Tip: what to do when your text becomes empty rectangles

Dear person who used the search terms “writing has become empty rectangle in cad” and “autocad text has become an empty rectangle” on this blog, I suspect you probably have a drawing where QTEXT has been turned on. To fix this, enter QTEXT at the command prompt, set it to OFF, and if the problem doesn’t go away by itself then issue the REGENALL command. Pedantic note: the command name is QTEXT, but this controls a system variable called QTEXTMODE. QTEXT OFF is equivalent to both SETVAR QTEXTMODE 0 and just QTEXTMODE 0. In LISP it would be (setvar “QTEXTMODE” …

Tip – making your 3D controller work sensibly in BricsCAD

This tip applies to BricsCAD V14 to V18 inclusive, and possibly other versions too. BricsCAD automatically works with a 3D “mouse” (e.g. 3DConnexion SpaceNavigator controller), and due to the generally excellent performance of BricsCAD in 3D, it works very smoothly and is a real productivity boon for 3D work. If you don’t already have one and you work in 3D, it’s well worth spending a fraction of the money you saved by switching to BricsCAD to get hold of one. Unfortunately, the way BricsCAD reacts to use of this device fails to lock the horizon by default. This means it …

BricsCAD documentation – a tale of three systems – part 3

In this third post in what was supposed to be a two-part series, I have more to say about the BricsCAD documentation system. See here for part 1 and here for part 2. Developer Help – Addendum In this comment from Bricsys API person Torsten Moses, he informed me about the availability of the Lisp Developer Support Package (LDSP) in the Bricsys Application Catalog. As always, when presented with new evidence I am prepared to re-examine my position on anything. Therefore, I will now further discuss the BricsCAD developer documentation. The first thing to mention is that the existence of …

Hot tip for Autodesk

Hey Autodesk high-ups, I’m sorry you’ve been having so much trouble persuading your customers to throw away their perpetual licenses and throw themselves on your perpetual mercy. It’s clearly difficult to persuade technical types to do dumb things like rent your software at enormous and ever-increasing prices. I feel for you. But there’s an answer. Find dumber customers. Lots of them. And fast, before the stock market notices that you’re no Adobe and we’re not buying it. Sorry, I mean not renting it. Look no further! Simply buy this company, discard the product when you’re bored with it (you’re very …

BricsCAD documentation – a tale of three systems – part 2

In this pair of posts, I describe the BricsCAD documentation system. Click here for part 1, where I describe the general Help system and the descriptions in the Settings command. In this part, I discuss developer documentation and draw my conclusions. Developer Help If we count the Settings descriptions as a system, there’s a third documentation system for BricsCAD. The Developer Reference isn’t offline and included in an install like the main Help. Instead, it’s online, just like Autodesk’s default. Unlike Autodesk’s system, it works pretty well. Being online means the performance suffers, of course, but it’s generally not too …

BricsCAD documentation – a tale of three systems – part 1

Because of the great similarity between BricsCAD and AutoCAD in terms of commands, variables and most aspects of usage, you would expect the BricsCAD documentation to be about the same too. But it isn’t. Much of the content covers the same areas and due to BricsCAD’s command-line compatibility, there must be a lot in common. But the Help system is very different from Autodesk’s. How so? In this pair of posts, I describe the BricsCAD documentation system. I assume you’re familiar with the AutoCAD one. In this first part, I describe the general Help system and the descriptions in the …

AutoCAD 2018.0.2 arrives

AutoCAD 2018.0.1 is dead, long live 2018.0.2! Here’s the readme. Here’s the 64-bit direct link. Here’s the 32-bit direct link. This supposedly fixes stuff that 2018.0.1 broke, such as the signed VLX thing. Will this one break other stuff? I guess we’ll find out.

You can still buy Autodesk perpetual licenses in Europe

Yes, you really can still buy Autodesk perpetual licenses in the European Union. You just can’t buy them from Autodesk. Where can you buy those licenses? From other customers who don’t need them any more. Unlike some jurisdictions, the EU respects the doctrine of first sale for computer software. This means sale of pre-owned software is allowed, and any EULA restrictions attempting to prevent that are invalid. This was established in 2012 by the EU’s highest court, The Court of Justice for the European Union (CJEU) in the case of UsedSoft v Oracle. Autodesk and all other software vendors in EU countries …

AutoCAD 2018.0.1 mystery deepens with silent withdrawal

As I mentioned earlier, the release of AutoCAD 2018 was followed almost instantaneously by the first update, 2018.0.1. At the time of writing, there was no official information about this update. Some information was later made available, but questions remained. Now the update has been silently withdrawn. Go to Autodesk Account > Management > AutoCAD > Downloads > Updates & Add-ons and you will no longer see this: The infamous Autodesk desktop app also shows no sign of this update. So why has it been withdrawn? Autodesk isn’t saying, but thanks to Jimmy Bergmark, we know that installing the 2018.0.1 …

Autodesk updates Design Review

Despite the previously announced end-of-active-life for Design Review (Autodesk’s DWF viewer), there is now a new release available. This wasn’t supposed to happen, because we should all now be using cloud-based solutions. A new version of DWG TrueView was needed to deal with the new DWG 2018 format, and one knock-on effect is that a new Design Review was needed to be compatible with DWG TrueView 2018.  It’s still only 32-bit, so it appears to be a matter of Autodesk just touching it up enough to keep it compatible. Interestingly, the new Design Review is not called 2018. Here’s where …

AutoCAD 2018.0.1 mystery partially resolved but questions remain

As I mentioned earlier, the release of AutoCAD 2018 was followed almost instantaneously by the first update, 2018.0.1. At the time of writing, there was no official information about this update. Some information is now available, but more questions have arisen. If, like me, you don’t/won’t/can’t have Autodesk desktop app running on your systems, the only current official way to get at the download is using Autodesk Account (but read the whole of this post before you go there). That’s also how you get at information about the update. Go to Management > AutoCAD > Downloads > Updates & Add-ons. From there, …

AutoCAD 2018 – disable InfoCenter

Here’s another AutoCAD 2018 download, just in case you haven’t had enough. If you want to disable AutoCAD’s InfoCenter (and you should, unless have a specific reason for keeping it – here’s why), go get the updated download from uber-expert Owen Wengerd’s ManuSoft Freebies page. It works for AutoCAD and AutoCAD LT.

Script for creating AutoCAD Classic workspace

Edwin Prakaso at the excellent CAD Notes blog has done something that, in hindsight, is blindingly obvious but nevertheless very useful to a multitude of people. He’s written a simple script file that sets up the Classic workspace (or something close to it). It works in any recent AutoCAD or AutoCAD LT. Here’s the blog post: AutoCAD Script to Create Classic Workspace Automatically Edwin uses Microsoft OneDrive to store the script file, so if your workplace restricts access to Cloud storage you might need to download it at home. I’ve added a reference to this script to my post AutoCAD …

Huge PDFs? AutoCAD 2017.1.1 could be to blame

Autodesk has yet again demonstrated why continuous automatic updating is no panacea for avoiding CAD update disruption. On the contrary… If you have noticed some of your PDFs exported from AutoCAD getting huge and unwieldy lately, AutoCAD 2017.1.1 could be to blame. Try uninstalling it using Programs and Features > View Installed Updates and see if the problem goes away. It may also be possible to work around this by going into PDF options and turning on Include Hyperlinks. Source: The Swamp. Here’s one possible* install history: You install AutoCAD 2017. This defaults to also installing Autodesk desktop app. If …

Reset an apparently dead Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4″

…with this one simple trick! I had my Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4″ Android tablet spontaneously die last night, and it refused to respond to any button pressing, cable connecting or threats. Holding down the power button for 10 seconds (or more) did nothing, as did Dr. Google’s top tip of holding down Power, Volume Up and Home for 10 seconds. What worked for me was holding down Power, Volume Up and Volume Down for 10 seconds. It restarted without anything being lost and is now back to normal.

Undo, U, Redo, Erase, Oops differences explained

It’s been a while since I posted any beginners’ tips, so here goes. There are several commands in AutoCAD to do with reversing things you’ve done. They are in some cases subtly different and this can confuse newcomers. Here’s what they do: U – reverses the last command you used. Redo – reverses the last U or Undo operation you performed, if that’s the last thing you did. Undo – displays a set of command options that allow greater control over undoing things. (This is rarely used directly by a user, and is more of a programmer’s tool, so I …

AutoCAD 2017.1.1 Update

Thanks to Jimmy Bergmark, I now know that the controversial subscription-only* AutoCAD 2017.1 Update has itself been updated. Jimmy was brave enough to install and run the execrable Autodesk desktop app and discovered the update update. Rather you than me, Jimmy! Here’s the readme. You’ll need to get at it using Autodesk Account. I note that a bunch of crashes are fixed by this update update. Perhaps that is related to the magical missing AutoCAD 2017.1 crash information? Who knows? The update was apparently released over a month ago on 17 November 2016. Autodesk needs to work out an alternative …

The best thing about AutoCAD 2017.1 is…

…the fact that one of the Express Tools finally got an update. Not just a minor maintenance tickle or mere absorption into the core code, either. A real update, resulting in not only bug fixes but genuinely useful improvements in functionality. A little background on Express Tools might help put this into context. The history goes back to 1992 and AutoCAD Release 12. In addition to an impressively full set of paper manuals, people with Release 12 (great value at US$500 to upgrade from any earlier release) obtained a Bonus CD containing 2605 files of free add-on goodness. Fonts, LISP, DOS …

How to download Autodesk software without the Akamai download manager

For reasons beyond my understanding, Autodesk chooses to make life difficult for customers and prospective customers who want to download its products by imposing the use of a download manager (DLM) by Akamai. You really don’t want to let such a thing loose on your system even if it works, for reasons that have been explained in previous posts. Until a couple of years ago, Autodesk allowed prospective customers to get at a direct download link after jumping through a few hoops and ignoring a bunch of bullshit warnings, but in recent times even that small measure of semi-decency has …

Draping images over surfaces in Civil 3D

Having recently overcome various difficulties to successfully drape an image over a surface in Civil 3D, it may be useful to pass on a few points I have learned. There are various posts and videos out there that helpfully go through this process, but some of them (including Autodesk sources) contain information that is irrelevant or just plain wrong, and none of them contained all  of the information I needed to complete the task. I used Civil 3D 2015 for this, but the principles apply to all recent releases. Here is the basic sequence required: In the drawing containing the …