Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Now you don't see it, now you do!

This is classic AutoCAD. OK, so a few days ago I was using Civil 3D 2007 to layout some storm drains and create profiles. Well, as you might know, you can now have background masking as part of the object labels. I have installed C3D 2007 on my computer and a couple of other users machines but we have not rolled out the product completely, so any designs that are done in 2007 format have to be converted back to AutoCAD 2004 format so anyone else can work with the drawing files.

So everything works well with my design and it's time to save and "Export as 2004 format". No problem. Did the export and let the CADD technician I was working with know that the drawing was ready to be setup in the Grading and Drainage Plan for printing. Everything is working great, drawing looks fine on the screen, even the background masking is working! The technician comes back to me about 15 minutes later, with a puzzled look, and was telling me that the text was printing out as black blobs. What? How could this be? It looks fine on the screen. "Must be the plotter", I thought. We've seen this problem before and it had to do with the print driver, or, was it the dreaded Wipeout plot issue resurfacing. OH NO!!!

We sat down together at his desk and looked at the drawing. Looked fine. Looked at the print preview, black blobs where the text labels were. Hmmmmmmm... "Let's do a crossing on the text to see what's there", I asked. Did the selection crossing and low and behold there appears to be a selectable, invisible, rectangular object behind the text; 2 objects selected. Now mind you, we maintain a black background within the drawing space for both paper space and model space for all of our AutoCAD configurations.

We listed the entity in question and it lists as a Solid HATCH with a color of "0,0,0", or black. What??? We changed the drawing space background temporarily to "White" and sure enough there were black, Solid, hatches behind every text label that had been defined with a background mask in Civil 3D 2007. During the conversion process, AutoCAD converted all background masks to a solid, black hatch. Too funny!!!

The fix was easy. We just "FILTER"ed out all hatches on that layer and erased them. But now we have to repeat this step everytime we use the "Export to 2004..." option. I tell you, it's always something, huh?

Monday, May 15, 2006

Thanks Angel!

Thanks to Angel Espinoza for the blog entry on his site and the link to my blog. As I recall, his site was one of the first blogs dedicated to Civil 3D and continues to be one of the most informative out there. I definitely have a RSS watch out on Angel's blog for new entries because he always has something very useful posted. Keep it up Angel and I'll try to do the same.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Civil 3D 2007 Initial Thoughts

Ok, I installed Civil 3D 2007 last Thursday and have been using it on one of our new projects. Did not install Vault, looks too complicated. Plus I'm in it for the design features not the database management. All is going pretty good so far. The product is not as stable as 2006 though; a lot of crashes and fatal errors. Probably about 6 to 8 during the course of my work yesterday. And RECOVER does not work well. I usually lose about 50% of my drawing objects when I am able to recover. Not good. And unfortunately the system crashes are random and cannot be recreated. A couple of times Civil 3D crashed when doing an automatic save. That was frustrating. Auto save usually works so I've set it to 5 minutes just because. Normally I'd set it to 15 to 20 minutes. I use QSAVE when I remember too also.

Overall though, I think it's still worth installing and using just because of the new functionality. I can look beyond the short-comings at this point. The grading design I just did in C3D 2007 was pretty easy to develop. I say I was able to complete the design in about half of the time it would have taken me in Land Desktop. The automatic surface rebuild feature allows you to see the contours change as grading features are added to the surface. You could do this in previous versions of C3D but the rebuild seems much, much faster now.

Well, back to it. I've learned much in the past few days which I will try to share here. So check in every so often.