Bug Watch: AutoCAD 2006, for Better or Worse14 Jun, 2005 By: Steve Johnson Cadalyst
AutoCAD 2006 brings bouquets, brickbats and bugs, and not just for AutoCAD 2006 users.
Considering that AutoCAD 2006 represents only one year's development since AutoCAD 2005, it boasts a remarkable set of truly useful new features. As usual, a new release also means fixes for a lot of old bugs. Next month's Bug Watch will provide specific details about what's fixed and what's not.
With so many new features in 2006, you shouldn't be surprised about the correspondingly large number of new creatures. I don't expect to run out of AutoCAD 2006 material for this column any time soon. In particular, the new CUI menu system is causing plenty of headaches for people who do extensive customization. Watch for more on that subject in coming months.
One thing I liked least about the AutoCAD 2005 installation was that the .NET framework required me to pick my username partway through the Windows startup procedure. Because of this, I couldn't just turn on my PC, go and do something useful, then come back and start working. I didn't ask for it; I didn't want it; it provided no security benefit to me; and while Autodesk acknowledged the issue, it did not provide any useful suggestions for making it go away.
Joy of joys, the AutoCAD 2006 installation includes a .NET update that rids my system of this unwanted pause! While I'm grateful, I also feel uneasy about application installation programs that mess with my operating system. This uneasiness began with the AutoCAD 2000i installation, which saw fit to impose a specific version of a particular Web browser on my system. Installing 2000i was the flakiest, most painful AutoCAD installation experience I have had in 20 years, and the browser imposition contributed greatly to that. I don't think my opinion of AutoCAD 2000i ever recovered from that experience.
Call me an old fuddy-duddy if you like, but when applications start meddling with my operating system components, it makes me pine for the good old days when an AutoCAD installation involved the following steps:
C:\>COPY A:\ ACAD
It's not just a philosophical objection. There are practical issues, too, such as the Caught in a .NET bug described below. I have similar issues with applications that share components with each other. I understand the principles of object-oriented software development that make this theoretically desirable. However, the practical issues with different versions of different applications mean that developers should carefully test all types of permutations to ensure that obscure things don't break. Sometimes this testing doesn't happen, with results such as those described below in Maligned Mlines.
Caught in a .NET (2006 Installation)
The AutoCAD 2006 installation imposes the .NET framework v1.1 with Service Pack 1. The AutoCAD installation routine calls Microsoft installation routines to first install .NET 1.1, then to install 1.1 SP1. If you already have .NET 1.1 installed and have applied a security hot fix to it, then the AutoCAD 2006 installation fails. To be accurate, the .NET 1.1 SP1 installation fails, because the Microsoft installation routine is not smart enough to work properly on systems that are being kept up to date with hot fixes.
Workaround: If you grub around on the AutoCAD 2006 CD, eventually you'll find the Microsoft executables that the installation calls. If you run these yourself, they still fail, but with more useful error messages than those provided by the AutoCAD install. You can then work out that you need to use Control Panel to manually uninstall the hot fix. Once you have done that, the AutoCAD installation should proceed smoothly.
Maligned MLines (2006 Installation, affecting 2004 to 2005)
In the past, I have berated Autodesk for failing to allow new releases to coexist with their earlier counterparts. For example, 2000, 2000i and 2002 don't get along on the same system. I have also praised Autodesk for correcting this mistake on 2004 and 2005. Autodesk continues this fine tradition with 2006. Or does it?
After you install AutoCAD 2006 on a system with 2004 and/or 2005 already installed, a bug afflicts the earlier releases. If you attempt to edit Mlines using the MLEdit command, AutoCAD crashes.
Workaround: Uninstall both AutoCADs, and then reinstall 2004 and 2005.
A Version Aversion (2005 to 2006)
You may be aware that telling AutoCAD to use 2000 format as a default for its drawings doesn't work everywhere in AutoCAD from 2004 to 2006. For example, the Wblock command always saves in 2004 format, and in-place xref editing will also force modified xref child drawings to be saved in that format. While not exactly bugs, these are inconveniences.
Here's the real bug. Occasionally, AutoCAD 2005 and 2006 saves in 2004 format even when explicitly told via the Save As command to save in 2000 format. When this occurs, AutoCAD sticks for the rest of that AutoCAD session, making it impossible to save anything in 2000 format. This applies to both the normal file dialog box interface and the command-line interface, such as that used from LISP. I have not yet managed to track down what it is that triggers AutoCAD's aversion to saving in the old format. If you have any idea what's doing it, please let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Workaround: Close and restart AutoCAD.