July 17, 2014

Microsoft Update Causes Crashes in ACA/AMEP

In case you have not seen this yet, a recent (July 2014) Microsoft Update, KB2962872, causes instability/crashes when using Internet Explorer-based features in AutoCAD® Architecture and AutoCAD® MEP, such as the Detail Component Manager, the Structural Member Catalog and the Project Browser. Read more at the following links:

Up and Ready Blog
Autodesk Knowledge Network
Autodesk AutoCAD Architecture General Discussion Group: STRUCTURAL CATALOG
Windows Security Patch Breaks Project Navigator

July 12, 2014

Controlling Did You Know Balloon Notifications Revisited

Here is a quick update on this post from three years back. The InfoCenter area and Balloon Notifications button remain on the System tab of the Options dialog, but in the 2014 and 2015 releases, have moved up to the middle of the right column. I made a brief Screencast to show users at my firm how to avoid having to manually close the "Did You Know" messages in the 2014 release, and have decided to share that here, also:

July 06, 2014

ACA: AEC Modify Tools, Part 2, AEC Trim

The AutoCAD® Architecture AEC Modify Tools provide some handy extensions to the modification tools provided in the base AutoCAD® product. Since I have previously written about the AEC Extend tool (AecLineworkExtend command), this article will be "Part 2" and it will focus on the AEC Trim tool (actual command name, AecLineworkTrim).

As you might expect from the name, the AEC Trim command's function is similar to the TRIM command, but the order in which you do things is different. Rather than selecting cutting edges, and then items to be cut, as in the TRIM command, when using AEC Trim command, you select the items to be trimmed first, then define a cutting edge by selecting two points on the screen or by pressing ENTER and then selecting an on-screen line segment that is then used to define an "infinite" line that is used as the cutting edge. Linework to be trimmed does not have to intersect the selected line segment. In addition to lines and polyline segments, you can use lines from ACA objects, such as Wall Component Boundary lines or AEC Polygon lines. While it will allow you to select an arc, circle or polyline arc segment, in my experience it has deleted the entire item to be trimmed when a curved segment is chosen.

There are a few other differences. One major difference is you can trim block references. No change is made to the original block definition and any untrimmed block references remain unchanged. Instead, the trimmed block references are replaced with new "anonymous" block definitions where the defining linework has been trimmed at the cut line, where possible, as shown in the following images.

Two block references, on left side, selected for trimming.

Line in drawing selected as boundary edge for trim.

Side to trim selected.

Result of block reference trimming.

Note that the linework on the side to be trimmed highlights in red (ACA 2015 only), to help you visualize the trim results. Note also that in the fourth image, the layer of the trim line has been frozen, and that there is a line along the trim line location in each of the trimmed blocks. This is because the blocks contained two closed objects: a circle (magenta) and a pentagonal polyline (blue). Unlike the TRIM command, when trimmable closed objects are trimmed using the AEC Trim tool, the result remains a closed object.

AecLineworkTrim on Closed Polyline, Circle and AEC Polygon.

AecLineworkTrim Results on Closed Polyline, Circle and AEC Polygon.

Trimming the closed polygon (top pentagon) results in a closed polygon, although the closing line does not pick up the segment width of the original segments, if any. The TRIM command would have left an open polyline. Trimming the circle results in a closed polyline, rather than the arc that the TRIM command would have left. Trimming the AEC Polygon results in an AEC Polygon, rather than the open polyline that the TRIM command produces.

NOTE: There appears to be a bug in the 2015 version that results in the wrong side of AEC Polygons being kept after the trim, as can be seen in the image above. The command works properly in the 2014 release (but you will not get the red in-canvas preview of the linework that should be deleted in 2014).

Elipses and elipse arcs cannot be trimmed using the AEC Trim tool, and will not be included in the selection set. Walls, Doors, Windows, Door/Window Assemblies and Multi-View Blocks also will not be trimmed, even though they can be selected and, if the trim line crosses them, will show the red highlighting implying that they will be trimmed. There are likely other non-trimmable items; I have not tried to test every single object type with the command. I believe the intent of these tools was to work with the items generated by the Detail Components feature, so other objects will not necessarily play nicely.

If an untrimmable object is nested within a block definition, it will not be trimmed if you trim an instance of that block. Any trimmable items will, however, be trimmed.

You can also access the command from the right-click context menu, which can be handy if you want to select multiple objects first, before choosing the command.

June 04, 2014

ACA: ACA.dll File Location

Somewhat related to this previous post, is the location of the ACA.dll file. While this has not necessarily moved its location, if you were to copy the ACA.cuix and rename the copy in order to customize the copy while retaining the out-of-the-box version, you will also want to copy the ACA.dll file and rename the copy to match the name of your copied CUIX file, in order that your copied version will maintain the tool icons that are defined in that DLL file, such as ribbon tool icons for the AutoCAD-Architecture®-specific tools.

For the Autodesk Bulding Design Suite Premium 2014 package, the default installation location for the ACA.dll file is the
C:\Program Files\Autodesk\AutoCAD 2014\ACA
folder. For older releases or non-suite versions, you may need to look in the folder in which ACAD.exe is installed. Depending upon how your file permissions are set up, you may need administrative rights to copy/rename files in this folder.

I ran into this today because I wanted to have a separate profile to which I can add my own customizations (additional search paths, additional trusted locations, additional tool palette file locations and partial CUIX files) without messing with the office-standard, along with an associated workspace. Since the workspaces are defined and saved in the CUIX file, I decided to make a copy of the office standard CUIX file under a different name. That will require that I keep my copy of the CUIX coordinated with any changes to the office standard, but it will prevent me from having to strip out my customizations should the need to modify the office-standard CUIX arise in the future.

May 04, 2014

Revit - Residential Door Tag

There is a convention for residential projects in some areas using Imperial Units for showing the width and height of a Door at the plan representation of the Door, in the format "3070", where the "30" represents a width of 3'-0" and the "70" represents a height of 7'-0". Likewise, a 2'-10" wide by 6'-8" high door would be tagged as "21068". Sometimes the inches numbers are shown in a slight superscript, to make the values more legible.

Long-time readers may recall that Door Tags supporting this convention had been developed in AutoCAD® Architecture. The same can be done in Autodesk® Revit®, by adding some additional parameters to your Door families, and using some relatively simple formulas. The instructions below and screen captures are based on the 2014 release, but you should be able to follow them in other versions as well (tool locations and naming may vary). In order for these parameters to appear in a Door Tag, they will need to be created as shared parameters. This example assumes that your Door families have parameters called Width and Height that hold the (nominal) door opening width and height. If your Door families use differently named parameters for these values, then substitute your names for Width and Height. It also assumes that your nominal door sizes do not involve fractional inches.

We need to take the values from the Door's Width and Height parameters and extract the whole foot value and the whole inch value for both the width and the height, so that we can then create a Door Tag that combines these values. To do this, we will need to create six parameters.
  1. Edit one of your Door Families, and on the Create ribbon tab, on the Properties panel, select the Family Types tool to open the Family Types dialog.
  2. In the Family Types dialog, in the Parameters area at the middle of the right side, select the Add button.
  3. In the Parameter Properties dialog, in the Parameter Type area at the top, choose the Shared parameter radio button and then select the Select button.
  4. If the Shared Parameters dialog appears, select the Edit button. If a dialog appears indicating that you have not yet specified a shared parameters file, select OK.
  5. In the Edit Shared Parameters dialog, you will need to indicate a shared parameters file to use, if one has not previously been selected, or verify that the one that is selected is appropriate. Use the Browse button to open an existing file or the Create button to make a new one. CAUTION: If you work with others, and you are not the BIM Manager for your firm, please consult with the BIM Manager before creating a new shared parameters file or editing an existing one, to assure that you are using the correct file, not duplicating parameters that already exist, putting the parameters in the proper group and use the appropriate naming convention. For the purposes of this example, I created a new shared parameters file, just for these parameters. While you can have multiple shared parameters files, it is easier to manage shared parameters at a firm if they are all in a single file. Work all this out with your firm's management and/or your co-workers in advance, so that work will not need to be redone.
  6. With the proper shared parameters file selected, set (or create) the desired Parameter group. I used "Door" for this example; you may already have a similarly named group that should be used instead. (See discussion on coordinating with your BIM Manager above.)
  7. You can now use the New button in the Parameters area at the right side to create the six new shared parameters (unless you have existing ones that already perform the needed function). In the Parameter Properties dialog, enter WidthReal for the Name, set the Discipline to Common and set the Type of Parameter to Number. We will use this to convert the door's width from feet and inches to a real number (decimal feet).
  8. Select OK to return to the Edit Shared Parameters dialog.
  9. Using the New parameter button, create five additional shared parameters: HeightReal, WidthFeet, HeightFeet, WidthInches and HeightInches. All five should be set to the Common discipline. Height Real should also have a type of Number; the other four should have a type of Integer.
  10. With all six shared parameters created, select OK in the Edit Shared Parameters dialog.
  11. In the Shared Parameters dialog, set the appropriate Parameter group, if necessary, and then choose the WidthReal parameter and select OK.
  12. In the Parameter Properties dialog, set the Group under which you want to place this parameter. In the example, I used the General group, but you may feel that another group is more appropriate.
  13. Verify that the Type radio button is selected and select OK.
  14. Add the other five shared parameters by using the Add button and following the steps above, with the exception that you will not need to create the shared parameters, since all six were created at once.
  15. With the new parameters in place, you can add the formulas for them in the Family Types dialog. In the Formula column for the WidthReal parameter, type Width/1'. Dividing the value of the Width parameter by 1' removes the units from the value, leaving a real number (in decimal feet).
  16. In the Formula column for the HeightReal parameter, type Height/1'.
  17. In the Formula column for the WidthFeet parameter, type rounddown(WidthReal). This will round the value of the WidthReal parameter down to the next lowest whole number, which is the whole feet part of the Door width.
  18. In the Formula column for the HeightFeet parameter, type rounddown(HeightReal).
  19. In the Formula column for the WidthInches parameter, type rounddown(12.0*(WidthReal-WidthFeet)). This subtracts the whole foot value from the Door width, leaving fractional feet (if any), and then multiplies the result by 12 to arrive at the inches portion of the width. This value is rounded down to the next lowest whole number, discarding any fractional inches.
  20. In the Formula column for the HeightInches parameter, type rounddown(12.0*(HeightReal-HeightFeet)).
  21. You will see the calculated values for each of the parameters and can verify that the results are correct.
  22. If your Door family has multiple types with different sizes, you can select the different types to verify that the formulas work in each case.
You will need to add these parameters and formulas to each of the Door families on which you want to use a residential-type tag. Having added the parameters to your Door Families, you will need to create a Door Tag that displays them. Create a new Revit family, starting with the Door Tag.rft template.
  1. On the Create ribbon tab, on the Text panel, select the Label tool.
  2. Verify the current Label type is as desired. If not, set and/or create and set the appropriate Label type.
  3. On the Modify|Place Label contextual ribbon tab, on the Format panel, verify the Label justification settings are appropriate. For this example, I am using Align Center (left/right) and Center Middle (top/bottom).
  4. Select the placement point for the Label, keeping in mind that the initial insertion point of the tag will be at the intersection of the two Reference Planes. Do not obsess over picking the point, you can fine tune the placement after the Label is created.
  5. In the Edit Label dialog, select the Add Parameter button in the lower left corner of the dialog.
  6. In the Parameter Properties dialog, select the Select button in the Parameter Type area at the top of the dialog.
  7. In the Shared Parameters dialog, set the Parameter group to the one you used for the parameters you added to your Door Families ("Door" in the example here), and choose the WidthFeet parameter. If you do not see your parameter group or your parameter, use the Edit button and, in the Edit Shared parameters dialog that opens, browse to the shared parameter file that you previously used when creating the shared parameters for your Door Families. Then click OK to return to the Shared Parameters dialog and choose the WidthFeet parameter as directed.
  8. Click OK twice to add the parameter.
  9. Repeat the previous two steps to add the WidthInches, HeightFeet and HeightInches parameters.
  10. In the Edit Label dialog, select WidthFeet from the Category Parameters list on the left side of the dialog, and then select the Add parameter(s) to label button (with green arrow).
  11. In turn, do the same for the WidthInches, HeightFeet and HeightInches parameters. Add representative sample values, rather than the default, which is the name of the parameter. In my example, I set the Spaces between the parameters to 0 and did not add a Prefix or Suffix to any of the parameters. If your needs are different, set these values as you wish.
  12. Select OK to return to the Family Editor.
  13. Fine-tune the location of the label and adjust the label's width so that it is just wide enough to accomodate the widest expected value.
  14. Save the Door Tag family, and then load it into a project in which you have placed Doors that have the residential door parameters and formulas added. Tag the Doors with the new tag and verify that the parameters, formulas and tag are working as desired.
I have attached a ZIP file that has a sample Door Tag family as well as a sample project file in which the Door Tag is applied to a thread in the Autodesk Revit Architecture Discussion Group. The sample Door Tag family has two types: one displays the single label with all four parameters in it, as shown above, and the other uses four labels, one for each parameter, with the inches labels using a slightly smaller height and positioned as a superscript, similar to the AutoCAD Architecture tag developed by Matt Dillon (see link in second paragraph above).
Yes/No parameters control the visibility of the parameters in each type.

April 24, 2014

AutoCAD 2015 - Cursor Badges

A minor, but useful change introduced in AutoCAD® 2015, and thereby available to AutoCAD® Architecture and AutoCAD® MEP users as well, is improved cursor graphics. The crosshairs no longer extend into the pickbox, making it easier to see what you are selecting.

A number of contextual cursor "badges" have been added, as a reminder of the task at hand. A badge appears when using the Window, Crossing Window, Window Polygon and Crossing Polygon selection methods, as well as the new Lasso and Crossing Lasso methods.
When selecting individual objects, after selecting the first, when the cursor hovers over additional objects, a "+" badge appears to let you know selecting that object will add it to the selected objects. If you hold the SHIFT key down and hover over a selected item, a "-" badge appears to indicate that selecting the object will remove it from selection. (Both cases assume PICKADD is set to 1 or 2.)

When using an inquiry command, such as LIST, ID, DIST, AREA or MEASUREGEOM, the inspection badge is displayed.

When being prompted for an angle input, a rotation badge will appear; the badge indicates the direction of positive rotation based on the current value of the ANGDIR System Variable (0 = counterclockwise; 1 = clockwise).

A magnifying glass badge appears for the ZOOM command, with variants for the Window and Object command options.
The PAN command "hand" cursor is also augmented, with fingers spread wide when the left mouse button is not pressed down, and fingers clenched when the left mouse button is pressed down.

ERASE and TRIM display a red "X" icon to indicate deletion.

Many other commands display a badge, such as the COPY, SCALE and MOVE.

If you hover over an object that does not apply to the command at hand, you will get a slashed circle icon.

On a day when the interruptions have interruptions, the new cursor badges, which join old favorites such as those for Match Properties, Selection Cycling and Annotative Object, may just help get you back on track by gently reminding you of the command in progress.

April 14, 2014

ACA 2015 - Command Preview

As part of the Command Preview feature added to AutoCAD® 2015, AutoCAD® Architecture 2015 includes an in-command, dynamic preview of the results of grip edits, moves, fillets, chamfers, extends and trims on Walls. For example, in the 2014 release, grip editing a Wall gives you a "ghost" of effect of the grip edit on the Wall, but nothing else.
In 2015, you get a preview of the effect of the grip edit on other Walls with which the stretched Wall cleans up as well as on AEC objects anchored to that Wall (such as Doors and Windows).
You will find, however, that if you open a drawing that was created with a previous release, the Command Preview will work on the Wall and Walls with which it cleans up, but not on the anchored objects.
This can be rectified by typing AecConvertToAssocAnchor at the Command: prompt and pressing ENTER. That will convert the anchors of objects added in previous releases to associative anchors and allow them to show when Command Preview is active.

Command Preview can be turned on or off by using the COMMANDPREVIEW System Variable (0 is off, 1 is on), or, in the Options dialog, on the Selection Tab, in the Preview area in the lower right, by checking (on) or unchecking (off) the Command preview toggle.

If you want to leave Command Preview on, but not have anchored objects as part of the preview, you can use the AECENABLEASSOCANCHOR System Variable to turn this effect ON or OFF. Both AECENABLEASSOCANCHOR and COMMANDPREVIEW are saved to the registry, so a changed setting will affect all drawings.

As previously noted, the Command Preview also works with Walls and the MOVE command,
the FILLET command,
the CHAMFER command,
the EXTEND command,
and the TRIM command.
For operations where the result is the deletion of part of an existing object, the display of the deleted part will be dimmed. For the TRIM command, the cursor will also display the Erase/Delete badge (another new feature in the 2015 release).

In addition to object anchors, the preview of anchored objects also applies to leader anchors, node anchors, cell anchors and volume anchors. In AutoCAD® MEP 2015, Command Preview applies to plumbing and schematic lines. Command Preview also applies to AutoCAD objects to which the commands noted above apply.

April 10, 2014

ACA 2015 - Visual Comparison

A means to quickly get a visual comparison of geometry changes between two different versions of a drawing is now available whether or not you are working in the project management environment (Project Browser/Project Navigator), and without requiring a parallel folder structure. The comparison is only for visual changes; changing the Door Style of a Door will not be flagged if the on-screen graphics remain the same.

Outside of the drawing management environment, you can use the AECVCOMPARE command to compare an open drawing to any other file that you select using the standard file navigation dialog. (At the Command prompt, type VCOMPARE if you have AutoComplete turned on; if you include the "AEC" prefix, you will only be offered the related system variables noted below.)

If one of the drawings you are using is an earlier version and the other a later version, the command works best if you have the more recent version of the file open, and compare it to a previous version, as it will treat items in the open drawing that differ from those in the selected drawing as "new" and differing items in the selected drawing as "old".

The image below shows a sample "original" file, with Walls, Doors, Spaces, Schedule Tags and some AutoCAD®objects.

The next image shows a copy of that file, with some edits made. The vertical interior Wall has been moved to the right, increasing the size of Office 101, decreasing the size of the other two Spaces and moving Doors 02 and 04. The text and linework at the bottom of the plan has been deleted, and some new text and linework has been added above the plan, at the left side.
After running VCOMPARE with the revised version of the file as the current file, and selecting the original file as the comparison file, the screen display is changed to show you the changes, as shown in the following image.

As you can see on the Command line prompt, "old" items that no longer exist in the same location are shown in red, "new" items that did not exist in the same location are shown in green, and items that are the same in both files are shown in grey, using the out-of-the-box settings. Changes to the text are properly classified, but are shown using the txt.shx font, so the new and unchanged text will not completely overwrite the text in the current file if it uses a different font, as can be seen in the image, where the text uses the Arial font.

Five System Variables support the VCOMPARE command, and allow you to control the generated comparison graphics.
  • AECVCOMPARENEWCOLOR - This variable determines the color in which "new" geometry (added items or items not in the same location in the file selected for comparison) is highlighted.
  • AECVCOMPAREOLDCOLOR - This variable determines the color in which "old" geometry (items in the file selected for comparison which are either not present or not in the same location in the current file) is highlighted.
  • AECVCOMPAREUNCHANGEDCOLOR - This variable determines the color in which geometry that is the same in both files is highlighted.
  • AECVCOMPAREIGNOREHATCH - This variable determines whether differences in hatching are included in the comparison results. This includes the hatching in AEC objects, such as the Spaces in the image above, where this variable was set to OFF.
  • AECVCOMPAREIGNORETEXT - This variable determines whether differences in text are included in the comparison results. This includes the attributes in Schedule Tags, but does not include other linework in the tags. In the image above, this variable was set to OFF.
The values of the color variables are strings in the format rrr,ggg,bbb, where rrr, ggg and bbb are integers in the range of 0 to 255, inclusive, and represent the red, green and blue values of the desired color, respectively, in RGB format. The values of the "ignore" variables are either ON or OFF. When set to ON, the corresponding hatch or text is ignored in the comparison; when set to OFF, it is included in the comparison graphics. 1 for ON or 0 for OFF are also acceptable values.

While a comparison is active, you can use the options noted on the Command line to alter the comparison graphics. The "Old" option will show just the items in the file to compare that are either missing from or changed in the current file, along with unchanged objects in gray (turning off the green, new items). This can be helpful as the "New" graphics will cover the "Old" graphics when viewing both simultaneously.

The "New" option will show just the items in the current file that are either newly added or changed from what they were in the file to compare, along with unchanged objects in gray (turning off the red, old items).
The "Unchanged" option turns off both the "Old" and "New" highlights, leaving just the grey highlighting on unchanged items, along with the balance of the current drawing shown in the "normal," pre-VPCOMPARE colors.

You can use the "All" option at any time to return to the original display showing all of the comparison colors. When you are done comparing the files, you can press the ENTER key to exit the command. Pressing ENTER twice immediately after exiting the command (before executing another command) will repeat the command with the same comparison file.

If you are working in the drawing management environment, the process of initiating the comparison is somewhat streamlined, but the end results are the same. You can compare a previous version to the current version or you can compare two previous versions on the Check-In History pane. In both cases, the BAK file of the previous version(s) has/have to be available (not deleted due to exceeding the maximum number of backups). To compare a previous version to the current version, right click on the previous version and choose Visual Compare from the context menu. The current version will open, and a visual comparison to the old version will be generated. To compare two previous versions, select one, hold down the CTRL key and select the other, then right click and choose Visual Compare from the context menu. The more recent version will be opened, and a visual comparison to the older version generated. This can provide a quick way to identify what was changed between versions and may aid in making a decision on whether or not a file should be rolled back to a previous version.

April 05, 2014

ACA 2015 - Version Management in Project Navigator

Version Management has been added to the Drawing Management feature (Project Browser/Project Navigator) in the 2015 release of AutoCAD® Architecture. The newly added Check In/Check Out feature, available when right-clicking on a file in the Project Navigator, drives the Version Management process. A new version will be created every time that you check a file back in.

Before using the feature on a project, be certain to check the Project Properties, under the ADVANCED Category, File Check In Options, to verify that they are set as desired. The Maximum Backups property controls the maximum number of previous versions that will be saved. Once exceeded, the oldest previous backup will be deleted. You will have to determine the appropriate number of backups taking into consideration the likelihood of needing to revert to a previous version and the amount of network storage space you have available. The Comments property determines whether you will be able to add a comment when checking the file back in ("Yes") or not ("No"). You can set the User Profile Type to either "Local Profile" or "User Name Only". Typically, this would be set to Local Profile, unless you are working on a computer that is in a different network domain from the domain in which the project files are stored, in which case you will want to select User Name Only.


With the Project Properties set to your liking, you are ready to make use of the Version Management feature. You can right-click on any file in the Project Navigator and use the context menu to Check Out a file.
When you check out a file, you are the only person who can edit the file. Other users will continue to have read-only access to the last-saved version of the file prior to check out. This allows you to edit the file and save your changes without everyone else working on a file that externally references your file getting a balloon notification that the file has been updated. On a larger project with multiple team members, that can save a lot of distraction. It also allows you to work through a revision, which may involve temporary changes or refinements of the change through several iterations without other users seeing the current, not-yet-final results at each save. Files that you have checked out are identified by a green check mark on the Project Navigator file icon; files that others have checked out will have a red check mark on the icon.

When the revisions are complete and you want to make them available to the rest of the project team, you do so by saving the file and then right clicking on the file in Project Navigator and selecting Check In. This automatically creates a new version of the file. If the revisions were "experimental" in nature and the experiment "failed," you also have the option to Undo Check Out, in which case the previous version of the file remains current and the checked-out copy of the file will be deleted.
If you have enabled comments, when you check in a file the File Check In Comment dialog will appear, allowing you to type a comment to be associated with this check in.
After check in, you can select the file in the Project Navigator and use the Check-In History option for the lower pane to review the history of the file. The Detail and Preview options for the lower pane from previous releases remain available as well; the tools at the right side of the lower pane title bar control which option is displayed.
Once you reach the maximum number of backup versions for a given file (as specified in the Project Properties), checking that file out and back in again will create a new version, and the oldest back up will be deleted. If you find that you need to go back to a previous version, you can do so, provided that the desired version has not been deleted. Right click on the version to restore, and select Rollback to this version.
You will receive a warning dialog, noting the effects of your choice and asking you to confirm.
If you say yes, then the current version of the drawing file gets overwritten with the selected prior version, and that prior version also becomes a new backup version. Note that the previous version as well as any other intermediate versions created after the restored version will remain in the Check-In History, and, to the extent that the maximum number of backups is not exceeded, will remain available for restoration and will continue to count against the number of backups.
The comment for the roll back is automatically generated and lists both the version number and the date/time of that file.

Here is a look at what is happening in your project folders. At the time the screen capture below was made, 00 Interior.dwg was checked out.
When you check out a file, Project Navigator will not allow anyone else to open the file and the current version of the file gets marked as read only, so others cannot open it for editing outside of Project Navigator.
  1. A copy of the current file is created, with ".co" appended to the file name (00 Interior.co.dwg in this example), and is made hidden, to reduce the odds that anyone else would find and open it outside of Project Navigator. When you open a file through Project Navigator that you have checked out, the ".co" version is what is being opened.
  2. If you make changes and save the checked out file, a ".co.bak" is created (not shown in the image).
  3. When you check files back in, the previously current file is renamed, with a date-time added to the file name, and the extension is changed to ".bak". There are five of these in the image above, including 00 Interior.2014-04-02-00-48-04.bak.
  4. The XML file of the same name as the drawing file, which Project Navigator has always generated as a means of storing the project information for that drawing file, now has an additional section called CheckInRecords, where the Check-In History data is stored.
    Even after the maximum number of backups is reached and the BAK files for the older versions are deleted, the Check-In History data remains in the XML file and can be viewed in the Project Navigator. The rollback option for previous versions that exceed the maximum number of backups will be grayed out, since the BAK file is no longer available. (While not an intended or supported workflow, if you make archival copies of the BAK files before they get deleted, you can manually copy the archival file to the project folder and, because the Check-In History data remains in the XML file, restore that version. You may want to bump up the allowable number of backup files temporarily while doing this, to avoid losing any of the current backup files. Use this knowledge at your own risk.)
  5. Finally, the system generates a file with the drawing name and a ~co extension. I do not know exactly what the function of this file is, but suspect it aids in identifying which files have been checked out; do not delete these files.
If you often edit external references in place when working in Project Navigator and want to do so on a checked out file, the recommended procedure is to first check out both the drawing with the external reference and the externally referenced file. Next, open the file with the external refernce, and then reload the external reference, before initiating the edit-in-place. It may just be easier to check out the externally referenced file and open in directly from the Project Navigator, but if you want to make changes to the file that references the other file that are dependent on changes to be made to the external reference file, and you do not want to check in the external reference file, following the stated procedure should allow you to see the changes to the externally referenced file.

Keep in mind that you are not required to use the check-out feature; files have not been checked out can still be opened, edited, saved and closed, as in previous releases. But you will not get the benefits of being able to work on the checked out file without generating external reference balloon notifications and you will not get backup versions that can be restored.

The Check-In History and currently available backup files can also be used with the new Visual Comparison feature. More on that in a future article.