Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Where do AutoCAD Dimensions Belong? Paper Space or Model Space?


There are some topics that will always be debated; Paper or Plastic, Mac or PC, Football or Soccer, Standard Time or Daylight Savings Time, Dimension in AutoCAD’s Model Space or Paper Space?

The problem with this question is the same as with the other questions that I mentioned, the answer depends on what you are doing.  That answer sucks to be honest, but it’s the truth.  Many times it really won’t matter.  Other times having dimensions in model space is the worst thing to do!  Or the worst will be having a million dimensions in paper space across several tabs that have to be updated when one model space dimension would have updated everything.

When is dimensioning in Model Space ok?  When that dimension (and this goes for text too) needs to be shown everywhere (or nearly everywhere) or when there will only be one paper space tab in the file.

When is dimensioning in Paper Space ok?  When you have multiple paper space tabs in your file and your dimensions do not carry over from sheet to sheet.


When you dimension in Model Space make sure to use annotated dimensions.  This AutoCAD feature will display your text and arrows at a defined paper height regardless of the scale of the viewport.

When you dimension in Paper Space make sure the AutoCAD system variable DIMASSOC is set to a value of (2) two.  Also make sure that your dimension styles do not scale the length of the measurement.  Keep this value at (1) one.  That is the DIMLFAC variable.  If you are going to create Dimensions styles for specific scales then you have to set a value for DIMFLAC and set DIMASSOC to either (o) zero or (1) one.  But why create more dim styles to have to manage?  But why create a possible dimensioning error because the wrong dim scale was used?  If these settings are not correct then dimensioning in paper space is a chore.

A long time argument against dimensioning in paper space (and it’s a good one) has been that if the linework moves you have to move the paper space dimension.  Well, if you set (as I recommended) DIMASSOC to (2) two then any dimension that is associated to that linework will update automatically.  Besides, if your model space linework changes then you will still have to update your model space dimensions.  But then again DIMASOC set to (2) two will update that as well.  (This setting works with leaders too.)

Now for my personal preference coming from an AEC design background.  Annotate in paper space.  If it is a street name, lake designation, or some major attribute that needs to be displayed everywhere then annotate that in model space but keep it limited.  Everything else goes in Paper Space.

What do you do and why?
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