Basic Troubleshooting Techniques and Common Issues
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Basic Troubleshooting Techniques and Common Issues

Mar 19, 2021
Video Length:  1:04:25
Presented By:  Paul Houchin

While we go all out to make your drafting experience worry free, issues can still arise and impede your workflow. You may not feel prepared to troubleshoot issues with CAD, but we’re here to show you how a basic understanding of the systems in play can make it surprisingly easy to find solutions. We’ll take a look at some techniques for narrowing down and addressing some common issues to get back on track.

Webinar Contents:

Note: The following catalog of content covered in this webinar is time stamped to allow you to follow along or skip to sections of the video that are relevant to your questions. You can also search for content on this page using the FIND command in your browser (CTRL + F in Windows, Command + F in Mac OS.)


  • Intro/TOC
  • Basic AutoCAD Systems
  • Tips on Troubleshooting
  • Troubleshooting Theory
  • Recent Examples
  • Troubleshooting Demonstrations

0:00 – 4:51: Intro/TOC

Benefits of knowing how to troubleshoot:

  • You get back to work faster.
  • Understanding the cause means you can avoid this behavior in the future.
  • It's rewarding to find a solution – frustration relief and the feeling of accomplishment releases dopamine in your brain (feels good).

4:52. – 13:12: Basic AutoCAD Systems

The majority of usage issues we see can be easily tracked down with a good understanding of CAD systems.


For a lot of common issues, some basic elements are at play that with a better understanding, we can begin to know where to go when troubleshooting.


AutoCAD blocks (5:20)

  • Blocks are stored as DWG files as well as defined in the drawing file in which they are placed.
  • We call the block the "source file."
  • You can insert this source file into your design file and it will then be defined in the design file. So making changes in the source file won't automatically update what is defined in the drawing.
  • Also, if you place the block in your drawing, that initial definition will define the block in the drawing.


AutoCAD and Land F/X: Text Styles (7:43)

  • Like block definitions, text styles (font, size, etc.) are defined in the drawing file.
  • Any text using one of these text styles will take on those settings,
  • Land F/X automatically updates text styles based on your Preference Set.
  • If you use the AutoCAD style Manager to change the text style of any existing Land F/X text style and then place additional text through a Land F/X tool, all text using that style will revert back to the Preference Set.


AutoCAD and Land F/X: Dimension Styles (9:45)

  • Dimensions are defined by Dimension Styles (DimStyles) located in the Dimension Style Manager.
  • Land F/X creates and manages these DimStyles automatically.
  • If you already have a Land F/X dimension defined in a drawing and you customize the DimStyle in another drawing, the original drawing's DimStyle will not update automatically. Land F/X won't overwrite definitions already used in a drawing for blocks or dimensions.


AutoCAD and Land F/X: Layers (11:23)

  • Layers that exist in a drawing will not change when you bring in new blocks or objects onto those layers.
  • This means you may have a source block that has its linework on a blue layer but if you bring it into a drawing where that same layer exists but is green, the block linework will display as green.


Purging out old definitions (12:37)

The PRGF (Instant Purge) command removes unused layers, block definitions, text styles, and Dimension Styles so you can insert updated versions of these objects.

13:18 – 23:20: Tips on Troubleshooting

Basic troubleshooting tips: Precursor (13:18)

  • Always work with clean files.
  • Did you clean your Xref files before using them for your design?
  • This is crucial for everybody.
  • Unclean drawings, or specifically drawing files containing harmful entities such as certain proxies and registered applications (RegApps), can harm the integrity of your design files.
  • Left unclean, these entities can degrade your files to the point where they can't be fixed, meaning you may have to start over.


Basic troubleshooting tips: Restart computer (16:55)

  • Restart your computer often.
  • Rule of thumb: Fully shut down your computer at the end of the day.
  • Putting the computer to sleep is not the same thing.
  • Restarting your computer fully restarts all applications and flushes your RAM (computer memory).
  • If you experience weird issues such as system slowdown or lag, restarting your computer is a great first step to troubleshooting.


Basic troubleshooting tips: AUDIT (18:32)

  • Use AUDIT if you experience any kind of strange behavior in AutoCAD.
  • This tool evaluates the integrity of a drawing and corrects some errors.


General troubleshooting tips (19:20)

  • Pay attention to and fully read warning or error messages.
  • Always keep your eye on the Command line for guidance and important messages. Press F2 to see the full history.
  • Usually when something doesn't seem to work, there will be a clue in the Command line.


Basic troubleshooting tips: Search for a solution (20:28)

  • We document every support issue and solution we can.
  • Search our Knowledge Base for a solution to any sort of problem you can't solve immediately.
  • If you get an error message, type the text of the message into the search bar.


Make a copy (21:30)


23:21 – 32:42: Troubleshooting Theory


Troubleshooting tools (30:09)

The following tools can be extremely useful in helping find items when troubleshooting:

  • Highlight Plant/Highlight Object
  • Edit Plant/Edit Object
  • Verify Labels
  • Zoom to Extents
  • Quickselect (Qselect)

32:43 – 38:59: Recent Examples

Recent Example #1 (33:56)

  • A user created a RefNote Length item called 6' Stone Wall with a layer called 6' Stone Wall, which produced a 500 error.
  • This issue was unknown to us at the time, so no Knowledge Base article had been made to address it.
  • The files were sent to us for investigation.


Step 1: Observe the issue

  • We received the files, and when we opened the RefNote information for the RefNote in question, we also got the error message.


Step 2: Widen the net

  • We know this one RefNote has an issue. Does the issue apply to other RefNotes?
  • We created a simple RefNote Length item with a simple name like TEST and assigned it to another layer, also called TEST, and did not receive an error.


Step 3: Narrow the issue down

  • Comparing the working RefNote with the error-producing RefNote, we see the name and the layer designation were the only differences.
  • We then added the same information of the problematic RefNote to the working RefNote piece by piece to try and replicate the error.
  • We found that something about the layer 6' Stone Wall was causing the issue. What makes this layer different from one that does work?
  • The special character (') denoting feet is found to be the issue. Once we removed this character from the layer name, no more error.
  • This happened to be a bug, which we then fixed with an update.


Recent example #2 (36:43)

  • A user let us know that they weren't able to place plant labels into Work Areas.


Step 1: Observe the issue

  • The files were sent in and we were also unable to place a plant label within the Work Area.


Step 2: Widen the net

  • Does this issue apply to all Work Areas? Or just the one?
  • There was a second Work Area in the drawing. We tried to place labels into this other Work Area and the label placed successfully. Great progress!
  • Now we know the issue is confined to this one Work Area. Now the task becomes figuring out what makes the problematic Work Area different from the other.


Step 3: Narrow the issue down

  • Because we were able to focus on the one Work Area as the source of the problem, we were able to find a subtle difference between it and the one that was working. A single space had been placed in the scale, which would have been difficult to spot if we hadn't narrowed down the issue.
  • If we were not able to find the space in the scale, we already figured out that the other Work Areas do behave properly, so the backup plan could have been to delete and redraw the Work Area.

39:00 – end: Troubleshooting Demonstrations

Example issue: Xref not showing up when inserted in a blank drawing (39:25)


Example issue: Plant coming in with the wrong symbol (47:08)


Example issue: Custom dimensions placed in a drawing are not taking on a custom Dimension Style (57:19)


Question: Why wasn't Pan working for you? (1:01:27)

Answer: It was a mouse issue.

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