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 to do it, but it’s a little more involved and uses the CUI command. Here’s how: Enter the CUI command. In the top left pane, burrow down to Keyboard Shortcuts > Shortcut Keys. In the bottom left pane, scroll down to find the Cancel item. Click and drag it onto Shortcut Keys in the top left pane. Because of a long-standing auto-scroll annoyance in the CUI interface, you will find this easier if you drag off to the right, then up, then left onto Shortcut Keys. That adds Ctrl+C = Cancel to the set of shortcut keys AutoCAD understands, but it won’t work yet because it will clash with the Ctrl+C = CopyClip shortcut key that’s already in there. We need to get rid of that before we’re finished in CUI, or more usefully, assign it to a different key: Find Copy Clip in the Shortcut Keys list in the top…

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Restoring Hatch double-click in AutoCAD 2011

In AutoCAD 2011, the default action when double-clicking on a hatch object is to invoke the Properties palette for that object. In previous releases, it would invoke the Hatch Edit dialog box. In my AutoCAD 2011 – Putting things back to “normal” post, I briefly described how to restore the old double-click action. I have since seen some incorrect advice being given out about how to do this, so this post describes the correct process in full detail. What to do Invoke the CUI command. In the top left pane, find the [+] next to Double Click Actions and left-click on it. Scroll down that top left pane a little until you can see Hatch. In the bottom left pane (Command list), click on any command and type H. This should take you down to the Hatch Edit command. If not, just scroll down a little more until you can see it. Left-click on the Hatch Edit command in the bottom left pane, hold down the mouse button and drag the command up onto the top right pane until it hovers over the Hatch item you exposed in step 3. When the little blue triangle is pointing to Hatch, let go of the mouse button, thereby dropping the Hatch Edit command onto Hatch. Hint: you may find that the top left pane scrolls crazily while you attempt this step. Unfortunately, this is a “feature” of the CUI interface. If this happens, keep your mouse button held down and move your cursor up and down in the left pane until the scrolling comes under control and you are hovering over the right spot. You can avoid this if instead of dragging the command directly upwards, you move in a curcuitous route to the left or right, moving on to the top left pane from…

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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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What is loaded at AutoCAD startup, and when?

Warning, CAD nerd stuff ahead. This is a long and technical post and if you’re using AutoCAD in a largely out-of-the-box state you probably won’t care about any of it. If your modification of AutoCAD extends beyond the trivial, you may find it useful to know what AutoCAD loads, and in what order things are loaded. It is possible for LISP files in particular to tread on each other’s toes, so knowing what gets loaded when can be useful information for diagnosing such clashes. This post aims to provide that information. It uses AutoCAD 2009 as an example, but the same principles apply to all releases from AutoCAD 2006 onwards. On startup, the first things AutoCAD loads are its CUI files. It first loads the Enterprise CUI file, then the Main CUI file, then any partial CUI files attached to the Main, then any partial CUI files attached to the Enterprise. I have no idea of the reasoning behind this slightly strange order, but there it is. The order of the partial CUIs loaded in each case is determined by the order in which they appear in the parent CUI files, which is determined by the order in which you attached them. If you don’t like this order, you can attach and reattach them in the CUI interface, or you can do the same thing much quicker with a text editor if you feel confident enough. If there are LISP files associated with these CUI files, they are not loaded yet. You’ll need to wait a few paragraphs for that. Next, if you have created a file called acad.rx in AutoCAD’s search path, any ARX files listed in that file will be loaded. There are other ways in which developers can load their ARX files at startup, but I won’t go into…

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AutoCAD 2009 – Ribbon content for Express Tools

One of the many unfinished aspects of the AutoCAD 2009 Ribbon is the lack of Express Tools content. One enterprising user has put the effort into correcting this, and has posted an Express Tools CUI replacement in this Autodesk newsgroup thread. I have not tested this myself. As usual with CUI, be paranoid. Back up everything before you touch anything. While I wouldn’t normally suggest you do any Ribbon custom work in 2009 in its current state, it shouldn’t hurt in this case as it should be easily redoable once Autodesk has fixed up the worst of the 2009 CUI problems. Anything else you do should be considered as disposable. The problems with 2009’s CUI are so fundamental that it is quite likely a restructure will be required to fix them, either in a service pack or in 2010. That means your 2009 CUI efforts may need to be redone, just like your AutoCAD 2008 Dashboard modifications.

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Where have all the developers gone?

I noticed in Ralph Grabowski’s latest upFront.eZine that Autodesk has announced that 100 developers have 200 add-ons working with its 2009 series of software. I hope I’m not supposed to be impressed by those numbers. I remember when Autodesk boasted about having over 3500 third-party developers. What happened to the other 3400-odd? This is a serious question; if anybody knows where they all went, and why, I’d love to know. Of those two hundred 2009-ready applications, how many of them take advantage of 2009’s Big New Feature, the Ribbon? My guess would be close to zero. Why? Because the AutoCAD 2009 CUI architecture is all wrong. Adding custom stuff to the Ribbon is simply a lot more trouble than it’s worth. Even Autodesk’s own vertical teams have shunned it.

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AutoCAD 2009 – The Prequel Part 16 – Ribbon Performance 1

One of the things I like least about AutoCAD 2009 (at least in Release Candidate form) is that I find it very “sticky”. That is, I find myself having to wait for an instant here, then again there, yet again over there. Most of my testing has been on a middle-aged Pentium 4 (3.0 GHz dual core – not too ancient), and it is particularly noticeable there. On my newer Core2 machine, things are better. When AutoCAD 2009 starts shipping, I suspect your perception of it will be strongly influenced by your hardware. Top gun users on slow machines are going to feel frustrated; slower users on fast machines will wonder what the problem is. I made a video that shows Ribbon tab switching performance. This is an important aspect of the new interface. Because the Ribbon hides tools behind different tabs, quick access to those tools relies on near-instant tab switching. How well does AutoCAD 2009 do at that? Let’s have a look on a fairly quick PC (Core2Duo E6600 with 4 GB RAM, under Windows XP SP2 32 bit). I intend to do the same in Vista later. Measured on a faster machine and viewed objectively, it looks rather better than my perceptions from the slower machine had led me to believe. The real problem is the first exposure of each tab, because after that the tab contents can be retrieved from cached memory. The Tools tab is tardiest; 1.6 seconds here translates to 3 seconds or more on an older PC. For the most part, the tab switching speed is acceptable after the tab has been exposed for the first time. For most users, a delay of 0.3 seconds between input and response is quick enough to be considered instant, and most tabs switch in a time…

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AutoCAD 2009 – The Prequel Part 10 – Dude, where’s my Dashboard?

Dude, Dashboard’s dead. Defunct. Done. AutoCAD 2009 replaced the Dashboard with the Ribbon. If you type in the DASHBOARD or DASHBOARDCLOSE commands, they are just converted to the RIBBON and RIBBONCLOSE commands, which turn the Ribbon on and off. If you’re a fan of the Dashboard (and I never was), there is good and bad news. The good news is that you can right-click on various parts of the Ribbon, pick Undock and you get a Dashboard-like floating vertical Ribbon that can be resized and configured very easily in terms of turning panels on and off. You can’t do that with Microsoft’s Office 2007 Ribbon. Performance aside (more on that later), I generally prefer the way the vertical Ribbon works, compared with the Dashboard. But I’m still not a fan. The bad news is that if you put a lot of effort into customising your Dashboard in 2008, your work is lost. There is currently no automated migration path from your Dashboard to the Ribbon, so it’s time to start again. This involves using CUI, and unfortunately the process is slow and immensely frustrating. This is due to a combination of the long-standing CUI shortcomings and a set of new ones introduced to go with the Ribbon. Buy yourself one of those squeezy stress-ball things, you’re going to need it.

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