Bug Watch: Nero Fiddles, AutoCAD Burns

12 Feb, 2006 By: Steve Johnson Cadalyst

AutoCAD doesn't let Windows know when it's used a file, but it will slow your system down for you, and it might forget all about its dialogs.

Not a Burning Issue (2006 to 2006 SP1)
This is not an AutoCAD bug, but it looks like a really nasty one. In this case, AutoCAD is innocent. Uninstalling the CD and DVD burning software Ahead Nero will cause AutoCAD to refuse to load its menus, claiming they are invalid.

Workaround: This bug is caused by the uninstall de-registering a DLL file that AutoCAD needs. To fix it, use Start / Run, and then enter the following:


Not a Recent Problem (2000i to 2006 SP1)
Most applications will add recently opened documents to the Recent Documents list under the Windows Start button. AutoCAD does not add its DWG files. A DWG file is added to this list if you double-click on it in Explorer, although that's Windows adding it rather than AutoCAD. If you save a drawing, open it in the conventional way with the Open dialog box, or drag and drop it onto AutoCAD, then the drawing name does not get added to the Recent Documents list.

So why should I consider this a bug rather than a wish list item? Because it worked once, and now it is broken. AutoCAD once did add drawings to the Recent Documents list properly. This table shows the AutoCAD releases with working Recent Documents support:

  R13c4 R14 2000 2000i 2002 2004 2005 2006
Double-click Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y
Save As Y Y Y N N N N N
Open N Y Y N N N N N
Drag & drop N/A N/A Y N N N N N

Release 14 was the first to support Recent Documents fully, as far as it could. AutoCAD 2000 extended that when opening drawings via drag and drop was allowed. AutoCAD 2000i broke it, and it's been broken ever since.

Workaround: It is possible to write a utility to persuade AutoCAD to do the right thing. Indeed, I remember such a utility being written by Tony Tanzillo during the Release 13 lifecycle, but I am not aware of anything that will work with recent AutoCAD versions. You may find that a generic Recent Documents freeware or shareware program provides some kind of solution. If so, please e-mail me, and I will pass on the information.

Going Slow? Waive a Sign (2004 to 2006 SP1)
Installing AutoCAD can cause your system to slow down badly, even when it's not in use. How is this possible? Digital Signatures. This problem can affect you even if you don't use the feature. After being introduced as an extension to AutoCAD 2002, Digital Signatures became part of the main product in AutoCAD 2004. As part of the AutoCAD install, a shell extension is added to Windows Explorer to display drawing icons differently if they are signed. So if a folder contains a lot of drawings, Explorer will take a lot of time to interrogate every file and determine the correct icons to display. That slows things down when dealing with files both within and without AutoCAD.

Workaround: Fortunately, you can turn off the icon display mechanism and still use the Digital Signatures feature. In Windows Explorer, right-click on any drawing file and select Enable/Disable Digital Signature Icons. In the Signature Validation Options dialog box, uncheck Validate Digital Signatures and display special icons. Log off or restart Windows. Note that you'll need to do the same procedure for each user on the computer. You may also need to repeat it after installing AutoCAD or any of its variants.

A Lack of Dialog (2005 to 2006 SP1)
Various people have reported that AutoCAD loses various dialog box commands after performing a plot. Commands like Xref, Style, Linetype and Bhatch all go AWOL. The Command line versions of the commands, with each command name preceded by a hyphen, still work fine. This problem has nothing to do with the dialog box system variables, such as CMDDIA and FILEDIA. Indeed, the file dialog boxes still work, although the available file format list is abbreviated. The problem appears to be common to, but not unique to, Xerox plot devices. If this happens to you, please e-mail me, including details of the plot device and the exact AutoCAD variant you're using. If there are any common threads to be seen, I'll report them here.

Workaround: Closing and restarting AutoCAD usually puts things back to normal.

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