As part of achieving our goal of being ‘Productive on Day One’, DraftLogic Electrical needed to include a robust set of building electrical systems engineering symbols and layers. The 350+ symbols are organized into categories like luminaires, receptacles, fire signaling, nurse call, and more. DraftLogic Electrical automatically places symbols and lines, that either the designer or DraftLogic Electrical selects for placement, on the proper layer of the over 60 included layer definitions. The supplied symbols and layers and their automatic selection together form an integrated set of CAD Standards.
For companies who do not yet have a unified set of blocks and layers to work from, this makes DraftLogic Electrical that much more valuable—as they get all the performance gains plus their offices will now produce standardized and interchangeable drawings. Staying with the included CAD standards carries the benefit of ‘zero cost’ version updates—no extra work or risk in regards to CAD standards to update to our latest release.
Deciding Between Existing Standards and DraftLogic Electrical Standards
For companies that have invested effort in creating their own CAD standards already, there are some decisions to make. If the CAD standards included in DraftLogic Electrical will be of equal net value to the clients of the firm, the logical decision is to simply adopt DraftLogic Electrical as-is—there is no risk nor extra cost in doing so whereas there is both risk and cost associated with any other option. We realize that logic does not always rule the day, however, as some within the firm will no doubt be attached to the CAD standards that they personally worked long and hard to foster the creation and adoption of. Accountants have a term that is applicable in this case—‘sunk cost’. Sunk cost refers to expenditures that have been made and cannot be recovered, so they essentially should not be factored into current decisions. So although it may be true that $50,000 in person time was invested in building CAD standards, that money spent should not be a factor when considering the adopting of a new standard that comes at a zero dollar cost—as long as the standards being compared both meet the needs of your clients.
In the case where any mix of client-utility or politics dictate that you cannot use the CAD standards included with DraftLogic Electrical as-is, there are a number of actions to consider, each coming with its own pros & cons. An explanation of each follows.
Cost of the changes are: A) the initial time spent on the symbol and/or layer changes and testing results to verify all is good, which can be ten minutes to forty five minutes per symbol/layer (there are about 400 blocks and sixty layers, hopefully changes are needed in only a handful); B) time for DraftLogic to keep a change log of symbol and layer changes between version releases; and C) time with each new version for the client firm to execute the changes to symbols and layers to catch their customized symbols up to the DraftLogic Electrical standard ones. It is highly likely that the changes to symbols and layers between versions will be quite rare, but there is the possibility that a new functional requirement impacts many of the symbols, perhaps requiring an attribute update but not affecting geometry. Given the balance of probabilities, further change after your initial changes should be minor. Initial change cost will be driven by the number of symbols/layers desired to be changed and the extent of changes.
Symbol geometry is the compilation of simple entities to make a unified whole. Changes to symbol geometry are easy, low risk, and low effort. For example, our duplex receptacle is made of a circle with two lines. In this section, we contemplate changes only to the geometry—see the following sections in regards to symbol names and attributes.
Symbol appearance can be modified by either replacing the DraftLogic Electrical symbol’s geometry or by changing it. The only constraint in this regard is ensuring to add ‘snap points’ at locations similar to where the existing symbols have them, as these snap points are how the branch circuit wiring code is told to connect symbols when it is automatically drawing lines. Symbol insertion points must also be kept in the same relative positions so that the DraftLogic Electrical automatic snapping and rotating continue to work as designed.
Symbol attributes are a type of data that is attached to each instance of a symbol in a drawing. Attributes can be visible (i.e. you see them in model space and thus in plots) or invisible (i.e. you only see them in the attribute editor or properties dialog in AutoCAD, not on the plots). Some examples of attributes are circuit numbers or mounting heights.
The attributes that exist on DraftLogic Electrical symbols are mostly needed by the software to perform its many functions. Any attributes that the software depends on cannot be renamed or deleted without requiring changes to the code. Whether a particular attribute is visible or invisible can be changed as desired since that setting does not at all impact DraftLogic Electrical’s automation. Since the names of the attributes are never seen on plots (just the values held within visible attributes show up on plots), clients should not be concerned about particular attribute names. Changes to existing attribute names, either renaming or deleting, will thus have to be carefully considered on a case-by-case basis—and in most cases, changes to existing attribute names will not be feasible.
Adding attributes to existing symbols will not cause any issues on its own, but our enhanced attribute editor does need database entries for each added symbol attribute for control information. You will need to maintain a script to run in order to add your additive attributes after a database update from us.
Symbol names are referenced extensively in the control databases and to some degree in the application code. Any symbol that is proposed to have its name changed must have the commensurate change done to the control database. The application code must also be completely checked to ensure that any required commensurate changes are done. It is important to note that clients will not see the symbol names unless they load the project DWGs in AutoCAD and browse the symbol properties—symbol names do not show in any floor plan plots or regularly used schedules (including the Legend of Symbols which only uses an easily changed alias). The changing of any of the existing symbol’s names is not recommended.
Most of the supplied symbols are referenced extensively in the control databases and to some degree in the application code. Any symbol that is proposed to be deleted must have the commensurate change done to the control database, the tool palettes, and the tool bars (if used). The application code must also be completely checked to ensure that any required commensurate changes are done. If referenced by any application code, symbols desired to be deleted need to be replaced by something that can fill the same role. Needless to say, the removal of any of the existing symbols is not recommended.
Adding symbols will not harm the application but will require additions to the control database. These additions will need to be redone each time we release a new version that includes an update to the control database. We strongly recommend that you send desired block additions to us for review by all our clients. If the client base generally approves of an addition, we will modify our block library to include it. Thus future updates of DraftLogic Electrical will include the new block and you won’t have to restore a separate block library, control database, and tool palette after each version update.
LAYERS COLORS AND LINE TYPES
Layer colors and line types are easily managed for your site using the ‘Select Layer Colors’ function on the DL Electrical menu. Changes to the layer colors and line types will not affect any of DraftLogic Electrical’s operations so you should feel free to modify them if desired. Note that the layer coloring and line types are maintained for the site as a whole, not per workstation. The database tables affected by these changes can reasonably easily be retained during a site update of the DraftLogic Electrical—it is very important, however, to let us know if you have done any layer customizing prior to us executing an update so we know whether to retain the layer color and line type data or not.
You already have complete control over the plot appearance using standard AutoCAD ctb files to dicate how each color in AutoCAD appears in your printed/plotted output. DraftLogic Electrical does not affect your complete control of this.
Most of the supplied layers are referenced extensively in the control databases and to some degree in the application code. Any layer that is proposed to be deleted or have its name changed must have the commensurate change done to the control database. The application code must also be completely checked to ensure that any required commensurate changes are done. If referenced by any application code, layers desired to be deleted need to be replaced by something that can fill the same role. Needless to say, the removal of any of the existing layers is not recommended.
Adding layers will not harm the application but will require additions to the control database. These additions will need to be redone (usually using a reusable database script) each time we release a new version that includes an update to the control database.
EXTENSIVE CHANGES OR MULTIPLE STANDARDS TO SUPPORT
Another option for situations where a client requires their symbols to be used on a job is to write an AutoCAD script that performs a block replacement for each DraftLogic Electrical symbol that needs to change into a client’s symbol. The script would be reusable for all deliveries of the job in question in addition to future jobs for the same client. The working drawing would thus stay in DraftLogic Electrical format & the designer would just run this quick script on a copy of the working drawing that would be used for each delivery to the client.
CAD STANDARDS SUMMARY
We hope the above content has helped you to understand the implications of the various types of symbol and layer changes that you may be thinking of. We urge you to think carefully of if your firm truly needs to depart from our supplied standards or if your clients will instead be happy with our CAD standards…or perhaps not notice any change except the more robust deliverables you will be making with DraftLogic Electrical!