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    Default Survey: One file vs multiple files (x-refs)

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    Survey: One file vs multiple files (x-refs)

    I'm curious what others think and do. (Also posted on Autodesk forum in case you've seen it there.)


    Let's say you have a street project. It's going to be 25 sheets, broken down into various purposes, i.e.: street plan & profile, underground utilities, sidewalk/ramps (required here), and so on. How do you do this?

    1) Do you have a single file with all line work, annotation, and everything, and then 25 layout tabs, controlling each sheet/tab with freezing and thawing by viewport?

    2) Do you have a "base file" that is mostly just line work , then have separate plan sheet files for annotation and other extraneous items with line work x-ref'd in and/or dynamic entities d-link'd in?

    3) Do you do a mix-and-match of both?

    What are the pros and cons of any of these? What have your experiences been?

    I do see benefits AND downsides to both methods, but I tend to do something of a mix-and-match, albeit I lean heavily toward #2. I have done several smallish projects where everything was in a single file and by the time I was done I always regretted doing so. Neither way is perfect by any measure, but in my experience... while I am good at layer manipulation and still believe in layer management over other newer forms of visibility... there always seems to be a point where it becomes too much, and affects speed, both literally in the single file and in the thinking and coordination. To me there is value in keeping the plan files separate and simple.

    I will generally group a bunch of like-sheets in a plan file. One dwg for plan & profile, one for underground utilities, etc. If the project is unusually large and/or complicated, I will even separate out the types of underground utilities.

    I have been doing this for almost three decades now, and I am aware that some of my thinking can be "old school", but I feel that I have a good mix-and match of old school thinking and new school thinking. The old ways aren't always bad, and the new ways aren't always better... though new is often better, to be fair.

    So anyway, what say you?

  2. #2
    Luminous Being RobDraw's Avatar
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    Is everything done in-house or do you get files from outside sources for use as backgrounds?
    Drafting is a breeze.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RobDraw View Post
    Is everything done in-house or do you get files from outside sources for use as backgrounds?
    Generally everything is done in-house, except architectural building floor plans. But even those we keep separate and x-ref-attach into the base design file. Even at a previous employer where would often get existing topo from an outside source the procedure was pretty much the same as I do now.

    What is your process, and what affects how or why you do what you do?

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    #1 - no way I'd tie up all that info in a single drawing. Too much to potentially lose with a corrupt drawing.

    Generally speaking, #2. Allows multiple people to work on project at the same time.
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    Purely from a management standpoint, it's better to split your work areas. Use xref to bring in the information you need from other drawings, and freeze everything else. When I show an engineer or architect an area that has everything thawed, they don't react well. I'm used to it, they aren't.

    That scheme also helps to split up your annotation. My thinking is, why make things more complicated than they have to be?

    Finally, I agree with McSwain. Even if you have instant backup systems, you lose time getting back to where you were.
    breaking AutoCAD on a regular basis since 1991

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    Luminous Being RobDraw's Avatar
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    The others are on track with what I would do. Files basically are split according to trade (users and/or consultants) and are XREF'd into each other for coordination.

    I've thought about, but never implemented, the model/annotation split.
    Drafting is a breeze.

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    i use #1 when i am doing the work alone and #2 when i am working with colleages.

    I believe that layer management is your best tool. But as you said, sometimes it becomes too much.
    I have had some projects (small ones, of lets say, a three level house) with over 300 layers and over 20 layer states for the different sheets.

    rkmcswain is right though, it is too dangerous to have all your information into one file for it to be corrupted with enough bad luck.
    I have had also some projects using xrefs (a five level little building eg.) , and the only downside i got (after some years) was that when i needed to see them(the plans) , since they were moved, they were not referenced anymore, and sometimes you are in such a hurry that you can not reference them again. I know we can use the "bind" or the "etransmit" commands but sometimes i just dont do it.
    In my experience, at least where i am from, not too many people knows autocad advanced enough to use layer states and/or xrefs, and that is a huge headache because i have to make my drawings "simplier"
    I would really like that autodesk added some kind of command that generates automatic names for layers, for example, when you create a folder for a new group of layers, when you create a new layer in that folder, it would be better if the new layer has the name of the group and a number next to it, or something like that. Im just telling an idea that needs more thinking.

  8. #8
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    I have a multi road design 88 layouts one dwg no xrefs and no probs. Plan view long sections and cross sections plus some details.

    It is achievable because we use layer control, the plan views have very little layers turned off between design and existing. The long and cross are created directly into layouts not model space.

    Its really about a road design v's a house design and the level of complication of the final plans. We have looked at having the base as a xref or the other way around, after all CIV3d uses alignments and surfaces so which drawing do you work in ? Our 3rd party Civil software allows for multiple users working on one project similar to xref.
    A man who never made mistakes never made anything

  9. #9
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    I do those projects evey day.

    We use a few XREFS:

    - current situation above ground
    - current situation above ground wich have to be removed.
    - current situation underground
    - current situation underground wich have to be removed.
    - New situation above ground
    - new situation under ground.

    when combining above 'XREF's every presentation required can be made.

    In the Netherlands we have complex road designs, where Civil3D is of no use...

  10. #10
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    Aftertouch
    In the Netherlands we have complex road designs, where Civil3D is of no use
    Have a look at www.civilsurveysolutions.com.au it mat be what your looking for sits on top of civ3d and has much better road designing tools when it it comes to joining crossectionally wise longitudinal strings. On screen grading tools, be grading a road object long section and see the building line at same time or multiple constraints thats what they are know as. 90% of our work is existing street reconstruction with just so many problems associated with this type of work.
    A man who never made mistakes never made anything

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