Monday, March 10, 2014

What not to do in AutoCAD – Labels in a Base File

Today’s look into “You’re doing it wrong” is about labels in base files and drawing files.

Here is a screenshot of a residential plan where a new Force Main was being tied in to an existing manhole.  I have circled the manhole label because that is what I want to discuss today.  This drawing file has two “base” files referenced into it.  One is an existing conditions file that contains the existing residential area, the existing roads, the existing water main, the existing sewer system.  The other reference drawing is the new, or proposed, line work that contains the new force main.  That’s the good part.  It’s always good to separate the new and the old in separate database.  It makes things easier to manage, revise, and to work with.

The bad part is the existing manhole label.  This information is needed of course but it is in the base file.  Labels don’t belong in the base file.  They belong in the drawing file.  Now there is nothing wrong with putting the manhole data in the file in some way; in fact, that would be a great thing to do.  Put that info as attributed info in the manhole block or put it on a non-printing layer.  Better yet, use Civil3D or some other information modeling program like Civil3D to manage the data.  What makes it worse is that the creator of the drawing file took a shortcut and used the data labels as labels for the drawing file.  It might have sounded great at the time but now somebody else has to deal with them.  It turns out that the Force main was installed but not as designed.  Field conditions weren't as indicated on the record drawings.  Oops!!  It happens.  Now we have to update the drawings to reflect the changes made.

We have new labels to add, new information to integrate into the drawings but because the labels are in the base file it is making things difficult to work with.  The work that was avoided at the beginning still has to be done now.  We will copy the labels data into the drawing file, position it so that our new labels can be seen, and freeze the labels in the drawing file.   Unfortunately another no-no happened and when the labels are frozen, so are the lot numbers, and all other labels in the base file because they are all on the same layer.
 
I hate it when a file has a billion layers, but it is a great idea to use more than one layer for your text.  Put lot numbers on their own layer and put street names on their own layer.  You get the idea.  Also keep in mind that the shortcut you use to avoid work now will likely mean you will have to do the work later on, when there is even less time and less budget.

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