AutoCAD 2012 – Nudge encourages ‘bad’ drawings

If you preselect some objects in AutoCAD 2012 and hold down [Ctrl], then the objects will move a bit if you hit an arrow key. Great, cool!

Exactly how far do they move? Let’s try it, shall we. First time, the move was about 4.5565 units. Zoom around a bit and try again. This time, it’s about 11.6677 units. Zoom around a bit more and it’s different again. And again. What’s actually happening is that the Nudge feature is moving the objects by 3 pixels. What? Since when has AutoCAD dealt with object location in terms of pixels? Since 2012 came out. Does object snap help? No. So you can expect to see a bunch more drawings that have been eyed in. “Looks near enough to me!”

OK, so you can turn Snap on and have the objects nudged around in a more rational way, or just ignore the feature altogether. But that’s not going to help you clean up the messy drawings that are now going to come your way for editing. Of course, some people have never needed any help to make messy drawings, but those that needed a little nudge in that direction have just been given it.


  1. Just another destructive device. Push/Pull and Solid>Extrude>Face
    already help bad users produce bad products.

    The program allows you to work with repeatable tolerances measured in wavelengths of light. Nudging, pulling, and other doodling features allow them to take those bad product results right to the scene of the crash.

    Maybe Autodesk should include litigation analysis in the design suites.
    Yes, I am getting crabby in my golden years… -Bill

  2. R. Paul Waddington

    Nudge, nudge, wink, nudge a bit more? Ah! Autodesk has found away to put direct editing into 2D. (Now it will be easier for 3D users to move to 2D)

    Soon, I suspect, we will all receive an Autodesk survey asking us how useful is the MOVE command with single choice answers loaded to show how difficult MOVE is and that NUDGE is way forward for those who are in touch with technology and moving forward.
    MOVE, my dear useful and faithful friend, you have had a great innings but have grown old last the ashes and the one dayers so you must go – the survey said so 🙁

    April 1, just two days away; maybe that’s when Nudge should have been introduced Autodesk 😀

  3. David Kozina

    This command sounds like a good candidate for undefining/disabling.

    Whoever (or whatever production team) came up with this command should come forward and ‘splain their thinking to us, as well as how this will result in more accurate CAD files. (IOW, how this command will help to DECREASE entropy in the CAD world, as all GOOD commands SHOULD promote.) Over the years, I’ve tried to fight continually against ‘CAD entropy’ but at times I really feel like Don Quixote, tilting at windmills.

    Having learned AutoCAD on the job back in 1996 (R13), with no formal training per se, I’ve always found it interesting how the documentation (nice hardcopy manuals, actually), although fairly thorough, never seemed to explain the nitty-gritty whys and wherefores of good practice or ‘technique’. That was left for the user to discover (eventually) – or not.

    Thankfully, we did find help in that regard in such publications as Maximizing AutoCAD, by Mark Middlebrook, Tony Tanzillo and Rusty Genser, and other good articles by those and others in some of the CAD magazines of the day, as well as a GREAT DEAL of help in the Autodesk discussion groups (NNTP).

    Now I see, recently, on an Autodesker’s blog, promoting job site visits with electronic plans on an iPad or (better yet), an iPhone. I see I should now disable the publish and plot commands for hardcopy output. Never had any use for those sissy options me-self. Nothing but problems. Bad ol’ paper! Such an ancient crutch!

  4. I have gotten so used to Nudge in Revit that I’ve tried to use it in AutoCAD. That said, I would only ever use it to move annotation objects that have no bearing on the physical location of the geometry (like an interior elevation tag). It took a while, but I have become assimilated by being forced to not care if my text is precisely located. Sorry AutoCAD.

  5. Anthony,

    That is actually a good point – thanks for sharing that tip – I’ll have to try it.

    I find that Revit’s ‘Schwartzenegger-strength magnetic grip force’ is about 3 to 5 times that of AutoCAD’s – so that when I want to move a note or tag via it’s grip I’ll start pulling on it only to have it finally break away at approximately escape velocity across the screen… If I don’t happen to ‘let go’ of the skittering object due shock and surprise by releasing the mouse button and start herding it back towards it’s original location, I gotta be careful not to move it back *too close* (but it’s quite difficult to tell just *how* close that may be, now ain’t it?) or it’ll SLAM right back to where it was. Hope you didn’t have your fingers or toes there.
    Way elegant UI.

    Revit nudge – looks like just the ticket…
    Thanks again. Sincerely.

  6. Matt Stachoni

    What’s funny is to see stuff that you programmed into AutoCAD Release 12 finally making it into the product. But when it does, Autodesk does so with such epic facepalm failness that it really takes your breath away.

    Whoever thought this implementation was a good idea should be fired immediately. Revit has the perfect nudging system – it’s based on the zoom factor, so you nudge in smaller increments when you are zoomed in. But it always uses distances that you specify in your Snap settings. Why Autodesk didn’t just copy this back into Revit is astoundingly dumb.

  7. Good point in your first paragraph Matt. Some of the biggest hits over the past 10-12 years were the original bonus tools/express tools – because they were not over-thought and/or over-programmed. Just tools that were needed and that worked. Same for all of the old good independently developed lisp routines.

    I guess the marketing folks make sure all new features have some “flash” to them, whether they need it or not.

  8. Brian

    Before, I use the Ctrl+Arrow Keys shortcuts in my customizations to move the selected objects a specific distance. Now in 2012, It moves alright but with A LITTLE MORE non-specific distance. Isn’t that nice? To add insult to the injury, I can’t remove the shortcut keys from the NUDGE command. Its not on the cuix, its been hardcoded inside AutoCAD. I can’t even undefine the nudge command. If there’s a poll for the worst feature ever existed, I’m gonna vote for this a hundred times.

  9. WOW… I’m sane again… there really is a “kinda sorta like that” function in 2012, Alternatively called “Dimensional random shift”. In 2009 I discovered the super secret cloaking function, who’s documentation was also cloaked (objects would simply vanish from the drawing). And the “diff copy” where in copying an object that was made using Boolean functions like subtract, merge, common, would result in a copy of the trash you got rid of instead of the object you wanted to copy. It’s documentation, of course, was not…

    We have used 2005 as a baseline, 2006 didn’t add enough to install and I heard it had issues though we were on subscription (should that be prescription?). So what I’m thinking is that besides AutoDesk changing file format every third release, there is also what to be expected of each three set. 2006, 2009, 2012… See the pattern?

    The subject of this blog has inspired me to down shift to 2011 as that would be in the proper location in line with 3 per set and where 2005 is.

  10. AKS

    I created my own keyboard controlled, VBA, Nudge application years ago that was frequently used with pleasure up until AutoCAD 2010 and Windows 7 broke the keyboard interrupt and focus aspects to VBA. So I can tell you that there is a good use for such an application in ways you do not know, but this 2012 Nudge sounds a bit weak. In this VBA you selected the objects (usually text notes in a column) and then motored them around with arrow keys. Holding down shift would double the rate (just like the 1980’s 8bit computer games). The increment value was a saved preference, that you could key in (inches) on the fly or double or half by using + or – keys. Pressing R rotated each selected item about its origin and similar keys controlled the angle and the rotation direction. There was a backup key. A 24 inch Nudge increment was particularly useful for moving items ceiling around that would normally exist on a 24″ module. There are those that say, “Well you could do the same thing x way.” Yes, but with considerably more hand motor control movement.

    1. I don’t know of a way. It’s not a command as such, so the usual disable-a-command mechanisms won’t work. It may be possible for someone exceptionally smart (Owen Wengerd, for example) to kill it, but I’m not aware of anyone having done so yet. All you can do is work around it by turning Snap on.

  11. -to add insult to injury, the nudge command in AutoCAD works in screen space, so to speak. Try selecting a parallel or perspective view, and nudge a 3D object; the object will move diagonally across the XY plane, instead of orthogonally to the X or Y axes.
    Utterly useless.

  12. Anonymous

    If you use the scripting tool AutoHotkey, which I highly recommend, the following lines in a script will disable this command.

    #IfWinActive AutoCAD

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