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Are Bad CAD Standards Worth Having?

Many of us have very good standards in place and we go to great lengths to enforce them. We review them on a regular basis and update them as needed. Others have acceptable standards that help to get people on the same page but leave a few thing to the imagination (and CAD users can be very imaginative).

I want to speak to those of us that have a very weak standard. One that has many holes in it. One that fails to define the needed items that everyone uses every day. If you fall into this category – listen up. If you have to use a standard provided by others that falls into this category – listen up.

We have all seen bad standards. Here are a few things that I have seen that I think make for a Bad Standard.

1. The Simple Things

Bad Layer List – Basic items that are not even covered. This might include a layer list that does not tell you color or line weight or they may have left off linetypes.

Outdated guidelines – stated needs for delivering in AutoCAD 14 format. If I see this in a standard, I start questioning when the last time it was updated.

2. The Hidden Things

Defining your terms – often they have left out the definitions for the terms they are using throughout the standard.

3. The Major Misses

Project Folder Structure – many times this is left out. Define what goes where and how the folders interrelate.

MS and PS – what goes where. Tell me where you want me to draw things. Don’t leave it up to me to think it through.

4. The Little things

LTSCALE – uses and abuses of this setting have plagued users for many years. Tell me exactly what you want done.

Saved View Names – do you want them used? – tell me how to name them.

5. The Critical Things

Title Block Data – if you are really serious about getting the title blocks to look the same. Define this completely.

I say that Bad Standards are not worth having. I would rather be given the right to use my own standard than to be handcuffed into using a Bad One.

Now – what are the problems that may arise from using a Bad Standard? Let’s take a look…

1. A Bad Standard creates a false sense of security. Project Managers, Upper Management, Job Leads, all expect that the standard is being followed and that it is sufficient to make their CAD files usable and efficient. If your standard does not do this, you will be falling short.

2. A Bad Standard makes you hard to work with. Others are trying to comply with your standard. Your subs are straining to provide you with compliant files. If your standard does not define what they must do, then they will be frustrated and take more time (equals – more dollars)

3. A Bad Standard give you junk files. Take a look at your internal problems with CAD. Are they there because your folks are not able to understand your standard? Does it fail to define some needed areas? Are those areas open for interpretation by the users so that you end up with scattered layer names, or block names, or design methods?

4. A Bad Standard costs you money and time. It slows people down. If it is too complex, people won’t understand it. If it is too simple, it won’t cover enough to keep things humming.

Having a Good Standard is critical. It is not easy to do. It takes time and thought, but it is achievable.

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