Jump Kit

The Framework for Civil 3D
Get More

Templates Only

See The Framework Work
Get More

Become a Member

Master Civil 3D
Get More

Autodesk Civil Videos

Free Civil 3D Training
Get More

Framework Videos

Free Civil 3D Videos
Get More

The Framework for Civil 3D supports multiple versions and flavors of the NCS out of the box. We call this capability Adaptive Layer Standards. Adaptive, consistent and robust are some of the many benefits you get from employing our Managed System for Autodesk Civil 3D.

The Framework for Civil 3D Release 8 flavors now include a newer AIA NCS 6.0 version with compliant Style Libraries and dedicated AIA NCS 6.0 compliant resources support for this layer scheme designed to publish deliverables for large building projects. See The Civil 3D 2020.3 Framework Release post from early March for access to the Release 8 AIA Framework for Civil 3D 2020.3 details.

We publish a much-downloaded and popular Open set of Civilized Keys for the NCS 6.0.
See the Standard Keys page for the free PDF.

All this Framework NCS talk and commitment understandably generates for me questions about NCS compliancy and recommendation questions. See the bottom of this post for links to an in-depth series of post on the NCS Layer Standards.

An NCS 6.0 Standard Question

To paraphrase a recent question that merits public discussion:

“Somewhere you picked up the idea that NCS (AIA NCS 6.0) recommended putting all general annotation to G- layers?
I like the idea.
Where is that in the official documentation?”

The short answer is that a compliancy requirement is not formally in the AIA NCS 6.0, but the intent of the new G- discipline and that implied Key functionality for published plan set deliverables is in the NCS 6.0 recommendations and examples.

The US DOD, GSA, and now BIM technology groups all also have published Layers Standards. You will see their source contents in the Framework’s supplied NCS Layer Standards resources.

The published 6.0 examples and/or supplied resources from ALL these folks all include the G- Discipline layers and the reduced use of the ANNO Key as a Major Key.


The Standards in Context

Money and politics matter.

Both the AIA NCS and the ISO Standards groups are NGOs (non-governmental “non-profit” agencies) mostly interested in getting paid themselves to lobby for their contributors. Think K Street Washington DC. The AIA NCS is historically dominated by northeast publishing house vendors like the CSI which seeks to drive the project spec dollars to their manufacturing and commercial subscribers.

Lobby dollar competition is perhaps why the reflective Civil NGOs don’t support or contribute to the AIA NCS officially.

They do support the NCS Standards in other ways and by other means for their own purposes.

The Design Intent of ANNO

The most important NCS thing is what these rules are supposed to produce as results in the published deliverable plan set.

The original idea of the ANNO Major Key is to differentiate notes and specs from the geometry and necessary annotative detail of the model. I trust you get it that this issue becomes more and more difficult as the models become more and more detailed and complex.

If you turn OFF the ANNO, you should be left with geometric and annotative plan that still makes sense without the titleblocks and other crud in the way.

The goal is to make the plan set useable for the contractors and trades NOT plan checkers and the like.

The challenge of how to identify the difference between that ANNO and significant model annotation is/was problematic for many.

Is A-ANNO or C-ANNO or S-ANNO more important wasn’t the real issue but practically appeared in deliverables because multiple firm participation is normal in large AEC projects.
Everyone employed ANNO their way and often not as intended.

G Discipline Layer Name Examples

Layer Name



General |General Annotation


General |General Annotation|Details


General |General Annotation|Dimensions


General |General Annotation|Label Style Text


General |General Annotation|Legend


General |General Annotation|Logo


General |General Annotation|Match lines


General |General Annotation|Match lines|Label Style Text


General |General Annotation|Match lines|Hatch and Pattern


General |General Annotation|Notes


General |General Annotation|No Plot


General |General Annotation|Outline


General |General Annotation|Table Information


General |General Annotation|Table Information|Label Style Text


General |General Annotation|Table Information|Hatch and Pattern


General |General Annotation|Table Information|Title


General |General Annotation|Table Information|Border


General |General Annotation|Text


General |General Annotation|Border

*Note that the ANNO Key could be effectively be removed from these G- Discipline Layers
**G-ANNO as employed in this example becomes a potential ubiquitous Layer filter as intended
***Other potential Minor Keys for ANNO exist in the NCS 6.0 Keys


Enter Design Build and the Rest of the World

The ISO Standards group saw this as very problematic and the AIA NCS group agreed. Both Standards Groups faced the problem of large contractors threatening to go their own way if things did not change.

If the big time Design Build construction firms walk, party over.

Design Build for buildings and public works infrastructure is a more significant driver in the EU, BRICs (Brazil, Russia, India, China), and definitely in the Mideast than in the US.

You could argue we in the US believe we can afford not to Design Build and all the rest of the world cannot.

No One Wants to Hear This

Few people and fewer taxpayers realize that government run large projects have been demonstrably almost ALL financial disasters in the US. Success in all large projects are the exception not the rule. Sadly, the historical cure is to change the success metrics in retrospect.

Put another way, Autodesk, and many significant technology others, see this as a significant financial opportunity and real-world problem to solve and have invested big bucks to create solutions.

Back to the Layer Standards publishing topic at hand…

The Impending Redefine of ANNO

The substantive issue that from the AIA NCS folk perspective is the need for them to sync with these ISO Standard that is employed many places internationally. The ISO Standard which is referenced in the AIA NCS basically reduces the use of the AIA NCS’s ANNO Key as a Major Key with other official Disciplines over time.

The AIA NCS group agreed to this with the ISO Standard folks and started “recommending” this change in 4.0 with the goal of it being the official requirement/recommendation rule in 6.0.

The AIA NCS committee bailed on the official ANNO use and requirement officially in 6.0. I’d venture to guess that too many US major AIA member firms objected because they still employed ANNO as a Major Key a lot.

If you make a requirement rule that most people will not/cannot obey, it really is not a rule.

We Adapt to Improve or Not

By agreeing on the new G Discipline Key and reducing the use of C-ANNO and A-ANNO the confusion gets reduced because AEC firms in the many professional disciplines are forced to differentiate their ANNO and model geometry annotation content better.

This Layer Standards change seems to bear and prove itself out in the many projects that employed it. Remember most of that practice in projects happened outside of the US first or in Design Build project contexts.

It really doesn’t matter what I think or what is published officially in the AIA NCS.

We produce published plan sets with better USABLE models that help contractors do the work faster and better and we are doing the best we can do.

The System to Manage Civil 3D
Get the Framework for Civil 3D Release 8


The Keys to Layer and other CAD Standards

NCS Key Discipline Relates to Workflows

  • Layer Standards, Systems, and Keys
    The Why and How beyond the BIM in AutoCAD Civil 3D

Human Factors and the NCS

  • How we See What we Do in Civil 3D
    A deeper look at Discipline Key Standards and making them work

Blatant Flatulent Software Keys

  • You already use Keys. So What?
    How the software and our use and customization of it effects the Keys

Organizational Standard Keys

  • Management Issues and Keys in Civil 3D and the NCS

Some Views are Related

  • How Major and Minor Group Keys Hurt or Help us in Civil 3D

The Deep State in AutoCAD and Civil 3D

  • How Layer States and Layer Filters help us in Civil 3D

Civil 3D and the NCS Q and A

  • Fundamental Questions About the NCS and Keys

Civilized Standard Keys for the NCS 6.0

  • Details about the Framework for Civil 3D Keys and the NCS 6.0 Keys