This Week In Support: Printing!

This week has been full of surprising discoveries for me. AutoCAD (and Civil 3D) is a never-ending adventure in tricks, cool stuff and sometimes WTF. I'm convinced that there is nobody on the planet who knows every single feature and variable.

AutoCAD Printing Issue #1:

The first thing I discovered is that the DWG to PDF.pc3 file from earlier versions of AutoCAD is not compatible with AutoCAD 2016. Here's the KB article on it. It took me an embarrassing amount of time to find that this was the root cause for an issue one of my guys was having.

In the case I had this week, the error was manifesting itself in an unexpected way. The user was able to publish to PDF only if each page was going to a separate file. It wouldn't create a multi-page PDF. The pre-2016 pc3 file shouldn't have worked even that much! In theory, it should always give the user a "Device not found" error.
You'll need to update your 2016 page setups accordingly.

AutoCAD Printing Issue #2:

I helped with a case this week involving sheet set manager ignoring certain page setups when importing page setup overrides. Some of the page setups came in fine, but the ones that specified Window as the plot area did not get pulled in.

After digging for the answer, we found that this is by design. The Window option is intended for preliminary plots and not for full-blown publishing.

It would be nice if AutoCAD popped up a little warning. If I wrote warning dialog boxes, it would look something like this:

If you took an AutoCAD class from me, one of the things I emphasize is plotting best practices.

What I would have drilled into you:
  • When you set up your paper size, use one of the "Full bleed" options. Full bleed means there is no margin at the edge of the page. When you place your title block, 0,0 is the exact lower right corner. Margin size varies from printer to printer. By using full bleed, you are taking the printer's quirks out of the equation and simplifying the rest of the process.
  • Use the LAYOUT option for What to plot.
    • Display is nice for quickie, check plots
    • Extents is often used instead of layout, but it makes me nervous. Any object outside of your intended plot area will whack out the scale.
    • Layout is the one you want. It only plots the size of the paper you set up, no exceptions.
    • View will plot a previously created named view. In almost 20 years of dealing with this stuff, I've never seen anyone use this.
    • Window should also only be used for quickie plots. Like extents, it is so easy to goof up. There is no way to lock the window selection, so your intern is three clicks away from goofing up the scale.
  • If your paper is full bleed and the title block and vie ports are set up correctly, there is no need whatsoever to use the X and Y offsets. If you need to fiddle with these, something is wrong.
  • Using Fit to paper should only be used for quickie plots where you don't care about the scale. 
  • The scale should only ever be 
    • 1mm (or inch) to 1 unit for a full size plot
    • 1mm (or inch) to 2 unit for a 1/2 size plot
    • The "real" scaling should occur in your viewport
Ok, I think we are done here.