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ReMark

Where do I go for help with an AutoCAD problem?

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ReMark

Where do I go for help with an AutoCAD problem?

 

Lost, dazed and confused or just plain bewildered? Not to worry. Help is not that far away. My personal list for assistance with an AutoCAD problem looks like this. Your list may be somewhat or totally different.

 

1. AutoCAD’s own Help file. Access this via the F1 key. It’s right there at your fingertips. Why aren’t you using it? Its’ five main sections include the User’s Guide, Command Reference, Driver & Peripheral Guide, Installation & Licensing Guide, and the Customization Guide. This last one covers AutoLISP, Visual LISP, DXF, ActiveX and VBA. Not sure where to look? Click on the Index or Search tabs and type in a keyword or words to begin your quest for knowledge.

 

2. A good aftermarket AutoCAD reference book. Great for less techno-talk and more plain-speak when it comes to using AutoCAD day in and day out. Examples of well written books for AutoCAD 2009 include:

 

AutoCAD 2013 & AutoCAD LT 2013 Bible by Ellen Finkelstein

AutoCAD 2014 & AutoCAD LT 2014: No Experience Required by Jon McFarland

Mastering AutoCAD 2014 & AutoCAD LT 2014 by George Omura and Brian C. Benton

AutoCAD 2014 for Dummies: by Bill Fane

 

3a. AutoDesk’s own website. Great for service packs, white papers, hot fixes, the Support Knowledge Base, etc.

 

3b. AutoDesk Discussion Groups (via AutoDesk Communities) accessed by the previously mentioned AutoDesk website. Now requires registration (free). Some heavy hitters participate at this site and you’re sometimes likely to get feedback directly from a handful of people at AutoDesk but generally help comes from other AutoCAD users just like ourselves. The three main forums, each with their own sub-categories, are AutoCAD General, Topic-Specific and Customization.

 

3c. AutoCAD User Groups International (AUGI). This website, which requires registration (free), offers the online publication AUGIWorld, education via AUGI eLearning, and the AUGI Forum. Under the main heading of AutoCAD Technical you’ll find such forums as AutoCAD Collaboration Tools, AutoDesk Data Management Tools, CAD Management, AEC, Facilities Management, General Design, Civil Engineering, Geospatial, Manufacturing, Design Visualization and Programming. Each of these forums contain anywhere from four to eleven different sub-forums covering a wide range of subject matter. How much time do you have? Better bring a large cup of coffee. You’re going to be there for a while.

 

4. CADTutor or an equivalent AutoCAD forum. Examples, in alphabetical order, include:

 

CAD Everything

CADforum*

CADForums*

The CAD Forums*

The Swamp

 

*confusing I know but they are separate and distinct from each other.

 

Community sizes vary widely as well as the level of participation. I’ll refrain from making any comparisons to CT as that is entirely subjective. Each to his/her own liking as there is something for everyone.

 

5. Your local authorized AutoDesk Reseller. This is going to depend on your relationship with the company from which you purchased AutoCAD and the extent of services they offer. Some companies only speak to their Reseller when they need to buy or update software. Other companies rely heavily on the Reseller to assist with problem-solving, set-up and trouble-shooting of peripherals and training. This level of assistance does come with a price.

 

6. The Subscription Center. Like the man says however, “It’s gonna cost you.” Our annual rate for the last two years was $495 (U.S.). According to AutoDesk some of the benefits of being on subscription are:

 

Access to all upgrades and Bonus packs

Download of extensions for products under subscription

Web support direct from AutoDesk experts

eLearning lessons

Exclusive resources such as web casts and an AutoCAD weblog

Access to members-only Subscription Center & other perks

 

7. Independent websites by the famous Lynn Allen of Lynn Allen’s Blog, the nearly-famous like R.K. McSwain of CAD Panacea and maybe the not so well known but none-the-less talented like Art Whitton of My CAD Site to name three. Their combined websites, along with many, many others, offer tips, tricks, and a plethora of “how to” articles and tutorials as well as opinions and news enough to keep even the most die-hard AutoCAD fanatic occupied for hours. Another good source for help/information is CAD Digest. There you’ll find 60 different CAD-related subjects covered including AutoCAD and AutoCAD LT.

 

Disclaimer: Rankings are the personal opinion of this writer and do not reflect the views and opinions of CADTutor or its moderators and are subject to change without good reason or notice depending on the severity of the problem, the accuracy of the tip and how quickly I’m back up and running. Caveat emptor.

 

8. Another CAD user. Do you have a resident CAD guru in your office? How about a friend who works as a CAD tech in another company? Well what are you waiting for? Don’t be afraid to seek assistance. We weren’t born with an innate knowledge of AutoCAD so it is no reflection on you to ask someone for help.

 

9. Last resort: your favorite Search engine. Typing in “AutoCAD help” generated over 39,000 hits in the Google search engine. Need I say more?

 

Well, this is my list. Your results may vary. If you would care to share your list with us or make suggestions to the list I created by all means please do so. I am not an authority on the subject or an all-things-AutoCAD expert and I am definitely not a role model. Knowledge is like treasure; you constantly have to be on the search for it. Seek and ye shall find. Peace out.

Edited by ReMark
Updated book references, CAD help websites, etc.

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RichterGMC

Great writeup ReMark, much appreciated

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uddfl

Sticky this! nAo!

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Strix

ReMark, how would you feel about a poll on this to see who uses what methods?

 

Brilliant reference thread :thumbsup:

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rkent

The problem with help files is you usually have to know the answer or ask in a very specific manner to narrow in on the answer. For instance one of the most common questions is "I now longer get a dialog box when I hit open file."

 

So at the top of your list I would put going to Cadtutor and search FAQ?

 

But, still, a very nice list for folks to use!

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ReMark

Thank you all for your comments. Much appreciated.

 

I think there are a number of factors that influence where and how an AutoCAD user seeks help. One such factor is experience. Another factor is the ability to define the problem accurately. How many threads here start out with some vague question or description of a problem that has forum members initially responding with a series of questions themselves and not necessarily an immediate answer?

 

rkent: I did not want to appear biased so I intentionally moved CADTutor and other AutoCAD forums further down the list. Truth is CT ranks much higher with me anyway but again it is all personal preference. I was trying to approach the subject in a logical and straight-forward manner. However, your point is well taken.

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Cad64

Ok, this is now a Sticky in the 'Useful Links' section. I didn't really know where else to put it, and it was going to get lost if left where it was, so now it's here for all to enjoy.

 

Thanks for taking the time to compile this list ReMark.

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ReMark

You're welcomed Cad64. I must admit to feeling honored that it has been chosen to appear as a Sticky in the Useful Links section. My humble thanks.

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ReMark

I realized yesterday while looking back on this thread that the information initially provided was somewhat outdated so I have taken the liberty of making some edits. These included, but were not limited to, the references to books about AutoCAD, the brief list of other AutoCAD help websites, and a scattering of minor edits. If anyone knows of something I have missed that they feel should be included do not hesitate to post to this thread or PM me here at CADTutor.

 

Regards,

 

ReMark

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nestly

Somehow I missed this, but something that may be helpful to include in the first section (AutoCAD's Own Help Files) is F1 key and hovering to see the expanded tooltip help. Also, your #9 "last resort" is usually my #1 choice...Google with the word "AutoCAD" preceding the question is scary good at collecting relevant results from all resources.

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ReMark

Both are good points. I think most people looking for help immediately start off with choice #9. It is in our nature.

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resullins

I agree with Nestly. Googling one of my questions a long time ago is how I found you people! And now you're most often my first go-to. I don't bother with the help file unless I'm looking for something VERY specific. Like if I heard of a new command and don't know what it does. Most of my issues are vague questions. And Google is much better at those. Almost as good as you guys!

 

However, I do like your list for a lot of people! Perhaps it will eliminate some of the LMGTFY answers around here?

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ReMark

If it weren't for vague questions most could probably be answered in one post! LoL

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resullins

You are correct sir! And where would the fun be in that? I spend half my day trying to figure out the best way to Google something for optimum results!

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ReMark

Imagine where we would be without search engines. Why we might have to....?

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tzframpton

Don't forget BLOG sites. CAD Panacea is among the best. :)

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ReMark

Tanner: See choice #7.

 

I only cite a couple of examples. Did not want to get too carried away.

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tzframpton

Oh nice!! Didn't even see it, sorry 'bout that one Mark. :)

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