August 31, 2008

AutoCAD® Architecture 2009 Layer Properties Manager Alert

In developing my future post on Layer Standards, I have noticed that in the 2009 release, any changes made to the Layer Standard, Layer Key Styles or Layer Key Overrides when accessed through the Layer Properties Manager (the ClassicLayer, modal dialog, not the non-modal palette version, which does not have access to the ACD-A layer features) will NOT be saved if these are the only changes being made during that session of the Layer Properties Manager. While less critical for Layer Key Styles and Layer Key Overrides, since these can be accessed outside of the Layer Properties Manager, this is quite serious for Layer Standard changes (imports from other files, creation of new Layer Standards or edits to existing Layer Standards), since the only way to do these is through the Layer Properties Manager.

Fortunately, there is a workaround for this: after completing your Layer Standard, Layer Key Style or Layer Key Override changes from the Layer Properties Manager, before selecting OK, do something directly within the Layer Properties Manager that will result in the Apply button becoming active. My personal favorite is to select the New Layer button, and simply add the default layer (Layer1 if it does not already exist). If you like, you can immediately delete this newly added layer, and then select the OK button.

From what I can tell, it appears that changes made to Layer Standards, Layer Key Styles and Layer Key Overrides from the Layer Properties Manager are being held in a "pending queue" without being applied to the drawing (in memory) when selecting OK in the dialog(s) launched from the Layer Properties Manager toolbar buttons. This would allow for possible remorse while the Layer Properties Manager is still active - I have no problem with those changes being discarded if I select the Cancel button in the Layer Properties Manager. Unfortunately, unlike previous versions, the 2009 Layer Properties Manager dialog starts out with the Apply button disabled, and not only does it not become enabled when a change is made to a Layer Standard, Layer Key Style or Layer Key Override through the Layer Properties Manager, these pending changes also do not appear to trigger the need for acceptance should the OK button be selected. Making a change in the Layer Properties Manager itself does activate the Apply button and also sets something that activates all pending changes when either the Apply or OK buttons are used.

While this should not be necessary, until it is fixed, creating and deleting a bogus layer is a relatively small act to preserve what could be many minutes (hours?) of editing a Layer Key Style or adding descriptions to a Layer Standard.

August 26, 2008

Layer Standard and Layer Key Style

The automatic layering feature of AutoCAD® Architecture has two components. Most will be familiar with the Layer Key Style, which allows you to specify on what layer a particular AEC item will be placed. The other component is the Layer Standard. While not strictly necessary (a Layer Key Style can be set to Non Standard), having a Layer Standard offers some advantages over not having one.

If the layer names you use do not have any consistent format (random lengths, not broken into subsections with consistent meaning), then a Layer Standard is not for you. If your layer names do use a consistent formatting, then you probably could create a Layer Standard that "enforces" those formatting rules. It will not prevent you from making non-standard layers, but it will make it easier to create standard layers by allowing you to pre-specify values for each field in your standard. You can also associate a description for each pre-specified value, and the descriptions of the various fields will be combined into the Description that appears in the Layer Properties Manager dialog (in the far right column). Having a field-based Layer Standard will also allow you to make use of the Layer Key Overrides feature, in which you can specify an override for one or more of the fields to create a layer name that is modified from the one specified in the Layer Key Style. This can be done globally or be set up on a tool palette tool, to be used only when that tool is used.

The interface for editing Layer Standards has not changed much over the years, and the Brain Dump Matt Dillon wrote for ADT 2 is still a great resource for becoming familiar with the ins and outs of Layer Standards. Unfortunately, the Brain Dump links listed in Chris Yanchar's Between the Walls blog no longer appear to work. I will try to put together a tutorial on Layer Standards and publish it in a future article. Until then, you can take a look at one or more of the Layer Standards that ship with the program and see how they are set up. These are based on the national or international standards prevalent in various area of the world, and it may be wise to adopt the one that applies in the area where you work, rather than to invent your own.

To edit a Layer Standard, open a file that contains one, open the Layer Properties Manager dialog and choose the Layer Standards button on the tool bar at the top of the dialog (first one on the left).