Stats

15.6.15

2016 Install Workaround: Navisworks Updates Won't Append to Network Deployment

In most Autodesk products, the page where you can choose to download a service pack or add an MSI has been replaced by Autodesk Application Manager (AAM).


For Navisworks 2016 (all flavors: Manage, Freedom and Simulate) the AAM doesn't pick up the updates for some reason. You'll see an empty screen that reads, "Your Autodesk Software is completely up to date - there are no updates needed."

This is a known issue and luckily there is a simple work-around.

When you create a deployment, you will see an Img folder with the reset of the deployment stuff. Inside the Img folder you will see an INI file who's name matches the deployment name. For example, if I create a deployment called Navis_Man2016, there will be a corresponding file called Navis_Man2016.ini.

Open this file in Notepad. In this file locate the section:

#==================== Autodesk Navisworks NW

[NW]
PLATFORM=x64
At the end of this section (before the language pack area), add the following line:
UPI=NAVMAN&2016&ENU64&13.0.1237.08

Believe it or not, that's it. After making that change to the INI, your deployment will recognize what version it is, therefore it knows what updates to grab from the internet.

For Navisworks Freedom 2016 and Navisworks Simulate 2016, you will do a very similar thing.

Find the sections:
#==================== Autodesk Navisworks Freedom

[FREEDOM]PLATFORM=x64

and add:
UPI=NAVFREE&2016&ENU64&13.0.1237.08 

For Simulate find:
#==================== Autodesk Navisworks Simulate

[FREEDOM]PLATFORM=x64
and add:
UPI=NAVSIM&2016&ENU64&13.0.1237.08



Such a small line to fix such an annoying issue. 
Enjoy. 

8.5.15

My Love Affair with Revo Uninstaller

Installing software on Windows is like ripping open a feather pillow in a wind tunnel. You can tell where many of the files go, but there are hundreds of registry entries, user-specific files and other files that seem to get stuck in the unseen corners of your computer.

A common solution to Autodesk software problems is to "uninstall and reinstall". Running the traditional Windows uninstaller from Control Panel > Add/Remove Programs really only uninstalls a small portion of the product. As a support person, we often tell people to do a "complete" uninstall. I find that people either, 1) Don't know what I mean exactly, or 2) Lie about it, thinking I'm just making them do extra steps to be sadistic.

A true, complete uninstall involves:

  1. Running the uninstaller.
  2. Manually deleting the following 
    • C:\Program Files\Autodesk\Autodesk AutoCAD Civil 3D 2014\
    • C:\ProgramData\Autodesk\C3D 2014
    • C:\Program Files (x86)\Autodesk AutoCAD Civil 3D 2014
    • C:\Users\[user login]\AppData\Roaming\Autodesk\C3D 2014
    • C:\Users\[user login]\Appdata\Local\Autodesk\C3D 2014
  3. Go to REGEDIT.exe
    • Verify that the following keys were removed:
      • HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Autodesk\AutoCAD\R1#.#\ACAD-D000:409\
      • HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Autodesk\AutoCAD\R1#.#\ACAD-D000:409\
    • (If the uninstall completed successfully, these should already be gone - but I always like to check *just* in case.)
  4. Clear the contents of the %temp% directory.
Even following those steps may not be enough. If you search your registry for the product you uninstalled, there are still many cling-ons. Additionally, doing all those steps is a huge PIA. That is where Revo Uninstaller Pro comes in. 

Revo is worth the license fee of $30-$70 (depending on what version and how many licenses you buy) because it cleans all the leftover files and registry entries automatically. Even if the program does not appear in Add/Remove programs, Revo Uninstaller will find it. It's like a high-colonic for your registry. 

A feature I use frequently is the Quick Uninstall tool. This allows you to pick a bunch of programs at once and uninstall them as a batch.
You do need to stay close by to keep hitting continue, however. It does not delete or uninstall anything without verifying twice. 

There are three modes; Safe, Moderate and Advanced. I recommend sticking with Moderate. With Autodesk products, Revo will delete the Autodesk Shared stuff if you set this to Advanced, and you don't want that; it will break other products you have installed alongside the one you want to obliterate. 

The best part comes when it gathers leftover registry entries, files and folders. It is so satisfying to select all those checkboxes and click DELETE!

There isn't anything that Revo does that a half-way decent IT person couldn't do manually (or script out if they are 3/4 decent), however it is a lovely convenience. 

For those of you in large organizations that want to uninstall stuff using SCCM or similar, Revo has command line support

My $0.02. I'm not getting any kickbacks from the Revo people for writing all this (although if you happen to work at Revo and want to pat me on the head for endorsing your product, I'd love a free copy of the Revo Uninstaller Pro Portable!), I genuinely like the tool and have used it for years. 


24.4.15

Dispatch from Support: Civil 3D is Slow

I sent this email TWICE today.

[Greetings and niceties omitted]

Minimum requirements for Civil 3D is 4 GB ram. Even though the recommended is 8gb, my personal recommendation is 16gb (32 if people will be working with LiDAR data / 3D scans).

Having said that, the two most common causes for poor performance in Civil 3D are: a) poor data management b) attempting to work off a WAN.

1.      If users are not already, it is imperative that they start using Data Shortcuts.  This is a huge help in improving data management practices.
2.      If they are working from a WAN, test to see if the performance improves if the project is copied local.
·        Both Vault and Projectwise eliminate this problem by temporarily copying files local as the user works.
3.      Make sure the Civil 3D level of detail setting is on. The command line entry for this is LEVELOFDETAIL.
4.      Set the WHIPTHREAD setting to 3
5.      Turn off tooltips (this often helps a lot). ROLLOVERTIPS = 0
6.      If any support file search paths (in AutoCAD options area) are looking to the WAN for resources, this is another huge slower-downer.



Here is my artist's depiction. I call it, "Needing Better Data Management."
This wasn't part of my earlier email, BTW. Just a doodle that expresses how it feels to work on a HUGE file over a WAN and/or without good file management in place.

It's a good thing I'm an engineer 'cuz I suck at art. :-)

15.4.15

Dispatch from Support: Parlez-vous Civil 3D?

Today one of my customers asked about installing a French language pack for Civil 3D 2015. And here's what I found out:

Civil 3D 2015 (and other releases) does not have a separate language pack installation.  With Civil 3D you need to download the entire installation package in the language of your choice. The same is true with Map 3D.

The following products DO have separate language packs that can be installed after the regular deployment/installation:

“vanilla” AutoCAD and AutoCAD LT
AutoCAD Architecture
AutoCAD electrical
AutoCAD Mechanical
AutoCAD MEP
Autodesk Inventor
AutoCAD Structural Detailing
Autodesk Revit Architecture/Structure/MEP

For the above list of Products, go to Help and find the link to Download Language Packs.


For most other products, a separate download is needed.
















Some products such as 3DS Max* and Autodesk Advance Concrete*, and Infraworks 360* there are multi-lingual downloads in manage.autodesk.com For multi-lingual products, there will be a screen in the installation/deployment creation where you pick the product language.





*There are other products that have multilingual installations, but I didn't comb through the list to find them all.

16.3.15

A Quickie Dispatch from Support: Adding Pressure Pipes through Content Editor

The funny thing about pipes is that they have 2 ends.

If you are adding pressure pipes via the Content Catalog Editor and you happen to get the following error, "The following columns are required: 'Outer Diameter (mm),' 'Nominal Diameter (mm),' Joint End Type ID.' Please fill in the valid values and continue."

Don't forget to fill in data for both end of the pipe!


5.3.15

Taking the "Wahhh" out of WAN


  • Is saving a large design file across a WAN (wide area network) supported? 

<grumbling> Yeahhhh...


  • Is it a good idea to do this without a data management plan? 

NO!

Whether you are working in Revit, a flavor of AutoCAD, 3DS Max or other product that creates a large file, you are setting yourself up for poor performance when saving this file to a server that is not local to your office.  Even though the workflow of saving a CAD file to a remote network drive is not explicitly unsupported, it is generally a bad idea.

One of the biggest hits to performance when working in AutoCAD-based stuff is trying to actively work off the WAN. Even with a WAN accelerator like Riverbed, the performance can be frustrating to an end-user. The farther you are physically from the server in question, the slower your experience will be. There are lots of other factors are well. If you are interested, here is a fun latency calculator by Silver Peak (another WAN optimization company). 

Look to possible network issues if you experience one or more of the following symptoms:  
  • Poor performance 
    • long save times
    • sluggish mouse, especially if rollover tooltips are on
    • slow to change views 
  • Crashing on save, autosave or other mundane activity
    • The old "I just walked away for a minute and it crashed!"
    • Freezing when viewing 3D objects
  • Revit "File Not Saved" or other "Unable to Synchronize" messages
  • "Locked for Edit" messages for files that for sure were not in use by other people.
You'll know you are running into this issue when you copy the project locally and the problems magically go away. 

So what to do?

GOOD: Go to the Cloud!

If you are an Autodesk customer, you already have Autodesk 360. This is a cloud storage solution that is built into Autodesk products. You will want the desktop sync app as well.

Similarly, you could use a service like box.com, dropbox.com or Panzura that allows you to work from a local folder and contnuously sync.  The service will create copies of files if there is a version conflict. These services are relatively inexpensive but are not ideal for fast-paced projects where XREFs are updated frequently.

The best use of cloud sync services if for storing shared resources. For example, this would be a great place to store linetypes, fonts or template files.  The caveat is that the pathing to the sync folder must be identical between multiple users.


BETTER: A Data Management Tool

Use a data management program like Projectwise (Bentley) or Vault (Autodesk). Both of these products manage the file a person is working on by temporarily (and without the user realizing it) copying the file to a local drive.  In this case I'm talking about projects themselves rather than resources. 


BEST: Virtualize!

Don't pull your data to you, go to your data.

There is a big push to get Autodesk products tested in virtual environments. Most of the more widely used products are now supported on Citrix XenApp 6.0 or higher. Here a handy list: http://usa.autodesk.com/adsk/servlet/item?siteID=123112&id=13959101. I know of people using virtualization tools other than Citrix, but currently those are not supported (yet). 

If I had a nickel for every support case I've ever taken where the problem stemmed from storing files on a remote network, I could buy a venti skinny vanilla latte.