October 10, 2011

When Civil 3D and Vault Attack! How I Resolved a Fatal Error.

Guest post by James Lucas Jensen, P.E.

FATAL ERROR: Out of Memory – Shutting Down

This message means nothing to the average Civil 3D user because it does not share any useful information about the cause of the error. Unfortunately, we all see this error at some point. The purpose of this article is to show how some detective work and outside-the-box thinking can track down and resolve this problem.

In my case, the error occurs while attempting to check in a proposed surface drawing. The file isn’t particularly large or complicated, but it certainly has its share of data referenced into it. Various attempts to bring back previous versions of the drawing, audit and purge, and all the typical tricks don’t help. No matter what I do, I continue to get this fatal error during check in.

I set out to recreate the entire proposed surface drawing from scratch. In a new drawing from our company template, I begin the task of bringing in all the alignments, profiles, etc. Before rebuilding my corridor, I attempt to add the file to the Vault.


Eh? From my brand new drawing? Confused, I check out another drawing with many of the same data references. I attempt a check in.


No way. Is my entire project dying? Is my workstation infecting everything I open? Now I’m almost afraid to do anything. I try checking in one more drawing before I get our IT people involved. I open the alignments file and everything looks OK. I watch with one eye barely open as I attempt the check in.

No fatal error.

Well, that’s something, right? Could a single corrupt file somewhere be causing this? What’s generally data referenced into a proposed surface drawing? Alignments, profiles, sometimes pipes, existing surfaces, etc. I begin the process of open/audit/purge/save on every drawing that has data referenced into the proposed surface drawing.

Suddenly, a particular profile drawing won’t open. When I try to open it, I get the same error. The exact same error! I can’t open it. I can’t insert it. I can’t XREF it. I can’t recover it! No matter what I do, I get this Out of Memory error. Looks like it’s time to find another solution to this problem.

I create a new drawing from the template and data reference in the alignment and profile. At this point, I’m 99% sure that this drawing will crash during check it in.

BUT…instead of doing that, I promote the profile in the drawing and audit. There are four errors. My worthless proposed surface drawing is safely in the Vault, so I manually get into the Vault Working Folder (VWF) and delete out the profile drawing. I paste my new drawing (of the same name as the old) into the VWF, then attempt to check out the file.

“The VWF version is newer than in the Vault.” Of course, I choose not to revert to the version in the Vault. So now the new drawing is on my screen and functioning fine. Time to check in and test the deception.

The check in works and Vault doesn’t ask me to share the profile (because it had already been shared before). Could it be that perhaps the Vault thinks that my red herring is the real deal? There’s only one way to find out. I then opened my proposed surface drawing and attempted to check in. Eureka! It works!

So the real problem was not in the proposed surface drawing but a profile drawing referenced in it. Methodical and meticulous elimination helped me identify the problem and a simple audit and tricking the Vault to check in the file resolved the error.

Phew! Take heart! Be patient! It works!

James works for Phillippi Engineering and has 10+ years experience in the design of commercial sites; roadways; storm water collection, conveyance and detention systems; water distribution systems; sewer collection systems; master plan and infrastructure studies; preparation of construction drawings; construction and contract administration; cost estimating; and technical writing. In 2008, James led the company wide implementation of Civil 3D and Vault. PEI has never looked back. James works regularly with Civil 3D 2011, Vault 2011, AutoTURN 8, Storm and Sanitary Analysis 2011, WaterCAD V8 XM, and Impression 3.