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AutoCAD Civil 3D | Geomap Service problem following Windows Update

Autodesk has provided a geo-referenced mapping feature in AutoCAD Civil 3D for a few years now. With the touch of a button, the model space is filled with a geo-referenced ‘live map’ image based on the view geographic coordinates. Wherever you pan the view, seamless satellite imagery is provided in the background. Unfortunately, in recent months, many users have reported Geomap service problem following Windows Update, and that  the mapping service was not functioning. There are no warnings for the error; you hit the button and nothing happens. There are many reasons why this may not work:

  • Evil router is blocking the service.
  • Not logged into A360.
  • Your geographic system information is not setup.
  • Your view is not within the limits of the system you have indicated.

The most difficult of these to troubleshoot are service related problems.

Autodesk AutoCAD Civil 3D Geomap Interface

Geomap Service problem following Windows Update

The service is fed through your Autodesk A360 account.  The service that supplies that imagery was initially provided by Google in version 2011 or 2012. However, something went wrong with the agreement, and in the following year the service was not available. The year following that, Autodesk was able to provide the service again through Microsoft Bing, and has continued to do so ever since. Recently, I have been experiencing problems in Windows 10, that seemed to culminate following an update from Microsoft. Upon checking, I ran across an article stating other users had lost their AutoCAD ‘live map’ functionality following Microsoft’s updates. Apparently, the update causes problems with the Autodesk A360 service login. The following steps got mine working again:

  • Exit AutoCAD
  • Log out of the Autodesk A360 service on your desktop
  • Restart AutoCAD Civil 3D, and initiate the _Geomap command (This is the same as picking the map button). This will initiate the A360 login again.

After successful login, the mapping features may work again (mine did!). I say may work because there could be other issues that need to be resolved.

Note: in my case, the A360 icon was not present in the tray when I tried to access it. I had to get to it through the App Menu in Windows 10.

Autodesk A360 Login

There were some additional tips in that article, including deleting registry entries.

Other things that you might check

Make sure your geographic system settings are correct. In my case the system that I plug into Civil 3D is Florida State Plane, North Zone, North American Datum of 1983. I have it setup in my templates so that every drawing is already prepared for the geo-referencing feature.

Autodesk AutoCAD Civil 3D Geographic Settings

Pan your view to the correct region. In my template I have included some AutoCAD features that I routinely use, and they are placed at a convenient location in my state plane area. That is the view that I see initially, and am always in a good spot for the imagery to show up. In addition, I can easily navigate from landmarks that I recognize.

Make sure you are logged into A360. The login information is included in the upper right-hand area of the AutoCAD Civil 3D interface. Additionally, look into the service that is running in the background, and see that it is not being infringed upon by a firewall.

Autodesk AutoCAD Civil 3D A360 Login

I really hope this helps out. It was so frustrating, especially since there is simply no way of knowing what the system is experiencing. Perhaps Autodesk might include a warning when users pick the map button, letting them know there is no service available.

AutoCAD’s Wait for it UI Should Be Scrapped Soon

In case you weren’t sure, waiting sucks

This is a quick note for the UI professionals out there in the land of engineering software development. When considering new-fangled ways to extract / engage data in CAD models, please review the following:

When the planning whiteboard includes ‘wait’ and/or ‘pause’ in the possible user responses, you should proceed with the following options:

  1. Take one for the team – erase the entire whiteboard, and tell the director that you are heading down the wrong road. You may get fired, but you’ll be one of the unsung heroes.
  2. Encourage your team to choose one of the other options
  3. If you passed up option 2, refer to option 1.

There are three types of design technicians left in the world:

  • Young, save the world punks and punkettes that are ever increasingly efficient with the software interface that become…
  • the old, cranky master technician who only has a job because they know how to fix problems on the fly, and can read a set of plans competently
  • the useless and unemployable

Autodesk AutoCAD Civil 3D Grip Hover and Wait... and I have 300 of these to do

In the image above, I was using AutoCAD Civil 3D to set and manage thousands of Point entities for a construction layout. Once set, the Point Labels begin to overlap, and must be rotated in order to read them. The process for rotating these labels is either:

  • Pick the Point Object, pick the Label Handle Grip that appears and wait/hover a moment for the Label context menu to appear, pick the rotate option, and pull the Label around the point until it is satisfactory.
  • Pick the Point Object, pick Edit Points from the context menu to initiate the Point Editor spreadsheet, and manually enter the angle desired

This operation is for a single Point and I have potentially thousands to do this way… for this job alone. Oh, and when the plans get revised, I get to do it all over again. This plan is in its second construction release. It was not too long ago many of you will remember when we could use the standard AutoCAD Grip edit methodology to “pick, grip, spacebar-spacebar pull, escape”. That was like lightning, as fast as you could hot key with one hand and pick with the other. [ed. It sounds like this process/feature is completely broken anyway, users shouldn’t have to spend this long doing remedial stuff like this].

When you ask a technician running CAD as if they were doing 300 knots in a 6G turn, command line shortcuts with one hand and every mouse trick with the other, having to ‘pause’ to get an alternate response from the software in order to select something  is about the equivalent of hitting the speed brakes…over and over again.

Please stop this type of UI development. It may seem nice in the planning room, and in testing. However in the real work environment, if this type of move, wait, move, wait workflow is acceptable, that team is sorely inefficient and poorly trained.

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Cannot generate Vault report from the template in Inventor 2014

Autodesk Inventor 2014 Vault Professional Report Failed

Just after Autodesk University 2013 I got a brand new and shiny HP ZBook 15″ Mobile Workstation. It came pre-installed with Windows 8 which is was very happy with, I know there are still some issues to iron out with Autodesk software and this version of Windows, there are even more with Windows 8.1. Nevertheless, I’m happy to figure those out & help Autodesk iron them out as well. I had a task to work on for a customer which involved investigating the use of Vault reports to generate an drawing register for all drawings associated to a selected or active assembly.

The Problem

Until then I hadn’t tried running a Vault report in Inventor 2014 on Windows 8. It stopped me dead in my tracks, with the following error:

Cannot generate report from the template. Please make sure your template is valid.

So off I toddled to the Autodesk Community Forums to perform a search using those exact words. Sure enough I came across a thread detailing a fix. It didn’t work for me initially so I got in touch with Senthil directly to see if he could help me out. Sure enough he did. So I thought I would pay it forward and create a video sharing how it’s done as well as some written instructions.

The Fix

1. Run the command prompt As Administrator

2. Type this in the command prompt

netsh http show urlacl

Cannot Generate Report Inventor 2014 Vault Report Failed  show urlacl

 

You should NOT see the following line in that list (since it not being there is why this fix will work).

Cannot Generate Report Inventor 2014 Vault Report Failed3. Now type the following in the command prompt

netsh http add urlacl url=http://+:8000/inventor user=<Machine Name>\<User Name> OR

netsh http add urlacl url=http://+:8000/inventor user=<Domain Name>\<User Name>

Cannot Generate Report Inventor 2014 Vault Report Failed

 

4. You should see the following after executing the command

Cannot Generate Report Inventor 2014 Vault Report Failed

 

5. Now try step 2 again.

Cannot Generate Report Inventor 2014 Vault Report Failed

 

now you SHOULD see the following URL in the list:

Cannot Generate Report Inventor 2014 Vault Report Failed6. Launch Inventor and try to run the Vault report again

 

Hopefully this will have solved your problem.

Thanks to Senthil Kumar and the Autodesk team for helping out with this solution, very quickly I might add.

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Windows 8.1 Preview and Autodesk Inventor WARNING

Inventor and Windows 8.1 Preview

This weekend I thought I’d take a risk and install Windows 8.1 Preview. I was aware there have been a number of application compatibility issues, including one with AutoCAD but decided to go for it anyway. Microsoft released a fix pretty quickly for the AutoCAD issue within the first round of their updates for the Preview, I hope they or Autodesk release a fix for this one fairly quickly. Continue Reading

Autodesk Vault | 2014 Service Pack 1 Released

Autodesk Vault 2014 Branding

Autodesk Vault 2013 Service Pack 1 wasn’t released until quite late in the year of 2012. Fortunately, some of the major issues with that release were promptly taken care of within a few months of 2013’s release, having the first service pack release 9 months after the product was launch (based on annual release cycles) is quite late. Moving into the present, Autodesk Vault 2014 is a nice release, it has a number of welcome improvements but as if often the case with new release software there are issues.

Thankfully Autodesk have really stepped up to the mark this time around, having already released Update 1 in short order post the products release, a few days ago they released Autodesk Vault 2014 Service Pack 1 for all of the editions (Basic, Workgroup & Professional). I’ve been quite critical of the Vault team in the past (even though I generally really like the product), so it’s only fair I give them some kudos for the speed with which they have reacted to these issues. I’m not going to detail all of the fixes here, since you can read them in the service pack’s readme file. However, I will highlight one fix (I haven’t managed to test it yet) which I feel is a significant flaw in the 2014 RTM release.

Vault Plot Manager - Visualisation file not being used

When using the plot tool, even when dwf’s/visualisation files are up to date, it defaults to printing with the CAD file instead & in some cases where it has managed to load the dwf, Vault fails to print that sheet with no obvious error. It’s not until you check the physical drawings that you notice they are missing, however, I did discover a tool you can use to check for errors. Once you have printed a job, an extra status icon appears in the bottom right hand corner of Vault Explorer, left clicking on it gives you the option to load the Plot Job Monitor.

Vault Plot Monitor

 Once the Plot Monitor has launched the errors reveal themselves. In this case they weren’t much help with respect to starting troubleshooting the issue itself:

Vault Job Monitor Error

To get around this I disabled the use of Visualisation files within the Plot options dialogue (seen in the 2nd image above), which is accessible via the Plot Manager menus. It turns out there are a few downsides to using this workaround, these were provided to me by Autodesk product support:

  1. IDW printing requires more system resources (CPU usage, memory) than DWF printing.
  2. If the DWF has “mark-up”, it doesn’t print when user uses idw printing.
  3. Using DWF’s Saves printing time.
  4. There’s no need for usage of any CAD licenses.

Point 3 is supported by the information supplied within the help file. Expand the ‘Specify Plot Job Options’ section, then within point 2 you will see the following statement:

…the visualization files (either .dwf or .dwfx) that are created when CAD files are checked into a vault are sent to the specified device instead of the native CAD data. This significantly reduces the processing time for plot jobs…

Scanning through the Readme file for Autodesk Vault 2014 Service Pack 1 reveals an issue having been fixed relating to DWF printing on 64-bit operating systems. I believe this fixes the issue I’ve highlighted here.

There are a satisfying number of fixes in this Service Pack not only for the Server (ADMS) but for the client and a number of the Vault add-ins.

You can download Autodesk Vault 2014 Service Pack 1 from here. Just make sure you carefully follow the installation instructions when you do so.

If you are interested here is a summary detailing a number of the fixes released by Autodesk recently.

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Autodesk Factory Design Suite Utilities Activation Problem

FDS activation needed

With some installations of Factory Design Suite Premium 2014 you may get an error when launching the Autodesk Inventor Factory Options from the zero document state (Your Trial Period has Expired). You may also have first noticed it when you take a look at the about information for Factory Design Suite from the help drop down in the top right hand corner of the application. It’s extremely easy to fix & doesn’t require any kind of reinstall of any products, check out the video below to see how:

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Inventor | Driving Constraints From Workplanes

I didn’t realise until today that you can’t flip a work plane’s normal in an Inventor Assembly. So using a single parameter to drive a mate constraint simultaneously, on multiple parts can prove problematic. We’ve recently been designing a rotary dining table, by turning the whole table the table sections slide out opening up a… Continue Reading

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