CAD Standards Management

August 10th, 2011

 

The management of CAD standards is very important in AutoCAD® Architecture.  “Why?” you ask.  Look at this scenario:  a client contacts you to obtain structural drawings for a pedway that was originally constructed 15 years ago.  The pedway has a structural crack and information is critically needed.  If you don’t have filing standards in place, finding these drawings can be difficult.  For a situation like this, you need to put your finger on the drawings ASAP!  This is where an excellent system of standards comes in handy.  And this is just the filing side of things! 

CAD standards also bring uniformity to a world that would otherwise be in chaos.  For this reason alone, they should be applied everywhere.  It is important in the ACA world to use CAD standards; otherwise the same floor plan could take on many different forms and be confusing for an end user.  Some CAD managers write their own standards; others use standards that are already available such as AIA or NIBS.  Some of the areas where standards are needed are:

  • File / Folder Names
  • Drawing Title Block Names
  • Layer Names, Colors, Linetypes
  • Dimension Styles
  • Text Fonts & Sizes
  • Drafting Symbols
  • ….and many more

Drawing Title Block Names Standard

           Standardizing drawing names optimizes file management, making it easy to use, store, and search.  It is important to implement a system that works for you and enforce this for every drawing created within your organization.  The first step in setting up this standard is to select a letter to represent each design discipline.  The ones I use are as follows:

 

A

Architectural

E

Electrical

F

Fire Protection

L

Landscaping

M

Mechanical

Q

Equipment

P

Plumbing

S

Structural

X

Other Disciplines

 

I use the above list for my layer standards as well.  Next, add a hyphen and then a number to designate the sheet type.  Last, add a period and then a number indicating the number of the drawing within the set.

 

0

General (symbols legend, notes, etc)

1

Plans (horizontal views)

2

Elevations (vertical views)

3

Sections (sectional views, wall sections)

4

Large-Scale Views (plans, elevations, stair sections)

5

Details

6

Schedules and Diagrams

7

Furniture

8

User Defined

 

 

3D Representations

 

 

For example, if you were naming an architectural drawing showing details and it was the second detail drawing, you would name it A-5.2. 

You can also take this system further and standardize the folder names in which you save your drawings.  For example, I have many buildings on several different campuses for which I maintain drawings.  I have a folder for each campus.  Within each campus folder is a folder for each building on that campus.  I think you see where I’m going with this.  If you implement a system that works for your organization, then searching for needed drawings is as easy as pie! 


 

Creating Layer Standards

Layer standards are an excellent organizational tool for a drawing.  Is the US National CAD Standard Version 3.1 (the one I use and am the most familiar with), the layer name format is organized as a hierarchy.  Within this hierarchy, there are four defined layer name data fields:

  • Discipline Designator – This is an alphabetic-character field that designates the discipline associated with that layer.  The list I use is the same as the one I listed previously.  A second optional letter can be used to further define the discipline character.
  • Major Group – This is a four-letter alphabetic-character field that designates the major building system to which the layer applies.  For example, wall, door, glaz, and so on.
  • Minor Groups (can be 1 or 2) – This is an optional four-character field that further defines a major group. For example, A-GLAZ-INTR for interior glass.
  • Status – This is an optional single-character field that distinguishes the data that the layer contains.  For example, an N would represent New Work or E would represent Existing To Remain.

 

Each field is separated by a hyphen for clarity.  For this particular CAD standard, the Discipline Designator and Major Group are mandatory, whereas the Minor Groups and Status are optional.

Once layer names have been created, be sure to finish the layer standards by designating color, linetype, lineweight, and transparency for each layer (see Figure 1).

Figure 1: Layer standards

Creating a CAD Standard File

Once you have created your standards, let’s look at how to create and implement CAD standards files in ACA using the Manage tab of the ribbon.  To begin implementing CAD standards in ACA, you must first create a CAD Standards File.  To do this, begin by opening a new drawing.  Next, you need to establish the desired settings for layers, linetypes, text styles, and dimstyles.  You may also have your standard Title Block included in this drawing.  Finally, you must save it as a Drawing Standards file by changing the file type to *.dws (see Figure 2).  You can do this for each type of drawing you will be creating, for example, architectural, electrical, mechanical, and so on.  You can also contain everything within one drawing.

Figure 2: Saving drawing standards file

Configuring CAD Standards

Now that you’ve created your CAD standards file, you can associate that file with any drawing you are working on.  Users should be required to do this prior to beginning any new drawing to maintain consistency throughout all drawings.  Under the Manage tab on the ribbon, go to the CAD Standards panel and select Configure (see Figure 3).  A dialog box will open showing two tabs:  Standards and Plug-ins.  Select the Standards tab.  Here you will find displayed any information regarding the standards files associated with the current drawing, once they have been added. 

To add a standards drawing, click Add Standards.  This will bring up the standard Windows dialog box for selecting a file.  Find the file you wish to use, select it, and you will see that it’s added to the list.

Multiple drawings can be added to the list; however, the order in which they appear is very important.  If a conflict arises between multiple standard files in the list, the standards file listed first takes precedence.  To rearrange the position of the standard files, highlight the file to be reordered and click Move Up or Move Down.

The Plug-ins tab will list and describe the standards plug-ins that are installed on the current system.  One will be installed for each of the named objects where standards can be defined.  You can specify which of the plug-ins you wish to use when you are auditing a drawing by selecting plug-ins from this list.

The Settings dialog box under Configure Standards gives you additional settings for your standards (see Figure 4).  You can choose to Automatically Fix Non-Standard Properties.  When this item is checked, all of the properties of the objects with identical names will change to match the settings in the preferred file.  You can also choose to Show Ignored Problems.  When this is checked, it will show previously ignored problems when you perform subsequent standards checking.  The login name of the person who previously checked it as ignored will be shown in the Check Standards dialog along with the problem associated with the item.  There are a few notification settings you can choose from as well, including the ability to Display alert upon standards violation.  Feel free to play with these settings and see what works best for both you and your employees.

Figure 3: Ribbon Manage tab

Figure 4: Dialog box with Settings

Checking CAD Standards

Once a standards file has been associated with the current drawing, the process of auditing the drawing for standards violations can begin.  This can be done immediately from the Configure Standards dialog box by clicking Check Standards.  The Check Standards dialog box is divided into three main areas:  Problem, Replace With, and Preview Of Changes.  Each of these interacts with one another (see Figure 5).

The Problem area of the dialog box will display a description of a non-standard object found in the current drawing.  The Replace With area of the dialog box will list possible replacements for the current standards violation.  These replacements are the settings from the standard file you created and inserted into the new drawing.  If there is a recommended fix available, it will be preceded by a check mark.  If there is not a recommended fix available, no items will be highlighted in the Replace With list.  The Preview Of Changes area of the dialog box will indicate the specific properties of the non-standard object that will be changed if the fix that is currently selected in the Replace With list is applied.  You may also choose to check the box Mark This Problem As Ignored.  When you do this, the login name of the user will be recorded with the fact that the problem has been ignored.

In some instances, you may want to move on to the next problem without applying a fix to the current problem.  To do this, you simply need to click Next.  In this case, the problem will be shown in subsequent standards checks if it is not marked ignored.

Figure 5: Check Standards dialog box

The Layer Translator

The Layer Translator is another tool that helps you manage your drawings by allowing you to manage your layer scheme.  It allows you to specify the layers in the current drawing that you wish to translate as well as the layers to which they will be translated.  I have found this to be extremely useful in incorporating as-built drawings from architects into my drawings.  I can translate their layers into the layers I’m familiar with and vice versa.

The Layer Translator can be found under the Manager tab of the ribbon, under the CAD Standards panel.  Once it has been selected, a dialog box will appear that has the current drawing’s layer scheme shown (see Figure 6). 

Load allows you to load layers in the Translate To list using any drawing file, CAD Standards file or drawing template file.  You can also create a layering scheme from scratch in which you can enter a new layer name and assign a color, linetype, and line weight to the layer by clicking New. 

Transfer From will specify the layers that are to be translated in the current drawing.  Layers can be specified through selection in the Translate From list or by supplying a selection filter.  You will see a layer icon to the left of each layer name.  If the icon is white, then the layer has not yet been referenced in the drawing.  If the icon is dark, then it is referenced in the drawing.  The Translate To list box will show you all the layers that are available for translating to and can be created from more than one drawing or from scratch. 

Map is a handy tool in that it maps the layers that are selected in the Translate From list box to the layer selected in the Translate To list box.  Multiple layers can be selected with this feature.  With the Map Same button, no selection is needed, however.  It will allow you to map all the layers that have the same name in the two lists and update them to the same properties of the layer listed in the Translate To list.  The Layer Translation Mappings list box shows each layer that is to be translated and the properties associated with each layer conversion.  Here, you can select layers and edit properties by clicking Edit.

You will also notice the Settings button at the bottom left of the dialog box.  This is where you can specify to translate objects in blocks, force object color to ByLayer, etc.  Be sure to check the settings to make sure that everything is as you want it.

Once all the mappings have been set up, click Translate to finish translation of the layers you have mapped.  The mapped new layers and their properties will replace the old layer names and their properties.  If you have not mapped some of your old layers to new layers, they will be left as they were.

Figure 6: Layer translator

To Conclude

CAD Standards are essential to daily CAD life.  Only a portion of possible standards have been discussed here.  It is important to find what works for you and your company and ensure that the standards are implemented and enforced.  Organization is a good thing… embrace it!

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About the Authors

Melinda Heavrin

Melinda Heavrin

Melinda Heavrin is a CAD Coordinator & Facility Planner for Norton Healthcare in Louisville, Kentucky.  She has been using AutoCAD Architecture since release 2000.  Melinda can be reached for comments and questions at [email protected]

 

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