Annoyance Watch (Bug Watch AutoCAD tutorial)

1 Dec, 2007 By: Steve Johnson

No AutoCAD bugs this month -- does that bug you, or is it just an annoyance?

I asked you to send in your annoyances, and you certainly did! Here is a small selection of things that annoy you about AutoCAD. I don't necessarily agree with all the viewpoints expressed here, but I have passed them on to Autodesk anyway. Over to you, readers!

Xref Layer Defaults
Why has Autodesk always felt that the addition of a newly created layer to an xref must, by default, be on in every viewport in every drawing to which one's xref is attached? I can't tell you the number of times we, at the last minute, have had to add a layer to the xref baseplan to finish (let's say) the RC plan for issue. If, of course, you don't take the time to go through the entire document set and turn off the newly created layer in every applicable viewport, you are guaranteed that the next time you generate a new print set, that every sheet except one will show the additional (and inappropriate) graphics!

Leader Object Snap
Why can't I pick up endpoints on a Qleader?

No 3dorbit while in 3dpoly
You can't use the 3D orbit function while in the middle of the 3dpoly command. I was accustomed to the convenience of the 3dpoly while doing a large 3D project for my CAD class and moving the object around to snap onto a particular point. In AutoCAD 2007 and AutoCAD 2008, my object returns to the previous view when I finish the 3dorbit command, rather than leaving the object in the new position. This problem is infuriating the heck out of me.

Short Shift for @
Why Autodesk felt we had to have a two-finger prefix for delta coordinate entry, I'll never know. I guess I can understand that Autodesk chose to have absolute coordinates require no prefix. But why did they feel they had to give the delta coordinates a two-finger (shift-2) keyboard prefix?

Hip to Be Square
AutoCAD already has a rectangle command, which in other words is a polygon with four sides. So why is the default number for sides in the Polygon command 4? It should be either 3 or 5.

Steve says: Personally, I'd make it 6. Why? Nuts!

Mtext Mask Mutterings
Prior to AutoCAD 2008, you could select Mtext and look at the properties in the properties palette, and the background mask line would give you a simple yes/no toggle. Select, click, click, you're done. I loved that! It assumed that if you added a mask, you wanted the same background color that you last used, which is what I always want to do anyway. If you wanted to change it, you needed to go back thru the Mtext editor. In AutoCAD 2008, you must go through the whole rigmarole of the background mask dialog box.

Communication Crisis?
One of my biggest annoyances isn't AutoCAD but rather Autodesk. Does that still count?

There still seems to be a cycle of two teams that do not communicate with one another. One team works on the odd-numbered versions and another team works on the even-numbered ones. Let alone how many teams work on the different products (that is, AutoCAD Architectural, AutoCAD Mechanical, AutoCAD Map, and AutoCAD Civil 3D).

This situation has, for many years, created the issue in which a new item may appear, then in the following version disappear, only to return again. For instance, the Layer Filters Import button always seems to finally stay on the third time. But it's extremely annoying to have it disappear in the first place.

Trials with Tables
Set the Table style to the way you want it. Open Excel and copy a table from the cells. Paste Special into AutoCAD as AutoCAD Entities. The newly pasted table did not adhere to the rules of the defined table style. Now you have to go to the table and set all the cells to look as they should have.

Attribute Angst
You can't edit the Text Options of multiple attributes. The Enhanced Editor only does one at a time. Because the Enhanced editor will do what it was designed to do, it is not a bug. But when you have hundreds of the same insert of a block that needs its text width set, you have to do it one at a time.

News Flash: Something Annoying Discovered in CUI
Something that once didn't happen now happens. If you need to edit the CUI, you must set the Workspace option to "Do not save changes to workspace" or any changes in the CUI to the menu or toolbars will not take effect. Because I always have it set to save changes between switching workspaces, it's annoying to have to unset, then make CUI changes, then reset.

That's enough reader annoyances for now, but I will have more next month. In the meantime, here are a couple of my own, including one that Autodesk has fixed.

Nag Gag (AutoCAD 2008 pre-Service Pack 1)
One irritant that I'm glad to see gone is AutoCAD 2008's insistence that I update my graphics driver. The driver I had worked perfectly well, but once a day AutoCAD 2008 would nag me to update it. When I finally gave in and installed the latest available driver, AutoCAD still didn't stop the nagging! Not only that, but my new driver introduced a bug that meant that applications, including AutoCAD, don't maximize correctly on the second screen. Fortunately, 2008 Service Pack 1 has stopped the nagging, but I'm now left with the choice of rolling back the driver and possibly reintroducing the nagging or putting up with applications that put themselves in the wrong place.

This notification, like all notifications, needs an independent off switch. In fact, several different graphics notification bubbles pop up, and I want individual control over them. Let's hope Autodesk lightens up on the compulsory notifications in future releases and provides better control over exactly what AutoCAD brings to our attention.

Link Kink
When you're nagged to update your graphics driver, the notification bubble contains a link saying Click Here for more information. Does this give you more information about how to update your driver? Until recently, it did not. Instead, it took you to the Certified Hardware XML Database page. That didn't tell you about how to update your driver, only how to update one of AutoCAD's support files, which might have already been current anyway.

Autodesk fixed this a couple of months ago, having made the Web page much more meaningful and useful under these circumstances. So why am I bothering to mention it here? To show that it is possible to get Autodesk to remove annoyances. As I've mentioned in the February 2007 "Bug Watch" column, a good way to be heard is to join Autodesk's MyFeedback program. My experience with this program has been positive, so I encourage you to get involved.

AutoCAD Tips!

Lynn Allen

In her easy-to-follow, friendly style, long-time Cadalyst contributing editor and Autodesk Technical Evangelist Lynn Allen guides you through a new feature or time-saving trick in every episode of her popular AutoCAD video tips. Subscribe to the free Cadalyst Video Picks newsletter and we'll notify you every time a new video tip is published. All exclusively from Cadalyst!

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