One of the headaches I want to avoid is having to change colors everytime I open/xref a drawing. I would like to have something saved that could do it automatically.
If your layering is constant saving a Layer State should do that. You can export it to use in all your drawings. Once the drawing is opened and the Layer State applied having Visretain set to one would mean that those colors would stick from session to session.
How do you use Xrefs. Or shouldn't I ask!
Sounds like a good idea...
Currently, we take the original survey and start disecting it for the proposed features (which I don't agree with, since then you don't have an original survey intact). Then for the actual plots/prints, the drawings are xref'd in and layers are off and on based on which drawing it is.
<snip> "Maybe someday after I get everyone used to Civil 3D, I'll tackle switching to STB plotting. Probably will retire before then.
You said it brother.
In a design environment don't worry about the plotting standards you'll never be able to hold the line. In the drafting environment one should take a cleaner approach. I've heard two sides to this one. Some are pro Plot Style files, but this creates another issue of endless new plot styles for random printing. If you end up with a directory with _initials or _project number, you've definitely got to put an end to it as that's poor setup. You should setup a directory on the network and have company plot styles saved there with your basic styles.
Put the effort into defining a Civil 3D template that works for everyone. It's great to be democratic to these things but the best way is to get Manager backing and come up with a template that works and push it out to everyone. I am a big fan of plotting with "none" plot style. In fact if you setup everything in the template based on what you want to see on paper it works quite well and you never have to guess as to what plot style to use.
Sounds like a good idea...
Currently, we take the original survey and start disecting it for the proposed features
I don't quite understand what that means. But I certainly don't agree with tearing apart the basemap. That would make updating the survey more difficult. We do our final plots in a similar manor. Although we do plot intermediate plots from the design drawings. All our final plans are produced from a plot drawing with the basemap and all the design drawings xrefed in.
We do have a few old plot styles but right now we have 2 main ones. One for B&W plan production with a few available colors if we want them on preliminary plots and one for color presentations. I also have a special one for county wide color plots.
Near the start of a project we decide how many design drawing we will need based on the complexity. We always have an Alignment and Profile drawing and a Corridor drawing. Then we may have one more or break it out to each discipline. Finally the basemap and the design drawings are xrefed into the plot drawing(s). Again based on the complexity we may have just one plot drawing or one for each discipline.
The dissecting is that when you have a "removal" plan, some of the existing survey needs to be put on a removal layer so that when you look at the proposed layout, you don't see the features that were removed. You only see them in the removal plan.
I was thinking that xref ing the original survey is the way to go, especially since they tell me now that sometimes they go in to make adjustments or additions if we snag it too soon.
It will have to be a trial and error type of thing, until we can either find the best way or some of them can adjust. Also, they made the jump to hyperspace about a year ago (meaning they moved from using BricsCad to Civil 3D) and some of them never bothered to use Civil 3D in everyday life. So some are still using BricsCad as well. I am still adjusting to the differences in Civil 3D from Land Desktop so I am not able to train everyone.
We will get there, slowly but surely. I'm sure you will see a lot more of me on here over the next few months!
If you want each user to have all their layers pre-configured when you start a new project you could do this:
Create dummy survey, engineer and drafter DWG files that each have all the layers you typically use set up in them. In the dummy engineer drawing, XREF the dummy survey drawing and set up the layers as he likes them. Do the same for the drafter drawing but include both the survey and engineer dummy drawings as XREF's.
Now when you start a real project, either import the real survey dwg into the dummy survey dwg OR redirect the XREF path in the engineer and drafter dwgs to the real survey drawing. As long as the layer names match between all the dwgs the layer settings should remain intact.
If the team is dead set against using XREF's you could do something similar by using Layer States. Set up a dummy file with ALL the layers you will ever use and then configure layer states for each user. Then when you start a new project, add the live data to the dummy file and take it from there. You'd have to be meticulous about maintaining the layer states as the project moves forward and the drawing changes hands back and forth between users.
I don't see how you could do this with plot styles alone. Plot styles will control the output when plotted but they will not control the colors you see on the screen while working in the drawing. Thus each user would have to set the layer colors every time the drawing changes hands.