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? 


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, 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: 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.


Etcetera: Doodling on Conference Calls...

Some of my least favorite cliches from conference calls. After I made this and showed a few of my co-workers they gave me a ton more ideas. I might just make a little BINGO randomizer app. 



Dispatch from Support: Controlling the UNDO Command

You might be wondering how on earth I have time to be blogging so much this week. Well, these "Dispatches from Support" are little how-tos that I've written up for my Enterprise Priority customers. With minimal tweaking I can one-button publish from MS Word 2010 to Blogger.

The Question:

My UNDO command seems to be misbehaving. Every action is accounted for when I try to UNDO. For example, if I create and object, pan with my middle mouse wheel and then and to undo the creation of the object I have to hit undo 2-3 times! With Civil 3D it seems even worse!

My erudite answer:

The behavior of UNDO in Civil 3D uses the same settings as AutoCAD. In all versions of AutoCAD panning and zooming are considered actions so you will always need to undo several steps if you have panned between actions. 

There are few things that will help you.  First, in the AutoCAD Options area, make sure that the options for “Combine zoom and pan commands” is checked. 

Also, when using UNDO, you can undo multiple actions by using the pull-down menu in the Quick Access Toolbar. Many Civil 3D commands will result in a “Group of Commands” entry in the UNDO list because the Civil 3D portion of the program is performing multiple tasks. Inellizoom and Intellipan are the listings seen when using the middle mouse wheel for panning and zooming actions.

Lastly, typing UNDO (the full word, not just U) at the command line will offer additional options. By default, the All option should be on, but you can use the options in the UNDO command to set a mark so that you can quickly get back to a point in time earlier in your AutoCAD session.

Many users have expressed the wish that panning and zooming get ignored altogether in the undo command. I hope that in the future this could be an option, but for now multiple UNDOs are usually necessary. 


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.