AutoCAD 2009 & 2010 users – out of memory errors?

Some of the users I support have repeated out-of-memory errors while editing fairly simple drawings. I have some 2010 users who suffer from this problem while others using the same drawings on the same hardware get by without ever seeing it. When swapping users to differerent PCs, the problem seems to follow the user. Despite various experiments, I have no idea what is going on here. Is this happening to you or anybody you work with? Have you managed to work out if there is something that triggers it? Is there a user interface setting or method of drawing that you suspect of being the culprit?

Full post and comments

These messages are brought to you by AutoCAD

Over the past few releases, and particularly in AutoCAD 2009 and 2010, I have noticed an increase in the number of information notices (bubbles, warnings, task dialogs, Communication Center notices, etc.) being displayed. Shaan Hurley has pointed out that 2010 Update 1 introduces a balloon notification that periodically makes you aware of how much time remains before your subscription expires. Is this a good thing? There’s a poll on the right that asks a specific question about the default state of AutoCAD 2009 and 2010, but I’d also like to see some comments on this. What do you think of these messages? Are they useful? Do they get in the way? Do you take any notice of them? Are there too many? Do we need any others? Do you turn them off? Is it easy enough to control them?

Full post and comments

AutoCAD 2009 Update 3

Update (nee Service Pack) 3 for AutoCAD 2009 is now available. See Between the Lines for full details. As always, read the readme first. Here are the links: Readme AutoCAD 2009 AutoCAD LT 2009 AutoCAD 2009 for Revit Architecture AutoCAD 2009 for Revit Structure No word yet about related updates for the vertical products. While I’m not convinced by some aspects of the recently introduced multiple-update-per-release regime, I do approve of Autodesk continuing to maintain 2009 after 2010 has been released. People have complained about this not being done in the past, and on this score at least, I have to say that Autodesk has listened. What do you think about these updates? Do you use them? What about CAD Managers using deployments; do you deploy the updates? Is it too disruptive? Does it cause problems with the deployment no longer matching the installation, for example when attempting a repair install? Any other issues?

Full post and comments

AutoCAD 2010 – Will you miss the Menu Browser?

I’ve closed the poll that asked AutoCAD 2009 users about their MENUBAR setting. It’s very clear that pull-down menus are still very much in use in the Ribboned world of post-2008 AutoCAD. In AutoCAD 2009, an attempt was made to provide access to pull-down menus without sacrificing that strip of screen real estate. That attempt was called the Menu Browser, it was one of the thing you could find under the Big Red A, and it really didn’t work very well. In AutoCAD 2010, the Menu Browser has gone away. The A hasn’t gone away, just the ability to access pull-down menus through it. There are some who have expressed a deep dislike of the Big Red A, although it never offended me greatly. I just wished the features hidden under it worked better than they did in 2009. Personally, I generally prefer what’s under the A in 2010 than what’s there in 2009, but you may not. I know that when the 2009 user interface was being attacked, its most prominent defenders were those keyboard-heavy users who turned both the Ribbon and the menu bar off, giving themselves more screen space. On the infrequent occasions when a pull-down menu was required, those people were content to provide an extra click. When I found out about the Menu Browser’s death a few months ago, I expected there would be a severe adverse reaction from such people. Maybe there will be one when people hold get the shipping product and notice it’s gone. But after my poll showed only 7% of respondents used it instead of the menu bar, I’m now expecting that adverse reaction to be smaller than I originally thought. If you want to use AutoCAD 2010, want to work without a menu bar but still have access to…

Full post and comments

AutoCAD 2009 – Do you use the menu bar?

You may have noticed that I’ve added a poll to find out if the AutoCAD 2009 users among you are using the menu bar (i.e. MENUBAR = 1). I’m also interested in hearing your comments about your usage and the reasons behind it. If your menu bar turned on, why? Do you use it all the time or do you just need it for those less-frequently-used commands that you don’t have handy at your fingertips, on toolbars, palettes or the Ribbon? Do you need it because your own custom routines are on menus, or third-party commands? Does the vertical AutoCAD variant you’re using need it? If your menu bar is turned off, why? Do you never have any need for the stuff in there? Do you use the Menu Browser instead, sacrificing an occasional extra click for the sake of a permanent strip of screen space?

Full post and comments

AutoCAD 2009 Subscription Pack 2 – PDF Enhancements

Subscription customers of plain AutoCAD 2009 can log on to the Subscription Center and download Subscription Pack 2. This pack improves PDF output (long overdue and very welcome) and adds the ability to attach PDF files. That’s welcome too, but is of largely academic interest right now because of a total lack of interoperability. Unless you only ever provide your drawing files to people who also have plain AutoCAD 2009 with Subscription Pack 2, they won’t see the PDF underlay. However, round tripping is supported, so when you get the drawing back the PDF underlay will reappear. Here is a brief summary of the features, taken direct from the download page: PDF Underlays Now you can import PDF files, attaching them as PDF underlays. Once you attach a PDF underlay, you can use a variety of tools to snap to lines and objects, control the display of layers, move, scale, rotate, and clip the PDF underlay. PDF Output Key improvements have been made for publishing PDF files. File sizes have been reduced, making it easier to share designs. TrueType font support has been added, giving you control over precisely how your fonts are displayed. This bonus pack is only available in English for AutoCAD® 2009, although, if desired, it can be installed on localized versions of AutoCAD 2009. If installed on a localized version of AutoCAD 2009, all new and related commands display in English only. As usual, read the readme first, which contains much fuller descriptions of the new features.

Full post and comments

AutoCAD 2009 – An outsider’s look at the Ribbon

Kirill Grouchnikov is a developer who has a blog called Pushing Pixels. This wouldn’t normally be of particular interest to AutoCAD users, but he recently wrote a piece describing the AutoCAD 2009 Ribbon. It is always interesting to things described from a different perspective, in this case the Ribbon from a non-user’s point of view. He pays particular attention to the ways in which the AutoCAD Ribbon differs from Microsoft’s standards. As a non-user, he has skipped lightly over several aspects of AutoCAD Ribbon use, including some drawbacks of the current implementation, but it is still a worthwhile read, as are some of the comments that follow.

Full post and comments

Matt Stein’s Blog and Microsoft’s Mojave Marketing

Thanks to Shaan Hurley for revealing to the wider world the existence of Ribbon Man Matt Stein’s blog. I’m not sure it’s appropriate for a blogging n00b like myself to welcome somebody with a blog four years older than his own, but I’m going to do it anyway. Welcome, Matt (no pun intended). Some of Matt’s blog posts (particularly the early ones) make for, er, interesting reading, so don’t click if you’re easily offended. Please bear in mind that this is a personal blog, not an Autodesk one. Matt and I generally get on fine, but we have had some frank exchanges of view and often agree to disagree. One subject where we are unlikely to share the same views is the Microsoft Vista marketing exercise The Mojave Experiment. This is something I planned to post about some weeks ago but then something more important came up and I didn’t bother. Here’s what Matt thinks, and here’s what I think: While this is a cute marketing ploy and might convince the terminally naive, it pretty obviously qualifies as propaganda rather than any kind of meaningful study. Here’s how it’s done: Find a selection of people with no experience of a product but with ignorance-based negative feelings about it. Make sure the hardware and software you’re going to show them all works well. Fix up the settings for minimal annoyance. Present an expensively prepared, well-choreographed demo that presents all the best features and none of the worst. Result: oh wow, what a surprise, it’s better than they thought. A marketing company could reproduce the same results with practically anything if they set it up right. I bet I could do it with Linux, OS X, Windows Me, whatever. Give me Microsoft’s resources and open slather to present things as fairly or…

Full post and comments

Has AutoCAD 2009 eaten your registry lately?

I’ve had a one-off report from a user of AutoCAD 2009 (actually, it was MDT as part of the Inventor suite pretending to be AutoCAD 2009, which isn’t exactly the same thing) and I’d like to know if anyone else has seen the same thing. His AutoCAD self-destructed and a little investigation showed that the section of the Registry that contains all the settings for that particular release had vanished without trace. This happened again later, but this time he had a backup of the Registry section handy and was able to avoid a second reinstall.  No Registry cleaners were involved. Have any of you seen this kind of thing happen?

Full post and comments

Look out for Update 1 for AutoCAD 2009-based verticals

If you have Communications Center disabled (this is quite common, it seems) or you’re not currently using your 2009-based vertical product, you may be unaware that Autodesk has released versions of Update 1 (formerly known as SP1) for the architectural and civil variants of AutoCAD 2009. Expect the other verticals to follow soon. A visit to the Autodesk site and search for “Update 1” currently returns 18 results. As usual, read the Readme first and exercise caution (or even paranoia) before installing.

Full post and comments

What you like best about AutoCAD 2009

I’ve closed the poll asking you to choose the top three things you like about AutoCAD 2009. For some reason it wasn’t getting many votes. Only 37 people participated, rather less than many other polls here, and I’ve now put it out of its misery. The small sample size makes the results of dubious value, but here are AutoCAD 2009’s “best things”, as voted by at least five of you. Spell checking in text editor (30%, 11 Votes) ViewCube (22%, 8 Votes) Action Recorder (19%, 7 Votes) Modeless layer interface (19%, 7 Votes) Improvements available only in vertical products (16%, 6 Votes) Rollover tooltips for objects (14%, 5 Votes) LISP bug fixes (14%, 5 Votes) It came as no surprise to see that there was no love at all for the enlarged tooltips or pale model space, but I would have thought that ShowMotion would have been a useful addition for somebody.

Full post and comments

When is a Service Pack not a Service Pack?

When it’s an Update. This year, Service Packs are called Updates, and the first one for AutoCAD is out now. The 32-bit version is here and the 64-bit version is here. The Update includes LT, but there is no news yet about Updates for any of the vertical AutoCAD variants. As usual, read the Readme first. Also, as this Update has had a considerably shorter gestation period than the traditional six-month wait for the first AutoCAD Service Pack, you may be wise to exercise more paranoia than normal. Save and export your AutoCAD profiles, save your workspaces, make backups of your CUI files and put them somewhere safe where AutoCAD and the Update can’t find them. Does the shortened time before the first Update indicate that there will be more Updates in store? Probably. Although Update 1 (U1) fixes a lot of stuff, there’s still plenty more stuff left to fix in 2009. Oh, and just because it says in the Readme that something is fixed, don’t take it for granted that your particular variant of that problem is fixed. Try it out for yourself. I know that many of you don’t put an AutoCAD release into production until SP1 is released, so should you go now with U1 or wait for U2? (No, not the band). Or U3, even, if there ever is one? It’s up to you, of course, but in my own CAD management role I won’t be distributing AutoCAD 2009 with U1 to my users. I just don’t think it’s ready yet.

Full post and comments

You don’t think much of AutoCAD 2009’s buttons

I’ve closed the poll about the button images. It’s a general thumbs-down from you on that particular change, albeit not a spectacularly vehement one. I agree with most of you. The images themselves don’t offend me greatly, but their role in making things harder to find means that Autodesk erected another unnecessary barrier to Ribbon acceptance. The images themselves have crisper edges, but are sadly devoid of colour, making them harder to tell apart. One exception is with the object snap buttons, which I consider an improvement over their predecessors. More important than that is the fact that there were many, many things Autodesk could (and should) have done instead of putting development resources into this area. I know from personal experience that creating button images can be a very time-consuming job. I have some sympathy for the poor Autodesk people who put the effort into producing these images, only to have customers wishing they had never bothered. Nobody likes wasting their time. This sort of thing (there are many other examples), makes it obvious that Autodesk needs to obtain customer feedback on design decisions much earlier in the development cycle, while there is still time to throw out the dumb ideas. Doing so would offer Autodesk a lot of potential for more efficiently targeting its resources, to the benefit of both Autodesk and its customers.

Full post and comments

What’s the best thing about AutoCAD 2009?

It’s starting to look a bit negative around here, and it is only going to get more negative when I start describing the details of my still-unresolved Autodesk customer service debacle. So here’s something to provide a bit of balance. What do you like best about AutoCAD 2009? What is better, faster, easier, more cool or just plain fixed when compared with the release you were using previously? I have a few ideas of my own, and will run a poll when I get a few suggestions from you.

Full post and comments

AutoCAD 2009 – Top reasons to be Ribbonless

I’ve closed the poll for those of you who are using 2009 with the Ribbon turned off to show us the reasons why. The top 10 choices were: Tab concept means extra clicks (65%) Uses up too much screen space (64%) No advantage over existing methods (64%) Dislike concept of hiding tools – want buttons to stay visible (60%) Too hard to find things (51%) Using it minimised requires an extra click/hover (47%) Doesn’t make good use of my screen size/shape (45%) Tab switching is too slow (45%) Customising it is too difficult (44%) Ribbon content doesn’t match my needs (44%) I was hoping that the poll would help Autodesk in deciding how best to improve the Ribbon in future releases, but it’s pretty hard to do much about the top 7 choices here. Except number 2, perhaps; the Ribbon could be considerably tightened to remove waste space, in the same way as the excellent AutoCAD 2009 floating toolbars. The new poll is slightly related to item 5 above. Autodesk combined the Ribbon with a change to the button images. Personally, I don’t think this was a good idea. If you move people’s stuff around, changing the appearance of that stuff is only going to make it harder to find things and reduce people’s acceptance of the changed interface. Enough of my opinion, what do you think?

Full post and comments

AutoCAD 2009 – How many people really are using the Ribbon?

I was interested to see Shaan Hurley reporting the Ribbon usage figures from the Customer Involvement Program (CIP). Shaan’s figures show Ribbon non-users at 46%, my poll results show it as 71%. Why the discrepancy? Is somebody telling fibs? I don’t think so. First, blog nauseam poll respondents represent a biased sample, comprising people who are more interested in AutoCAD than average users. Dare I say more knowledgeable? More likely to be power users or CAD Managers, anyway. They are probably more likely than average users to make changes from the default AutoCAD settings. But Shaan’s CIP users are also a biased sample, comprising those AutoCAD users who have CIP turned on. Are users who go with the flow and have CIP on also more likely to go with the flow and leave the Ribbon on? Possibly, but I would have thought the CIP-on bias would be less significant than the blog-reader bias. Second, Shaan’s sample size is likely to be very substantially larger than mine. I currently get about 5000 unique visitors to this site each month, with only up to about a hundred bothering to respond to a given poll. Shaan’s numbers are likely to be in the hundreds of thousands, and thus much less prone to a few people skewing the results. Finally, the method of measurement differs. My poll is totally open and transparent, but requires active participation by the respondent. This means that the more strongly you feel about something, the more likely you are to be measured. Shaan’s measurement method avoids that pitfall. However, because the details of the CIP measurement mechanism aren’t public, its accuracy is open to conjecture. For example, if somebody spends 8 hours working in a Ribbonless session and then tries out the Ribbon in another session for a few…

Full post and comments

AutoCAD 2009 – Why aren’t you using the Ribbon?

Following on from the earlier poll to find out what you were doing with the Ribbon (mostly turning it off, apparently), I’ve added a poll for those of you who are using AutoCAD 2009 Ribbonless. I hope I’ve covered all the bases with my 23 possible reasons! You can pick as many or as few as you like.

Full post and comments

AutoCAD 2009 – Why do you hate the Ribbon?

Judging from the results of the Ribbon usage poll (and the usual poll caveats apply), you are turning off AutoCAD 2009’s Ribbon in droves. I’m surprised. I thought there would be a significant minority of 2009 users who turned it off, but it looks I was wrong and it’s a large majority. The non-Ribbon numbers have hovered around the two-thirds mark right from the start and have now settled above the 70% mark. If nothing else, this validates Autodesk’s decision to make the Ribbon optional and keep all the old user interface elements. Now I’m curious about the reasons. Why do so many of you dislike the Ribbon so much? Is it an unwillingness to change, a reaction against Microsoft’s influence, or are there more practical reasons? Is it screen space, extra picks, performance, customisation difficulties, difficulty in finding things, or something else? Did you turn it off straight away or did you give it a fair go first? Is the whole idea a write-off as far as you’re concerned, or is there something Autodesk could do that might convince you to use it? Please comment and let me know. If I get enough responses, I’ll post a multiple-choice poll to get a better idea about how many of you have the various reasons for going Ribbonless.

Full post and comments