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comp.cad.autocad FAQ

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Archive-name: CAD/AutoCAD-faq
Version: 1.07
Posting-Frequency: weekly
Last-modified: 7:28 am Thursday, September 14

Welcome to the comp.cad.autocad newsgroup and mailing
list! This newsgroup / mailing list is for discussion of AutoCAD,
Autodesk's products and related topics.

Here are some answers to "frequently asked questions" (FAQs) in this
newsgroup. However, be warned that the only mechanism we use to compose
these FAQs is to gather information submitted by people around the net,
post it regularly, and incorporate feedback. All evaluations are the
opinions of those who submitted them; your mileage may vary.

This is the first pass at the FAQ. It should be considered a beta version,
designed to finesse the format. I'll start adding more questions to the FAQ
soon, but first I want to get input on what information to include up
front, separate from the Q&A section.

This FAQ will be found in multiple locations (See "Where is this FAQ

This FAQ is being maintained in an ASCII format that can be translated
directly to HTML (the Web format) by some nifty software written by Thomas
A. Fine, at Ohio State University. See the following link for an example of
what the Web FAQ archive looks like:

See the following link to see an example of what a properly formatted FAQ
looks like (most of the others are just conversions of FAQs not maintained
in Mr. Fine's format):

Copyright Statement

This document is Copyright 1995, by Peter Sheerin. Permission to republish
this document for commercial purposes must be obtained from the author.

Revision History

August 6th, 1995
Added questions, updated URLs to point to new HyperText FAQ archive.
Updated patch level list. Updated listserv addresses.

July 15, 1995
Added copyright notice. Updated document and structure to accurately
conform with Tom Fine's FAQ format; it should work now. Updated document
template and macros to aid maintaining FAQ format.

July 10, 1995
Gained *.answers approval.

Section 1. Questions about this FAQ

1.1.) What is a FAQ?

  FAQ stands for "Frequently Asked Questions".
  A FAQ is a list of questions and answers about a particular topic that
  is designed to answer the most commonly-asked questions, so that they
  donít have to be answered over and over. They are typically found on
  USENET, and associated with specific newsgroups (equivalent to
  CompuServe Forums). They are also a good repository for odd bits of
  information about the topic that would otherwise get lost among all the
  other discussions. This is the first time a FAQ has been created for
  AutoCAD; I hope you find it useful!

1.2.) Where is this FAQ posted?

  This beta copy will appear in only two locations, initially.
  Posted to comp.cad.autocad
  Posted to the CADENCE forum on CompuServe as a message Once the format
  has been stabilized, and I've added a significant number of questions,
  this will also be posted to the following locations:
   *    comp.cad.autocad
   *    comp.answers
   *    news.answers
   *    the CADENCE Magazine WEB and FTP sites
   *    the Ohio-State Web FAQ site
   *    to the CADENCE forum on CompuServe, as a library upload

1.3.) How to I submit questions to the FAQ?

  Please e-mail all submissions (or better yet, questions *with* answers)
  and include the words "AutoCAD FAQ" on the subject line.
  Do not expect a reply from such messages. If you need to contact the FAQ
  maintainer, please send e-mail to and don't put the
  above words in the subject line.
  Please do let me know in each submission if you would like credit for
  the answer, and if you would also like your e-mail address included.

1.4.) What format should the Q&As be in?

  I maintain the FAQ in a Word for Windows 6.0 document, with styles
  defined to match the format necessary for the parser that converts the
  FAQ into HTML code, for the World Wide Web version. This means I'll take
  anything that reasonably resembles the Q&As in this document.

1.5.) Who is maintaining the FAQ?

  Peter Sheerin is the Technical Editor for CADENCE Magazine, who is
  maintaining this FAQ in his copious spare time.

Section 2. Information About comp.cad.autocad

2.1.) Is comp.cad.autocad newsgroup mirrored to an e-mail listserv?

  Yes, the listserv at mirrors all postings to the
  Usenet newsgroup. This is especially useful for those that do not have
  an Internet connection to newsgroups. In addition, the posts are logged
  into monthly files and archived at JHU, and are available for retrieval
  via the listserv. To subscribe to the list Autocad, send an e-mail
  message to:
  In the body of the text put only:
  subscribe autocad your_first_name your_last_name (ie, subscribe autocad
  Mickey Mouse)
  There's no need to indicate your address, the listserv will
  automatically pick it up. You should receive a reply from the listserv
  indicating that you have been added to the AutoCAD mail list. For
  further instructions on how to use the listserv send a message to the
  same address with one word in the text body: help If you send a separate
  message to the listserv with the words "index autocad" you'll receive a
  reply detailing what archive files are available (April 1992 to the
  present). To get yourself off the mail list, simply send a message to
  the listserv stating:
  "signoff autocad" (or) "unsubscribe autocad" Again, you will receive a
  reply indicating you've been removed.

2.2.) If I don't have access to Usenet newsgroups, how can I post to

  If you're on the AutoCAD mail list from the listserv@JHU, you can still
  interact with the newsgroup. First, any e-mail message you receive
  forwarded from the newsgroup will have the original person who posted it
  as the Reply address (not the newsgroup). Second, if you want to post a
  reply or a message to the AutoCAD list through the listserv, send your
  mail to:
  There are over 350 subscribers to the AutoCAD mail list at this address.
  However, your message will not be posted to the comp.cad.autocad
  newsgroup. To post to the newsgroup itself without having an Internet
  newsgroup connection, you can send your message via e-mail to a server
  in Texas that will post it to the newsgroup for you. Address your mail
  Note that while the newsgroup is called comp.cad.autocad, the server
  recognizes it by the name comp-cad-autocad.

Section 3. General Questions and Answers

3.1.) What are the latest versions of AutoCAD?

   *    OS/2 1.0                 Release 10
   *    SCO Xenix                Release 10
   *    DOS 286   Release 11
   *    DOS 386   Release 13c3
   *    Windows 3.1/WfWG    Release 13c3
   *    Windows NT (Intel)  Release 13c3
   *    Windows NT (Alpha)  Release 13c3
   *    Windows 95     (Currently Unsupported)*
   *    Mac System 7   Release 12
   *    SunOS 4.1 Release 12
   *    Solaris 2.0    Release 13
   *    HP/UX 9.x Release 13
   *    SGI Iris  Release 13
   *    IBM AIX   Release 13
   *    DEC Ultrix     Release 12
  * = Release 13 has been announced on these platforms, but is not
  shipping yet.

3.2.) Are patches available for any versions of AutoCAD?
  Yes. Use to log to Autodesk's
  FTP site. Most of the latest patches will always be there. Occasionally,
  "lesser" patches will only be available on CompuServe or from your
  dealer. Just little things like AutoVision, ADE, etc.

3.3.) Are customized menus compatible across platforms?

  The only differences would be in LISP code embedded in the menus, and
  platform-specific icon (toolbar) systems. In Release 12, toolbars are
  present in the Windows version only, and have their own unique
  definition format. Release 12 for Windows and for the Macintosh allow
  certian text menus to be replaced by icons; these formats also differ.

3.4.) How can I view GIF files (or other raster images) inside AutoCAD?

  In AutoCAD Release 12 or Release 13:
  The GIFIN, PCXIN, and TIFFIN commands let you import raster files into
  your AutoCAD Drawing. AutoCAD displays the imported image and lets you
  drag the image into position and scale it to the desired size. The
  imported image is made up of one SOLID entity for each pixel in the
  original image (though some combining is made for groups of same-colored
  pixels), so they can have a dramatic effect on file size.
  The pull-down menu under Render. Try Render, Files, Replay Image...
  AutoCAD Render will load (and ask you to configure it if you havenít
  already done so), then display a dialog box enabling you to temporarialy
  display TGA, TIF, RND, or GIF files in the AutoCAD graphics window,
  without actually inserting it into the drawing (basically the same
  concept as with VSLIDE).

Section 4. Electronic Resources

4.1.) Are there any FTP sites for AutoCAD files?

  Yes. A list and descriptions follow:
  A handful of files are available on Autodesk's own FTP site , which just recently opened up. The key files
  are the moment are the patch files to upgrade some versions of Release
  12 to c3 (for DOS) and c4 (for Windows).
  Autodesk now has a Web site of their own, which includes lots of
  goodies, including their technical support documents:
  CADENCE Magazine has all of the code ever published in the magazine
  available at
  CADENCE also has a Web page:
  There is a public archive of many AutoCAD related files available at
  Please pass on any other sites that you know about!

4.2.) What forums are available on the commercial services, such as

  Well, CompuServe, for one ;-).
  Autodesk maintains several forums:
   *    ACAD, for discussion of AutoCAD
   *    ARETAIL, for discussions of the Retail Products divisions' software
   *    ASOFT, for discussions of 3D Studio, and other multimedia products
  The CADENCE forum is the official CADENCE Magazine presence on
  CompuServe, with a forum and libraries, including code published in the

4.3.) What vendor BBS and web sites are available for drivers, tech
support, etc.?

  Lots. Please help me add to this list:
   *    Calcomp BBS              714/236-3045
   *    HP Plotters    

4.4.) Other miscellaneous resources

  There is a gopher service available on the internet called the
  "Electronic Newsstand", which offers (partial) electronic versions of
  many different magazines. Typically, the Table of Contents, and one or
  two articles from each issue are posted, along with subscription
  information. Currently, both CADENCE
  (gopher:// and Cadalyst
  (gopher:// are on-line

Section 5. AutoCAD Usage Questions

5.1.) When in tilemode = 0 in a modelspace window, if you use the windows
scoll bars, it scolls the Paperspace view, not the Modelspace view. Am I
missing something or Is this an absurd action?

  Yes, it is an absurd action, but we're stuck with it for now.

5.2.) What are the numeric code equivelants to the special text codes (%%)?

  alt+177=Ī (+/- tolerance symbol)
  alt+176=į (degrees symbol)
  alt+216=ō (circle diameter symbol)
  alt+248=Ý (small circle diameter symbol) <i>(Is this standard? -PKS)</i>
  The above numeric key sequences are for DOS. Under Windows, prefix the
  alt code with a zero, for a total of four digits.

5.3.) The special character codes (%%) don't work in Release 13. Why not?

  Using the %% character string does not work in mtext but still works for
  dtext and regular text. However, Unicode supports many more symbols. The
  old format of typing %%c for diameter is \U+2205 in Unicode, %%p for
  plus/minus tolerance symbol is \U+00b1 in Unicode, and %%c for degree
  symbol is \U+00b0 in Unicode.
  For overlining: \O & \o
  \Othis is overlined text\o
  for underlining: \L & \l
  \Lthis is underlined text\l
  See Autodesk fax information document #967 for more detailed

5.4.) What are the actual dimensions for the standard, named paper sizes?

  It varies with the field of work, and sometimes it varies from company
  to company. Usually if you are working in a mechanical field:
  A size is 8-1/2 x 11
  B size is 11 x 17
  C size is 17 x 22
  D size is 22 x 34
  E size is 34 x 44
  But most architechtual and civil engineers use a slightly larger sheet
  which is:
  A size 9 x 12
  B size 12 x 18
  C size 18 x 24
  D size 24 x 36
  E size 36 x 48 ???
  All DIN/ISO Formats have a proportion of sqrt(2). The A0 sheet has
  exactly 1 m2 in area. A1 has exactly half the area of A0, and its sides
  are sqrt(2) shorter (length is equal to A0 width, width is half of A0
  length) and so on. The B and C formats (there is also a D) are thought
  for corresponding enveloppes, folders, etc. (standard enveloppe is C6 or
  C6L [110 x  220]). B sizes are geometrically intermediate to A sizes. C
  and D are geometrically intermediate sizes to A and B.
  All numbers are in international units (rounded to the next mm).
   class    A              B              C
       0    841 x 1189    1000 x 1414     917 x 1297
       1    594 x  841     707 x 1000     648 x  917
       2    420 x  549     500 x  707     458 x  648
       3    297 x  420     353 x  500     324 x  458
       4    210 x  297     250 x  353     229 x  324
       5    148 x  210     176 x  250     162 x  229
       6    105 x  148     125 x  176     114 x  162
  The specific values for the "A" sizes:
   Size      Size in mm        Size in Inches    Total area
   A0     841 mm X 1189 mm     33.1" X 46.8"     1.0 sq. meter
   A1     594       841        23.4    33.1       .5
   A2     420       594        16.5    23.4       .25
   A3     297       420        11.7    16.5       .125
   A4     210       297         8.3    11.7       .0625
   A5     148       210         5.8     8.3       .03125

5.5.) How do I maintain frozen layers in a file that contains an external
reference? I don't want to re-visit the layer control dialog every time I
open the drawing.

  Look up the system variable VISRETAIN. Xrefs appeared in Release 11, but
  this variable was not introduced until Release 12, and doesn't work
  properly until Release xx.

5.6.) Is their way or anything that will let AutoCad save as EPS or Adobe
Illustrator files?

  Believe it or not, but AutoCAD has three ways to export a drawing in EPS
  1. The PSOUT command.
  2. The Plot command, with AutoCAD configured with a PostScript driver,
  then plot to file.
  3. The Plot command, with AutoCAD configured with the PostScript Raster
  Output driver (creates a raster-only EPS file).
  -- From Ralph Grabowski

Section 6. AutoCAD Config and Memory

6.1.) We are experiencing a huge number of instances where our users
recieve an "Unhandled Exception" error in AutoCad R13. We are using 486
PC's under Windows 3.1 on a Novell Netware 4.1. Can anyone offer any

  Many have found this problem also. The cure is to increase the virtual
  memory size. The absolute minimum should be 65MB. Some will need even
  larger sizes.

Section 7. Plotting Questions

7.1.) AutoCAD R12c3 network version running on a Sun Sparc attempting to
plot to an HP pen plotter. I recieve the following error message after a
few minutes of plotting: "An error has occurred while writing to the hard
copy device. Please check that it is turned on, online, and has paper.
Abort <Y/N>" This situation is forcing me to sit in front of my station and
keep hitting the return key just to keep the plotter running.

  You need to change the plotter time-out value. You can do this in the
  configuration of the plotter or at the plot dialog box. If you set the
  value at 0, the plotter will wait forever. The default is 30 seconds.
  Timeout messages occur when AutoCAD temporarily stops sending
  information to the plot device because its buffer is full. Once the plot
  device "catches up," AutoCAD sends information again. See your
  Installation and Performance guide for more information.

7.2.) Where can I find plotter drivers for my DesignJet?

  Robert McNeel & Associates (Seattle Washington (206) 545-7000) sells
  PlotPack, which provides excellent HP-GL/2 support.
  Don't forget HP's drivers at in the
  directory pub/plotter/win_dos

7.3.) Where can I find an AutoCAD printer driver for the 550c. He can't
seem to get the printer to work with the supplied drivers.

  Try printcad part of from an MSDOS\SIMTEL\Plot Directory
  available at many sites on the net. It has an on-line manual which shows
  how to set up the program for different printers. It produces very good
  There is also a commercial package, Print a Plot Pro, available.
  And don't forget to check out HP's latest drivers. They always seem to
  be coming out with an upgrade which improves upon previous releases.

Section 8. Networking Questions

[under construction]

Section 9. Digitizing Questions

[under construction]

Section 10. ADS or ARx Questions

[under construction]

Section 11. AutoLISP Questions

11.1.) Where can I find AutoLISP routines on the Internet?

  Code from CADENCE magazine is available at
  Ventana has a site at

11.2.) AutoLISP is powerful and convenient. However, debugging an AutoLISP
program is quite difficult. Are there any recommended debugging techniques?
Are there any tools that can help?

  There are some debugging programs like ALLY [from] and
  Vital Lisp from Basis Software, but, in practice, the best support you
  can have for debugging is write your code in a well designed, modular
  style, pulling out distinct tasks into separate functions and then
  liberally using nested function calls. This will allow you to use the
  TRACE function as needed to locate any errors. -- From Ben Olasov

Section 12. Menu Customization

  [under construction]

Section 13. Networking Questions

  [under construction]

Section 14. AutoCAD Solid-Modeling Questions

14.1.) Does anybody know if there is a newsgroup/mailing list/WWW-Site etc.
dealing with the ACIS Geometric Modeler?

  You might want to try the listserver at There is a
  mailing list on it called "acis-alliance". To subscribe, do the
   *    send mail to "".
   *    make the first line of the message "subscribe acis_alliance".
   *    You should get mail back confirming your addition to the list & giving
     you other useful info.
  There is also an ftp site there. Here is the skinny on that:
  There is an anonymous FTP site supporting this group: it is at  FTP to ( using the user
  name of "anonymous" and a password of your e-mail address (please, only
  FTP OUTSIDE of regular business hours, EST).  Change to "/acis-alliance"
  and there you will find an directory called "incoming" as well as some
  other directories containing various files. Feel free to upload any
  useful ACIS stuff and to announce them through the mailing list.

Section 15. AutoSurf Questions

  [under construction]

Section 16. AutoVision Questions

  [under construction]

Section 17. R12/R13 Rendering Questions

  [under construction]

Section 18. AutoCAD Error Messages/Crashes

This is a list of error messages reported by AutoCAD.

18.1.) ALERT: read_sbuf buffer wrap:func=55 len=514 pmscrn=1988 ascrn=2502

       occurred in Release 12 when writing a block to disk

* Peter K. Sheerin  Technical Editor,     | Work      :     *
* CADENCE Magazine & AutoCAD Tech Journal | CompuServe: 71621,3173           *
* 600 Harrison Street, San Francisco, CA  | Personal  :    *
*                                                                            *
* <URL:>     <URL:> *
* <URL:>                                              *

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