Installing AutoCAD 2015 on Windows 10

The problem

As the release of Windows 10 is imminent I wanted to try to install AutoCAD 2015 on it to see if everything would work fine after the upgrade, as Windows 10 is not (yet?) an officially supported OS for AutoCAD 2015. I downloaded VirtualBox and installed the latest preview build (10240) of Windows 10 in a virtual machine. Then I started the installation process of AutoCAD 2015 and after a couple of minutes I got the following error message:

AutoCAD 2015 installation error

As you can see I’m trying to install the German version of AutoCAD and the error happens during the installation of the English language pack. The installer tried to find .NET framework 4.5 and came up blank. Now Windows 10 comes with .NET framework 4.6 preinstalled, which of course is backwards compatible with framework version 4.5 software. So everything should work fine, but AutoCAD seems to perform an exact version match. Bummer! After some googling I found different approaches to work around this problem. Some people suggested to edit the setup.ini of the AutoCAD installer, but that didn’t work out for me. Then I found following approach that worked like a charm!

DISCLAIMER!

The following instructions involve editing your Windows registry, which is a dangerous and risky operation. Worst case scenario is that you won’t be able to boot your system again. So, please be aware of that! Also this approach is in no way approved or supported by Autodesk. Proceed at your own risk!

The solution

Open your registry editor by typing in “regedit” in the search box in the lower left corner of the screen and hit enter.

Go to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\NET Framework Setup\NDP\v4\Client.

Regedit - Step 1

Here you should see the entry with the key “Version”, which is what the AutoCAD installer checks. The value in my case was “4.6.00076”, but it is possible that depending on your Windows build and .NET version you will see a different value. Please write it down, you will need it later again.

Next we want to change this value to “4.5.0”, but when we try Windows tells us that we don’t have the right permissions. So let’s get them! Right-click on the Client entry in the tree on the left side and select “Permissions…”.

Regedit - Step 2

Here we click on the “Advanced” button.

Regedit - Step 3

Now click on the “Change” link next to “TrustedInstaller”. In the following dialog you can select a user or group, that will be able to change the entry. I decided for the local Adminstrators group.

Regedit - Step 4

Close the dialogs and change the value of the Version entry to “4.5.0”.

Regedit - Step 5

Don’t close the Registry Editor yet, we will need it later to undo our changes. When you now try to install AutoCAD 2015 everything should just work!

AutoCAD 2015 installation success

Important last step

Ok so AutoCAD was installed, now it is time to undo our changes to the registry. Go back to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\NET Framework Setup\NDP\v4\Client and change the Version back to whatever it was before you changed it. Close the Registry Editor and enjoy working with AutoCAD 2015 on your brand new Windows 10 installation!

AutoCAD documentation tragedy

I´m currently working on an AutoCAD plugin using the .NET API, which Autodesk finally provides via NuGet. This is a big step forward because it makes it so much easier to get started with AutoCAD .NET development. Alas, the provided libraries come without XML documentation, so it´s always a game of hide and seek when you are looking for a specific functionality. In my eyes missing documentation is the single biggest problem of AutoCAD right now, which results in a steep learning curve for you and me.

For example, you can get an API reference that is published by Autodesk as part of the ObjectARX download. It is published in CHM format (EW!) but the bigger problem is, that it is far from complete. It is frustrating when you try to look up information about a method and you realize that only half of the members of the class at hand are covered, in the official docs!

So now to the good news! There are a couple of excellent sources of information:

Through the interface
Great blog by Kean Walmsley on AutoCAD. Typically two to three posts per week! I almost always find the information I need there.

AutoCAD DevBlog
A couple of blogs maintained by the Developer Technical Services team.

Autodesk community board for ACAD .NET
Subscribe to the RSS feed.

Apart from the virtually nonexistent official API documentation (please correct me, if I´m wrong) I actually enjoy working with AutoCAD. It is great to work on mathematical problems and it is far more rewarding to see the visual fruits of your hard labor compared to a typical forms-over-data enterprise application.

Edit:
Autodesk also provides a download for the .NET API documentation that integrates with Visual Studio (Microsoft Help Viewer), but this contains the same amount of information as the CHM docs.