when I open my .dwg file the viewports are OK, but when I switch tabs then all the viewports in all the tabs are blank
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Maybe it's MAXACTVP. Do you have more viewports in your drawing than what that is set at?
I don't know then. The only other time I have seen that is when the drawing needed to be audited.
It could be a memory issue. Are you running 32 bit? Just a wild guess. 37 viewports sounds like you have a lot of drawing tabs. We use to have all our drawing sheets for a set in one drawing but started to run into problems, mostly relating to it running excessively slow.
I don't know much about design center. If it was me I'd copy my drawing 17 times and then delete the other tabs out of each one. There may be a better way.
I have 17 tabs
What's the best way to copy the tabs to another .dwg?
Can I copy the VPs also?
can I use design center? Yes. It will copy everything in the layouts too, including viewports.