Autodesk shows Dassault how to treat customers

There are areas of Autodesk’s treatment of customers that leaves much to be desired, and I will most likely continue to be critical of that until a) I die; b) Autodesk dies; or c) the bad stuff stops happening. One thing for which Autodesk deserves praise is the distribution of bug fixes to its customers, without imposing the sort of conditions that SolidWorks customers have to put up with. Do Autodesk customers need to be on Subscription to receive bug fixes? No, they do not. Do Autodesk customers need to have purchased the software within the last 90 days to receive bug fixes? No, they do not. Do Autodesk customers need to have reported certain specific bugs to receive bug fixes? No, they do not. Do Autodesk customers even need to be running the current release to receive bug fixes? No, they do not. AutoCAD 2010 Update 2 (that’s Service Pack 2 in the old language) has just been released for the users of last year’s software. This includes the Update 1 changes. The usual caveats apply, including reading the Readme first. As usual, Autodesk’s oddball numbering system means that after installation, Update 1 shows up as Version 2 and Update 2 shows up as Version 3 in the About screen. This Update applies to straight AutoCAD (and LT), not the vertical variants. I have no news about non-English versions. Patrick Emin informs me these updates are language-independent.

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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?

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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?

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AutoCAD 2010 Update 1

Update 1, the first of Autodesk’s Updates (formerly Service Packs) for AutoCAD 2010 is now out for AutoCAD and AutoCAD LT. Equivalent updates for various verticals will follow soon. The Readme contains information about what was fixed, so I won’t reproduce that here. As always, read the readme first and exercise the usual paranoia. However, my experience of the pre-release versions of this Update has been positive.

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Hotfix available for Raster Design licensing issue

Thanks to Brian and Rick for pointing out the availability of a hotfix for Raster Design 2010’s standalone/network license incompatibility. As a bonus, it also fixes some Raster Design / Civil 3D stability issues. The hotfix is available here, and as always with patches, fixes, service packs and updates, read the readme first. Note that although this fixes the most common scenario where a network Raster Design needs to work on a standalone AutoCAD, it does not fix the opposite scenario. So if you have a bunch of network licensed AutoCAD variants available to you and you have a standalone license of Raster Design because you’re the only person in the office who needs it, you’re still out of luck. If you’re in such a position, I think you have a very strong case for a no-cost change from standalone to network licensing for Raster Design. If you ask for this and are refused, let me know and I’ll let everyone else know.

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AutoCAD 2010 – Putting things back to “normal”

Easily the most popular post on this blog, in terms of both hits and comments, is AutoCAD 2009 – Putting things back to “normal”. Lots of people seemed to find it useful, so I guess it’s worth doing an updated sequel for the current release. Much of this post is the same as the original, but there are differences. Note: there are updated versions of this post for AutoCAD 2011 and 2012. One thing that’s regularly asked whenever a new AutoCAD release hits the streets is how to make it work like earlier releases. As I stated in my original post, I think you should give any new features a fighting chance before turning them off or ignoring them. The 2010 Ribbon is still a Ribbon, but in my view it’s a better one than in 2009. But it’s entirely your choice. We should be grateful that in AutoCAD 2010 at least (unlike Revit 2010), you do still have that choice. Let’s assume you’ve made the decision to put your environment back to AutoCAD 2008 or earlier; how do you do it? Workspace. In vanilla AutoCAD, you can restore much of the user interface by just switching workspaces. In the bottom right corner, there is a little button that looks like a gearwheel. This is the Workspace control. Click on it and pick the item called AutoCAD Classic. If you’re using a vertical variant of AutoCAD 2010, this workspace may not be available. If so, or if you want finer control over your interface, read on. Pull-down Menus. Enter MENUBAR 1 to turn pull-down menus on. To turn them off again, enter MENUBAR 0. Toolbars. In AutoCAD 2009, you could turn individual toolbars on and off by accessing a menu obtained by right-clicking on the QAT. Autodesk (vindictively?) removed that…

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Network/standalone clash is confined to Raster Design

Autodesk has been in touch to confirm that the failure to allow a mixed network/standalone environment is confined to Raster Design. I haven’t yet tested this myself, but I’ve been told unequivocally that you can mix standalone and network license models for the major products. Here is the official Autodesk response to the issue: We are very aware of the issue currently relating to the co-existence of an AutoCAD SLM (stand-alone license) and AutoCAD Raster Design NLM (network license) configuration. This was not an intentional “change of licensing policy” as expressed in some blog posts this week, but an unfortunate side effect of updating our licensing technology for SLM (stand-alone) seats to be in sync with our NLM seats for all AutoCAD-based products. We can only apologize for this new behavior experienced by customers upgrade to 2010 version products. We are currently pursuing a couple of options to rectify this situation. We do intend to provide a solution in the very near term and I hope you will join me in helping mitigate the frustrations expressed in various blogs this week. We have also heard of speculations that this issue also impacts side-by-side installations of different AutoCAD desktops. This is not the case. Both software development and QA have successfully installed many different AutoCAD-based 2010 desktops side-by-side in mixed SLM and NLM configurations without any issues.

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Autodesk plans to fix Raster Design licensing SNAFU

I have been in touch with various people at Autodesk about Raster Design 2010’s failure to work in a mixed standalone/network environment. These people have all been suitably apologetic, they assure me it wasn’t a deliberate move on Autodesk’s part, and that moves are afoot to provide a solution fairly soon. For example: Our intention was never to cause such inconvenience for our Raster customers with the licensing change. We are currently working on a solution and hope to have more information in the coming weeks. And: …we are very aware of the issue currently relating to the co-existence of an AutoCAD SLM and Raster Design NLM. This was not an intentional “change of licensing policy”, but an unfortunate side effect of updating our licensing technology for SLM (stand-alone) seats to be in sync with our NLM seats for all AutoCAD-based products. I can only apologize for this new behavior experienced by customers upgrade to 2010 version products. We are currently pursuing a couple of options to rectify this situation. We do intend to provide a solution (fix if you will) in the very near term… The jury is still out about whether this problem affects only Raster Design or is a general problem that prevents a mixed standalone/network environment of AutoCAD and vertical products. If it’s a general problem, it would be an unmitigated disaster for the 2010 product range. I’m getting mixed messages about this from the Autodesk people, but I don’t want to make an issue of that because the people involved are trying to help by providing what information they have as quickly as possible. As soon as I have accurate information available to me I will pass it on. I know of at least one person who is unable to get a mixed AutoCAD and…

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Autodesk messes up Raster Design 2010 licensing

I was horrified to learn (in this Autodesk Discussion Group thread) that Autodesk has changed the rules as far as the way Raster Design licenses are handled. It’s quite possible that Autodesk has also done this with other products that I’m not yet aware of. If so, please comment and let me know. If you’re not familiar with Raster Design, it’s an Autodesk add-on that adds raster handling capabilities to AutoCAD and AutoCAD-based products. The change that has been introduced is that the licensing method of AutoCAD and Raster Design now has to match. That is, if your AutoCAD is standalone, the network version of Raster Design won’t run on it, and vice versa. Why does this matter? Let’s say you’re a CAD Manager in this scenario: You have a hundred AutoCAD users, half of which are full-time users with standalone licenses and the other half who are mainly part-time users with network licenses. Let’s say that some of those users (of both types) have a very occasional need to use the features in Raster Design. You bought one network license of the product a few releases ago and have everything on Subscription, just the way Autodesk wants it. So far, you’ve been able to provide the Raster Design option to all of your users. Only one user at a time can use it, but as use of the product is pretty rare, this hasn’t been a problem to date. If demand increased, other licenses could be added as needed. Now, with Raster Design 2010, this is no longer possible. Your network license will not be available to your standalone users. You have the following options: Buy 50 standalone licenses of Raster Design 2010 for your standalone AutoCAD 2010 users, i.e. spend a huge amount of money on software that will…

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AutoCAD 2010 – Turning off InfoCenter

I generally avoid the still-awful Autodesk discussion groups these days, but I do hop in from time to time in the vain hope of seeing some improvement. In doing so, I occasionally pick up a gem, and that happened today. I think this one deserves a wider audience, so here it is. In AutoCAD 2010, you can disable the InfoCenter toolbar by opening the registry, and going to the following key: HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Autodesk\AutoCAD\R18.0\ACAD-8001:409\InfoCenter In that key there’s a value with the name “InfoCenterOn”. Changing that value from 1 to 0 will disable the InfoCenter toolbar. Source: Tony Tanzillo in this thread. Note that the “ACAD-8001” part will be different if you use a vertical variant of AutoCAD. Why would you want to do this? To improve startup times and reduce annoyance. Autodesk should have provided a better mechanism for doing this. The absence of convenient, designed-in off switches for new features is something I’ve complained about on many occasions over the years. Autodesk’s response has been patchy. Edit: I just noticed Owen Wengerd has posted about this, including a LISP routine to simplify the process of turning it on and off.

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Some thoughts on AutoCAD Exchange

I’ve added a link to Autodesk’s new AutoCAD community site, AutoCAD Exchange. As with most things Autodesk, there are pros and cons. Here are my first impressions. I think it looks good in a Vista-black kind of way. I know some of you don’t like the black look in software, but I do. The layout looks a bit cluttered and confused at first, but I’m sure visitors will quickly get used to where to find things. The site appears to be designed around 1024-wide resolution. If you have more than this, as most CAD users do, then there are wide areas of wasted space either side of the good stuff. The front page is basically a teaser. To get to the useful content or do pretty much anything, you need to register or sign in. I don’t particularly like this, and it gives the impression (false or not) that Autodesk wants to own and control you, even if you’re just viewing a site. The registration process is the same as for other Autodesk sites such as the discussion groups, so if you have an Autodesk identity, you’re already registered. As it is a “community” site, on first sign-in you are invited to fill in more details, provide an avatar and so on. Some people might not like this, but it’s optional and Autodesk knows where I live so it makes no difference to me. I know where Autodesk lives, too. It has yet to be seen if Autodesk manages to develop a real community on this site, and if so, how open that community is allowed to be. Autodesk is encouraging bloggers to add an Autodesk Exchange widget to their blogs. I won’t be adding one in a permanent position because this is my blog and not Autodesk’s. I kind…

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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…

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AutoCAD 2010 release date

After my recent attendance at the AutoCAD 2010 launch, I have a few dozen subjects I’d like to blog about, lots of video editing to do, and not enough free time in which to do it. Many of my fellow launch-attending bloggers have beaten me to it with many of the meaty bits, but I’ll be covering much of that stuff in my own way and from my own perspective over the next few weeks. One thing I can do with minimum effort is to pass on an important piece of information I haven’t seen mentioned elsewhere yet: the date that Autodesk plans to actually ship AutoCAD 2010. That date is (drumroll)… Tuesday, 24 March 2009 No great surprises there; the 12-month release cycle continues as usual. Although this information was imparted to a room full of bloggers in an on-the-record session, I suspect it may have slipped out accidentally. It’s a planned date and may yet change subject to various circumstances. It applies to AutoCAD and probably AutoCAD LT; the vertical variants of AutoCAD will have later ship dates, probably in mid-April. Interestingly, in a conversation with an Autodesk Australia person today, I was told that the 2010 launch dates are staggered across the globe. (That’s launch dates, not ship dates). So although everybody in Australia with an Internet connection already knows what’s in AutoCAD 2010, Autodesk Australia itself is apparently not allowed to disclose any information about it until Monday, 23 March 2009. That’s kind of bizarre if true, and I suspect it may be based on some kind of misunderstanding, but that’s what I was told.

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I haven’t seen AutoCAD 2010…

…yet. That means I’m free to speculate about it in public. There have already been a few hints dropped here and there. Stronger 3D, parametric 3D? Does that just mean adding the missing 3rd dimension to dynamic blocks, or more? What else? If you’re in the right spot at the right time at Autodesk University, you will probably find out a lot more. In the meantime, I’d be interested to hear your speculation about what’s going to be in 2010, and find out what you’d like to be in it. Also, what don’t you want to see? Please add your comments, but not if it involves breaking a non-disclosure agreement. I’m hoping to hear from people who don’t know what’s in 2010, because I think that would be an interesting exercise, particularly with the benefit of hindsight in a few months’ time.

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