To Speed Workflow, Uncheck Here

15 Nov, 2004 By: Richard Feineis Cadalyst

If your company doesn't use digital signatures, you'll increase productivity by disabling the function in AutoCAD.

On June 30, 2000, President Bill Clinton ushered in a revolution for Internet commerce by signing the e-Signatures bill into law. This law mandates that electronic "signatures" on legal documents be accorded the same legal status as traditional signatures on paper documents. Suddenly, the United States became a nation that could use electronic documents and drawings as legal documents.

In 2001, Autodesk introduced Digital Signature Extension, which lets AutoCAD users attach digital signatures to any files compatible with the AutoCAD 2000 drawing file format. In AutoCAD 2004 and 2005, users can digitally sign drawings directly, without using the extension.

Digital signatures provide security and assurance on three levels: identity, data integrity, and nonrepudiation.

  • Identity: The person or company sending you the drawing is who they claim to be.
  • Data integrity: The drawing you have received has not been changed in any way since it was signed.
  • Nonrepudiation: Once a drawing has been signed, the original signer can't claim that the signature was forged.
Despite its powerful benefits, few organizations have adopted this technology. If your company is one of the many that do not use digital signatures in your daily work processes, the following technology tip should make your computer run faster during certain functions.

During the installation of AutoCAD 2004 and 2005, a shell extension loads onto your computer that lets you determine if a file is digitally signed by displaying a specific icon in association with that file when viewed from Windows Explorer or the file's Open/Save dialog box. To determine whether a file is digitally signed, the shell extension looks into each drawing file before displaying it. If you have a folder containing many drawing files, this activity will slow your system and unnecessarily decrease your productivity.

Fortunately, it's easy to disable, and reenable, this extension. Take note: The process is different for AutoCAD than it is for AutoCAD LT users.

Follow these steps to disable the electronic signature function in AutoCAD LT.

  • Locate the file ACSIGNOPT.EXE. Depending on which operating system you are using, this file will be located in either the C:\WINNT\SYSTEM32 directory or the C:\WINDOWS\SYSTEM32 directory. Double-click on the file to run it. This will bring up the Signature Validation Options dialog box (figure 1).

Figure 1. The Signature Validation Options dialog box appears when you launch the ACSIGNOPT.EXE file.

  • Uncheck the box in the middle of the dialog box and click OK.
  • Restart the computer. Now should be able to access your folders much faster than before.
Follow these steps to disable the electronic signature function in AutoCAD.
  • Locate any drawing file in Windows Explorer or through any file dialog box.
  • Right-click on the drawing file name and select Enable/Disable Digital Signature Icons (figure 2).

Figure 2. Right-clicking on the name of any AutoCAD drawing file presents the option to enable or disable the digital signature icon.

  • This will bring up the Signature Validation Options dialog box (figure 3).
  • Uncheck the box in the middle of the dialog box and click OK.
  • Restart the computer and you should be able to access your AutoCAD drawing folders much faster than before.

Figure 3. The Signature Validation Options dialog box appears in AutoCAD when you right-click on any file name.

Digital signatures are a powerful way for companies to save money by reducing the amount of paper documents and drawings needed to conduct business. However, there's no need to pay the price of decreased productivity today if you're not currently embracing and benefiting from this revolutionary technology.

Avatech Solutions is a provider of design automation and PLM (product lifecycle management) solutions for the manufacturing, building design, civil engineering, and GIS markets. The company specializes in software development, technical support, training, and consulting aimed at improving design and documentation efficiencies and the integration of workflow processes. You can subscribe to the monthly electronic newsletter eAvaNews to obtain exclusive offers, updates, and invitations to local workshops and online events as well as information from Avatech applications engineers relevant to the manufacturing/mechanical, architectural and building design, and civil engineering fields.

About the Author: Richard Feineis

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