Bug Watch: October 2003

30 Sep, 2003 By: Steve Johnson

AutoCAD 2004 coexistence and compatibility revisited

In June's Bug Watch, I noted that AutoCAD 2004 won’t save in Release 13 or Release 14 formats, making life difficult for AutoCAD 2004 users with customers who still use Release 14. Autodesk has gone some way toward rectifying this situation by creating the Autodesk Batch Drawing Converter 2004. This tool converts drawings from any AutoCAD release to any of the three most recent formats – Release 14, AutoCAD 2000–2002, and AutoCAD 2004.

Frozen first failure (2004)

Submitted by Donald Broussard.

If you have a block that contains attributes on different layers, freeze the layer that contains the first attribute. Now select the block so you can grip edit the remaining attributes to move them around. You can't! The block is selected, along with its attributes, but no grips appear on the attributes, so you can't move them. Likewise, if you freeze the layer of the second attribute instead, you can grip edit only the first attribute. Once AutoCAD finds an attribute on a frozen layer, it doesn’t place any grips on all subsequent attributes.

Workaround: You can thaw the layer if it's convenient, of course. Sometimes it isn't convenient, because you may have attributes that lie on top of each other. At times like this, you can resort to the venerable –Attedit command (note the leading hyphen). The prompts in this almost-forgotten command are somewhat confusing to the uninitiated, but you can use them to move an attribute with a command sequence like this:
-Attedit <Enter> <Enter> <Enter> <Enter> <Enter>
<pick the attribute> <Enter>
Position <Enter>
<pick a new attribute insertion point> <Enter>
That looks tedious, but if you write a repeating menu macro, it works quite well. Here is the macro code:

French farce (14 to 2004)

Submitted by Patrick Emin.

French-speaking AutoCAD users had a good laugh recently at the expense of the hapless translators who keep messing about with the options for object selection in various AutoCAD versions. To enter the mode where you can remove objects from a selection set, we English speakers have typed in R for the boring old Remove mode for the past 18 years or so. The privileged French-speakers, on the other hand, received a new option in each of the last three major releases. In Release 14, the mode was called Retirer (withdraw). In 2000–2002, it was Supprimer (eliminate). In 2004, it seems to be called Ôter (remove). But here's the bug. If you try to type in O for the Oter option displayed in the prompt, it doesn’t work. You have to enter S for the old 2000–2002 Supprimer option instead. To cap it off, AutoCAD 2004 then displays a prompt that uses the old Release 14 terminology Retirer.

If you can read French and want a chuckle, have a look at this discussion.

F Lock Off

This isn't an AutoCAD bug. It's not Autodesk's responsibility. It's not even a bug. But it's something that may look like an AutoCAD bug to the uninitiated, it's annoying, and it has a workaround. So I'm going to bend the rules and give it an airing here.

Imagine this situation. You like to keep up to date, so for your new AutoCAD 2004, you buy a fast new computer with Windows XP Professional and all the bells and whistles. It even has one of those great new Microsoft keyboards with the extra music buttons, but you haven't had time to play with them yet. The supplier installs Windows XP, and you install AutoCAD 2004, which works fine up until the first time you use one of the Function keys and nothing happens. In fact, none of the function keys work. You look in the AutoCAD Help (you use the pull-down menu to do this, because F1 doesn't work). You look in the Windows Help. You look in various places on- and offline. Nothing.

So what's going on? Well, you see those words on the top of the function keys, such as New, Open and Close? If your supplier installed the IntelliType software that came with the keyboard, those function keys would be performing New, Open, and Close operations in your various programs, including AutoCAD. But the supplier didn't, so those keys do nothing. Once you install IntelliType, the keys do what they say. If you prefer them to do what they always used to do, just press that F Lock key in the top right corner of the keyboard.

After experimenting with Microsoft's attempt to impose a new keyboard standard, you decide you don't like it. You’re tired of undoing the last command every time you try to flip to the text screen, so you want the F Lock key on all the time. But wait. Every time you turn your computer on, F Lock is turned off. In fact, Microsoft is so keen on imposing its new standard that it hardwired the default F Lock off state into the keyboard. This means you can’t even use a free little utility like those available for turning on Caps Lock at startup.

Workaround: You can try to get used to hitting that F Lock key at startup, or you can buy a less intrusive keyboard from a different manufacturer. Alternatively, you can edit the registry to effectively reverse the state of the F Lock key. See here for more details. As always with registry changes, be careful out there.

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