Bug Watch August 2004

15 Aug, 2004 By: Steve Johnson

Communication breakdown, coming to a crossroads, and when Enter doesn’t let you.

Comment: Autodesk support communication, good and bad
According to AutoCAD's Help function, the Communication Center feature can provide information about products, support, subscriptions, and extensions as well as articles and tips. Useful stuff, you might think. Why, then, do so many users turn Communication Center off? If my experience is representative, most AutoCAD users have either a low annoyance threshold or a high level of paranoia. Or maybe both. Depending on your viewpoint, either attitude can be considered quite reasonable. Annoyed users are unlikely to be at their most productive, and to quote a comment in some ancient Autodesk source code, "Paranoia doesn't hurt."

On the other hand, perhaps AutoCAD users have tried it and discovered that it doesn't actually provide much in the way of useful information. When I turned on Communication Center for the purpose of researching this column, it informed me that my product was up to date and provided a link to a single Product Support Information item about a civil menu. This item was irrelevant to me, and my software configuration (vanilla AutoCAD) made it impossible for me to be troubled by this issue. If the Communication Center software were even half smart, it could have worked that out for itself rather than bothering me with it.

Even if your Communication Center is on, you might be missing out on at least some useful Autodesk announcements about bug fixes and the like. So it's worth keeping an occasional eye on Autodesk's Web site. You can bypass most of the marketing and pretty pictures by going straight to the AutoCAD support page, which usually lists several hot issues so you don't have to burrow down or leap around too much. For example, I just found descriptions and fixes for problems such as:

AutoCAD 2005-based products freezing on launch

AutoCAD crashing when 3D Orbit is used

Slow object selection in drawings that contain TrueType fonts

AutoCAD 2005-based products freezing on launch (again!)

Error when starting the program: Create File C:\Documents and Settings\\Local Settings\Temp\AdskCleanUp.0001. The file exists.

AutoCAD crashing when 3D Orbit is used (again!)

New user accounts created on the local system after installation

Determining the correct Autodesk Object Enabler to use

Even allowing for glitches like listing the same issue twice, this page provides considerably more communication than Communication Center, with considerably less annoyance. Picking the links reveals that although descriptions of some issues are very weak, useful workarounds and patches are available for some of the others. It looks like the Autodesk people handling the Web site are putting in a rather better effort than those handling Communication Center. Perhaps communication between these groups needs to be improved before communication can be improved between Autodesk and users?

Intersection indiscretion (13 to 2005)
You've probably discovered the extended intersection feature of object snaps. Introduced in Release 13, this feature lets you locate the intersection of two objects that don't actually intersect, or don't even appear to intersect. This shouldn't be confused with the apparent intersection object snap (APPint), which lets you locate what appears to be an intersection between two objects that may actually be some distance away from each other in 3D space. The extended intersection feature automatically applies to both INTersection and APPint object snaps. Using one of those object snaps, when you select a point with no intersection on an object, the word "and" appears on the command line to prompt you for another object. When you pick that object, the end result is the point where the two objects would intersect if they were extended to meet each other.

That's the good news. Now for the bad. This feature has never worked in paper space when the points you pick are over any viewport. It works in model space within a viewport, and it even works in paper space when you pick model space objects. But it doesn't work in paper space with paper space objects.

Workaround: If the objects lie partially outside a viewport, you can pick that section of the objects and the extended intersection will work. Failing that, you can temporarily turn off the viewport or use some other construction method to locate the point.

Open, please Enter (2000i to 2005)
Using AutoCAD's Open dialog box, you can select more than one drawing to open, using the usual Windows combinations of Ctrl-click and Shift-click, Ctrl-A to select all, and so on. A minor problem with this is that once you've selected more than one file, the Enter button is disabled as an alternative for the Open button.

Workaround: Pick that Open button. Alternatively, use Explorer or a similar program to drag and drop a bunch of drawings onto the AutoCAD window's title bar.

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