Bug Watch: July 2003

30 Jun, 2003 By: Cadalyst Staff

Commentary: Today is yesterday's news

The more I use AutoCAD 2004, the more I like it. It has its bugs and annoyances, but it's stable and contains many thoughtful little features. I used it today to recover a corrupt Release 14 drawing that crashed all other releases. It's good to see some attention paid to issues like this that aren't obvious headline grabbers but that make a real difference to real users.

What's not so good to see is the loss of features that existed in the previous release. Those also make a real difference to real users. Depending on how much you use those features, AutoCAD 2004 may come as a downgrade. That's a real shame, because overall it's a good release.

What features went AWOL in AutoCAD 2004? The loss of AutoCAD 2000i and 2002's AutoCAD Today window is the most obvious example. Personally, I loathe and despise the nasty horrible thing. I'm glad I no longer have to turn off its aggressively intrusive and amateurish interface. This viewpoint seems fairly common, and the widespread dislike of Today in user land was no doubt instrumental in its demise. But that dislike is by no means universal. Some people find the drawing history feature of Today invaluable, and many CAD managers use the Bulletin Board feature to communicate with their users.

Autodesk, you have an opportunity to improve your service here. If you really need to kill something, that's OK. But you'll annoy a lot fewer customers if you do two things. First, let your users know at least one full release in advance that the feature is on its way out. This is called deprecation, it has a number of advantages, and in the good old days it was Autodesk's standard policy. Second, if at all possible, provide an alternative mechanism. For example, a fast, well-designed drawing history interface would have been a real boon to AutoCAD 2004. Maybe one is planned for the future, but that's not much use to people who use AutoCAD 2004 today. Because AutoCAD 2004 has no Today.

Look at the size of this OLE (14 to 2004)

Submitted by Eric Kleiman.

OLE objects in AutoCAD have provided a rich source of material for this column in the past, and AutoCAD 2004 maintains that tradition in fine style with this impressively immovable insect.

Open a spreadsheet in Excel, select a small range of cells, and Edit / Copy them. Open AutoCAD, and Edit / Paste them. Let's say this creates an object 216.1103 high and 420.2263 wide. Double-click on the object, and Excel opens with the spreadsheet, as expected. Close Excel without changing anything, and AutoCAD changes the OLE object's size, for example to 1975.3448 high and 770.01 wide. The same cell range as before appears, but now the cells are enlarged and distorted.

Workaround: OLE objects in AutoCAD 2004 continue their longstanding disdain for normal AutoCAD commands, so you can't just use Undo to reverse the effect of the bug once it occurs.

In AutoCAD 2004, all you can do is right-click to manually change the object properties back to their original sizes (you did make a note of them, didn't you?). You need to turn off the Lock Aspect Ratio toggle to do this, and the percentages temporarily change to strange values. In AutoCAD 2002, things are easier. After the right-click, you can just set the scale percentages to 100%. In Release 14, you need to manually resize the OLE object until it looks about right. The good news is that once you correct the size in any release, it appears to permanently fix the problem.

Left just ain't right (2002 to 2004)

Submitted by Darin Marsden.
Double-click on a block that contains an attribute with bottom-right justification. This invokes the Eattedit command. Select the attribute in question and switch to the Text Options tab. The popup list for the Justification setting incorrectly displays the justification as Left. If you modify any of the other settings and pick OK, the attribute flips over to Left justification.

No known workaround.

Concentric consternation (2004)

Submitted by Mark Martinez.

Make sure you're using object-associative dimensions (that is, DIMASSOC is set to 2). Draw two or more concentric circles and dimension them all at once using the Qdim command's Radius option. Now select a dimension and pick its text grip to move it to a different location. Repeat this with the other dimensions. You find that each dimension switches from dimensioning its original circle to another one. After you grip-edit all of the dimensions, they all point to the same circle. The lucky recipient of all this attention is the first circle selected in the Qdim command. If you used a window or crossing to select the objects, that is the last circle drawn.

Another aspect of this bug appears when you grip-edit each circle in turn rather than editing the dimensions. If you edit any circle other than Qdim's first-selected one, the dimensions should change, but they do nothing. If you edit the first-selected circle, all of the dimensions change to dimension that circle, lying on top of each other so it seems that only one dimension is left.

Workaround: This doesn't occur when you use point-associative dimensions (when DIMASSOC is set to 1). This bug is new to AutoCAD 2004, but only because AutoCAD 2002's Qdim command failed to respect the DIMASSOC system variable. It always created point-associative dimensions even when DIMASSOC was set to 2.

About the Author: Cadalyst Staff

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