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About the Author

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I was recently certified by Autodesk as a Civil 3D Implementation Certified Expert or ICE. I have worked in the Civil Engineering industry since 1987. In 1994 I started my consulting business doing training and consulting for Civil Engineering customers utilizing Autodesk civil engineering technology. I started L.A. CAD in 1999 and we are currently the 3rd largest Autodesk partner in the U.S. Studied Civil Engineering at Long Beach State, graduated in 1996.

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Digging In...

Tuesday, February 21, 2006


Civil 3D ByStyle? or ByLayer? That is the Question!

Could the industry really move to ByStyle ultimately? What would this world be like without Layers? Could everything reside on Layer 0 and yet one would still have the flexibility and control they need to be productive? That's three questions, but they are worth asking.

For the record, for now I am recommending ByLayer. Of course there are some out there that have no idea what I am talking about. In Civil 3D, you can control Civil 3D Objects (i.e. Surfaces, Points, and Alignments) and their components, using ByStyle or ByLayer. When we say control, this means you can turn on and off the visibility of objects, or turn on and off the individual components of an object using the ByStyle or ByLayer method, amongst other items.

What we mean by ByStyle, is that essentially you could store a Terrain Surface on Layer 0, but you would still be able to turn on and off contours, TIN Lines, Elevation Banding, etc without ever entering the Layer Properties Manager Dialog Box. The contours, TIN Lines, Elevation Banding are also all on Layer 0, but through the Style, you have the ability to control what appears... do you want to show TIN Lines or Contours, turn one on and the other off. So ByStyle, means you can control the visibility of the components only through the style.

When a drawing starts or is using the ByLayer concept, not only can you control the components of the object through the style (i.e. ByStyle), but you can also control it the "old-fashioned" way, through the Layer Properties Manager Dialog Box. So with this method, you have both options available.

So with that said, one option we have which is also represents a possibility for the entire industry, is to use the ByStyle concept. Of course, this could initially wreak havoc for those that need to interface with your drawings, if they only use AutoCAD. However, if you have two companies that utilize Civil 3D, and they were to standardize their color palettes for the object components in Civil 3D or their plot styles, they could more seamlessly move drawings back and forth. If the same two companies had different layer standards (and we know they probably do) this would not be as easy. By the way, you do have the ability to set plot style to components within Civil 3D Objects.

Again, at this point I am recommending that companies utilize the ByLayer option initially because right now adoption of the technology is still in the early stages, and the ByLayer option allows you to use the best of both worlds. As more companies begin to utilize the technology, we might find the opportunity where the ByStyle concept, (especially using the National CAD Standard layer set) might be an acceptable route to investigate. Whether you use the ByStyle concept with everything set to Layer 0 versus using the ByStyle concept where the object components inherit the National CAD Standard layers, there is no difference in how you control and manage the system. If you are choosing to control and manage the system through the style, then it doesn't matter what layers are set for the object components within the style. So why not just incorporate the National CAD Standard?

Posted by DannyCounts @ 9:40 PM


Posted by Anonymous Anonymous : 6:28 AM
Hi Danny,
I can see the groans from the introduction of yet another option for display of objects (or entities). There are still quite a few folks out there that have no idea of what Bylayer is. I have such a hard time with some consultants changing their files to ByLayer. They have Blocks that have been created using defined layers inside them, attributes (if they exist) on seperate layers with color settings and layernames defined and more little 'Gotchas' that can wreak havoc on a set of plans when you want all of the data from those drawings set to a sccreened color and\or linetype. If we could get them to adopt the ByStyle option, all this would go away, Right? But the big thing is, getting them to even LOOK at another way of working with things, especially when the mewthodology isn't available across platforms (yet).
Mark Hultgren

Posted by Blogger DannyCounts : 7:34 AM
Yes, that was kind of my point. I am not making a huge case for ByStyle yet because if we share these drawings with consultants that utilize vanilla AutoCAD, then we may experience many issues. What I have not tested yet is how the objet enablers might affect a vanilla install of AutoCAD. Perhaps it would allow a vanilla user to still control the Civil 3D components through the style. If not, then we pretty much have to have ByLayer objects so we can share these drawings. In a perfect world, if everyone used ByStyle and didn't pay attention to Layers, then they could apply your style or their style and it could potentially make things much easier.

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