Project Standards in AutoCAD ArchitectureAuthor: Anthony Mason, Nichols Melburg & Rossetto Architects
Date Published: March 15, 2010
When I began creating and maintaining customized content in AutoCAD Architecture (formerly Architectural Desktop), I placed all the various content styles into a single DWG file that served as my style template. This technique worked well for me when the scope of work was pretty specific (i.e. residential) because I didn't need many styles.
Now I am the CAD Manager for a firm with diverse projects. We have to maintain high quality graphic and content standards, not only for our own departments, but also to accommodate agency standards (OSHPD, DSA, etc.).
As I added more styles to support more types of projects, my single-file template solution became unwieldy. Open, save, and regenerate actions took longer, and there was a noticeable lag between picking a content tool and being able to add content to a drawing.
I decided to split the style template file into multiple smaller files, grouping items into several standards drawings. I noticed improved responsiveness with the multiple-file approach.
The main reason to keep all styles in a single file is that we use a customized Display System, and it is extremely time consuming to manually maintain that Display System across multiple files. However, by setting up a Content Styles project in Project Navigator, I can use Project Standards to keep all my styles updated-all I need to do is synchronize the project.
This image shows the matrix I use. Use this as an example, but set your matrix up in the way that works best for the kinds of projects you do.
In the Project Navigator, the style content drawings are known as Constructs. To start creating your style project, you create a base construct file to use as a starting point for each content file. Here are some tips for creating the base file:
Create the construct drawing and purge as many styles as possible so you can use it as a template file for any type of AEC style.
Include the base construct drawing in the project standards without styles being referenced by it.
Include the date in the base construct filename. If you change your mind about which drawings contain which styles or if you add new content drawings, change the date in the filename. Then, when you set a current project, AutoCAD alerts you that a project standards file is missing, reminding you to update the standards for that project.
Elements are a good place to include company standard template files. In Project Navigator, they use a .dwg extension, but whenever they are updated you can copy them to your drawing template folder and rename them to use a .dwt extension.
Set up and Import Project Standards
You will need to set up project standards in the Content Styles project to keep all your content drawings synchronized.
If you use Project Navigator for your projects, it is possible to import standards from another project. Unfortunately, you can't import the standards from the Content Styles project itself. After you set up your standards in the Content Files project, you need to manually set them up in your project template (or another project) and then import from there.