Dispatch from Support: "Vanilla" AutoCAD vs Civil 3D Scaling

Users Question (slightly modified to protect the innocent):

I do not fully understand is the relationship between AutoCAD and Civil 3D as it relates to scales.The Issue: When a drawing file is created in AutoCAD with mm scale and is opened by a user running Civil 3D the scales get messed up; blocks, text, linestyles all related elements seem to be affected. 

My sage answer: 

Your question is not uncommon. Civil 3D can only create objects in feet or meters. The below screengrab is from the Civil 3D drawing settings. 

However, Autocad can work in any units. The following dialog box can be found by typing UNITS in the command line. These are the base AutoCAD units.

When you open a drawing in Civil 3D where the base AutoCAD units are not meters, it still creates roads, topography, and all other Civil 3D objects as if you are in meters. As a result, you will have scaling issues.  A road that should be 6 meters wide will only draw in as 6mm. 

The reason blocks, linetypes and text get goofed up is because of  Annotative scaling. If you open a base AutoCAD file in Civil 3D, it will not have correct scales set up to display properly relative to the large size of a civil jobsite.  A typical drawing scale for a metric civil project might be 1m=2000m plotted. When working in mm, typically you are plotting closer to 1mm=1mm. 

The best way to work with Autocad and Civil 3D is to XREF the Autocad drawing into Civil 3D (or vice versa).  The XREF command recognises that the files are created in different scales and will adjust the file accordingly. Similar scaling will occur if you insert the AutoCAD file into the Civil 3D file as a block. I recommend XREF over block insertion because the files remain separate and can be edited by multiple users.  

Additional problems will occur in Civil 3D if the file originated in base AutoCAD and is opened directly.  A base AutoCAD drawing does not have the Civil 3D styles that control the layers, colors and display of Civil 3D objects. 

If you absolutely MUST edit a file that originated in base AutoCAD in Civil 3D, you can do so but you must be careful to change some settings and change them back.  

First, make sure the Civil 3D styles are present.  If you start with a template (DWT) intended for Civil 3D, that will retain Civil styles. If it is too late, and you've already made progress on the base-Autocad file, you can use the IMPORTSTYLESANDSETTINGS command or, better yet, start a new file from a Civil 3D template and insert the AutoCAD file as a block. Explode the block upon insertion.  I like the latter option for getting at the Civil 3D styles better because expressions don't come across in the IMPORTSTYLESANDSETTINGS command. 

Keep in mind that base AutoCAD drawing tools are unitless. Changing the unit type in the UNITS dialog does not scale the objects.  If I draw a polyline and tell the software that it is to be 6 units, the size of the object in that drawing are relative to other objects. AutoCAD doesn't care if I mean 6 mm, 6 feet, 6 meters or 6 light years! The only time AutoCAD pays attention to the units specified in the UNITS dialog box are when you are using the XREF or INSERT command.

I hope this helps. 


Dispatch from Support: "Not enough free RAM for HIDE--some lines will be hidden incorrectly."

Today one of my users got the error in AutoCAD 2014: Not enough free RAM for HIDE--some lines will be hidden incorrectly.  

This was on a brand new laptop with 16 gig of RAM. In the support request, the user did not mention the make or model of the video card, but my suspicion went directly to it.

Here is my answer to the problem:

The most likely cause for the error you are seeing is the graphics card. Knowing that the new machine is a laptop, I'm concerned that the video card that is being used does not meet the hardware requirements for Autocad 2014.  In the following link, you can check to see if your graphics card is supported.

If you find your card on the list, check the recommended driver version against the installed driver version. **It is important to note that the recommended graphics driver for use with AutoCAD is not always the most recent one that Windows update automatically finds from the manufacturer.  Your IT folks will need to log in as admin to change the graphics driver.

If the graphics card and driver both check out as supported, the next thing to check is that you are using the dedicated graphics card and not the onboard graphics. Right-click the shortcut to find the Run with Graphics Processor options as shown in the below image:

Be sure AutoCAD is using the dedicated graphics card and not the integrated card.

If your video card does not appear as one of the supported cards, or if you only have an integrated graphics card, you will likely see other performance and graphics "quirks." The good news is that there is a work-around for your specific issue. In Autocad, you can work in the 3D wireframe visual style (rather than the default 2D wireframe visual style).

So hopefully that did the trick.


Etc: Lou's (In)Famous Buttered Whiskey Recipe

The other day I was at Juniper 61 in Milwaukee eating dinner with some friends. They had a drink special on Hot Buttered Rum. It was delicious, and something about the butter and the warmth made the buzz I got especially comforting.

A few days later, with Holiday Stress at its peak, I wanted, nay, NEEDED this drink again. However, I didn't have rum on-hand. I substituted Kessler whiskey instead. Even though this is crap booze, the sugar and spices masked the harshness.

Here is my result:
Makes 1 drink at a time:
1 pinch allspice
1 pinch nutmeg (freshly grated is better)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon brown sugar
8 oz water
1 1/2 teaspoons butter
1 shot whisky (more if you're having a rough day)
1 Cinnamon stick as garnish (optional)
Put nutmeg, allspice, cinnamon, brown sugar, butter and water in a microwavable mug (ideally, one of those Irish coffee deals). Microwave on high for about 1 minute. Muddle/mix well. Add shot(s) of whiskey. Enjoy!

Happy New Year. Party responsibly, but hard.


Force Design Review 2013 to Open 2014/2015 DWG Files

In this post, I am going to show you a workaround for this issue where users try to open a DWG in Design Review and get the error, "Opening DWG files in Design Review requires the latest version of the free DWG TrueView program be installed." But, you probably DO have TrueView installed, so what the heck?

If you don't already know, Design Review 2013 is the most recent version of the viewing markup tool. Going forward you can create an Autodesk 360 account and upload for viewing online.

There are still many reasons one would want to use Design Review.  Design Review can open a file, allow markups and let you save as a DWF in one platform.  What many people don't realize is that Design Review really isn't doing the work, TrueView is really the program that is showing you the DWG.  In other words, regardless of version, if you want to open a DWG in Design Review, you must have True View installed. If you have updated to either 2014 or 2015 version of True View, the connection to Design Review no longer exists.

But this connection can be restored!

The knowlege base article is here:

I am going to show you the same information graphically:

  1. Go to Start > type in Regedit 
  2. In the registry editor, browse to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Autodesk\DWG TrueView\
  3. Right-click on the "folder" DWG True View and select New > Key 
  4. Name the new key R10
  5. Highlight the new key, and in the right-side pane, right-click and select New > String Value 
  6. Name the new String CurVer and press enter to complete the naming.
  7. Double-click the new String value and add dwgviewr-E001:409 in the Value data field. Click ok when you are done. (note that the 409 may be different if you are using a non-English version of Design Review. This link takes you to a list of language codes.)
  8. Now browse in the registry editor HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Autodesk\DWG TrueView
  9. Again, right-click on the "folder" DWG True View and select New > Key.
  10. Name the new key R10
  11. Highlight the new key, right-click on the "folder" DWG True View and select New > Key 
  12. Name this new key dwgviewr-E001:409 
  13. Highlight the new key. Right-click in the right-hand pane and select New > String Value.
  14. Name the new string value Location. Double-click and set the value to C:/Program Files/Autodesk/DWG TrueView 2015 - English (change as needed for different languages or non-default pathing) 
  15. Click OK. Exist the registry and attempt to open a DWG file in Design Review. You should have no issues. 
I made a little Autodesk Screencast video of these steps as well.  I install all my software to the D drive, but otherwise, the steps I use are the same as above (you will need to login to Autodesk 360 to view the video):ViewTrueView-DesignReview Hack

Enjoy, Happy Christmas, Merry Hanukkah and Blessed Kwanzaa. 


Autodesk CERs: how to Suppress and/or Force them

Long time no blog. I've been busy attempting to further my comedy aspirations and otherwise building my empire. Also, I've been napping whenever convenient.

Customer error reports are generated when an Autodesk product unexpectedly exits, (i.e. “crashes”). Many folks have created informative blog posts about the importance of Autodesk CERs (like this one from Shaan Hurley), but few have discussed how to make them bow to your will.

Here's a document I created for my support customers.

And here's a taste of what's inside!

Information that is automatically passed to Autodesk’s CER system includes:
·         Machine Information
o    Operating system version
o    Locale
o    Graphics card and driver version
·         Application information
o    Product name
o    Product version and service pack level
·         Runtime information
o    How long the product has been running, or “uptime”
o    Last 5 commands run
o    Exception thrown (“what happened” to crash the program)
o    Callstack (information about what routines were running)
o    Add-ins installed

o    Hotfixes installed

The following information is not part of a CER:
·         License data
·         Company information
·         User-specific information (unless otherwise given in the email or description fields).

This important data is tracked and frequently investigated by Autodesk staff, however, messages in the description area are not read real-time. If you need technical support you must go through your regular support channel.

See Autodesk’s official privacy policies for more information:

I cross my fingers that you don't crash, but if you do - send in the CER!


Resolving “Generic” Fatal Errors in AutoCAD and Related Verticals

This is a list of common fixes for many AutoCAD (and AutoCAD-related products).  This is listing is presented in order of “easy” to “more difficult”.  Local Windows administrator permissions are needed where noted.

Standard disclaimers for messing with your registry apply. 

With AutoCAD Running

·         AUDIT the drawing.
o   Type the AUDIT command on your drawing and type Y for yes to fix any errors found.
·         -PURGE
o   At the command line type -PURGE (note the dash in front of the word purge). This will bring up the command-line version of the purge command. Type R for regapps. Press enter again to accept all registered applications to be purged. When prompted to verify each regapp to be purged, type N for no. Registered applications are "thumbprints" left behind by AutoCAD verticals and third-party applications.  They frequently cause memory bloating and crashing.
  • Disable Hardware Acceleration
    • In Command line type 3DCONFIG
    • Click on Manual Tune and toggle off “Enable Hardware Acceleration”
    • Click OK and close all dialogs

·         RECOVERALL
o   Have AutoCAD running with the default Drawing1.dwg open.  Type RECOVERALL at the command line. This will scan the main drawing and all related XREFs. RECOVER is preferable to AUDIT because the drawings are not open at the time of scanning.

With AutoCAD Closed

·         Empty the User’s temp directory.
o   My favorite way to get to the user temp directory is to type %TEMP% in the windows address bar. With all programs closed, delete as many of the files and folder from the temp directory as Windows will allow. (Some temp files are always in use by Windows and will not go away.)
·         Verify that the most recent service packs are installed.
o   To check what version of the service pack you have installed, type ABOUT at the command line. In the upper-left corner of the About box, you will see the service pack version that is installed.
o   Check for and obtain the latest service packs from:
o   Administrator privileges are required to install service packs and updates.

·         Resetting the AutoCAD Settings to Default (Administrator privileges required).  To do this:
o   Exit AutoCAD and all related software
o   Go to your Windows Start button.
o   Click All Programs > Autodesk > AutoCAD 201X > Reset Settings to Default (see attached screen shot).
o   The next dialog box will ask if you'd like to make a backup.  I recommend picking "Back up and reset custom settings" option) Save the resulting zip file wherever you like.
o   Allow AutoCAD to rebuild the files it needs. AutoCAD will launch after this process.
o   For AutoCAD 2011 and older, and versions that do not have the reset utility, use the following process:
·         Complete Uninstall and Reinstall (Administrator privileges required)
o   From the Windows control panel uninstall the feature per usual.
o   Delete the following folders:
§  C:\Users\<user>\AppData\Roaming\Autodesk\AutoCAD 20xx
§  C:\Users\<user>\AppData\Local\Autodesk\AutoCAD 20xx
§  Note: These paths contain hidden folders. You must turn on "show hidden files" in Folder Options to see them.
o   Verify that registry keys related to the Autodesk product are removed
§  HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Autodesk\AutoCAD\RXX.X\ACAD-xxxx:40X
§  Note: RXX.X represents the release year and ACAD-XXXX:40X represents the AutoCAD “flavor” and language.
o   Reinstall the product under the following conditions:
§  Logged in as local administrator
§  UAC (User Account control) set to Never Notify
§  Antivirus temporarily disabled (you may need additional permissions to perform this step)

·         Other Ideas for fixing this issue (Administrator privileges required for all of the following):
o   Rebuild the user profile in Windows (see Fix a corrupted user profile).
o   Uninstall and reinstall the .NET Framework (see How to remove and reinstall the Microsoft .NET Framework).
o   Uninstall and reinstall Visual C++ (see How to remove and reinstall Microsoft Visual C++ Runtime Libraries).
o   Clear the digital signature icons and then uninstall and reinstall the application (see FATAL ERROR: Unhandled Access Violation Reading 0x0000 Exception at 4048b9h).
o   Update your graphics card driver. Install the latest driver from your video card manufacturer or use an AutoCAD-certified driver (see How to update your system to the latest certified video driver).


Civil 3D 2015 Deployment Question of the Day: No, You are Not Crazy

It's that time of year where companies are gearing up to deploy their new Autodesk products.  Some people are met with a surprise when they reach the screen where they would normally see the ability to download the most recent service packs.

At this point, normally you would see the ability to download the available service packs and include them in the deployment "on-the-fly". The following screengrab shows what this looks like in Revit 2015.
For Civil 3D 2015 and Map 3D 2015, this option has been omitted from the interface (not 100% sure why). 

You can always extract the MSI from the exe and use the Add... button to browse to the location of the MSI.  This process is cumbersome, in my opinion.

The easiest way to add service packs, subscription add-ons or other tools to your deployment is to use the Include Additional Software section. 

From the Install Additional Software area, you can add any exe or MSI and control the order in which it installs. You'll see a column for Command Line Parameters to the left of the Path.  Command line parameters are install switches you can use to force these additional installs to run silently.  

Command Line Parameters (I'll add more as I find them):

/Q = Quiet (use this if you want the add-ons to install without displaying dialog boxes)
/W = wait until all "child" installs are complete (I recommend adding this to all additional software you install.)

Go forth and install! Before you know it you'll be building your 2016 deployments.