Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Do you have Ideas for AutoCAD?

Between the Lines informs about what you can do with your ideas.

“The AutoCAD Product Design Team has a new experimental web based site launched to gather more of your ideas and rank them by your voting. Go submit some of your ideas on new features and changes to existing ones. You can also view and vote on other submitted ideas to help shape the future of AutoCAD.”

Go to http://autode.sk/kXmZU4 to submit and vote for ideas to improve your experience using AutoCAD!

Google moderator is used for this purpose and I might use it myself for some future projects.

Office 2010 Service Pack 1 Error 0x8024002D

Office 2010 Service Pack 1 (SP1) is now available and when I installed it via Windows Update I got the error 0x8024002D. First time it just failed to install. I then tried again and got a dialog box asking for an MSI file so I browsed for it. Still it didn’t work so I tried again and got asked about another MSI file. After a few tries it finally worked out. Problem solved.

(Checking the log file in %TEMP% I saw this: Error 1706. Setup cannot find the required files.  Check your connection to the network, or CD-ROM drive.    For other potential solutions to this problem, see SETUP.CHM.")

Strange that the files could not be found because they were available. I had them on an external hard drive, maybe that confused the installer.

This KB article might otherwise help.

On the topic I found that I had to rebuild the whole Index, something I’m not so happy about.

Here are some highlights of SP1:

Excel 2010 SP1 Improves the overall stability, performance and backward compatibility with earlier versions by addressing bugs that affect lots of users.

Outlook 2010 SP1 includes Office 365 support.

Outlook 2010 SP1 can be set to always use the default sending account.

Outlook 2010 SP1 Fixes an issue in which the snooze time does not between appointments.

PowerPoint 2010 SP1 The default behavior for the Use Presenter View option is changed to display the slide show on the secondary monitor, and display the notes on the primary monitor.

For complete list of improvements see this KB article including details for Word 2010 SP1 and OneNote 2010 SP1.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Sheet Set Manager performance issue with Windows 2008 R2 server with SMB V2 active

This is for users of AutoCAD or any AutoCAD vertical together with Sheet Set Manager (SSM) having DWG files stored in a Windows 2008 R2 server with SMB V2 active. It seems to be unrelated to the AutoCAD version. Should affect AutoCAD LT 2012 too.

As soon we open a Sheet Set from the server, Process Explorer shows that the process AdcomFolderWatch.dll uses until 50% CPU utilization, and the Network traffic goes up and stays at ~5 Mbps, even after closing all drawings in AutoCAD).

This issue only affects the systems having SMB Ver.2 active, like Windows 2008 Server R2.

The Autodesk development team is working actively in trying to fix this issue, but for instance, the only way to avoid it is to enable SMB 1. See How to Disable SMB 2.0 on Windows Vista/2008

Via Up and Ready

See also Slow Sheet Set Manager solution and Sheet Set Manager performance tips as well as the Sheet Set Manager Editor SSMPropEditor.

Autodesk Infrastructure Design Suite Network License Hotfix

Autodesk Infrastructure Design Suite Network License Hotfix

In a continued effort to improve, we are releasing this hotfix for network license environments where both AutoCAD Civil 3D and Autodesk Infrastructure Design Suite Premium or Ultimate license exist.

This hotfix addresses a possible issue with AutoCAD Civil 3D 2012 pulling the incorrect license at launch.  This hotfix should be applied to all machines that have AutoCAD Civil 3D 2012 installed, regardless of whether it was installed as part of a suite or as a point products (not part of a suite).

Download at DL17253046

For more information on how AutoCAD Civil 3D 2012 pulls network licenses in a mixed license environment, please see the following solutions. Understanding a Civil 3D and Infrastructure Suite mixed license environment and 2012: Cascading Sequences for Autodesk Products

Understanding a Civil 3D and Infrastructure Suite mixed license environment

Issue:

You have a mixture of Civil 3D network licenses and Infrastructure Suite Premium or Ultimate network licenses and you are wondering which license AutoCAD Civil 3D 2012 will pull first.

Solution:

It does not matter if AutoCAD Civil 3D 2012 was installed as part of one of the Autodesk Infrastructure Design Suites or as a point product (not as part of the suite). When you have a mixed license environment, AutoCAD Civil 3D 2012 will always look to pull a Civil 3D license first. If no Civil 3D licenses are available, it will then look to pull an Infrastructure Design Suite Premium or Ultimate license.

The following diagram shows this sequencing:

In the event that you first pull a Civil 3D network license and later, while that license is still in use, you pull one of the Infrastructure Design Suite licenses by launching a different product in that suite, the Civil 3D license will be returned and you will only consume the one suite license. The same thing applies if you first pull a suite license and then launch AutoCAD Civil 3D 2012.

Note: To allow this expected behavior, you must first apply the Autodesk Infrastructure Design Suite Network License Hotfix to the machine running AutoCAD Civil 3D 2012.

For License Statistics monitoring See JTB FlexReport.

AutoCAD 2012 Hotfix solving Block Editor Save Corruption

Autodesk 2012 Block Editor Save Corruption Hot Fix

This hotfix prevents possible loss of data that may occur if the drawing is saved while the Block Editor is open in AutoCAD® 2012-based products as well as AutoCAD LT 2012.

What might happen is that the complete drawing is replaced with the edited block.

Get the download of AcAuthEnviron.arx at DL17244799

Description of Problem

When a drawing is saved from within the Block Editor, the entire content of the drawing is sometimes lost and replaced with the content of the block being edited.

Affected Products

  • AutoCAD 2012
  • AutoCAD Architecture 2012
  • AutoCAD Civil 3D® 2012
  • AutoCAD Electrical 2012
  • AutoCAD Land Desktop 2012
  • AutoCAD LT® 2012
  • AutoCAD Map3D 2012
  • AutoCAD Mechanical 2012
  • AutoCAD MEP 2012
  • AutoCAD P&ID 2012

Thursday, June 16, 2011

How to specify the port to be used by FlexNet license manager

If you don't specifically add the TCP/IP port number to the license file it can change. When checking the network license usage status with JTB FlexReport you can find this error for example in the HTML report:

Error getting status: Cannot connect to license server system. (-15,10:10061 "WinSock: Connection refused")

Typically this does not happen if you have one license file  on the server but if you have several vendor daemons the port number can be switched depending on what order the services are started. This can result in that the data stops being logged to the database and that the HTML reports does not show the current usage. It’s recommended that you enter the port to the license file it it’s not already there. To find the current used port you can use lmtools.exe and check for it using Perform Status Enquiry. See How to find the port used by a FlexNet license service.

The format of the SERVER line in the license file is:

SERVER host hostid [port]

Example:

SERVER my_server 17007ea8 27000

or

SERVER my_server 17007ea8 TCP:27000

It is recommended to use a port number in this range: 27000-27009.

Use lmtools.exe and stop and start the service.

If you for some reason would want to change the port used by the vendor daemon it is also possible to do in the license file. But it is strongly recommended to leave it as it is.

For example in an Autodesk license file it can look like this, just change 2080:

VENDOR adskflex port=2080

How to find the port used by a FlexNet license service

When you configure JTB FlexReport to monitor FlexNet/FLEXlm licensed applications you need to specify the port and server in JTB FlexReport Config > Properties > FlexNet > License to report on.

Click on Find button and see if the server(s) can be found automatically.

If nothing is found the information needs to be added manually.

The format is port@server and if there are multiple distributed servers separate with semicolon like this: port@server1;port@server2. If you have redundant or triad servers separate them with commas like this: port@serverA,port@serverB,port@serverC. If there is a mix of setups it can look like this: port@server1;port@server2;port@serverA,port@serverB,port@serverC;port@server3

If you don’t know the port number one way is to run LMTOOLS.EXE on the license server. If you have multiple services select the one you’re interested in first and then click on the Server Status tab.

Click on Perform Status Enquiry and take note of the port that is found on the row starting with License server status. In the example below the port is 27000.

It is also possible to monitor usage across domains.

Here is a description one customer provided.

I was trying to get JTB to watch a Flexlm Server that was in another domain.  In order to get DNS to resolve the IP address of the server in the other domain I have to enter a fully qualified name.  So for example in order to get a successful ping response I had to use the following format:  ping <Server Name>.<Domain Name>.<Domain Extension>.  So I thought the following format would work in the JTB “Licenses to report on” list:  <port number>@<Server Name>.<Domain Name>.<Domain Extension>.  For example: 27000@server1.mydomain.com  This did appear to work, partially.  If I looked in the JTBFlexReportDebug.log I would see an entry like this:

lmutil - Copyright (c) 1989-2009 Acresso Software Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Flexible License Manager status on Thu 5/12/2011 10:26
[Detecting lmgrd processes...]
License server status: 27000@server1
     License file(s) on server1: 27000@123.123.12.12:
lmgrd is not running: License server machine is down or not responding. (-96,7:11004 "WinSock: Valid name, but no record (NO_ADDRESS)")

Notice how it does initially resolve the name to an IP address but the name listed has the fully qualified domain info truncated off the end.  Apparently lmutil initially uses the fully qualified name, then at some point it trims off the domain info.  Well I found a post where some other guy was getting this error when he was trying to run the lmutil lmstat command line utility.  What he did to resolve the problem was he added entries into his “C:\WINDOWS\system32\drivers\etc\hosts” file for the non fully qualified name.

127.0.0.0 localhost
123.123.12.12 server1

Once you do this lmutil will be able to successfully run an lmstat command on these servers.  A better solution would be to add a DNS alias.

Another customer came with these details:

If the client PC is far a way from FLEXlm server, like the PC is in South America and server is in Europe. PC and server have a machine account in company wide Active Directory Each continent has separate domain name like European computers are in domain eu.net and American am.net.
Try to list all licenses from server (change the port and server name to yours)
lmutil.exe lmstat -c 27000@server.eu.net –a

Result:
lmgrd is not running: License server machine is down or not responding. (-96,7:11001 "WinSock: Host not found (HOST_NOT_FOUND)")

Add IP address and host name of the server to C:\WINDOWS\system32\drivers\etc\hosts
123.123.123.123 server server.eu.net

Now run the same command without domain name
lmutil.exe lmstat -c 27000@server -a
Now it works! Autodesk products get the license without hosts modification but lmutil.exe fails badly. Some error in DNS configuration? I don't know but if the PC is in Europe both commands will work because the both computers are in the same domain.

Use of timeout

Usage of -t for timeout with lmutil.exe lmstat can be done through JTB FlexReport Config>Properties>Advanced.

If data is missing or license servers cannot be reached you can try to set the timeout to something. It’s not documented by the company behind FlexNet if this is in microseconds or milliseconds so you have to try. It is probably microseconds so a value of 1,000,000 would be a second.

-15,10:10060 "WinSock: Connection timed out

Error getting status: Cannot connect to license server system. (-15,10:10060 "WinSock: Connection timed out")

Solution is probably to open any of the ports being used.

How to check if port is open

See this post How to check if ports used for licensing are open or use telnet to test if a port is open.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

AutoCAD Automation Tools 3.5

AutoCAD Automation Tools has been updated to version 3.5.

  • AutoUpd has support for layouts
  • It is possible to search for a part of TEXT, MTEXT or block attribute and replace the whole with a new value.
  • 30-day trial available
  • Wcmatch logic used to search for values using wildcards.
  • The Excel templates have been changed, make sure to use the new ones.

A 30-day trial is available on both our website and in the new Autodesk Exchange Apps in AutoCAD 2012. Here is how it works. Guide to install an app from Autodesk Exchange Apps.

AutoCAD Automation Tools can be purchased via Autodesk Exchange Apps or on our site.

About AutoCAD Automation Tools:

Multiple drawings can be automatically created from a typical drawing or updated based on a control file that can be created with an Excel template. Make the changes in Excel and let the program do all the work for you. This is a real time saver if you need to make adjustments on hundreds or thousands of drawings.

Monday, June 13, 2011

JTB FlexReport 6.2.2 hotfix

JTB FlexReport version 6.2.2 is mainly a hotfix stabilizing version 6.2. If you got 6.2 or 6.2.1 installed it is strongly recommended to upgrade to version 6.2.2. See the details in the revision history. If you got an even older version installed now could be a good idea to consider upgrading.

JTB FlexReport 6.2 for License Reporting describes the news in version 6.2.

Downloads, documentation and some tips when upgrading.

Contact us to get a time limited license file for free. You can try it in your environment with your real data for a few weeks with full functionality.
Full support is provided during trial period.
To get up quickly started see these instructions videos.

About JTB FlexReport

JTB FlexReport is a report tool for applications using the FlexNet / FLEXlm (flexlm license manager), IBM LUM (IBM License Use Management), SPLM (Intergraph SmartPlant License Manager), SLM/Sentinel LM/Sentinel RMS, LM-X, Solidworks SNL License Manager, Primavera from Oracle or 12D software licensing as well as any Windows application like Acrobat, Visio, single licensed AutoCAD or AutoCAD LT.

Do you want to optimize your software purchases tomorrow? JTB FlexReport is an inexpensive solution that will help you. By the license tracking JTB FlexReport does and the graphic reports that can be produced JTB FlexReport will helps you to manage and forecast future license usage and license usage trends at your company.

Guide to install an app from Autodesk Exchange Apps

You don’t need a guide to install an app from Autodesk Exchange Apps. It is easy enough but in case you don’t have AutoCAD 2012 and want to see how it works, here is a quick walkthrough.

Open Autodesk Exchange within AutoCAD and click on Apps.

And the start page for Apps shows up.

Find the app you want to install for example using any of the categories.

image

Or by searching for it.

And this is what the product page (example for AutoCAD Automation Tools Trial) can look like showing product description,download details and screenshots. Note also “View help information” link below the products description, it will show more info about the product.

Click on Install and if not already signed in you need to sign in to your Autodesk account.

Please read and accept the Terms of Use and End User License Agreement. These are the same for all Autodesk Exchange Apps.

Download and wait for the Autodesk Plug-in installer to be ready. Progress is seen like this.

As well as the actual installer.

Success! Your product has been installed.

The Documentation can look like this. Same as can be seen on the “View help information” link above.

To uninstall this plug-in, simply rerun the installer by downloading it again from Exchange, and select the 'Uninstall' button, or you can uninstall it from 'Control Panel\Programs\Programs and Features' (Windows 7) or Add/Remove Programs (Windows XP), just as you would uninstall any other application from your system. The panel on the Plug-ins tab will not be removed until AutoCAD is restarted.

Notification that the plug-in has been successfully loaded.

And the plug-in shows up in the Plug-ins tab ready to be used.

At the top right of the Autodesk Exchange window these icons can be found.

 My Downloads – list of all apps downloaded for quick access.

 My Uploads – this is where new products can be published and existing ones can be edited by app developers.

 Favorites – save the page as a favorite

 Share – share with others

 Open in Browser

How to Install and Uninstall Plug-In Applications

Following is partly from the AutoCAD 2012 documentation with some additions and changes by me.

The plug-in auto loader mechanism allows for the easy deployment of custom applications using a package format.

The package format is a common folder structure than contains the extension .bundle in its name and has an XML file that defines the various components of the plug-in. By deploying custom applications as a BUNDLE, it makes it easier to target multiple operating systems and product releases since the parameters of your plug-in are defined in the XML file of the package. A BUNDLE can be used as a replacement to creating complex installer scripts when deploying a plug-in.

The plug-in defined by each package is loaded into AutoCAD by placing it in one of the ApplicationPlugins folders on your local drive. There are three different ApplicationPlugins folders that you can use:

  • For all users:
    %ProgramFiles%\Autodesk\ApplicationPlugins
  • For all users:
    %PROGRAMDATA%\Autodesk\ApplicationPlugins
  • For the current user:
    (Windows XP) %APPDATA%\Autodesk\ApplicationPlugins
    C:\Documents and Settings\%username%\Application Data\…

    (Windows Vista or Windows 7) %APPDATA%\Autodesk\ApplicationPlugins
    C:\Users\%username%\AppData\Roaming\…

When AutoCAD starts, both ApplicationPlugins folders are checked for plug-in applications. The packages found are automatically registered and loaded based on the metadata in the XML file of each package.

Install Plug-in Packages

A package can be deployed using an installer, such as MSI, or manually copying the files and folder structure to the ApplicationPlugins folder. For Autodesk Exchange App downloads, deployment of the package is done using an MSI installer.

Loading Plug-ins

By default, plug-ins are automatically registered with AutoCAD and when a new plug-in is installed during the current session. The load behavior for plug-ins is controlled with the APPAUTOLOAD system variable. When APPAUTOLOAD is set to 0, no plug-ins are loaded unless the APPAUTOLOADER command is used.

Uninstall Plug-in Packages

A package can be uninstalled by removing the appropriate folder with a .bundle extension from the ApplicationPlugins folder. This can be accomplished by offering an uninstall option with the original installer or to manually delete the .bundle folder.

Note! A plug-in downloaded from the Apps tab on Autodesk Exchange can also be unistalled by going to Apps and then re-downloading the plug-in. When the download completes, you are prompted to uninstall the plug-in. Or you can uninstall it from 'Control Panel\Programs\Programs and Features' (Windows Vista/Windows 7) or Add/Remove Programs (Windows XP), just as you would uninstall any other application from your system. The panel on the Plug-ins tab will not be removed until AutoCAD is restarted.

APPAUTOLOADER

Lists or reloads all plug-ins in the application plug-in folder.

APPAUTOLOAD

Controls when plug-in applications are loaded.

Type:    Bitcode
Saved in:    User-settings
Initial value:    14

0 - Do not load plug-in applications at any time

1 - Display all messages when loading plug-in applications

2 - Load plug-in applications at startup

4 - Load plug-in applications when a new drawing is opened

8 - Load plug-in applications when they appear in the plug-ins folder

How to change an Autodesk Exchange App installer from Single User to an All Users install

A static folder designed to support loading apps for the All User installation model can be found in the %PROGRAMDATA%\Autodesk\ApplicationPlugins folder.

Change the static folder installation path from the %APPDATA%\Autodesk\ApplicationPlugin (Single User) to %PROGRAMDATA%\Autodesk\ApplicationPlugins (All User). There are two ways that this can be achieved:

1) From a DOS command window:

c:\>msiexec /i MyExhangeApp.msi INSTALLDIR=C:\ProgramData\Autodesk\ApplicationPlugins AUTODESK=C:\ProgramData\Autodesk

2) You can edit the MSI directly using ORCA.exe and change the Directory Table->AUTODESK from AppDataFolder to CommonAppDataFolder

How to disable/enable Autodesk Exchange

Do you want to enable Autodesk Exchange or learn to know how to disable Autodesk Exchange?

Upon installing and starting the AutoCAD 2012’s family of products Autodesk Exchange is automatically started. Many AutoCAD users, administrators or CAD Managers might want to avoid the dialog at start-up and will uncheck the Show this window at start up. This will also speed up start of AutoCAD.

Registry location is:
HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Autodesk\AutoCAD\R18.2\ACAD-A001:409
and when LaunchNFW is 1 Autodesk Exchange will auto-start. When the LaunchNFW is 3 Autodesk Exchange will not show when AutoCAD starts.

Autodesk Exchange can also be started manually by clicking on the Exchange icon in InfoCenter, pressing F1 for help or run the EXCHANGE command. This will also give access Autodesk Exchange Apps.

image

To disable Autodesk Exchange uncheck “Access online content (including Help) when available” in Options>System.

To disable Exchange for all users at deployment, uncheck the option "Use Online Help from Autodesk when available" in the deployment wizard. The end-user can easily enable it the Options dialog though.

Another trick to disable Autodesk Exchange is to edit this registry key where R18.2 is for the 2012 version and ACAD-A001:409 is depending on the product and language. See also AutoCAD registry details for more explanation:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Autodesk\AutoCAD\R18.2\ACAD-A001:409

And then edit the value name HelpBaseURL to anything other than the default value http://exchange.autodesk.com

When that is done Autodesk Exchange will show this:

Server Connection Unavailable

You must be connected to the Internet to access the Autodesk Exchange server.
Most problems are due to one of the following:

Your Internet connection is currently unavailable
You can display the offline Help system in your current web browser by pressing F1.

The Autodesk Server is temporarily unavailable
You can reload the current Autodesk Exchange page by clicking here to "Connect"

Your Proxy server is blocking Autodesk Exchange
Contact your network administrator.

It is also possible to block or unblock the Autodesk Exchange base url: http://exchange.autodesk.com in your proxy server. Here is what TS16732564 says:

2012: AutoCAD requests to Autodesk servers blocked by proxy servers

Applies to: AutoCAD 2012, AutoCAD Architecture 2012, AutoCAD Civil 3D 2012, AutoCAD Electrical 2012, AutoCAD Map 3D 2012, AutoCAD Mechanical 2012, AutoCAD MEP 2012, AutoCAD P&ID 2012

Issue

You are using AutoCAD 2012 and notice that some requests to Autodesk servers are being denied.

AutoCAD requests to Autodesk servers can be blocked by proxy servers. The following components can be affected when proxies block requests to Autodesk servers:

  • Exchange: Access to help when user is online.
  • Sign in to Autodesk: Single sign-in to Autodesk Servers.
  • Content Explorer: Accessing SEEK from the Content Explorer AutoCAD plug-in.
Solution

If your network uses proxy servers to access the Internet, the following proxy mechanisms should be implemented to help avoid access issues for AutoCAD 2012 components:

Transparent proxies:

An intercepting proxy (also known as a forced proxy or transparent proxy) combines a proxy server with a gateway or router (commonly with NAT capabilities). Connections made by client browsers through the gateway are diverted to the proxy without client-side configuration (or, often, knowledge). Connections may also be diverted from a SOCKS server or other circuit-level proxies.

Transparent proxies will not prevent access to Autodesk Server components.

Exception Rules:

Adding an exception to the Proxy Settings to allow autodesk.com will bypass requests from the proxy server and will allow access to Autodesk.com servers (after making sure your network is setup to route requests directly to the autodesk.com domain).

Disable Exchange App

This is a tool for CAD or IT Managers to disable the AutoCAD Exchange window to prevent users accessing the Apps tab (thereby preventing them downloading Plug-ins without permission). The tool requires Administrator privileges to run, but will disable the Exchange Window for all users on that computer.
This is a supplement to the CAD Managers Control, which provides the same functionality.
 
Note that this plug-in disables the entire Exchange Window. This reverts AutoCAD help to being displayed in your local browser. (download link or search for the app Disable Exchange within Autodesk Exchange)

Do you have any other trick to share?

Autodesk Exchange Apps introduced in AutoCAD 2012

Companion Apps Now Available in AutoCAD 2012

New In-Product Access to Download, Buy and Sell Apps and Content for AutoCAD.

Did you disable Autodesk Exchange from starting automatically with AutoCAD click on the Exchange icon in InfoCenter at top right in AutoCAD, press F1 for help or run the EXCHANGE command.

Note the Apps link at the top left and the Search Apps just below as well as “AutoCAD Apps Developers!” where you can sign up and publish products.

If you’re in a non-English country you may need to select English as language at top right in the Autodesk Exchange window.

At this point verticals like AutoCAD Architecture 2012 does not have access to Apps. But if you have both AutoCAD and ACA installed the app will show up on a plug-in tab in ACA even though a bug will make each app end up in its own tab.

To find products from JTB World just search for JTB. A few are available now and more will be. Give it a try and you can even add a rating and write a review.

SmartPurger from JTB World helped me clean up and reduce the size of 100's of files from our architects. Many were DWG files converted from DGN and contained a lot of Regapp IDs and other artifacts. I am delighted with its read version number feature, which I use regularly to check that I am sending the correct version of DWG, when I am sending a large number of files to co-consultants who work in lower releases of AutoCAD.”

Plessey Mathews, Architect
Kuwait

SmartPurger from JTB World is the fastest and most versatile batch and scripting utility I have ever used.  It is also high in cool factor!”

Ken J. Fisher, Design Software Manager
Shive-Hattery, Inc.
Cedar Rapids, IA

"The AutoCAD Automation Tools from JTB World save me a lot of time when editing individual files, and there have been many times when I couldn’t have met deadlines without them."

Don McLeod, Electrical Engineer
PENTA Engineering, P.A.
Charlotte, NC

Here are some of JTB World’s apps as seen on the Plug-ins tab:

From the Press Release:

Companion Apps Now Available in AutoCAD 2012

SAN RAFAEL, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Autodesk, Inc. (NASDAQ:ADSK), a world leader in 3D design, engineering and entertainment software, announced that direct access to download and purchase companion apps is available in AutoCAD 2012.

AutoCAD software users can immediately browse, download and purchase more than 100 apps using the new Apps tab within AutoCAD. The companion apps help design professionals find and immediately download solutions to some of their most pressing design challenges.

“Providing direct, in-product access to AutoCAD companion apps connects innovative software developers with AutoCAD customers around the world,” said Jim Quanci, director of the Autodesk Developer Network. “In turn, AutoCAD software users now have a trusted marketplace with a wealth of solutions to help solve today’s most complex challenges.”

Simply put, AutoCAD companion apps extend the power and flexibility of AutoCAD with the help of numerous plug-ins, from productivity tools to translators, together with other content, such as blocks and learning tools. AutoCAD users will have the ability to discover a range of apps in a single location. Coins Translate, for example, is a free app that enables designers to quickly and easily translate text in a drawing into a variety of languages, using the Google Translate web service.

Autodesk customer, Summit Consulting Services, values industry plug-ins to enhance design productivity: “SoftDraft’s QuickNotes plug-in app is one of the most productive products we have purchased so far,” said Jack Turner, owner. “It eliminates wasted effort on repetitive tasks, saving time and money.”

The new Apps tab is featured as part of AutoCAD software’s in-product support feature, Autodesk Exchange, and helps software developers quickly upload AutoCAD companion apps, enabling users to more quickly download, purchase and install apps directly into AutoCAD 2012. Developers, users and visitors can also rate and review apps and content. Many of the companion apps are the creations of Autodesk Developer Network (ADN) members, but all developers using AutoCAD 2012 are welcome to submit apps or content for AutoCAD 2012. All applications and content submitted are reviewed through a quality-control process, providing users a secure and trustworthy experience.

Availability

Companion apps are now available through the English version of AutoCAD 2012. Apps and content can be downloaded for free, as a trial or for a fee. Fee-based apps can be purchased in 40 countries using the popular PayPal payment service.

Questions and Answers

1. General Information

1.1 What is the Apps tab within AutoCAD 2012?

The Autodesk® Apps tab is a safe online marketplace where people can buy, sell, and rate apps from within AutoCAD® 2012 software. These companion products for AutoCAD provide the ability to customize designs to meet the needs of various industries. AutoCAD users can immediately browse, download, and purchase more than 100 companion apps on the new Apps tab within Autodesk Exchange – AutoCAD, helping design professionals get immediate solutions to solve specific and pressing design challenges.

1.2 How does the Apps tab for AutoCAD work?

The Apps tab can be found on the AutoCAD Exchange landing page that launches when AutoCAD 2012 is first opened. With AutoCAD open, click the X icon in the upper-right corner of the AutoCAD window, and AutoCAD Exchange will relaunch with the Apps tab present. Once users have accessed the Apps tab, they may purchase, download, and organize numerous apps for AutoCAD 2012.

1.3 Are there any advanced system requirements for the Apps tab?

The system requirements are the same as those for AutoCAD 2012, with the additional requirement that users need an Internet connection to access apps tab.

1.4 What makes the Autodesk Apps tab a safe and reliable place to purchase apps?

The Apps tab is safe because every piece of content is validated by an Autodesk team dedicated to making sure it works as described, and that it is relevant, useful, and secure. Autodesk also uses PayPal for purchases, insuring buyers and sellers have a smooth and easy purchase experience.

1.5 Will the Apps tab be available for other software such as Autodesk Inventor or Autodesk Revit?

The Apps tab is available only for AutoCAD 2012. Autodesk cannot outline future plans beyond what we’re making available currently. A complete catalog of all companion apps for AutoCAD, Autodesk® Inventor®, Autodesk® Revit®, and Autodesk® 3ds Max® software can be found at www.autodesk.com/partnerproducts.

1.6 What kinds of apps are available on the Apps tab?

These companion apps extend the power and flexibility of AutoCAD and include numerous plug-ins from productivity tools to translators, as well as content such as blocks and learning tools. Plug-ins can be scripts, LISP, .NET, or ObjectARX® based. Content includes blocks, linetypes, and hatch patterns, as well as learning tools, including books in PDF file format. The key requirement is that the apps provide value to the AutoCAD 2012 user.

1.7 Who can submit products to be included in the Apps tab? Do you have to be an Autodesk Developer Network partner?

Any developer can submit products for Autodesk to evaluate for potential sale on the Apps tab. Professional or amateur software developers, Autodesk sales partners with software development expertise, users with great content, authors of learning tools, and more. If it delivers value to the AutoCAD user, the product will be carefully considered for inclusion on the Apps tab.

1.8 What is the price of products in the Apps tab?

Apps can be downloaded for free, as a trial, or for a fee. There is no price minimum or maximum.

1.9 What are the requirements to publish apps in the Apps tab?

First and foremost, apps made available in the Apps tab must deliver AutoCAD users immediate value through easy installation and ease of use. Autodesk requires that all products available in the Apps tab follow a few basic standards for install and user interface, as well as license management.

1.10 What is the cost to submit and sell an app in the Apps tab?

Currently, there is no cost to submit an app for evaluation; however, this could change in the future as we learn about the types and volumes of products being submitted.

1.11 What percentage of revenue will go to Autodesk from the sale of products in the Apps tab?

Autodesk is not taking any commission for the sale of products in the Apps tab at this time.

2. Payment

2.1 How do I pay for apps?

Autodesk has partnered with PayPal to handle all transactions.

2.2 Can purchase orders be used to pay for apps?

No, all payments for companion apps must be made through PayPal.

2.3 What is the return/refund policy if I am dissatisfied with my purchase?

There is no special refund or return policy beyond what is offered through the publisher of the app purchased and PayPal. To get a refund, the buyer will first need to contact the publisher who can refund the purchase through PayPal. If the buyer doesn’t get a satisfactory response from the publisher, they can then submit a dispute to PayPal (within 45 days of purchase). There is no guarantee of a full refund. In addition, any customer experiencing problems with a purchase can contact the Autodesk Apps support team by emailing appssupport@autodesk.com for help settling a dispute with any application publisher.

2.4 Are there any hidden fees upon purchase?

Autodesk charges no additional fees. For purchases, PayPal charges a fee to the publisher (seller) (currently 2 percent, to a maximum of US$1), as well as some currency conversion fees. There is no cost to buyer or seller for free and trial products.

3. Licensing

3.1 Can I migrate my purchases from one machine to another? If I have more than one computer (work and home) with an install of AutoCAD on each, do I have to pay twice?

Purchases are identified by name and login, not a specific computer or copy of AutoCAD, using Autodesk’s standard Single Sign-On that most Autodesk users already have. Access to specific apps and purchases can be done on any machine as long as their Autodesk Single Sign-On username and login are used.

4. Support

4.1 Who do I contact for support?

The first point of contact for support should be with the publisher of the companion app. If the publisher is unable to provide the help needed, customers can contact Autodesk Apps support at appssupport@autodesk.com.

4.2 How does the rating system work?

The rating system is similar to other systems that can be found on websites such as Amazon, Android Market, and so on. Users can rate 1–5 stars (1 = worst; 5 = best) and provide comments.

Friday, June 10, 2011

.NET code problem on Windows Server 2003 solved

I spent several hours hunting down a problem a customer had with JTB FlexReport on Windows Server 2003 SP2. The solution was in the end a single row. Things worked fine on Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows Server 2008, Windows Server 2008 SP2  and Windows 7, but for some reason it failed on Windows Server 2003.

In the code I narrowed down that this call failed but I could not figure out why:

Database db = DatabaseFactory.CreateDatabase();

I got this error using Microsoft Enterprise Library 2.0:

Object reference not set to an instance of an object.

I was wondering if it had to do with the Enterprise Library version but I got this error using Microsoft Enterprise Library 5.0:

Activation error occured while trying to get instance of type Database, key ""

I then wondered if the problem was that I had one .exe made by VB.NET and a DLL made by C#, or that it was running as a Windows Service, or that some code had been upgraded all the way from VB6 etc.

Eventually I was able to scale away a copy of my program to just a few rows and still had the problem. Then I created a similar program from scratch and got it running. I could then start to compare the two file by file using DiffMerge and eventually I was able to find that in app.manifest I had to add the following:

<assemblyIdentity version="1.0.0.0" name="MyApplication.app"/>

just before <trustInfo

Now that I found the solution I looked up more details and found that reading any configuration settings from the applications .config file is not working. I also found that it actually is due to a bug in Windows Server 2003. Calls to System.Configuration.ConfigurationManager.AppSettings return null. In Windows Server 2003, if the application has the following SxS manifest, then CLR will not use the application config file even if it exists. This bug does not exist in Windows XP, Windows Vista or Windows 7. Application config file is not used if the application has certain SxS manifest and Lesson Learned: Missing language attribute in ‘assemblyidentity’ element can cause SxS (SideBySide) application loading failure on Windows XP and Server 2003

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

How to check if ports used for licensing are open

Up and Ready showed a nice alternative to use telnet to test if a port is open to the license server from the client computer. Only Internet Explorer can be used for this.

Just change to use your server name and correct port.

adskflex vendor daemon port: http://your-server-name:2080

lmgrd port: http://your-server-name:27000

If it works it can look like this.

And when it does not work it can look like this. The license service is either not running or there is a firewall blocking the communication to the port.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

How to rename a registry key with .NET

Let’s say I have a registry key named “HKEY_CURRENT_USER\SOFTWARE\JTB World 1” and I want to rename it to “HKEY_CURRENT_USER\SOFTWARE\JTB World 2”. This is easily done in the Registry Editor (regedit.exe).

But neither Microsoft.Win32.Registry class nor .NET Framework My.Computer.Registry provide rename functionality.

One solution is using REG.EXE, copying the key and all subkeys and then delete the old key. No need to recursively copy keys as would be needed if using the Registry class.

Here is a VB.NET example that easily can be converted to for example C#, BAT/CMD/VBS (VBScript). No error checking added. WindowStyle is used to avoid seeing Windows command window showing.

Dim OldKey As String = "HKEY_CURRENT_USER\SOFTWARE\JTB World 1"
Dim NewKey As String = "HKEY_CURRENT_USER\SOFTWARE\JTB World 2"
Dim startInfo As New ProcessStartInfo("REG.EXE")
startInfo.WindowStyle = ProcessWindowStyle.Hidden
startInfo.Arguments = "COPY """ & OldKey & """ """ & NewKey & """ /s"
Dim myProcess As Process = Process.Start(startInfo)
myProcess.WaitForExit()
startInfo.Arguments = "DELETE """ & OldKey & """ /f"
Process.Start(startInfo)


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