Zoom extents ucs follow

Autodesk, oh Autodesk. Why do you not bother to fix major bugs? There are two zoom extents bug associated with UCSFOLLOW. One is one hatching and the other is when double clicking in the viewport. Whilst the viewport one can be controlled by locking the viewport, the hatching one can only be solved by turning off the UCSFOLLOW command. Which is silly really.

Do You Really Want To Do This?

Sometimes AutoCAD comes up with a notice noting “Do you really want to do this?” when moving hatches or something related to hatches.

This is most likely (in fact most of the time) related to associative hatches and their boundaries needing to be checked during a move, mirror etc. type command.

This does not always happen in all drawings with lots of hatch, in fact I only encounter it occaisionally these days. So AutoDesk is making hatch better, good for them.

A quick and dirty fix for this problem is to select all hatches and make them non-associative. Then everthing works as normal, well except the hatches don’t follow the outlines, but grip edit hatches make up for that!

AutoCAD LT 2015 Start Menu shortcut broken

Having now noticed that the shortcut entry in the start menu for AutoCAD LT 2015 is broken on several machines I have used, I would go as far as saying this is probably a common issue, however I cannot seem to find much on the internet about it.


The issue is when you click on “AutoCAD LT 2015 – English” under the AutoDesk – AutoCAD LT 2015 – English folder, AutoCAD attempts to configure itself again, even though it is installed and configured. After a short space of time the configuration will fail resulting in a pop-up stating

“Run setup.exe to install AutoCAD LT 2015 – English”

Clicking on the OK button results in another pop-up stating

“Fatal error during installation.”


Not particularly helpful AutoDesk, did you actually test this software? Useless software support as usual. Anyway, as  the desktop shortcut works fine (I hope you didn’t delete it), all you need to do is delete the broken shortcut in the start menu and copy the desktop shortcut into the folder.

To do this, left click on the Windows Blob and then right click on “All Programs” and go to “Open All Users” (under a locked down environment this will need Administrator rights to edit).


Double click on Programs and again on Autodesk and then once more on AutoCAD LT 2015 – English, now you will see a Migrate Custom Settings Folder, Attach Digital Signatures link and the AutoCAD LT 2015 – English link. Delete this link and copy the one from the desktop to this folder. Close window and the Start menu will now have a working link.

Office 2013 animations

If you, like I, have been forced to upgrade from the nice looking, really well functioning Office 2012 to the new awful Windows 8-esque Office 13, you have instantly noticed the animations, everything slides around as it it was floating on oil.

If you are also in the same boat as myself I really do not like this sliding nonsense. Fortunately you can turn them off. However Microsoft in their infinite wisdom have not provided this within their programs. This is also a global setting and affects the whole suite (or possibly other programs).

After a little searching most sites recommend a registry hack, though if your computer is locked down in a corporate environment, this might not be possible. Fortunately there is another working method:

1.Open the Ease of Access Center (shown below) by pressing the Windows logo key + U.

2.Under Explore all settings, click Use the computer without a display.

3.Under Adjust time limits and flashing visuals, click Turn off all unnecessary animations (when possible).

4.Click OK.

Refedit Zombies

One of my colleagues was trying to edit an attached XREF file using the “edit in place” command button (which actually runs the command REFEDIT) and the file would appear to start to open by showing scanning drawing but then would just fail and go back to the host file with the XREF selected.

Upon review of the command line the following error appeared.

“AcDbZombieObject objects cannot be referenced.”

Nice. AutoCAD has zombies that cause issues!


After a bit of research, AutoCAD zombie objects are leftover database entries from other AutoCAD variants, know as vertical variants, such as AutoCAD architecture, Civil 3D, etc.

When opening files created in a vertical version of AutoCAD in “pure” AutoCAD (or LT) an object enabler is used to read the extra information created and stored in the AutoCAD file by the vertical application.

Most of the time AutoCAD will pop-up the “proxy information” box to ask you what to do about this extra information.


This proxy information seems to been referred to under R13 as AcDbZombieEntity, which is another way of putting AcDbZombieObject.


So let’s now translate the error message.

“AcDbZombieObject objects cannot be referenced.”

AcDb – AutoCAD Database
ZombieObject – Additional proxy information

“AutoCAD database additional proxy information objects cannot be referenced.”

Now AutoDesk, wouldn’t that error be much easier to sort? Instantly the user knows that the source file has some proxy information objects that are causing issue, and either the pure AutoCAD is missing an object enabler or the information is corrupt and needs purging.

I found in this case as the reference file did not pop up a proxy box it suggested to me that the proxy information was corrupt and needed purging.

Unfortunately AutoDesk has omitted to offer a purge of these databases from the purge command, or indeed offer any other way to clean up the database. Using WBLOCK to recreate the drawing won’t work as the proxy information is tied to the objects in the drawing.

Thankfully a program addon for AutoCAD full exists under Exchange to remove these corrupt entities. It is called Zombie Killer!

Flickering update

It appears that Autodesk has not fixed the AutoCAD LT 2014 flickering issue in their recent update to service pack one. Very frustrating as it makes the software hard to use. It seems to occur less often now rather than all the time. So I will try the registry patch on this machine to see what that does.

Hatching and XREFs

It appears that there is a fundamental flaw in AutoCAD where if you clip an XREF the information AutoCAD requires in order to HATCH objects in the XREF is lost, therefore AutoCAD cannot HATCH an clipped XREF. How dumb is that.

Retaining XREF Layouts

One of my colleagues was getting very frustrated with the XREF he was using, he had set up an XREF, turn off the layers as he wanted, then saved and exited the drawing. Upon reopening the drawing he found these changes were reset to the layers on the XREF source.

AutoCAD appears to be setup strangely on my colleagues machine where it prefers to inherit layering from the source. Whilst this is a logical method it doesn’t help new users to understand how to “lock” their XREFs. By default AutoCAD should be in the “locked” mode.

Frustratingly AutoCAD also appears to have no visual way to set VISRETAIN, a toggle for XREF state in the XREF manager would be nice, perhaps a check box with a note next to it saying “Check to retain layer information in current drawing”. That way people will know what is going on!

So its back to the command line, type VISRETAIN and then set to 1 for keeping the layers in the current drawing as you want them or 0 to inherit from source.


From AutoCAD help: (Copyright Autodesk).

The layer table, as stored in the reference drawing (xref), takes precedence. Changes made to xref-dependent layers in the current drawing are valid in the current session only and are not saved with the drawing. When the current drawing is reopened, the layer table is reloaded from the reference drawing, and the current drawing reflects all of those layer property settings.
Xref-dependent layer changes made in the current drawing take precedence. Layer settings are saved with the current drawing’s layer table and persist from session to session.


Create Hatch

Bizarrely AutoCAD has not (as far as I am aware) created an easy hatch creation method, preferably in a GUI. This is long, long, long outstanding and should have been introduced back in R14 or earlier. If you want to create a hatch, you have to write it out by hand in a text file (there is no automation either), giving the text file a .pat extension.

Apart from the header row for the name and description of the hatch file, the hatch format is like this:

angle, x-origin,y-origin, delta-x,delta-y,dash-1,dash-2

Each line in the text file describes a drawn line, whether this is solid or dashed. All patterns are made from lines that are dashed or continuous and nothing else (a dot a line with a very short or no length). The dash length is variable so you then build up a hatch patten from a set of dashed lines that intersect. 

In order to create say herringbone brick you have the following pattern text:

0, 0,0, 10,10, 30,-10
90, 20,-30, -10,10, 30,-10

This creates a dashed line one way that intersects with one 90 degrees to it and when they repeat a brick pattern occurs. For such a simple shape it is still quite hard to wrap your head around the way they work!

If a complex hatch is required it is expected of the user to somehow translate their drawings from a set of lines into the hatch format. This is of course nigh-on impossible for most users and for a pattern with over one hundred entities will take forever to measure and write out the results, and the 7 step help file isn’t really that helpful and is quite vague.

This is one my major annoyances in AutoCAD that they fiddle with this and that and don’t fix fundamentally missing features like this!


If you are thinking, man I cannot do that, don’t worry if you have the full version of AutoCAD (sorry LT guys) you can install a LISP file to do this for you. The awesome guys at Cadalyst posted in one of their tips a hatch creation LISP.

This LISP has two functions, draw and save. Accessed through DRAWHATCH and SAVEHATCH (strangely enough).

The draw hatch command command creates a 1×1 box in drawing units, so for metric in my case this is a 1x1mm box. Tiny!


So this is the process I followed to create my hatch.

Firstly, draw your tessellating hatch inside a square, using only line entities. Make sure no curves are present. Then copy this in all directions to make sure the tessellation works! Save this drawing as your template for the hatch.

Secondly, scale your square down to a 1×1 unit square. You can save this as another file if you want. Leave this drawing open (save first, as always before doing anything major).

Thirdly create a new drawing and run DRAWHATCH. This will create a 1×1 unit square with nothing in it. Go back to your open drawing and copy the entities within the square (you can copy the square for ease and delete it after the copy if you want), and paste inside the square drawn in the new drawing by DRAWHATCH.

Fourthly, run SAVEHATCH and select the line objects (polylines won’t work so explode them first) and follow the prompts. A command line window will appear to make things easier.

Fifthly, give it a description and then save it as a file name in a place where you can load them into AutoCAD. Our practice as a server folder for custom hatches.

So that’s it you now have a hatch. One of the problems I encountered with this method is that the created hatch is very small. You will have to enter a large scale factor to correct this.


If you are feeling adventurous, you can load the pattern file into Excel and scale the numbers created up to suit. Save out as CSV to get the comma delimited text file back!

Delete Key

One of my colleagues mysteriously could not use the delete key in AutoCAD. It worked fine in other programmes.

Generally this is seems to be due to a crash that resets certain variables (for some strange reason).

In this case the PICKFIRST variable was reset to 0. When PICKFIRST is at 0 it only allows objects to be selected after the command is initiated. The delete key does not initiate the ERASE command so the nothing happens when the delete key is pressed and PICKFIRST is set to 0, appearing to be broken.

If you set PICKFIRST to 1 then objects can be selected and an command initiated after this selection. The delete key then works as you expect it to do.