The Point Director Method – Part 3

Tags customization, Description Key Set, Description Key, implementation, figures, figure prefix db, point, point display, Point Style, Point Label Style

In the last couple of posts I talked about classic Point Display Strategies and how to develop them.

Point Display Strategies - Part 1
Two Paths Out of the Woods - Part 2
The Point Director Method - Part 3
Point to My Match in Civil 3D - Part 4

In the last post we talked about the point display Override Strategy.
That’s where many organizations end up after initially struggling with AutoCAD Civil 3D point display issues for a bit.

Ride Sally Ride

Points as Symbols

The Override Strategy works great. It produces consistent symbols and annotation and mostly keeps new Civil 3D users happy.
However, because it does EXACTLY those very things we also discovered has a hidden back side to it – the probability that more production man-hours will be invested in point display maintenance on an individual point level. Some of this is almost always required but limiting man-hour duplication and waste is important.

If you’re a high performance guy or you’re lazy like me, we look for another approach.

The Point Director Method

I went after this approach (which I also call the “Priority” Method) in a previous blog post the bears mentioning again. Read it and…

Rule the Points

The post explores the Priority method using the metaphor of a movie director.
You have a Camera, a Set, and a group of Actors you need to get working together to produce a specific Scene.
You have to deal with a couple of Unions whose current priorities always will affect how the Actors perform on screen.
Civil 3D resolves the Union disputes for you, but as a Civil 3D user you are responsible and you must call the shots.

What I See is What I Want

Civil 3D is weighted to perform in this way by its object model and Style based roots.
You’ve probably noticed by now that somehow you have to tell Civil 3D to Update, Refresh, Rebuild, Synch, etc.
Last month I claimed that Civil 3D is a supermodel. She is a diva. She’s particular about when, where, and how you talk to her.
She’s a character actor. Let me quote one of the best character actors ever…

“It’s twroo…It’s twroo”
             Madeline Kahn as Lili von Shtupp in Blazing Saddles

You get more display flexibility, but YOU are responsible to KNOW what you want and HOW you want it to appear right NOW. This also requires you KNOW how to make that happen inside the Civil 3D interface. Obviously, this requires a bit more and some different tactics in Civil 3D training.  Our old school CAD experience may actually get in the way. We have to be “retrained”.

The Director approach also makes a lot MORE sense to those who have to perform the process of point correction, figure building, and surface create and edit QA work.
Your Design folks DO face a similar issue – They have even more Civil 3D Features and many more potential display presentations to deal with.

I should mention that if you only see the end results (like many a principal or project manager) the need for this other display representation and Style stuff inside Civil 3D isn’t initially apparent.
You can clarify this, “We’re going after the lost and hidden “in-process man-hours”, boss.”
Any PM who is watching his Civil 3D project and model development man-hours will appreciate this reality.

Delayed Gratification

The Point Director|Priority approach says the point data is DATA.
How I need to display the DATA NOW is more important than any downstream publishing goal.
I care that the point DATA looks this way NOW because I want to QA and FIX the data and improve the usefulness of the Civil 3D Features the data produces.

I choose to consciously ignore any “published” end result until THAT Is the specific task at hand.

Publishing specifics will be easier because I understand HOW to get any other display results.

The Point Director|Priority Method advocates the idea of
Work the Same and Publish on Demand
that I probably rant about too much in this blog.

WTMI

A key concept I often neglect to mention in those discussions is that for the user TOO MUCH information right now is often as dangerous as TOO LITTLE immediate information.
Let’s keep that concept in mind as we explore some details.

Director|Priority Method Specifics

You will always have multiple Description Key Sets. Some will be in your templates. Some you may load on demand (like character actors) from other drawing or template files when you need them.
You may think of the Set or really stack of Sets as “Task based” Sets.
Perhaps “Purpose based” is a better formal term than “Task based”.
I have  ALTA survey data. Load those Sets. I have “as-built” survey data from an oil field. Load another Set(s). I have a commercial site development parcel data set. Load that one. You get the idea.

IOB Description Key Sets

Over Specialized?

Could you build specific task based templates to handle the tasks? Of course, but you have to be careful to make sure you don’t create for yourself and your organization a Civil 3D Style and Civil 3D Template maintenance issue. These happen fast because of the interrelated and integrated way Civil 3D handles the Style and Label Style stuff.

Dealing with the differences and exceptions requires you spend time checking that the “integrations’ between the variety of “moving” parts (Desc Key Set, Figure Prefix Db, Style collection, etc) works.
You have a lot of EXACT NAMES to keep track of and then MATCH appropriately.
Sorry folks that’s the way it is.

Data Management Development

This essential “data management” stuff is really not rocket science or all that hard.
It is, however, something new to most CAD folks particularly at the level of complexity happening inside Civil 3D.

AutoCAD Civil 3D is decent about moving around what you’ve got. C3D is not presently very good at helping us create and manage itself and the development at these fundamental levels. That’s why all Jump products employ and include a development project.

Jump System Customization

You’ll have to employ external resources like Excel files (or databases) to help you Plan, Do or execute, Check, and then Act (PDCA) to maintain this stuff. Excel works fine. You’ll have to keep doing a consistent process loop as things change.

That sounds a bit intimidating especially after trying to do it the first time.
However, as “data” 80 to 95% of the stuff and specifics for all the varieties of integrations NEVER change.

The 80 20 Rule Applies

We are really in search of the Similar NOT the differences and/or exceptions.

From a big Master list of Keys and multiple descriptions (Formats) come all the published special parts – Description Key Sets and a smaller number of Figure Prefix Dbs.
For all our paying customers (even InstantOn Basic customers) we’re happy to supply the lists and if requested the resources they came from.
You shouldn’t have to reinvent the wheel.
That would be dumb.

Next time we’ll talk about the various matching issues and tactics we need to address.