Bug Watch: AutoCAD's Backward Compatibility

6 Jul, 2006 By: Steve Johnson

What's in AutoCAD 2007 for 2D users? View bugs and slow raster plots, that's what.

Don't Get in a TIFF about It (2007)
Plotting to a raster file, such as TIFF, is more than ten times slower in AutoCAD 2007 than it was in earlier releases. A batch operation that took about ten minutes before now takes more than two hours.

Workaround: None known. If you are on Subscription, you can keep using the old releases indefinitely alongside the new, so you may need to save down to 2004 format and use the earlier release for creating your raster files.

A View with a Room . . . for Improvement (2007)
One of the few non-3D changes introduced by AutoCAD 2007 is the new View Manager. Unfortunately, it doesn't work entirely correctly. I spent an hour with it and found 13 issues to report to Autodesk. Most of them are relatively trivial irritations, rather than bugs, but it gives the interface the look of something that has been farmed out to developers who are unfamiliar with AutoCAD. Here are a few examples.

The Current View Is, Well, Current (2007)
The View dialog box displays the name of the current view. Unfortunately, it always gives this name as Current, making the feature pointless. If I double-click on a view name, it still says Current, even though doing that and picking OK restores that named view, which makes it inconsistent with the behavior of the Layer command's Current layer text. Even if I restore view X and immediately restart the View command, it still says Current, not X.

Workaround: None known.

Loopy View (2007)
The View dialog box's Edit Boundaries button prompts for a first corner and opposite corner, as expected. What is unexpected is that it repeats this pair of prompts indefinitely, at least until you press Enter. The same applies to picking the New View sub-dialog box's Define Window radio button. This feature is inconsistent with both the -View command and other similar prompts in AutoCAD. However, if you pick on the Define View Window button (the one that's not labeled), the prompts appear only once.

Workaround: None known.

A Zoom with a View #1(2007)
In the View dialog box, pick New . . . and then the Define Window radio button. The dialog box goes away, and before you are prompted for corner points, AutoCAD rather bizarrely zooms out so things appear half their previous scale, i.e., the equivalent of typing Zoom 0.5x. The chances are extremely remote that this is what you want AutoCAD to do. I assume this is a deliberate design decision rather than a genuine bug, but it's just about the oddest AutoCAD design decision I've seen that doesn't involve CUI.

Workaround: None known. Somebody was obviously so sure about this being a good idea that they didn't provide a mechanism for turning it off.

A Zoom with a View #2(2007)
In the View dialog box's New View sub-dialog, there's now a section for defining the view's background. This section only applies to 3D views, but it is always available even in 2D views, rather than being grayed out.

Workaround: None known.

Keeping In The Background 2 (2007)
Let's say you create a new view with a background and then decide to make another view. In the New View subdialog, the section for defining the view's background is turned off by default. There is no text after Current override, but the background display shows whatever the last view's settings were. This setting applies even if you previously tried out a background setting and cancelled it. The discarded background image still remains for subsequent uses of the command.

Workaround: None known.

Comment: Version Aversion Flip-Flop
In June 2003, I berated Autodesk for AutoCAD 2004's removal of the ability to save in both Release 13 and 14 formats. In May 2006, I praised Autodesk for making AutoCAD 2007 the most compatible release in AutoCAD history. This month, here are some more brickbats and bouquets on the same subject.

  • On the good side, AutoCAD 2007 introduced the ability to Wblock back to earlier releases.
  • On the bad side, AutoCAD still has an old compatibility problem. The clipboard doesn't work properly between releases. Copy and Paste between 2007 and an earlier release and you get either an incompatible version message or a nasty, horrible OLE object inserted into your drawing instead of your expected drawing objects. AutoCAD's clipboard mechanism is just a front for Wblock and Insert, so you can always use those commands to work around this problem. The whole point of Copy and Paste is ease of use and interoperability, so it would be highly desirable to make this work properly.
  • On the good side, 2007 introduced a command to vanilla AutoCAD called -ExportToAutoCAD (note the leading hyphen). The command is also called AECToAcad, because it already had that name in Architectural Desktop. This command allows you to save a drawing without any of the custom objects that the vertical variants of AutoCAD tend to insert. Instead, they are replaced by dumbed-down standard AutoCAD objects..
  • On the bad side, where vertical variants of Autodesk are concerned, backward compatibility is still an awkward issue. Various custom objects can change their internal format more frequently than the DWG format. The added complexity of multiple releases of multiple AutoCAD variants, all with their own custom objects, together with Autodesk's current 12-month release cycle, means that it's unlikely that all of the bugs will be discovered and removed before the release date. This means we can expect to see more of the sort of backwards compatibility issues I mentioned in May.

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