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!

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