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Personal CAD Standards

Can you be productive without a CAD Standard?

I have asked this question to many users over the years…

I get the same answer most of the time…  “Yes –  I can be productive without a CAD Standard”

When I delve into the issue a little more they tend to rethink what they have said.

At first blush, the answer above is correct.  I really don’t argue their perspective.  They are correct, if they are thinking of a printed hard copy standard that is sitting on their desk or stored as a PDF file on their system.

It is correct because the standard is in their heads and it is a personal standard.  Personal standards are developed and used all the time.  They are created on the fly, by the person behind the mouse.  It is theirs and they love it.  They settle into systems of production that work well for them.  They define symbols, layers, layouts, definitions and more.  All in their heads.  All working great on their files, on their PC.

We all do this – it is a natural process.  You are not going to make things up as you go forever.  You are going to settle into patterns.  These patterns become your personal standard.  It works great – as long as you are the only person working on the files and projects from start to finish.

But – and here is the bigger issue that I bring up…

If you have to share your work – it begins to fail.  You might share your work with only one other person – but wait… they do things differently.  They don’t do things the way that you do.  They use their personal standard which is different from yours.  Now you get frustrated because you have “work with” their files, or you have to “fix” their files.  Note: they are thinking the same thing – they are frustrated also.

Expand that to sharing project work inside your firm with a team of players.  If they all do whatever they want – it will be chaos.  Add on consultants that do not work in your office. Now add on delivery of the files for future use by someone that you don’t even know.  It snowballs into  totally dysfunctional files.

Enter the CAD Standard.  Created to unify the production methods of CAD.   Shared by all.

Without it – chaos.  With it – the possibility of unity (possible but not guaranteed)

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3 Comments (Open | Close)

3 Comments To "Personal CAD Standards"

#1 Comment By Edwin On November 16, 2009 @ 10:27 PM

Great post Mark.
I worked in an architecture firm before. And this is exactly the issue. The sad thing about this is, many CAD users already feel that they need to make a standard to increase their productivity. But their managers don’t. They only care about the printed version of the documents and feel that creating a standard is just wasting time. It works well before, and why it doesn’t work now? And I still found many managers still think that way.

I think they should read your posts 🙂

#2 Comment By Jim Patterson On November 17, 2009 @ 5:39 AM

I have been in the structural engineering field as a draftsman for over 35 years. Starting out a long time ago on the drafting board. Then switching to CAD in the early 80’s. And now on Revit. In my opinion, I would not call it a personal CAD standard, but rather a personal drafting method. The reason I say that, is that I have worked at a few firms over my 35 year career, and all have had different Office CAD Standards, but my personal CAD methods have never changed. I was one of those guys that hated other people working on my projects. I didn’t want “their” lettering missing up my drawings! But we all know that never works, deadlines come and work needs to get done before the deadline that one person can’t get done. My point, we all get frustrated even when working within the Office CAD Standards. We all “can” work within the Office CAD Standards, we all have different methods of doing that work. The problem comes when that one person goes off with his or her personal CAD standards that in no way fit with the Office CAD Standards. Mark, I think that’s the point your talking about . . . .

#3 Comment By Jeff Koellman On November 17, 2009 @ 6:06 AM

What you say is very true. I worked for 5 years as the only staff designer. When I hired one person, most information was transmitted verbally, which always gets lost in translation. It was still easy to ask each other ‘How did you set this up?’ As I added a third person, it became incredibly more complex to keep things uniform. By the time I had a staff of 5, I commented that I had to ‘take a survey’ to see who did the work on a master plan file and how they named layers, etc. I implemented a CAD standard and found we could be more productive. Although my staff has shrunk and it is only one person besides me, I have no intention of getting sloppy and backtracking. I just finished a run through of my CAD standards and did some updating. The time I spend maintaining a standard is far less then time spent fighting fires due to incorrect output. I also expect that I will not be able to restaff easily as workload increases, so I need to keep things running as smooth as possible.