Bug Watch: Plots, Pictures, Pauses and Palettes8 Dec, 2006 By: Steve Johnson
Deck: TIFFs are terrific, but it would be nice if palettes stayed put!
Don't Get in a TIFF about It
In July and October I described how AutoCAD 2007 creates TIFF files at a snail's pace. Good news! Autodesk has issued a hotfix that solves this problem. Unlike some fixes, this one applies to LT and AutoCAD's vertical variants, too. As always, read the readme file first.
After applying the hotfix, not only are compressed TIFFs about the same speed as in earlier releases, but AutoCAD 2007's uncompressed TIFF speed gains are retained. In earlier releases, creating a color TIFF was very slow and rather unreliable, particularly on PCs without much RAM. Now it's still a bit tardy, but much better than before.
Thanks to Autodesk's Shaan Hurley for bringing this hotfix to my attention. Please note that it has no effect on the Grindingly Slow Gradients problem.
DWGCHECK Heck Revisited
Last month, I described how the TrustedDWG feature doesn't want to be turned off. You can, in fact, turn off one aspect of its behavior, the tray icon. First, right-click on a blank part of the tray or select the little black Status Bar Menu triangle. Now pick Tray settings and turn off Display notifications from services. Unfortunately, this setting applies to all tray services, so you'll lose your entire set of tray icons. You can turn them back on at will, but it would be nice to be able to disable them individually. Turning off the icon doesn't disable the TrustedDWG alert or the Command line message.
Pause for Thought (2000 to 2007 SP1)
Here's a little bug for all you LISPers out there. The Visual LISP environment provides mechanisms that help keep you from doing undesirable things in your programs. One of those naughty things is to redefine built-in symbols. AutoCAD's LISP has always let you create your own function called getpoint or your own variable called pi -- and that's almost always an extremely bad idea. To help you avoid that sort of naughtiness, the Visual LISP editor displays built-in symbols in blue to distinguish them from your own symbols. It also provides a pair of checking buttons that detect such problems, resulting in a message such as:
; warning: redefinition of built-in symbol: PI
Where's the bug? The built-in symbol pause is not in Visual LISP's list. This symbol is normally a string set to a value of "\\" and is used extensively when calling AutoCAD commands to wait for user input. Because it is not in the list, it doesn't appear in blue and if you accidentally use it inappropriately you aren't warned. This can lead to your routine apparently randomly causing seemingly unrelated problems in other routines.
Workaround: None known other than to manually check your code.
Unpredictable Palettes (2000 to 2007 SP1)
Palettes of various sorts are the height of AutoCAD fashion at the moment. In addition to tool palettes, there are the new dashboard and xref interfaces, plus DesignCenter, QuickCalc, Properties, Sheet Set Manager, Visual Styles Manager and so on. You can even detach the Command line and let it roam free with all the other palettes. The trouble is ... where do you put them all? If you have a spare screen, you can put them out of the way of your drawing area, but even then there isn't enough room for everything. You can set them to Autohide themselves, but if you do this to a lot of them, you'll develop a nervous twitch every time you move your mouse pointer outside your drawing area.
Fortunately, you can dock these palettes on one side of the screen and set them to Autohide by clicking the minus sign. If you do this with one palette, for example the new dashboard, you'll lose a toolbar-width vertical strip the entire height of your drawing area, because palettes and toolbars don't comfortably co-exist. It's good sense to make the best of a bad thing and use that strip for a whole bunch of palettes. That way, they'll all stack up in the same area, making the best use of that otherwise wasted strip.
Where's the bug? If you stack them, they don't behave themselves. When you restart AutoCAD, some of the palettes will start off full-size and then hide themselves. Occasionally, one of them will start off full-size and stay there, so you then you must drag it back into place like a reluctant toddler.
Workaround: None known. I tried to use AutoCAD 2007 like this for a few days, but just couldn't live with its erratic behavior.