October 28, 2011

Control Active AutoCAD Ribbon Tab from Visual Lisp – RibbonNinja!

Filed under: AutoCAD,Development — Tags: , , , — Darrin Maidlow @ 5:18 pm

A friend asked me recently if there was some way to control the active ribbon tab from a macro.  After a little bit of digging I could not find any lisp or command line command that would do this.  ObjectARX however does provide the functionality I needed so I decided to whip something together in c#.  I’ve named it RibbonNinja – because lets face it, ninjas are awesome and should play a much larger part of everyday life.

How’s it work?

Attached is a zip file that contains the dll.  To use this simply netload the dll into your AutoCAD session and issue the all powerful RibbonNinja lisp call.  It takes a single string parameter that is the name of the tab you want to activate.  If it finds and activates the tab it will return T, if not it returns nil.  For example given the following AutoCAD ribbon:


Issuing the following lisp statement will change the active tab from “Map Setup” to “Analyze”.  Then it would switch to “Home"

   1: (RibbonNinja “Analyze”)
   2: (RibbonNinja “Home”)

This code is not case sensitive.  If its even possible to have multiple menus within AutoCAD with the same spelling but in different cases you’re probably S.O.L. and it will always choose the last one.  I’ve assumed unique tab names.

This dll has been compiled to work against AutoCAD 2012.  It will support both x86 and x64 versions.  It should also work on any AutoCAD vertical (i.e AutoCAD Map, Civil, ADT etc etc).  If you get the following  error when you try to netload the dll we have one last change to make:

Cannot load assembly. Error details: System.IO.FileLoadException: Could not load file or assembly ‘file:///C:\Program Files\Autodesk\AutoCAD 2012 – English\RibbonNinja.dll’ or one of its dependencies. Operation is not supported. (Exception from HRESULT: 0×80131515) File name: ‘file:/// C:\Program Files\Autodesk\AutoCAD 2012 – English\RibbonNinjadll ‘ —> System.NotSupportedException: An attempt was made to load an assembly from a network location which would have caused the assembly to be sandboxed in previous versions of the .NET Framework. This release of the .NET Framework does not enable CAS policy by default, so this load may be dangerous. If this load is not intended to sandbox the assembly, please enable the loadFromRemoteSources switch.

Please read and try the following posts.  .NET 4.0 is “protecting” us so we need to fix that.  First you can try and “unblock” the dll following the steps outlined on .  If that doesn’t work for you again shut down AutoCAD and edit your acad.exe.config file as explained by Kean Walmsley on .  Remember to run notepad or whatever editor you’re using as an administrator – or you will get permission errors when you try to save the config file.

Turn up the nerd

For those of you more technically inclined the source is pretty simple once you figure out the mess of  references that are needed:

   1: [LispFunction("RibbonNinja")]
   2: public TypedValue GoNinjaGoNinjaGo(ResultBuffer lispArgs)
   3: {
   4:     //check the params
   5:     Editor ed = Autodesk.AutoCAD.ApplicationServices.Application.DocumentManager.MdiActiveDocument.Editor;
   6:     if (lispArgs == null)
   7:     {
   8:         ed.WriteMessage("\nIncorrect number of arguments.  Expected 1 parameter, received none\n");
   9:         return new TypedValue((int)LispDataType.Nil);
  10:     }
  12:     if(lispArgs.AsArray().Length != 1)
  13:     {
  14:         ed.WriteMessage("\nRibbonNinja - Incorrect number of arguments.  Expected String - tab keyboard shortcut\n");
  15:         return new TypedValue((int)LispDataType.Nil);
  16:     }
  17:     //get the tab name
  18:     String tabKey = Convert.ToString(lispArgs.AsArray()[0].Value);
  20:     //get the ribbon
  21:     Autodesk.Windows.RibbonControl ribCntrl = Autodesk.AutoCAD.Ribbon.RibbonServices.RibbonPaletteSet.RibbonControl;
  23:     //find the custom tab using the Id
  24:     foreach (RibbonTab tab in ribCntrl.Tabs)
  25:     {
  26:         //is this the one we're looking for?
  27:         if(tab.AutomationName.ToUpper() == tabKey.ToUpper())
  28:         {
  29:             //yup - get it active and bail. weeeeee
  30:             tab.IsActive = true;
  31:             return new TypedValue((int)LispDataType.T_atom);
  32:         }
  33:     }
  34:     return new TypedValue((int)LispDataType.Nil);
  35: }

Thanks for the challenge Shawn!  Here is your shiny new

.  Feel free to use this commercially – I always appreciate links to my posts in exchange !  If you have an AutoCAD project that you could use some help with – please feel free to contact me via !

p.s. Two posts in two days.  that’s crazy talk I tell ya!

Update 2012.04.13 – Shawn Dillon sent me a copy of his tabs.lsp file. I’ve included it here Tabs.lsp

October 27, 2011

Installing Mapguide 6.5 SP1 on Windows 2008 Server

Filed under: Mapguide — Tags: , , , , — Darrin Maidlow @ 5:22 pm

In reply to a previous comment I assumed that Windows 2008 was “close enough” to Vista and that Mapguide 6.5 would install no problem.  I was wrong.  When attempting the install I was prompted with Mapguide 6.5 MDAC 2.8 Missingan “MDAC Not Detected” warning.  MDAC you may remember is the old tyme “Microsoft Data Access Component” and was one of the last releases.  MDAC has since been superseded and is apparently not included with Windows 2008.  Nor can it be installed.   I didn’t even bother contact Autodesk – I knew their response was likely going to start off with a good laugh, followed by something to the effect of “yeah that’s really old, you should probably just find an equally old Windows server.”  This of course is not an option =)   The good news though is that we can hack the Mapguide Server 6.5 installer and once installed Mapguide Server seems to run just fine.  Big thanks to Microsoft for all the effort they put into maintaining backwards compatibility.  Note this process may well work for Windows Vista and will probably work for Windows 7 – but I have not tested that.  Also – I should add this is going to be completely unsupported by Autodesk and will definitely be completely unsupported by me.  Please do the appropriate amount of testing before you put this into production.  That said, I’ve not noticed any problems with Mapguide 6.5 running on Windows 2008.

Getting Started

Mapguide 6.5 Task ManagerSo to get started.  You’ll need a piece of free software from Microsoft called .  You’ll also need your which can be downloaded from Autodesk.    Once Orca is installed start the Mapguide 6.5 server setup.  The required MSI file that we need to edit is stored inside a single self extracting exe.  You can extract these files by launching the installer on your Windows 2008 server and starting task manager once the “MDAC Not Detected” error is displayed.   Make sure the “Show processes from all users” is checked and find “ServerInstall.exe”  Right click on this process and choose “Open File Location”.  Take a copy of these files and place them somewhere, preferably on your Windows 2008 server’s local drive.

**Update– thanks to Krzysztof Skwarek for pointing out that Orca is a bit of a pain in the ass to get ahold of.  I have the Windows SDK installed already so I didn’t notice this pain point.   Given that the platform SDK is freely available, I’ve uploaded the here for your convenience. (If this is a problem Microsoft, please don’t get litigious…just send me an e-mail to let me know. I’ll gladly take it down and make the good people download the 250MB platform SDK =])


Hacking the Installer and Installing

Next, fire up Orca.   Choose File / Open and browse to your copy of the installation files.  Select ServerInstall.msi.  In the left hand window scroll down and find Orca MDAC Not Detected“InstallUISequence”  Select that.  In the right hand pane find and select “MDACNotDetected” .   Right click on this row and pick “Drop Row”.  You will be prompted that this will permanently remove 1 rows.  Click Ok and save the msi.

Your installation is now hacked and will get past that error message when you run ServerInstall.exe.  Make sure your run this from a local drive.  When I tried to run the install from a network share, Windows “protected” me and it wouldn’t work.

At this point you can run through the installation process.

So where were we, yes installing.  When you get to the “Select Components” screen make sure that “ISAPI MapAgent” is selected.  By default is not installed.  Don’t be alarmed on the next screen when the installer tells you it will not create the virtual directory.  Like with Vista, the installer is not capable of dealing with IIS7.  That’s no problem as configuring Mapguide 6.5 on IIS7+ is pretty simple and we’ll go over that in a minute.  You may need to reboot once the installation is complete but after that the “Autodesk Mapguide® Server 6.5” service should be up and running.   Start / Run / services.msc will bring up the services.

IIS 7 Configuration

You’ll need IIS 7 installed with support for ISAPIs.  If you do not have this installed, can probably help you out.  Next start the IIS manager (start / run / inetmgr) .  First let’s create a new application pool.  Expand the server and choose “Application Pools”.   Right click and choose “Add Application Pool”.   Name the app pool (Mapguide6.5 might be a good name).  Set the pipeline mode to classic.   If you’re on a 64 bit version of Windows you must set the app pool to 32bit mode as Mapguide 6.5 is a 32bit app.  Right click on the newly created application pool and choose “Advanced Settings”.  Set “Enable 32-Bit Applications” to true.  This setting will only be available on 64 bit systems.  If you don’t see it – you probably don’t need to worry about it.

Now expand Sites and choose the web site you want to create the application (formerly called virtual directory) in.  Right click the site and choose “Add Application”.  Name the application Mapguide6.5.  For the physical path browse to C:\Program Files\Autodesk\MapGuideServer6.5\MapAgents (or Program Files (x86) on x64 systems).  Select our newly created application pool.isapi accessisapi config

Finally we need to enable the ISAPI agent.  One last round of dirty trickery and we’ll have Mapguide 6 running.  In windows explorer browse to C:\Program Files\Autodesk\MapGuideServer6.5\MapAgents\ and make a copy of MapAgent_isapi.isa.  Name it MapAgent_isapi.dll.   In the inetmgr tree select the virtual directory and double click Handler Mappings.   Next we’re going to “Add Module Mapping”.  Set the request path to be MapAgent_Isapi.isa.  For module choose “IsapiModule”.   For executable browse to the newly copied MapAgent_Isapi.dll.  Set the name to Mapguide 6.5.  Click on the Request Restrictions button and choose the Access tab.  Click the Execute radio button.

**Update – thanks to Krzysztof Skwarek for pointing out that you can choose “Script” here instead of “Execute”.

You will be prompted to “allow this ISAPI” extension.  Click Yes.

The Test

At this point you should be done!  You can fire up a browser and test the isapi using the following url (assuming you used my default virtual directory name):


If you get the following results you should be good to go!


I considered posting the modified installer but I’m not sure if that would have been poking “the sleeping dragon”.  As much as I would like to help – I don’t need any nasty letters from the Autodesk legal team =).  If this is something you need done but you’re not comfortable editing installers or delving into the guts of IIS7,  feel free to contact me via .   We’d love to help you out!

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