Civil 3D and the NCS Q and A

Tags standards, standard keys, Layer Standards, Layer Manager, Major Key, Minor Key, NCS

A couple of times a year members of the latest NCS steering committee drop me a line or give me a call. Why? I certainly have professionally known some of those folks for a long time. Some obviously even read this blog on occasion.

Clearly, the Framework for Civil 3D (and all its earlier product incarnations) has long advocated the employment of the NCS in the civil engineering and survey disciplines and the use of Key, Pattern, and Rule based Systems for the management of many things inside of AutoCAD Civil 3D.

Our Open Source publication and free download of the Civilized Keys definitely makes the rounds.

I make no claim to be an official NCS expert. Let’s just say that I’ve spent more than a bit of time in the trenches with the NCS doing standards implementation with real world organizations for a long time. To me the NCS is a set of practical tools built from the experience of a lot of smart people. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel. We can employ it. A key point…

We Can Mutually Agree on Key Meanings

I’d love to chat again about the nuances of Plan Set Languages, but I would digress.

How that relates to real world workflows in the AEC disciplines and model-based software I believe is important on a very practical basis. The in-depth series starts with this NCS Key Discipline Relates to Workflows post. The NCS posts are all linked together for easier reading.

The NCS can make our life easier. We can mutually agree on Key meanings of published graphic data.

My recent post Framework for Civil 3D Futures generated a couple of questions. Honestly, I didn’t intentionally create the title so you could read the post title and couple of different ways. It does make the relevant point that we see what we expect to see.

First, some key principals. Eheh.

Practical Standard Keys come in three basic flavors:

  • Discipline Keys – these are about the Systems we survey and design
  • Software Keys – these are imposed on us by the software systems we use
  • Organizational Keys – these are social, organizational, and political

Rules for Key and Pattern based Systems

  • Every Key relates to a System, Structure, and Part in a model-based hierarchy
  • The Meaning of individual Keys should be unique in context
  • The Pattern of the (Layer) name should make sense read both right to left and left to right

Common NCS Questions

“Your Layer scheme is not the same as the supplied Autodesk NCS templates. Why are they different?”

Autodesk actually makes no claim their example templates are NCS compliant other than using ncs in the name. Technically, they are perhaps NCS 3.1 compliant. But they are certainly not NCS 4.0+ compliant. Count the number of Keys in use.

Our Release 7 NCS Layer Systems is Key, Pattern, and Rule is certainly NCS 4.0 and NCS 5.0 compliant. It is about 98% NCS 6.0 compliant. In version 6.0, the NCS adopted some Civilized Keys and their own variations of a few others.

Case in point. No customer has ever complained their plan set was rejected because it failed an NCS compliancy test. We actually document the differences. See the Release 7 Details page for example.

“Your Layer scheme does not employ the same utility Keys as the NCS. Why?”

The AIA’s version of the NCS was developed for building project plan set publication. We consider that sanitary, storm, etc. systems inside a building or campus are not the same thing as the infrastructure outside of a building or a campus.

Our utility Keys are an optional clarification of those differences. We document the differences.

We employ a simple four-digit code system based on standard pattern of UT@@ to categorize civil utilities. This is technically a variant alternative set of Keys. No UT@@ conflicts with any published NCS Major Key in any version of the NCS. The Key scheme is employed in many civil, survey, and mapping organizations.

We even supply a Layer Standards Spreadsheet Tools that include the ability to rename the appropriate layers to the AIA or other specification. We supply the match list to every Framework for Civil 3D customer as part of the documentation.

Why does your layer scheme employ VIEW as a Major Key?

Technically, this is a Civil 3D software mechanics driven Key – A Software Key.

All the Civil 3D Viewer tools employ the VIEW Major Key to reduce the number of layers and complexity and length of layer names. See the Some Views are Related and Blatant Flatulent Software Keys posts.

Are there videos that cover the NCS Layer details?

The InstantOn Layer Standards page includes more than a few in product overviews videos for multiple versions of the NCS.

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On Standards and Keys in Civil 3D