Failed to update style using 3D Annotation

Failed To Update Style

Failed to update style” when trying to use 3D Annotation.

The Styles Library in Inventor is one of those mysterious things that receives little attention.  Yet it controls everything from dimension styles in a drawing to the lighting in the model environment.  Each year, a fresh install of Inventor will create a fresh copy of the Style Library, leaving some operators wondering why their beloved dimension style disappeared!

Updating the Style Library correctly will combine all the modifications from the past with the all the new features of the current release.

The title of this post is true in a couple of ways.  It’s both the cause and the symptom of not updating your Inventor 2018 Style Library correctly.  It’s worth mentioning that 2018 is unique in its requirement for the way you migrate the Styles Library – so your old method that’s worked for years will probably not work this time.


The Styles Library lives in a folder which is specified by either the current Project file or on the “Files” tab of the Application Options.  The Style Library is a collection of XML files that get updated when you customise say line-weights on a drawing, or a dimension style.  Almost everything that controls the appearance and output from Inventor is defined in the Style Library.


The “typical” upgrade strategy we see for Style Libraries is to first backup the library files (the Design Data Folder).  Next, copy and paste the new Design Data folder (installed with the new Inventor) over the existing Style Library – ignoring duplicates.  This way, any new files/folders are added

Take dimensions as an example:  There is a Dimension.XML file in the Design Data folder and it contains all the different dimension styles used in the drawing environment.  The new 3D Annotation contains (amongst other things) some dimension tools – so extra code is added into this XML file.  If your current upgrade strategy is to reuse last year’s Style Library files, the new dimension styles will not get added.


There are a number of ways we see Styles Libraries updated, all “tried and tested” over the years, but they’ll probably fail this year with 2018 unless you follow one final step.  (If you are using Inventor 2018 already and haven’t tried 3D Annotation, then it’s unlikely you will have seen this error yet.)

The “usual” process for updating styles libraries is to backup the existing files, then copy & paste the new versions over the top and ignore any duplicates.  This ensures you get all the new bits without overwriting your existing files.  Unfortunately, in 2018, since the 3D Annotation styles are embedded inside the existing XML files, if you don’t overwrite the existing files, you won’t get the 3D Annotation tools.  And if you do overwrite them, you lose your customisation!

Here’ the process for ensuring you get the best of both worlds:

  1. Use the Style Library Manager (Typically found at Start Menu > Programs > Autodesk Inventor 2018 > Tools)
  2. In the first column, select your existing Style Library
  3. If the library is from an old release, hit the “Migrate” button.
  4. Select the default Style Library from Inventor 2018 in the right column.
    (Default location is C:\Users\Public\Documents\Autodesk\Inventor 2018\Design Data)
  5. In the left column of the Style Library Manager, select each element in turn (Balloon, Center Mark, Datum Target etc).  As you select each element you’ll see all the styles in your newly migrated library compared to the default 2018 library.  In the screenshot below you can see the *** – 3DA elements exist only in the default 2018 library:
    Adding 3da to Inventor Style Library
    Use the << button to copy the missing styles into your library.  (This just adds the appropriate lines into the existing XML file)
    The styles that need updating are:

    1. Dimension
    2. Feature Control Frame
    3. ID
    4. Leader
    5. Object Defaults
    6. Standard
    7. Surface Texture
    8. Text
    9. Weld Symbol

Tidying the appearance of 3D Annotation

If you want to control the appearance of the 3D Annotation (like changing the decimal separator to a period “.”):

  1. Open your drawing template (IDW or DWG)
  2. Edit the Style Library
  3. Find the *** – 3DA dimension styles
  4. Change the options as required (e.g. # decimal places and the decimal separator)
  5. Save the drawing
  6. Save Styles to Style Library
  7. Close (and don’t save) the drawing

(Follow the above order carefully – it helps avoid those “The Style in the *** differs from the style in the Style Library…” messages.)

And finally…

When you first place some 3D Annotation in a part or assembly, you’ll be prompted for the style to use. (Usually ISO, ANSI etc.)  To pre-select the style:

  1. Open all your model templates (all the .ipt, iam files you normally use from your templates folder)
  2. Tools > Document Settings > Standard
  3. Set the required 3D Annotation standard
  4. Close & save
3d Annotation failed to update style
3D Annotation – ready for action!

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