CADDManager on May 25th, 2009

There are many questions that need to be answered when defining what folder contains what data. Working through the questions will let you know how much information you need to include in your standards.

My whole approach in helping you develop your standard is to just ask questions. These questions will help you think through what needs to be included in your standard.

So let’s dive in…

Location:

Do you want to use one specific drive letter?

I had one client in the past that required us to us one specific drive letter. All files for the project must be located under the drive letter they assigned us. Thankfully that drive letter was available. Some firms may choose to do this. If you are not one of them then state that in the standard. The reason is that some will use your standard in other offices that may want to use another drive letter. Is that acceptable? Can your users put them wherever they want?

Folder Path

What about hard coded XREF paths? Should you use them?
Full Path stores the location of the file that you have attached starting from the drive letter and moving down the tree to where the file is located.

Example:
C:\Documents and Settings\mkiker\My Documents\Acad2007\XREF\Wall Base.dwg

So it starts from the “C” drive – or wherever and travels down the tree to find the DWG file.

Should you use relative path names?

Relative Paths start from the location of the host file and moves to where the XREF file is located.

Example:
..\XREF\Wall Base.dwg

So it starts looking by backing out of the folder of the host file (the two dots) and moves into subfolders to find the XREF.

TIP: Go with Relative paths.

Read more about XREF paths here.

Does the structure allow for separation of work?

Do you have multiple people working on the job, or multiple disciplines? Are there consultants that have to place files into your project? Does the folder structure allow for wholesale replacement of files or will you have to hunt and peck your way to replacing and updating each file one at a time.

Some of the projects that I have overseen have complained about the way the files are scattered all over the place. If this is a concern, think about how you can set up your folders so that it is easier to replace files.

TIP: By creating subfolders, you can allow one discipline to replace many files with minimum effort. This will require a few extra clicks as you dig down into the folders to get to the files. Don’t go overboard.

Is there a separation of folders by discipline or trade?

If you have folders broken out – what logic are you applying? Can you successfully have several consultants working together? Is it set up so that you can share work with others by copying complete folders? If you have to copy folders from your server and send them to others – will it be easy?

Are the folders logically named?

Is it simple enough for the uninitiated to understand? Can they guess what folders to use without being told? Is it really plain and simple?

Do they have any setup options for Phased work or Options to design?

Phased work happens all the time. Make sure your standard has the flexibility to add folders as needed.

Options are created many times also. At the beginning of the project you may be asked to create several optional designs. I will cover this in more depth later, but keep this need in mind as you define folders.

Is it expandable?

Can users add folders if needed? What about the data and files you have not thought of? Can they just put them where they please? (They will anyway).

Provide enough examples so that when someone gets creative, they have examples.

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2 Responses to “CAD Standards Start at the Folder Level”

  1. I agree 100%. The second step would then be the file name. Adopting these standards is necessary in all fields of work, not just design and should be incorporated into document files too. Adopt one system for all digital files.

  2. NO ONE LIKES BEING TOLD “DO IT MY WAY OR ELSE.” AS A FINAL THREAD TO CLOSING A PROJECT, PUTTING COMMON STANDARDS TO A TEST ARE GREAT IDEA. HOWEVER; TREAT USER(S) WITH RESPECT TO ALLOW CREATIVITY TO FLOW AND BETTER SOLUTIONS TO COME TO FOREFRONT. MY PREFERENCE IS ALLOW USER(S) FREEDOM TO UTILIZE CAD ON A SPECIFIC DRIVE LETTER WITHIN A BASIC FOLDER STRUCTURE NOT TO EXCEED TWO OR THREE SUBFOLDERS. (I.E C:\CADD\STATUS\COMPLETED-PROJECT AND U:\CADD\STATUS\WORKING-PROJECT)

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