Two Paths Out of the Woods – Part 2

Tags customization, implementation, Description Key, Description Key Set, codes, point display, point group, point

Last time we talked briefly about how to Get the Old Way Working for point data. Most, but not all organizations are over that AutoCAD Civil 3D hump I hope.

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

This time we’ll talk about the first of two Point Display Strategy options that can help you put the petal to the metal.

At The Crest of the Hill?

There are two basic approaches to the point display problem. These of course can be (and often are) blended together after a bit. 
Jump platform products like InstantOn Basic (IOB) employ one of these strategies by default. The IOB approach is probably the more technically sophisticated one, but that doesn’t mean that it is necessarily the best approach for what you need and want to do.
We employ the second method mentioned below (and detailed in the next post) because it is more flexible and adaptable to the many general “flavors” of survey data.
If you always work with vanilla “flavored” data you may not need its increased complexity.
If vanilla is what you do, you can tweak an IOB template and NCS (National CAD Standard) resources to employ the first method (discussed below) in only an hour or less. Yes!
Did I say InstantOn Basic was built to be flexible?

InstantOn Basic

The Override Method

This more vanilla method basically reflects the old school (I have one or two Description Key Sets) approach. Your users don’t have to pay much attention to Description Key Set Priority and/or get the feel for a more complex set of point display filters and sophisticated point display choices. There is less to do and therefore less to worry about.

Executing the Override Strategy in a Description Key Set  is simple.
Make sure EVERY Key has an explicit Point Style and Label Style assigned in the Key.
Every piece of point data that enters a drawing with this Description Key Set enabled will ALWAYS have a Point Style and Point Label style assigned to it.
In Civil 3D speak we are “forcing” the Point Style and Point Label Style properties of each and every point.

With this approach usually you also do the same SINGLE decision thing with the values in the Format column in each Desc Key. In other words, A Raw Code generates A Description.

Desc Keys with Style Label Style and Format Set

In the Desc Key examples shown above note the use of NCS 5.0 compliant layers tweaked to allow for easy infrastructure layer management in a civil/survey working environment.
The NCS "like" Point Style names (and associated NCS named blocks) make Style and graphic identification easy.
These are available in IOB, our NCS Symbol Set, and NCS Blocks Only products.

NCS Like Point Groups

Points that match NOTHING In the Description Key Set(s) float to the ever present “All Points” Point Group. The All Points Group (or another Point Group that collects every point) is assigned a Point Style and Label Style like “No_Match”, “Non-Standard”, or something like that.
This basic Civil 3D Point Group trick makes sure that you don’t lose out on the opportunity to see what might be uncoded in your point data on entrance. Everyone blows codes and/or miscodes points in the field.

No Match Styles in AllPoints

The Override approach almost assumes and sort of implies that ALL the points will also show up with some kind of symbol and some kind of label all the time. Yes, you could assign Styles and Labels that show nothing or use the Civil 3D null of “<none>” here and there. In the Override approach, however, this is the exception not the rule.
Override acts like the Get the Old Way Working approach I started off with and most of CAD folks are “used” to. It’s comfy. You can still change things and do more.

When you need to display points and/or point labels differently you create or edit Point Groups and employ the Override tab properties to force the filtered “matching” points to OBEY a Point Group Override.

A PointGroup With Overrides Set

What You See is What You Get

Your Civil 3D users really only have to worry about the Current Point Group Priority Order and the specifics of the Point Group definitions themselves.

Of course, Point Groups are drawing specific so you have to load named Point Group and their property values into your Civil 3D template or resort to other levels of Civil 3D trickery to move the Point Group definitions around.
I’ve covered some of those processes before – search for “Description Keys”.  I won’t go there again here.
See this post on how you might externalize the specific Point Group Property details from inside of Civil 3D in a systematic way. For those of you in AutoCAD Civil 3D 2013 you might try employing a similar tactic for Survey Query definitions.

The Override Method is good a producing consistent symbols and annotation.
ThIs sounds good.
It is good.

Oncoming Traffic

However, it also says that you and your users care about the final published representation of the point almost all the time.
Typically, users will also think and/or perceive that they have to manually edit more points and labels individually.

How they see the points will drive their “in drawing” production edit and point display behavior.
That behavior is ALREADY weighted towards exactly the individual point edit approach by their previous working CAD history and experience.
In the past we had limited point display and annotative choice.
All of that individual point handling has a hidden project man-hour backside to it.
Each manually tweaked point has to be maintained and maintained and maintained.

To put the petal to the metal and get more performance we have to look at the Civil 3D tools that are there right in front of us and find another way.

We’ll explore that next time when we discuss what I call the “Priority” or “Point Director” Method.