Open a old project with AutoCAD Architecture 2008 (ACA). Create a new view, attempt to place it on a sheet, Crash!
My usual approach with problem files is to try them on another machine but this time that didn't help. This project was one of our first to use the (then) new Project Navigator way back in 2004. The view in question assembled a mixture of files from internal/external sources with both AEC/Vanilla AutoCAD content. A thorough audit of all the files, to check for corruption, found no problems. Purging only removed some obsolete content, the files & objects having been updated to current standards by ACA's Project Standards feature.
Watching while the view was placed, using the SysInterals Tools, revealed ACA displayed the placement "ghost image" OK but, once an insert location was selected, began using increasing amounts of memory as it tried to place the view. From a base of 500MB acad.exe consumed close to 1.6GB RAM, plus a similar amount of swap-file, before an error dialog appeared, then exit to desktop. It was actually Windows XP running out of addressable memory rather than ACA crashing that resulted in the exit.
Looking for anything out of the ordinary I noticed some of the Elements - which we use for Design Options - had a full stop, or period for US readers, in the filename. Although it's supposed to be OK in Windows I still avoid them as find they can cause problems in some applications. For example, older versions of PDF Writer used to truncate filenames at the first ".". Our current project template doesn't use any but this project was done in the experimental phase before it was established. More out of habit, rather than expecting anything miraculous, I renamed the files and tested again.
Removing that "." from the file names reduced memory use to by over 1GB to a mere 700MB and eliminated the error. Quite why it happened in ACA2008 and not before I'm not sure, There have been so many changes in the OS, Network and Application since that project was done in 2004 it's hard to know what was tripping up. Needless to say I was amazed what impact a single character in a file name could have!
There are many improvements to ACA2009 project handling so it will be interesting to see how it performs with this project. I was waiting for Update 2 before deploying it and just completed the trial deployment on Friday. More on that in future posts!
UPDATE 2008-10-28: Tried the project, with the old "." names, in ACA 2009 and it worked perfectly. Another justification for moving to 2009.