Friday, March 14, 2008

Project Navigator performing slowly in AutoCAD MEP

Some activities in Project Navigator, such as loading xrefs, take what seems like a long time. This is normal. These processes need to run their course before other activities can be initiated.

I was recently working with a client who is creating a large hospitol project using AutoCAD Architecture and AutoCAD MEP and project navigator. I noticed how long it was taking to open constructs, views and sheets and so I looked for some info that could help them be more productive and came across some tips to help improve performance of their project navigator.

The specific activity of dragging a view to a sheet actually involves several background processes, including loading all the files in nested external references, updating project database files, managing layers for viewports, scaling geometry, and coordinating data fields and labels.

For your network environment, follow the guidelines below:

  1. To rule out any potential problems with your network environment, temporarily copy the project files to a local workstation and perform the same operations with Project Navigator. Compare the speed in both environments to determine if the problem is directly related to network speed.
  2. Use a Windows operating system on your server. AutoCAD MEP only supports a Windows networking environment. If you are using a Novell or UNIX server, you will need to install the Windows Client for these operating systems. However, due to the permission restrictions on these operating systems, the performance of Project Navigator can be dramatically affected.
  3. Install the most recent service packs and patches for the version of Windows installed on your server.
  4. Check for the presence of antivirus and spyware applications on your system. These applications have features, such as Symantec's Auto-Protect functionality, that constantly monitor the files on your computer or server. This type of application can slow performance down because files are being scanned while they are being used. If you are using this type of virus protection, try disabling it to see if performance is affected. You should disable this feature on the server as well. If you want to leave this feature enabled, you can set up exclusions for the files and folders you use with your projects.

For your workstation, follow these guidelines:

  1. Install the most recent service packs and patches for the version of Windows installed on your workstation.
  2. Disable Digital Signatures in AutoCAD MEP: In the Registry Editor, look for the following key: [HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\CLSID\{36A21736-36C2-4C11-8ACB-D4136F2B57BD}\InProcServer32] Delete the content of the Value Data field for the Default item.
  3. If you have custom hatch patterns, make sure that they are not loaded as part of the or files. Any custom pattern should be saved as a separate PAT file in the support directory location.

For your project files, follow these guidelines:

  1. When working with Project Navigator, all users should be using the same version of AutoCAD MEP. Every new version of AutoCAD MEP introduces additional information saved on the project files and that can create conflicts and slowdowns if different versions are used to read the same files.
  2. If you are using old template files, cut the entire contents and paste them into an updated AutoCAD MEP template.
  3. Purge unused block definitions take up a lot of file space in all drawings.
  4. In all drawings, including the template drawings used by Project Navigator, the value for the variables should be set to the predefined value: INDEXCTL = 2 (Spatial indexes are created) XLOADCTL = 2 (Enabled with Copy. This enables demand loading, but uses a copy of the referenced drawing, so others can edit the original drawing.)
  5. Manage the temporary files that are created as part of the “Enabled with Copy” demand load strategy built into Project Navigator. These files remain after a system failure or an aborted Project Navigator activity. Deleting the AC$ files in the Temp folder can reduce the time required to open most drawing files and significantly improve system performance.
  6. Minimize Multiple Sessions. Launching multiple or concurrent sessions of AutoCAD MEP, AutoCAD Architecture, AutoCAD, or Revit MEP dramatically reduces system performance and may possibly affect the overall stability of the system. Avoid this practice and adopt other work methods. If you cannot avoid multiple sessions, consider using your most capable workstations in these situations.
  7. Before dragging views into sheets, temporarily unload external references from the view drawings. Drawings with attached xrefs will reproduce that xref. This can lead to duplicate or circular xrefs and confusion as to what should actually be in the drawing. This can tax workstation resources and affect performance.
  8. Check for the presence of the following blocks in all your drawings, and delete them: AVE_GLOBAL, AVE_RENDER, RM_SBD
  9. Detach any AutoCAD CAD Standards associated with the individual drawings. This can be done on the CAD Manager menu, under AutoCAD CAD Standards.
  10. Change the FIELDEVAL variable to [2], so field values are only updated when the drawing is saved.

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