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”.

Undo, U, Redo, Erase, Oops differences explained

It’s been a while since I posted any beginners’ tips, so here goes.

There are several commands in AutoCAD to do with reversing things you’ve done. They are in some cases subtly different and this can confuse newcomers. Here’s what they do:

  • U – reverses the last command you used.
  • Redo – reverses the last U or Undo operation you performed, if that’s the last thing you did.
  • Undo – displays a set of command options that allow greater control over undoing things. (This is rarely used directly by a user, and is more of a programmer’s tool, so I won’t be going into any detail).
  • Erase – removes from the drawing an object or set of objects as selected by the user.
  • Oops – reverses the last Erase command, even if you have done other things in the meantime. (It also reverses erasures performed by the Wblock command, … Full post

The best thing about AutoCAD 2017.1 is…

…the fact that one of the Express Tools finally got an update. Not just a minor maintenance tickle or mere absorption into the core code, either. A real update, resulting in not only bug fixes but genuinely useful improvements in functionality.

A little background on Express Tools might help put this into context. The history goes back to 1992 and AutoCAD Release 12. In addition to an impressively full set of paper manuals, people with Release 12 (great value at US$500 to upgrade from any earlier release) obtained a Bonus CD containing 2605 files of free add-on goodness. Fonts, LISP, DOS and Unix utilities, sample drawings, demos, all sorts of stuff. Remember that just popping on the web to grab that sort of thing wasn’t really an option at the time, so this CD was quite a big deal.

Full post

How to download Autodesk software without the Akamai download manager

For reasons beyond my understanding, Autodesk chooses to make life difficult for customers and prospective customers who want to download its products by imposing the use of a download manager (DLM) by Akamai. You really don’t want to let such a thing loose on your system even if it works, for reasons that have been explained in previous posts.

Until a couple of years ago, Autodesk allowed prospective customers to get at a direct download link after jumping through a few hoops and ignoring a bunch of bullshit warnings, but in recent times even that small measure of semi-decency has been removed. It became impossible for anyone who couldn’t or wouldn’t use the Akamai DLM to try out Autodesk’s products! Here’s what you get these days; there is no direct browser download option to be found, just a downloader stub you’re expected to install and give open slather … Full post

Draping images over surfaces in Civil 3D

Having recently overcome various difficulties to successfully drape an image over a surface in Civil 3D, it may be useful to pass on a few points I have learned. There are various posts and videos out there that helpfully go through this process, but some of them (including Autodesk sources) contain information that is irrelevant or just plain wrong, and none of them contained all  of the information I needed to complete the task.

I used Civil 3D 2015 for this, but the principles apply to all recent releases. Here is the basic sequence required:

  • In the drawing containing the surface, attach the image to your drawing using your preferred method (ImageAttach, Xref, ClassicImage). I’ll assume you’re familiar with what you need to do to get the image correctly scaled and aligned with the surface.
  • Invoke the DrapeImage command, which will show you this dialog:Full post
  • 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.

    AutoCAD 2017 – Putting things back to “normal”

    The most frequently accessed posts on this blog are the AutoCAD 201x – Putting things back to “normal” series. They also attract a lot of comments:

    Most Commented Posts

  • AutoCAD 2013 – An Autodesk Help writer responds – 164 comments
  • AutoCAD 2012 – Putting things back to “normal” – 158 comments
  • AutoCAD 2011 – Putting things back to “normal” – 135 comments
  • AutoCAD 2009 – Putting things back to “normal” – 121 comments
  • AutoCAD 2010 – Putting things back to “normal” – 106 comments
  • The … Full post

    AutoCAD 2012 – How to “hatch” using any objects

    Here’s a trick you can use in AutoCAD 2012 to fill an area with any objects you like. It’s not actually hatching, but it has several advantages over the real thing:

    • You aren’t restricted to straight line segments as you are with real hatching. Circles, splines, even solid objects, you name it, you can use it.
    • To define the pattern, you don’t have to master an arcane file format or use trigonometry to work out the numbers used in it. Just draw the objects you want repeated.
    • You can easily change the spacing between the objects later, or even change the objects themselves.

    How is this done? Use the new associative array feature, then use XClip to restrict the displayed objects to within a specified boundary. For example, let’s say you have a polyline you want filled with green spheres, and a green sphere already drawn. The sequence … Full post

    Installation tip – save time and space

    If you download AutoCAD or other Autodesk products from either the trial or Subscription sites, the executable you get (e.g. AutoCAD_2012_English_Win_32bit.exe) is actually a self-extracting archive rather than a real installer. When you run it, you are prompted for a destination folder, with a default location such as this:

    C:\Autodesk\AutoCAD_2012_English_Win_32bit

    The actual installer (setup.exe) and all of the files it needs are then unzipped and placed in a folder structure in that location. When the extraction is finished, the self-extracting executable automatically runs setup.exe and the installation proper can begin. Once the installation is complete, the extracted files are left in place.

    You can take advantage of this simple knowledge in various ways:

    • Sometimes, you may you need to run the installer more than once on the same PC. For example, you might need to uninstall/reinstall AutoCAD, or you might be a CAD Manager who installs AutoCAD for on your … Full post

    AutoCAD 2012 – Putting things back to “normal”

    Edit: If you’re running a more recent release of AutoCAD, have a look at the post AutoCAD 2017 – Putting things back to “normal” instead.

    The most popular post on this blog, in terms of both hits and comments, is AutoCAD 2009 – Putting things back to “normal”. This is followed by AutoCAD 2010 – Putting things back to “normal”, with AutoCAD 2011 – Putting things back to “normal” not too far behind. As it seems many people find these posts useful, here’s an updated version for the latest release. Much of this post is based on older versions, but there are many additions and differences in this year’s “keep off my lawn” post.

    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 … Full post

    Dealing with blacked-out leader plots in older AutoCAD

    Any drawing created in AutoCAD 2008 and later which uses Multileaders will present problems to users of AutoCAD 2007 and earlier. The users of the earlier release will find that rather than having leaders to deal with, they have proxy objects. As a result, it is impossible to edit these leaders in any way other than erasing them. Also, depending on the setting of the PROXYSHOW system variable in the earlier release, the objects may not display at all, or could display only as rectangles.

    If the user of 2008 or later used the background mask feature when creating Multileaders, they might appear to be fine on the screen. But when plotting, the text part of each leader will come out as a filled black rectangle. That sort of thing has a long history of happening with wipeouts in some cases, depending on the output device and driver. This problem … Full post

    Edwin’s 100 tips, plus my own

    Over at Edwin Prakaso’s CAD Notes site, he has collected 100 AutoCAD tips and published them in a highly useful post. Very nice job, Edo.

    While you blog readers are collecting tips, you might as well have a look at mine, too:

     http://www.blog.cadnauseam.com/tag/tip/ (and page 2)

    I was surprised how many tips I have posted over the couple of years this blog has been running, although not all of them are for AutoCAD. Anyway, I hope you find some of them useful. If you don’t want to wade through all that lot, maybe you can get started on this five and five more tips from the early days of this blog.

    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.
    Double Click Actions
  • Scroll down that top left pane a little until you can see Hatch.
    Hatch
  • In the bottom left pane (Command list), click on any command and type H. This should take you down to … Full post
  • Filling the holes in Autodesk’s CHM Help stopgap

    It was good to see Autodesk react to criticism of AutoCAD 2011’s browser-based Help with an acknowledgement of the problems and an attempt to provide a workaround by making a zip file of CHM files available for download. That’s much better than ignoring people’s concerns, denying the validity of those concerns or shooting the messenger, which has been known to happen in the past.

    However, there are some holes in the workaround, only some of which can be filled.

    • Under 64-bit Windows 7, the Search pane is blank, as it is in the CHM Help for earlier releases on that platform. This is stated on the download page. Index works well, but Search doesn’t. As Search is one of the worst aspects of the browser-based Help, this is a rather unfortunate.
    • There is no obvious way of making the CHMs provide contextual help. Don’t bother pointing at acad181.chm … Full post

    AutoCAD 2011 – Putting things back to “normal”

    Edit: If you’re running a more recent release of AutoCAD, have a look at the post AutoCAD 2017 – Putting things back to “normal” instead.

    Easily the most popular post on this blog, in terms of both hits and comments, is AutoCAD 2009 – Putting things back to “normal”. Not too far behind it is AutoCAD 2010 – Putting things back to “normal”. Apparently, lots of people find these posts useful, so here’s an updated version for the latest release. Some of this post is based on the originals, but there are significant additions and differences in this year’s Luddite post.

    Note: there is an updated version of this post for AutoCAD 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 … Full post

    AutoCAD tip – which drawings use an xref?

    Here’s a tip I just rediscovered while cleaning out my old emails. It applies to all recent AutoCAD releases.

    Let’s say you have a drawing that you think has been used as an xref by at least one other drawing, and maybe more. How can you find out which drawings use it as an xref?

    First, turn on DesignCenter. You can do this with Tools > Palettes > DesignCenter, the ADCENTER command, or Ctrl+2. Pick on the Search button at the top (the magnifying glass thingy). In the Search dialogue box, change the “Look for” item to Xrefs (but have a look at what else you can search for, you may find that useful too). You can pick Browse to tell it where to look, and you can make it look down into all the subfolders if you like. Type the xref name into the “Search for the name” field … Full post

    Repost – how to get your picture next to your comment

    This is a revisit of a post I made about a year ago.

    You may have noticed that some people’s comments have an avatar picture next to them (no, not the film with the Roger Dean visuals), while others have a randomly assigned pattern. On this blog, the avatar picture is a gravatar (globally recognised avatar), and you can have one too. Once you set it up, you will find that it works in all sorts of places, not just this blog. Some other blogs may use other avatar standards, though.

    Here’s how to do it:

  • Visit gravatar.com and pick a sign up link.
  • Provide a valid email address; the same one you provide when adding comments to blogs. I have not received any spam as a result of doing this, which is no surprise because Gravatar is owned by Automattic, Inc., the highly reputable … Full post
  • Quick and dirty clicks and drags in AutoCAD

    I’m sure most of you draw your objects with great precision. But sometimes even the most precise among us may want to make a quick and dirty move or copy of some drawing objects and are not too bothered about the exact place they end up. Text, for example.

    As always in AutoCAD, there are many ways of doing this. Long-termers like me may automatically gravitate towards the short-form commands for Move and Copy, but there are various alternatives.

    In this post I’m going to cover the click-and-drag method. This isn’t grip editing; although you will see grips appear when you select the objects, you’re not going to use them. To move an object this way requires just two clicks and no commands. Admittedly, one of the clicks is a long one and you also need to move the mouse and then release one of the clicks, but it’s still … Full post

    AutoCAD does a Cheshire Cat

    In Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, the Cheshire Cat gradually disappears until nothing is left but its smile. The AutoCAD packaging has done the same thing over the years until now nothing is left but the 0s and 1s. In Release 13, one box was not enough to keep all the materials, but Autodesk gradually slimmed it down until in recent years your slab of upgrade or Subscription cash gets you nothing but a DVD in a case (with or without a pack of cards). However, you can go cap in hand to Autodesk and ask for a real manual of your choice, which will be shipped to you free of charge.

    A few days ago, Subscription customers in 37 countries were all automatically opted in to a download-only upgrade mechanism for all Autodesk software, not just AutoCAD. Here are Autodesk’s stated reasons:

    • Convenience—It’s more convenient than installing … Full post

    AutoCAD virus protection update

    As I mentioned in my last post, I had some reservations about the code provided by Autodesk to deal with suspect acad.vlx and logo.gif files. Based on a suggestion from Jimmy Bergmark, I have written my own, safer version which you can download here: clean_virus_safe.lsp.

    The comments at the top of the clean_virus_safe.lsp file explain what to do with it, but I will reproduce some of the relevant points here.

    • Purpose: Checks for existence of acad.vlx and logo.gif files, which are associated with virus AL/Logo-A, also known as ACAD/Unexplode, ACAD/Agent.A or ACM_UNEXPLODE.B. Written as a safer alternative to Autodesk’s code which deletes suspect files without prior warning. This code renames the files instead.
    • Legal: Provided as-is with no warranty whatsoever, use at own risk. May be distributed freely.
    • Usage: Append the contents of this file into a startup LISP file (e.g. acaddoc.lsp in your search path – … Full post