Please keep in mind that I'm not a CAD user, but an the IT individual charged with migrating and installing software. However, I need to understand this and discuss with staff, so please be technical and bear with me.
I'm planning a migration from C3D 2010 to 2014. We have five offices, all of which have libraries in their local servers. Drawings are on local servers depending on which office owns the project. Everyone has access to the drawing files on each server. However, they all have separate libraries for sheet sets, templates, blocks, pen settings, etc. They initially started off the same but each office did their own things.
I often hear that drawings get "butchered" when other offices touch them, although I don't know what this specifically means. We are consultants so I understand that some clients want their drawings to look specific ways, so a specific CAD standard on how everything should look is.
From a CAD drafter standpoint, what are the advantages and disadvantages of incorporating all of our library locations to one? Does it help when sharing drawings? Keeping in mind that the IT aspect is not something you would need to be concerned about - ie. internet outage, mirroring technology used, etc. I understand an advantage is that it makes changes (ie. branding changes, if necessary) much easier to deploy and upgrades much smoother.
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Don't concern your self too much with the "Butchered" drawing comment. Any time a drawing leaves an office and comes back its been butchered in the eyes of the receiver.
But back to you question. I'm a proponent of centralized locations for all this drawing related. If everyone looks at the same libraries Butchering becomes more of an ego complaint than fact, i.e. sharing drawings becomes easier.
One drawback and I know you said not to worry about the IT part but increased traffic on the central location can bog autocad performance. One villain in particular is Sheet Set Manager. You can Google SSM performance issues and get more on it.
I agree with you last sentence.
Thanks for your comment, Joe.
You stated: "everyone looks at the same libraries Butchering becomes more of an ego complaint than fact, i.e. sharing drawings becomes easier."
HOW does everyone sharing the same library make it easier for sharing drawings? This is what I'm really trying to understand. Sorry, I'm not a CAD user
Thanks for the heads up on the style sheet manager. My intention is for data mirroring across the sites. All 5 offices have same content, but it will be local. Users will interact with their local servers and only changes go across the WAN to other offices. Only time users will interact with other office servers directly for libraries, etc. is if the local server goes down.
Everyone has access to the drawing files on each server. However, they all have separate libraries for sheet sets, templates, blocks, pen settings, etc. They initially started off the same but each office did their own things.
If I were in your situation the first thing I would attempt to resolve is the "They initially started off the same but each office did their own things" dilemma.
Without getting this in check and having a core standard for all offices to follow for all projects using "your company way" standards, anything you set up for them is likely not going to be used / followed either IMHO.
We have many offices that access the same "replicated" cad library, we manage this by use of (office specific) arg profiles.
Almost everything in the arg's imported is the same amongst all offices but there are a few differences such as:
Options>Files Tab>Printer Support File Path>
Subcategories here point to office specific folders and printers.
Options>Files Tab>Template Settings>
Subcategories here point to office specific folders (office address differences, different States etc.).
Then we create desktop icons and provide a profile switch for both Civil 3d ran as AutoCad and Civil 3d on the users desktop. The profile switch launches using their respective office specific user profiles.
Jay - Thanks for your comments. I am looking at addressing the issue where the content differs and why. Everyone has different work flows and does things differently; those differenes need to be understood. With regards to the way you describe your use of profiles for different offices, that's exactly what I'm looking at doing. At minimum they will have all of the items available.
The real question still stands - How does a drafter benefit from the a setup Jay describes?
The drafter benefits from a well documented set of cad standards and workflow by having their daily working environment remain predictable and consistent from project to project regardless of project team members.
If the configuration is setup and working properly from the moment the software is launched then the designer can focus on their design and it becomes more work for them to deviate from the standard.
The organization benefits from ease of worksharing and increased efficiency and profit.
Tons of time is wasted by folks that don't think standards are necessary & then other folks need to pick up where they left it broken and have no clue where to begin.
We can literally go to another office for a day or 3 months and be set up exactly the same (using the same documented cad standards and profiles) with exception of the office specific variations mentioned in my previous post. This makes work sharing amongst our offices a breeze.
No we don't hire any robots and yes there are "human nature" variations for sure but the core standards and supporting files are the same and located on a read only library and must be followed.
A drafter will notice another drafter using the wrong layers or styles etc. within a drawing. But a Project Manager has a different perspective; normally what the drawing looks like on paper. From both perspectives there are different ideas about what works and looks best. But even if there is no 'right' answer there does need to be a decision. You may come to a point where you have to lock all the influential people up in a room together and tell them they're not coming out until they find a way forward that they all agree on. Generally the bosses can see that finding and sticking to a company standard looks more professional, and when push comes to shove, they can find a compromise that accommodates the best parts of whatever various ideas were floating around. (Although that applies more to the 'look on paper' side of it than the actual CAD standards side.)
I think it's great that you're doing this as you move to 2014. You will be setting everything up from scratch anyway, so you may as well set it up identically everywhere.
Credit where credit is due! Give kudos or accept as solution whenever you can.
What is kept in the "libraries"? Are they Block libraries, Style libraries, Template, Plot Styles, stock notes?
A lot of the problems may occur when a drawing that references a drawing (block) called BASIN12 is opened in an office that either doesn't have that drawing or has one that now is different (They initially started off the same but each office did their own things).
This also goes for Civil 3D Styles. If a Surface Style "Existing Contour 1' & 5' (Background)" is set to a Surface in one office and another office has a different definition of it. When the second office opens the drawing and expect to see a Surface with that style be displayed a certain way and it doesn't. They'll overwrite the definition with their own. When the drawing is opened in the original office it has been "butchered".
There are often reasons for the differences between offices. If office "A" works with a very large industrial client doing site work for them. All their standards will most likely reflect what the client likes and what the municipalities where their major plants are require for site plans.
Office "B" may do a lot of work for the military or designing roads for Counties and the State they're in. So their standards will be based on what their major clients want and need. I've seen offices where there are different libraries for different clients or municipalities. In a large firm you can't help having these differences.
If you're going to share things between these offices. You're going to have to find a way to allow the differences. What need to be done is to find a way to handle how this happens. What I would suggest is that the office who has the lead on the project be given "ownership" of the files. The libraries they use should be available to every office. When office "B" opens one of office '"A"s files. They must have access to the correct support files and know (be told) to only use those support files.
The reason I would think that one office would be working on another offices drawing file would be because you have a specialist or group that specializes in a certain aspect of the work. That's fine. But they must know that they can't change the details and styles that the originating office has set up based on the clients needs.
The first part, making everything available to all the offices is the easy part. Making everyone adhere to the new policy will be the challenge.
I also wanted to mention that the use of Civil 3D options like XRef and shortcuts (DRefs) are ways for users to have access to the contents of a file or the Civil 3D design elements. Without having to open the original drawing. It looks like you'll need to work with someone who understands how to use the program and these options.
Just as an example. The different Surface Style I mentioned in the previous post. If that were DRefed into a new drawing. The office could display and work with that Surface without disturbing the original file.