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Drawings contain blank boxes with "AeccDbStructure"

Sometimes users report that they have been sent drawings that have rectangles with some text when they were expecting to see contours, TINS, points, alignments or other entities in a drawing that a client has sent them:


  • When you type list in the command line and pick on the entity it may be listed as an "AutoCAD Proxy Entity" or it may not be pickable.
  • If you use View | Look From | Aerial Right front you may see that these entities are actually cubes in 3 dimensional space.
  • Alternatively, you may see contours or a TIN in the drawing which you are unable to pick or modify in any way.

These entities are usually entities which are created by Autodesk Civil 3D and can be edited and displayed only by Civil 3D.  AutoCAD and inCAD users have the option of downloading an "Object enabler" package from the Autodesk website that allows them to do more with these entities.  IntelliCAD can be configured to deal with these types of entities three ways:

Type _AECOBJECTS and set to "ON."  This is a system wide setting that enables the drawing specific settings that follow.  Close and reopen any drawing to see the results of this setting update.

The _AECOBJECTS variable is stored in the registry so will affect any future drawings once set.

Type _PROXYSHOW in the command line

0 - When set to zero these entities will be hidden from view

1 - When set to 1 the user may see boxes, tins or contours but won't be able to pick or extract information from them

2 - When set to 2 the user will only see boxes

The proxyshow variable setting is stored in the registry so will affect any future drawings once set.

When you need to get 3D information from Civil 3D contours or TINS you must request that the original draftsperson using Civil 3D opens File | Export | Export to AutoCAD and give the exported file a different name.  This will convert all proxy entities to regular CAD entities.

Thanks to our former Tech Support guru Glen Cameron, CET for sending us this tip.


You can work with these types of drawings if you have a current AutoCAD with MicroSurvey inCAD or if you have MicroSurvey embeddedCAD.

In most cases you will need to add an "Object enabler" from Autodesk to support this function.  Please see this article for more information.

Refer to this article on how to export out a project with the proxy entity attributes from AutoDesk to be viewed in other programs.

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  1. James Johnston

  2. Posted