We Plan to VIEW It

Tags alignment, View Features, View, NCS, standards

We talked about promoting the NCS (National CAD Standard) Minor Group “VIEW” to an NCS Major Group in a previous post. Ok so I do recognize that appears a bit geeky, but this does affect how much work Civil 3D end users get done and what they do the work for pretty directly.

A Civil 3D 2013 Profile View

Therefore, I did promise to explain how this VIEW Major Group might relate to common Plan representations in the NCS 4.0 and NCS 5.0 context. Remember using VIEW as a Major Group relates to AutoCAD Civil 3D’s implementation of a number of View Features (e.g. Profile Views, Section Views, etc.) There is more.

Much More VIEW

To be clear, this very useful Group Key usage change remains compliant with both the NCS 4.0 and NCS 5.0 recommendations for the implementation of Standard Major and Minor Group Keys. Your Civil 3D users and the end consumers of your Sheet and Plan Sets publication will find it more useful as well.

The Civil 3D Style and Layer “View” details we talked about in detail. We ended with this summary statement:

“We need the balance the Layer count to the ease of use and Management by Style in AutoCAD Civil 3D.”

Plan Representations

What about the effect of a VIEW Major Group on Plan Representations?

The NCS a “Plan” representation annotation might be theoretically routed to <Discipline>-ANNO-<Major Group> layers or to <Discipline>--<Major Group>- ANNO.

However, both of these approaches have significant and commonly misunderstood issues.


The NCS “ANNO” Major Group is technically all about Sheet and Plan Set annotation and not about model annotation – linework (LINE, CURV, SPIR etc), labels (LABL or TEXT), marks (MARK), etc.

Employing the “ANNO” as a Minor Group is also formally discouraged in the NCS as well.
In the NCS 5.0 version it is even formally now “not recommended”.
Huh? Why is that?

This is purely practical. The reason is all about design information integrity and quality assured publication.

Perhaps the end consumer of your set doesn’t want to see a title block etc on a Sheet at the moment. Hiding ANNO Layers in the Plan Set should not remove design annotation from view according to the NCS. Makes sense to me.

It is pretty evident that NOT publishing critical buried annotative content on a Sheet or in an entire Plan Set could have negative downstream project management and construction related consequences.

At some levels is this related to the Level of Development issues we discussed in the most recent post?

Common Civil 3D Feature Plan Views

Property related Civil 3D Features are already nicely classified in the “PROP”, “ESMT”, “BNDY” NCS Major Groups. No changes needed there. If you’d like a compliant and more complete civil survey Key list for free, you can download our open source list of compliant NCS Standard Keys here.

<Discipline>-<Major Group>-<VIEW>

It is possible and probably very often advantageous to employ Alignment Features to annotate many of the Civil 3D Features and the “Property” Features are no exception. The power of the use of the VIEW Major Group in this standard Layer naming convention works out really well.
For example:
C-ESMT-VIEW and C-ESMT-VIEW-LABL make undeniable sense to most folks.
A simpler C-ESMT and C-ESMT-LABL may work even better but notice you cannot tell it’s an easement alignment’s profile either.

The Alignment VIEW in Plan

Alignments play an ever growing significant role in Civil 3D production use.
The magic of Alignment related control in Civil 3D’s Managed Dynamic Models is important. Corridor design solutions rock.

No problem there either. The Alignment Feature definitely requires a Major Group. We still might argue over the details of that Major Group name:  Is the best standard Key name ALGN or ALIN? “ALIN” is the NCS 4.0+ preferred Key name so we use that in our Production Solution products.

Then for Alignment Plan Features this Key arrangement works:


We immediately recognize this is a Profile View Feature layer container.
Do we need a V-ALIN-VIEW layer?
Does a different Discipline require Discipline specific Styles?  
Can we route all common Profile Views here?
I think that works best for typical model production.
If you need to publish differently, you can always employ a specialized template modified by simple Layer scripts to do so from your Civil project model.

Publish on Demand for model based software is fun?

Site Related Features


Let me repeat… We should also keep in mind the useful nature of Civil 3D Alignment Feature Styles and their many potential Label Styles are really useful and powerful annotative engines in Site projects. If the model “element” is linear, a Civil 3D Alignment Feature can do both the model work AND the annotative work. Yes. It is almost possible to almost rid your projects of linetype references altogether.

There are a couple of ways to approach the typical SITE related issues.

Take the more common Civil - “C” Discipline approach.

That means we probably have to employ the “SITE” Major Group as a predicate for Feature Lines, Gradings, and even Figure related geometry and annotation. Many typical commercial, residential, and public projects will fine work that way. Unfortunately you do end up with both longer Layer names and some muddling of the Layer waters as the project complexity grows. This may or may not be related to multiple surfaces, project stages, etc.

Is the road side ditch produced from the corridor model a ROAD feature or a SITE feature? We might say technically it’s a transitional feature.

Work It

The second approach or optional addition is to employ the NCS Works – “W” Discipline.

This further division may become necessary in larger or dirt only projects where the number of kinds of earthwork and design model and annotative details is important to track and differentiate. Many environment remediation projects of full of this level of model and annotative detail that must be differentiated in production and in publication.

If you employ the Works Discipline as a differentiator you can avoid lots of potentially redundant C-SITE layers and often manage the production process and published output better as well.

View the Bottom Line

All the Production Solution Release 5 products including InstantOn Basic and InstantOn Survey employ the VIEW Major Group and the model and annotative layer principals outlined above and in the previous post. The Civil Discipline layer scripting resource tools are included. The InstantOn Survey and the Jump Kit Style Libraries even supply WORKs Discipline scripting resource tools for large civil survey projects.

For either NCS Discipline Plan approach this new VIEW Major Group used for all AutoCAD Civil 3D View Features works really well to simplify both model design and Plan Set National CAD Standard publication work very nicely.