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For understandable reasons I am often involved in Textstyle and AutoCAD Civil 3D Label Style discussions. A common one is about the simplex.shx font versus the Windows Arial Truetype font specified for use in the National CAD Standard and the ISO specifications. Specifically how that relates to named textstyles employed in AutoCAD Civil 3D templates and AutoCAD Civil 3D Styles.

The debate is a replica of the CTB or STB controversy and banter. From my perspective, the fundamentals of these debates come down to our common preference for something known and familiar over the new and different. Search this blog for the "plotting" topic to find more about STB.

I have no problem with anyone’s preference.
However, there are very good and important reasons to move on.

“Our previous preference may no longer be preferable.”

Textstyle in Civil 3D

We made a large scale QAQC effort to reduce Textstyle complexity (the number of textstyles employed) from the earliest planning stages of our Civil 3D Production Solutions.

Why? Here’s the short list:

  • Annotative Scaling and Reduction of Maintenance Costs
  • Publish Portability and Agreement with Standards

The Textstyle short list is all about a short trade off in Civil 3D user education and training for a larger increase in Civil 3D productivity.
This includes both design capability (better on-the-fly data visualization) and automated annotation.
We refer to this as Publish on Demand.

Annotative Scaling

These days core AutoCAD has “Annotative” textstyles. This can be a bit confusing. In raw AutoCAD these “new” textstyles “automatically” respond to changes in the drawing’s current Annotative Scale.
Civil 3D ignores them. What? How can that be?

  • Civil 3D Label Styles are built to work with classic textstyles. Label Styles do not employ AutoCAD “Annotative” textstyles.
  • All Label Style text related to any Civil 3D feature always had this functionality. The functionality is built into AutoCAD Civil 3D and was first developed there.

Automatic Scaling functionality negates the need for multiple textstyles with different height properties for any text generated from a Civil 3D Label Style.
The more users employ Label Style generated text the less manual maintenance and man-hours required.
“L100” and “L80” named textstyles (LDT speak) are unnecessary. They create user confusion in Civil 3D.
If you made them into AutoCAD Annotative textstyles, that would not make sense either.
We need “meaningful” and consistent names. Get some Open ones here.

Our InstantOn templates for AutoCAD Civil 3D employ two textstyles to handle 95%+ of all Label Style generated text. This consistent approach even extends down into our symbol (block) libraries.

  • There’s an “Existing” and a “Proposed” textstyle. Easy to understand, use, and maintain.
  • Height difference is handled by applied the Civil 3D Label Style Default settings.
  • The Styles in all product Style libraries obey the Civil 3D Label Style hierarchy rules.
  • Changes to applied font definition for the textstyles cascade everywhere throughout the libraries.

Publish Portability

The NCS (National CAD Standards) is fundamentally about published project output. It is all about Plan Set readability on any desktop (or device) and in any form of print anywhere and anytime. Therefore, the NCS and the ISO recommend and specify the “ever-present” Windows Arial Truetype font.

  • No added resources are required to display text – (no attached font files)
  • Consistent and readable text and related symbols at different scales
  • Unicode compliant (easier language translation)

Many of us civil and survey folk prefer the classic simplex.shx font. It is simple - Maybe too simple.
Simplex is a line-only font.
It is not Unicode compliant.
The font was created for pen plotter output. Have you’ve used one of those lately?
It may print faster, but…
Text in an line-only font can and will drop out (disappear) at reduced output scales.

Arial is a filled font.
Arial TT may publish thicker than you prefer unless you adjust for that elsewhere.
The important “filled” property “guarantees” printability and more readability on more output devices at smaller scales and different zoom levels.

Hey Mister Fantasy Play Us a Tune

It almost goes without saying that what is plain to the educated and experienced is not always so obvious to the ignorant and inexperienced.

So Are You Experienced?
Have You Ever Been Experienced?
Well I Have.
Let Me Prove to You…

Are You Experienced by Jimi Hendrix

As the lyrics and the music of the famous song imply there’re always forms of feedback going on. AutoCAD Civil 3D is famous for some wicked AutoCAD feedback loops. Civil 3D looks like AutoCAD. It sounds like AutoCAD, but it is not. Often it is the old noise in our heads that gets in the way. We need to transform our…

Noise into New Music

How do we get our users to learn this and get something productive done at the same time?

That’s easy. All you need are basic AutoCAD skills and the “common stuff” every user and your organization already has in hand. If you want to make this type of conversion and do it successfully your users will need to understand how to convert old work into the new form.

For example all your General Notes and similar standard “blocks” will need to be converted, cleaned, tested, and put away somewhere new as a findable resource.
The same is true for critical details, but that’s maybe a slightly different process.
Detail conversion includes the applications of same concepts and skills.

Outline and briefly document the process, delegate the work, and let them loose.

You should be surprised how quickly they improve the details of the process and “get” the new way things work. On the other hand, if you do it for them they will resist.

As Every Politician Knows

People normally won’t resist what they are personally invested in.