD 2015, 2016 and 2017, etc.

One of the more common queries on my putting things back to “normal” posts is how to restore the AutoCAD Classic workspace in those releases where it is absent. Since Autodesk removed that workspace it has been too involved a process to fully describe how to do it in the context of my post. In the 2017 version of that post I’ve added a useful link, but as that’s a massive post and the link is buried near the end of it, this may have escaped your attention.

Here’s the link to Brazilian AutoCAD expert Luciana Klein’s step-by-step guide. It’s for AutoCAD 2016, but the principles apply to other releases and variants. Thanks to Luciana for going to the effort of putting this together.

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Hotfix for AutoCAD 2017 SP1 Autoloader bug

As reported earlier, AutoCAD 2017 SP1 breaks third-party add-ins that use the officially approved Autoloader mechanism. Autodesk is to be commended for acting quickly to produce a hotfix for this. In order to make this hotfix available quickly, Autodesk has taken the very unusual step of allowing a third party to distribute it. See this post from Jimmy Bergmark, who pointed out the bug in the first place. Kudos to whoever at Autodesk made the call to think outside the box to do this. It’s a very un-Autodesk Corporate thing to do, and particularly commendable for that very reason.

It’s important to note that because of the way Service Packs are now handled in AutoCAD and the vertical products based on it, this SP1 bug affects all of those products, not just base AutoCAD. Here is the list of affected products*:

AutoCAD 2013 for Mac – the holes live on

A couple of years ago, I reported on the missing features in AutoCAD 2011 for Mac. While some generous souls were prepared to accept something half-baked as a first attempt, even that excuse doesn’t wash when it comes to a third iteration. So how well is Autodesk doing at filling those holes? Decide for yourself. Here’s an updated list of missing features in AutoCAD 2013 for Mac:

  • Quick Properties Palette
  • Layer State Manager
  • New Layer Notification
  • Various layer commands including LAYCUR, LAYDEL, LAYMRG, LAYWALK, and LAYVPI
  • Autocomplete doesn’t work entirely properly, including offering commands that don’t exist
  • Filter
  • Quick Select
  • DesignCenter
  • Tool Palettes
  • Navigation Bar
  • ShowMotion
  • Sheet Set Manager (but there is Project Manager)
  • Model Documentation Tools (but at least now there are object enablers)
  • Geographic Location
  • Table Style Editing
  • Hatch Creation Preview
  • Multiline Style Creation
  • Digitizer Integration
  • Change Space
  • Express Tools
  • Material Creation, Editing, and Mapping
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LISP programmers, have your say again

Autodesk wants your input again in its annual API survey. This used to be a closed survey for Autodesk Developer Network (ADN) members, but has been open to all for the last few years. If you do any AutoCAD-based development at all, I encourage you to take part. That includes those of us who do most of our development in LISP.

Here’s the direct link to the survey. As you can see if you click the link, there’s a lot of stuff in there that assumes you’re keen to get developing for AutoCAD WS. If you’re not quite so filled with Cloudy enthusiasm and would prefer Autodesk to expend its resources elsewhere (on fixing and improving Visual LISP, for example), please fill in the short survey and say so. It closes on 22 June, so you only have a week.

Why bother, when it’s obvious that …

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Taking control of your command line history

Thanks to Kean Walmsley’s post on his Through the Interface blog, I have learned something that would have been handy to know for the last decade or so, but which somehow escaped my knowledge. I learned how to increase the size of AutoCAD’s command line history cache. It defaults to 400 lines, which isn’t enough for me. I think this information deserves a wider audience than the ubergeek developers who frequent Kean’s blog, so here goes.

Although it’s not directly mentioned on Kean’s post, you can find the current command line history cache length setting like this:

(getenv "CmdHistLines")

This will return a value showing the number of command lines AutoCAD remembers, e.g. “400”. Although this is used as an integer value, it is passed to and from the Registry as a string. You can set a new value as shown below. Again, use a string, …

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Old news – shipping version of ClassicArray released

I have been somewhat neglectful of this blog lately, including a failure to mention that my ClassicArray™ plug-in for AutoCAD 2012 has been shipping since 1 May 2011. Thank you to those people from various places around the world who have been prepared to go to the effort of registering and paying for the product.

Here are some details of the product taken from the ClassicArray page:

ClassicArray is a simple-to use but powerful tool for creating arrays in AutoCAD.

  • Provides a dialog box interface to AutoCAD 2012’s Array command. The familiar interface method provides continuity with earlier releases.
  • Supports the creation of both associative and traditional non-associative arrays.
  • Provides an in-dialog preview panel to give you a quick idea of what your array will look like before any objects are created.
  • Allows creation of a preview array which can be accepted, rejected …

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How to make Ctrl+C perform a Cancel

In a recent comment, I was asked how to make Ctrl+C perform a Cancel. Before I get onto that, here’s a bit of history.

Back in the Dark Ages of DOS, the way to cancel a command was by holding down Ctrl and pressing C. The last release to work like this by default was Release 13 for DOS, released in 1994. I remember the bother it caused my users who were faced with the Windows version in which Esc was used to cancel things and Ctrl+C copied objects to the clipboard. It took me at least a year before I had totally removed Ctrl+C = Cancel from my muscle memory.

Until AutoCAD 2005, Autodesk provided an easy option to keep things the way they were by turning off the toggle Options > User Preferences > Windows standard accelerator keys. In recent AutoCAD releases, you have still been able …

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AutoCAD 2012 – Autoloader mechanism for plug-ins

One of the less obvious features introduced by AutoCAD 2012 is the Autoloader mechanism that has been provided to make installation of plug-ins (current standard Autodeskspeak for add-ons, apps, utilities, routines, etc.) easier for both developers and users. It may not be immediately obvious, but it’s a useful and important addition.

This mechanism has nothing to do with the AppLoad command, the Startup Suite, acad*.lsp, the (autoload) function or anything else that existed in earlier releases. This is completely new, it has not replaced or broken any of the existing loading mechanisms, and is, in short, A Good Thing. Developers don’t have to use it, but those who do, and their customers, will have certain advantages. I have used it for the ClassicArray loading mechanism, and I expect to see it used by more and more plug-ins over time. It works fine with all of the usual AutoCAD add-on …

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AutoCAD 2012 – Missing a few things?

The Array dialog box isn’t the only thing you might notice by its absence in AutoCAD 2012. I’ll do a proper “Putting things back to normal” post later, but here’s a quick one for those of you wondering what happened to a few things that appear to be AWOL in 2012.

Are you missing your aerial viewer, blips and/or screen menu? They’re still there, but the commands are undefined. To get them back, just redefine the commands:




These features are deprecated. That means unless enough of you kick up a fuss about needing them, they are likely to vanish without trace in a release or two.

Edit: Jimmy Bergmark pointed out that the same applies to the TRACE command. If you need it, redefine it.

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CAD Managers, please do this survey

Autodesk has issued another survey, this time asking questions about AutoCAD customisation, migration and deployment. Anybody who has to manage AutoCAD or its variants knows that these areas contain some major pain points and have needed serious attention for some years. It looks like Autodesk is finally considering paying some attention, so it’s important to make sure the right kind of attention is being paid.

It’s a fairly large survey (allow yourself half an hour to do it justice) and some of the questions are imperfect in traditional Autodesk survey fashion (especially the “Other” boxes, which don’t provide enough space). But if you are at all interested in improving your experience and that of your users when introducing future new releases of AutoCAD (and its variants; changes to AutoCAD should flow on), I urge you to spend the time and fill in the survey.

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Autodesk for Mac – the hole story

You may remember my pre-release speculation about what was likely to be missing from the Mac version of AutoCAD 2011. It turns out that my list was pretty accurate as far as it went, but very incomplete.

In a move that I can only applaud, Autodesk has now published its own list of missing Mac features. It includes this statement:

Although AutoCAD 2011 for Mac is based on AutoCAD 2011, it was written to be a native Mac application. As such, it is a new and separate product and not simply a port from the Windows version. In the first release of this new product, there are some features and functionality that exist in AutoCAD 2011 that are not yet available in AutoCAD 2011 for Mac, including (but not limited to):

This is followed by a list of over 80 holes in the product. Many of them are …

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AutoCAD for Mac – what’s missing?

According to Autodesk, the forthcoming OS X version of AutoCAD has “many of the powerful AutoCAD features and functionality.” So what doesn’t it have? What are the holes? Autodesk hasn’t bothered to let me know a single thing about this software, so I guess I’ll just indulge in some irresponsible and uninformed speculation, based on what I can glean from marketing materials and various better-informed sources. I could have just asked, but who knows if I would have ever got any real answers? Besides, this way is more fun.

First, here’s a quick list of some things that don’t appear to be missing, but which might have been lost in translation:

  • Command line (in fact, the Mac one appears to be better than the Windows one).
  • Xrefs.
  • 3D, including visual styles and rendering.
  • Some kind of Quick View Layouts and/or Drawings feature.
  • Navcube.
  • Constraints.
  • Dynamic Input.
  • Selection highlighting.
  • LISP (at least …

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Civil 3D 2011 ANZ comes complete with “virus”

If you install Civil 3D 2011 using the ANZ (Australia/New Zealand) profile, when you start it up for the first time, you will see a large warning indicating that the drawing requires an Asian language pack to be installed. It also warns that this is a symptom of the acad.vlx virus:

Language Pack warning

Now I know that in this case it’s not an actual virus causing the problem, but rather the ANZ template drawing being “infected” with this Language Pack requirement. I have had to deal with quite a few incoming drawings in this state, and that’s painful enough without Autodesk also infecting every Australasian Civil 3D drawing with the problem. Other profiles may be similarly infected, but at the moment I don’t know. Edit: Matt Anderson reports that the problem occurs on US systems too.

Autodesk, I suggest that as a matter of great …

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Do you think Migration sucks?

I do. If you’ve added a couple of toolbars and changed a few settings, it’s probably fine for you. But I think it’s been effectively broken for significantly customised setups ever since Autodesk “improved” it by introducing the CUI mechanism in AutoCAD 2006. It’s undocumented and whenever I’ve tried it, unreliable. I ran some polls on it a couple of years ago which had few responses. What do you think now?

If you’re unhappy with migration, don’t just vent here. Autodesk now wants to hear from you. Here’s the announcement:

Dear AutoCAD User!

AutoCAD Product Design & Usability Team is looking for participants for the study.

Topic: focus on Migration process, Migration tool and results of migration.

Our Goal

To gain the most complete understanding about problems and requests AutoCAD users may have while migrating their settings and customization from a previous release of AutoCAD.

Who Should Participate?

We …

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Programmers, have your say

Autodesk wants your input in its annual API survey. What used to be a closed survey for Autodesk Developer Network (ADN) members has been open to all for the last couple of years, and if you do any Autodesk-based development at all I encourage you to take part. Yes, that includes those of us who do most of our development in LISP. In fact, I am especially keen to see LISP developers adequately represented in this survey.

This is a one-page survey and it doesn’t take long. The full list of API surveys is on Kean Walmsley’s Through the Interface blog. Most of you would be interested in the AutoCAD survey, so here’s a direct link to that.

Kean assures us that our feedback will not fall on deaf ears, although I have yet to see any evidence of that in terms of any change to Autodesk’s decade-long …

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