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Unable to See Drawing Objects from a Consultant Drawing (Nothing Visible, or Only Boxes With Text Visible)


You received a file from a consultant, and you cannot see certain objects within that file. The AutoCAD Civil 3D Object Enabler may not be working for you.


For example, you might have received:

  • A drawing from a civil engineer that contains contours, spot elevations, and other topography objects, and these objects are either missing or just showing as a box (typically a green box with test or an exclamation mark symbol).
  • A drawing from an architect that is also missing objects such as spot elevations or architectural objects – either missing completely or represented by a box.




The lines are likely invisible because of an issue with Proxy Objects.

What are Proxy Objects?



You have two main options for dealing with this issue:



Option 1: Make the file usable for your purposes without involving the Civil 3D user

If you're unable to have the Civil 3D user resave the drawing with Proxy Objects turned on (see Option 2 below), you can complete the following steps to make the contour lines (i.e., civil objects or Proxy Objects) visible.


Option 1, Step 1: Verify that you can see Proxy Objects

Type Op in the Command line and press Enter to open the CAD Options dialog box. Select the Open and Save tab.




Under ObjectARX Applications, make the following selections from the menus:

  • Object detect and command invoke
  • Show proxy graphics
  • Show Proxy Information dialog box




Close AutoCAD or F/X CAD, then re-open your drawing. You should now be able to see the contour lines and labels.


Option 1, Step 2: Deal with the Proxy Objects

You can now choose to:


• Explode the Proxy Objects

If you need to see the contours or other Proxy Objects in this file, but you don't need them to actually be Proxy Objects, you can simply explode them.


Select one of the contour lines, labels, or other Proxy Objects. Type Explode in the Command line and press Enter.


If that Proxy Object explodes, you can explode the rest of the Proxy Objects and keep working. The contour lines or other Proxy Objects will still visible – they just won't be Proxy Objects anymore.


Are the Proxy Objects not exploding? Or are you otherwise not able to explode Proxy Objects in this file? Follow the steps below to continue working with Proxy Objects.



• Keep the Proxy Objects intact

If you're not able or not allowed to explode the Proxy Objects, you can clean the file instead. Here's how.


Type AECtoACAD, and Press Enter. Then proceed through each of the following Export options commands:

  • Type F (for Format), and press Enter. Then type 2010 and press Enter.
  • Type B (for Bind), and press Enter. Then type N (for No) and press Enter.
  • Ignore the bind Type option.
  • Type M (for Maintain), and press Enter. Then type N (for No) and press Enter.
  • Type P (for Prefix), and press Enter. Then type "." (just a period – no quotation marks) and press Enter.
  • Type S (for Suffix), and press Enter. Then type -CLEAN and press Enter.
  • Press Enter twice.




Now open the Options dialog box, and select the Open and Save tab.


Under ObjectARX Applications, make the following selections from the menus:

  • Command invoke
  • Show proxy graphics
  • Show Proxy Information dialog box




Finally, close AutoCAD or F/X CAD completely, and reopen the now-cleaned drawing.

If you used the Nuke tool to clean your drawing, take care not to open the version with the word QUARANTINE in its filename – it's a copy of the original file.


The civil drawing should now be clean, allowing you to Xref it into the main drawing.


Another option (not always recommended): The Object Enabler

You can also choose to the use the Object Enabler, a free application available directly from Autodesk, which allows you to view and manipulate three-dimensional objects from drawings originating in AutoCAD Civil 3D. However, please note that the Object Enabler is not necessary, nor is it recommended, if you just need to view civil objects such as Spot Elevations and contour lines.


If you want to use the Object Enabler, you can download it from Autodesk for the version of Civil 3D in which the drawing originated. For links to the Object Enabler for the past few versions of AutoCAD, see our article on the Object Enabler. The AutoCAD Proxy system only allows viewing Civil 3D objects – and then only if the file was saved with the proxies turned on. With the Object Enabler installed, you can both view and manipulate the Civil 3D objects – and regardless of the proxy setting when the file was saved.




Option 2: Have the Civil 3D user save the drawing with Proxy Objects turned on

The settings for Proxy Objects exist in only one location – in the AutoCAD Options, Open and Save tab. You can ask the Civil 3D user to change the settings mentioned below using the ObjectARX Applications menus in the lower right corner of the dialog box.




Some Proxy Objects require the first setting, Demand load ObjectARX apps, to be Command invoke and object detect. (Note that this is rather unfortunate, and we recommend returning the setting to just Command invoke at your earliest opportunity.)


The Proxy Info dialog also lives up to its name: It displays which proxies are in the drawing, including which ones have graphical entities of any sort to see.

When the Civil 3D user saves the file, he or she will need to have both PROXYGRAPHICS and PROXYSHOW set to 1. Otherwise, there will be nothing for you see whatsoever.

Last modified on Aug 09, 2021


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