In Font of the Face of Horror

Tags textstyle, font, NCS, ISO, standards, standard keys

I hate the NCS. I love the NCS. We all love and hate the National CAD Standard. We can all appreciate that things created by committee come with a bit of backside. This love/hate dichotomy is perhaps especially true for us civil engineering and survey types who historically hardly had a place at the NCS committee tables in the first place.

At cadpilot.com we’ve certainly done what we can to improve NCS implementations for civil organizations over the years. We publically publish an open Standard Set of Civil Keys derived from public and private Civil NCS like standards. Standard Keys and NCS “like” pattern rules do work. They are one of the recognized best innovations to come from the NCS effort.

We’re Bad to the Bone

One of the favorite bones of contention in any Standards discussion is the entire font thing. Engineers and survey folk are often proud of the fact they aren’t as artsy about the look and feel of their plan sets as architects in particular. Tell these same people and their CAD users. “It would be better if you changed the default fonts you use…” and often stuff hits the fan.

Years of common experience make the familiar our personal and corporate version of reality.

Makes Sense to Me

I agree with the NCS probably because I started out on the construction side of things. If you can’t read the drawings, it’s a lot harder to build the dang thing. Later as a practicing architect in the San Francisco Bay area, I took a lot of heat from architectural review boards for the “ugly” and “artless” CAD drawings I produced back in the day. It was another committee thing. I showed a bit of invention after a couple of these nasty meetings. I routinely had a water colorist spruce up plots of the 3D models. Rendering before there was rendering in CAD. I seriously considered doing only artistic rendering as a business. It might have paid better at the time than designing “castles on cliffs” for the rich and famous. Life led me elsewhere.

Your Font is Not a Flight of Fancy

Both the NCS (National Cad Standard) and ISO (Internation Standards Organization) are explicit about the fonts you should use. This is about readability - readability at various plotted scales and with multiple applications on varied hardware and software. People ask,"Why is it this way?" Maybe it helps to know an answer.
Call it an institutionalization (is that a word) of General Services Administrative (GSA) archival policies if you like.

People do tend to forget or neglect to mention that the National CAD Standard is a publication standard.
Publication is a most primitive form of data management. For reasons that are obvious we often want things to be more than they are.

An attempt to make the NCS more than a publication standard can create more production problems than it solves.

Zombie Walk Standards

I sometimes call this the “Zombie Standards Walk”. We have to admit that humans can tend to behave as sequential legalists at times. This can be really inappropriate. As engineers we’re often kidded socially about this, in part, because it’s true.

Publish on Demand

Plan publication is different than production. Model-based software decisively helps to make this different paradigm possible. At least we are not completely consumed with only the picture in front of us in AutoCAD Civil 3D. We can get to the more important design decision and QAQC realities more quickly. Yes. Style is about how the thing appears, but that is not the productivity endgame we should focus on.

Civil 3D templates and Styles that replicate our historic realities often become a flight of fancy.

Our Production Solution products make improved productivity happen for AutoCAD Civil 3D. They allow you to produce publications to multiple standards and even your own particular preferences. This capability is designed in. There are lots of tools included to help you pull it off in real world projects.

Next time we’ll explore our Special Delta Force Character friends and why we may stumble over fantasies of font because of them.

It’s a Rate of Change Thing