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Common Sense CAD

In a book called “THE DEATH OF COMMON SENSE – How Law Is Suffocating America”, Philip K. Howard postulates that the overemphasis on the Law was crippling society and the we were losing the understanding of plain old common sense. Instead of fostering cooperation, our legal system in effect works against it. By emphasizing violations rather than solutions, regulations promote bitterness and conflict. No I am not for anarchy and lawlessness, but it makes you think…

When this is applied to the CAD environment, we can take some interesting perspectives away from the conversation. When the standard is stresses to rigidly you end up with a totalitarian state of CAD.

Here are a few things that I think are just common sense approaches to CAD:

Don’t spend so much time on things that don’t matter.

By this I mean don’t over detail the model, the plan drawings, the sections, the details or anything else that just does not need so much detail. We have failed to pass on the general approach to including what needs to be included and leaving out what is not needed. When working on a file, keep in mind what is the output of that file. If you are creating a detail focus on what you need to communicate, not the peripheral areas that surround it. Don’t spend so much time getting the dirt to look right on a post detail. focus on what the contractor needs to know to get it built. They know what dirt is. No need to spend so much time on getting the hatch pattern perfect. I am reminded of so many details that have shown threads on bolts that appear as a blob on the print.

Use as few layers as you can.

I can think of only five reasons to create a layer in CAD and maybe not even all five will apply depending on how you are plotting (CTB vs STB) and who you are working with

Reason 1: I need to show differing lineweights
Reason 2: You need to show a different linetype
Reason 3: I need to turn it off seperately from other entities
Reason 4: Someone else may need to turn it off separately when XREFing it
Reason 5: You want to group things together by commodity (all walls on one layer) so that they can be manipulated together.

Beyond these simple reasons you may not need to create a layer. The first three are realy the most important to you. The system may create the layer for you and so you should not change it, but I am talking about the need for so many layers is way overblown. Keep it as simple as you can. Don’t just fall into the trap of creating a layer just because the entity is something different.

More to come…

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1 Comment (Open | Close)

1 Comment To "Common Sense CAD"

#1 Comment By Jim Patterson On December 16, 2008 @ 4:55 AM

Your points are good, but I think the point you left out is that the business is in it to make money! That’s the bottom line. Your right, do not over detail any part of the project, define what the contractor needs, and move on, but we do it that way because we are in the business to make money.