Visual Style & Isoline Quickie

The question today, came from my Civil 3D bro up in Seattle, Bryan.
We are generating some graphics and when I switch my view to ‘realistic’, it shows the triangle edges of the isolines. I can turn them off in the view toolbar, but when I produce a camera angle of the model and switch it to ‘realistic’ I do not know how to turn off the isolines. I do know there is a dialog box like a toolpallete that I can turn it off, but I do not know where that is, can you help?

To get rid of isolines in realistic view:

1. Crack open the Visual Styles Manager (VISUALSTYLES at the command line).
2. Click the “swatch” for Realistic at the top of the palette.
3. [OPTIONAL] Right-click the swatch and select Copy.  « [Doing this you can keep the original Realistic style and make your own called “Realistic – No Isolines,” for example.

4. Towards the bottom there is a listing for Edge Settings.
5. You’ll see an option for Showing Isolines.

6. Set the isolines to none.
7. Boom, yer done!

This tip applies to AutoCAD and all related vertical products.


FlexLM License Troubleshooting

Despite my claims to the contrary; I don't know everything. No, really!

A new thing I learned this week is the environment variable FLEXLM_DIAGNOSTICS.

If someone is having problems opening up a product because of network licensing, this little gem helps you get to the bottom of it fast. I wish I had known this years ago!

On the machine having the issue, add FLEXLM_DIAGNOSTICS to the system environment variable and set it to 3 (most informative setting).

This variable can be set to 1, 2, or 3 depending on how verbose ("chatty") you want FlexLM to be.

1 gives you:
  • License error number 
  • Where FlexLM is trying to get license information (license.lic file, environment variable or some other weird thing)
  • A dialog box only appears if there was a problem

2 means
  • License error number 
  • Where FlexLM is trying to get license information
  • Checkout information that would explain if you were having issues checking out a license
  • A dialog box only appears if there was a problem

3 gives you
  • License error number (if applicable)
  • Where FlexLM is trying to get license information
  • Checkout information that would explain if you were having issues checking out a license
  • Information about what server granted the license and by which method 
  • A dialog box pops up even if there was no issue (this would be super-helpful if comparing someone's computer that works to another one where it doesn't)

I learned this by chatting with my colleagues over at  the UpandReady blog. Then I dug through some Flexera documentation to find what each setting does.

Now you know at least as much as me.


These Top 10 Famous Software Bugs Had Me in Tears and Will Take Your Breath Away and Make Your Mom Lose 10 LBS with This Wierd Trick! [Insert Cute Baby Animal Pic Here]

Okay maybe not. But I made you click, right?

This post is about some crazy stuff in Civil 3D 2016 that should be shouted from the rooftop.

Civil 3D 2016 has been out for a year and is full of great functionality.

Service Pack 2 came out in December 2015 and contains some dramatic updates. Usually, service packs fix a handful of bugs and do not change the interface at all. Unlike most service packs, this one added functionality.

My absolute favorite thing is the "Siteless" feature line. Like alignments, you now can have feature lines in a site or use the <None> option.

Also, Civil 3D lets you continue creating data shortcuts even if the drawing needs to be saved.

If you installed Civil 3D 2016 sp2, stop right now. Download this Hotfix. Apply it PRONTO!

Without this hotfix, the AUDIT command will remove elevation points from feature lines. This is extra freaky in light of the fact that the SP2 readme instructs users to AUDIT drawings containing feature lines exhibiting certain behavior.

In closing, a baby otter cuddling with a kitten:


AutoCAD 2017 is Out

AutoCAD 2017 is out as of today (March 21 2016). 

Top questions I've been getting:

Is AutoCAD 2017 Windows 10 compatible?


Is the AutoCAD 2017 file format the same as AutoCAD 2016?

Yes for plain AutoCAD 2017.  
NO for Civil 3D 2017.

All kinds of new functionality is being built into Civil 3D 2017, which requires a new underlying database. That means we are going back to the days of yore when if you upgraded a Civil 3D project to 2013, you could not open it and work on Civil objects in Civil 3D.


If you upgrade a project to Civil 3D 2017 you will not be able to open is and work on Civil 3D objects in any previous version. The "Save as" command only applies to base AutoCAD objects. 

So when is Civil 3D 2017 coming out? 

Settle down, campers. Not for about a month. 


Starting AutoCAD in Safemode

A common problem when troubleshooting AutoCAD problems is narrowing down the source of your headache. A handy tool is adding a /SAFEMODE switch to the AutoCAD shortcut. This works for Civil 3D and every other AutoCAD based vertical 2013 or newer.

Starting AutoCAD in safe mode blocks all executables from running on top of AutoCAD. It prevents any LISP routines from running.

When AutoCAD is in safemode, most of the base functions will work, but Express tools will not. Express tools are mostly LISP routines.

To start AutoCAD in safe mode, edit the properties of the icon. Add /safemode at the end of the Target path.

Here are some examples of problems I've solved with this method:
A customer contacted us reporting Civil 3D crashing every time he tried to use the Capture Area command from the Geolocation tab. It turned out that there is a conflict with Projectwise and AutoCAD. By starting in Safemode, he was able to capture the map. Yay, workarounds!
A second customer was trying to get AutoCAD to recognise his custom acad.pgp. His support file search paths were set up correctly (the pgp file was located in a support folder at the top of the list). When he sent me a screengrab of his support file search paths, I noticed he had a directory in there called LISP. Hmmmmmmmmmm, LISP? He started in safemode and AutoCAD recognised his PGP as expected. So now his assignment is to find the LISP that was overriding his PGP file. These were all custom LISP files; none of the OOTB lsp files would have this problem. 


Dispatch from Support: Unit Settings in Autodesk ReCap 360

ReCap is a new-ish offering from Autodesk which debuted in spring 2013. I'm still learning the ins and outs, but so far it is very intuitive. The scope of the product very focused on processing laser scans and passing them to other Autodesk products. ReCap Photo is a related tool that can make 3D models from photos.


Today I had a question from one of my users that I was a little embarrassed not to know off the top of my head. "Where do I set the project units in ReCap 360?"

By default, a new ReCap 360 project will start up in meters, but it is quite easy to change.

1- Go into Preferences

2- Set the project units to feet.

3- Once feet is set, you can choose foot types of International or US (meaning US Survey feet).

I recommend clearing the checkbox for "auto appropriate unit." If you keep that setting on, you'll get feet and miles as units (which might not be relevant to your project.)

Then click OK. No scaling is performed.

ReCap stands for "reality capture," but today is Friday and I'm about to let go of reality for 50-some hours! 


"Is it Me, or is the Cloud Down?"

Did you know there are public websites where you can check the status of the Autodesk cloud service you are trying to use?

Bookmark these!
  • is a site that reports the status of many of the most highly used Autodesk 360 products. You can sign up for status change alerts for your favorite services. 

If you are wondering why Infraworks 360 or ReCap 360 are not in the list here's why: Infraworks and Recap use a mix of the services listed on those pages to do it's thing. Signing in and getting your entitlements is done by the Identity and Accounts server, Oxygen (that's true of all of the web services that require sign in). If you run a profile optimization in Infraworks or create a 3D photo model in Recap, the computations are performed by a different server. Your online models are stored on another server (check Nitrogen if you are having trouble accessing online models).

Knock on wood, unplanned service outages are pretty rare. If everything looks good in the above web pages, the next step is to look at your connectivity to the outside world.