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I agree that developing SEAOC-wide CAD standards is a non-productive effort
due to the variations in office setups, cad programs, etc. from office to
office. However, there are many issues that can be shared here that can help
each of us become more productive in preparing our drawings. In setting up
framing and foundation plans, the system I use is productive for me but
might not be for others. Below is a description of how I organize my
drawings in case it is a system that others my want to use. I have been
working with CAD drawings for ten years and AutoCAD for the past seven
years. My next project will be done in R14. I use a 3rd party package to
help automate some of my functions, but my system will work with AutoCAD (or
any other system) without any add-in packages.

I too XREF (external reference) my client's drawings into mine and draw the
structural items over them. I may be getting away from this because the
drawings I get are usually not very well organized (at least for my setup)
or not drawn very efficiently. I am pondering just tracing over my client's
drawings and keeping all of the information I need "native" in my drawings.
Regardless, I have my foundation and framing plans in one drawing (.dwg)
file. I change views (foundation plan, 2nd floor framing plan, etc.) by
turning on and off (freeze/thaw) layers. With regards to layer names, I use
a modified version of the AIA CAD layer standards, long version. A generic
layer name that I use is:


S is the "Trade" modifier (S indicates structural, A for architectural, C,
M, E, L etc.)
AAAA is the item name like:
COLS for columns
NOTE, TEXT, TXTS (small text)
DIML (dimensions)
FRBM (framing beam)
FRJO (framing joist)
PATT (hatch patterns)
TTLB (title block information)
WABG (bearing wall)
WANB (non-bearing wall)
WASW (shear wall)
REVS (revision clouds), can be REV1, REV2, etc.
SLAB (slab edge)
RBAL (longitudinal slab reinforcement)
RBAT( trans. slab reinforcement)
etc. Notice all of the layer names are four characters.

BBBB is the level of the framing.
FL00  is foundation
FL02 is 2nd floor framing (FL01 is used for first floor walls)
ROOF is roof framing
MEZZ, PENT, BASE can also be used

CCCC is optional and is intended for remodel work.
EXIS is existing to remain
PROP is new construction
DEMO is work to be demolished

By using this system, it is easy to write script files (in AutoCAD) which
will turn on and off these layers. The reason to limit the layer names to
four characters is so that wild cards can be used when turning on and off
layers. For example if one wanted to freeze all of the foundation layers and
thaw all of the 2nd floor framing layers, this is what you would do either
from the keyboard or in a script file:


A script file in AutoCAD is like a macro that is an ASCII text file. A lot
of people are intimidated by these, but they are really simple. To create a
script file while at the AutoCAD command prompt type "edit". AutoCAD will
ask you what file do you want to edit. Let's say for the above sample, your
project name is "7000" and the sheet number for the 2nd floor framing plan
is sheet S2.2. You could create a script named "7000s22.scr". Since this
file does not yet exist, you will get a blank DOS edit screen. At that
point, all you do is enter the above commands and do a "File, Save".

At the AutoCAD command prompt, type "script", you will then get a dialog box
with a list of script files (*.scr) from which you select "7000s22.scr".

There are much better instructions about script files in AutoCAD books. I
just wanted to show the concept. By keeping all of the framing and
foundation information in the same drawing, changes are easier and it is
easier to see if a post is supported by framing below just by turning on and
off layers.

That's my two cents worth (O.K., maybe a buck fifty)

Bill Allen
-----Original Message-----
From: Dennis S. Wish PE <wish(--nospam--at)>
To: 'seaoc(--nospam--at)' <seaoc(--nospam--at)>
Date: Saturday, October 25, 1997 3:07 PM

>-----Original Message-----
>From: ITSEKSON SASHA [SMTP:itsekson(--nospam--at)]
>Sent: Friday, October 24, 1997 5:17 PM
>I guess you answered your question.  The response from the list
>server has been, so far, as apathetic as the rest of the  SEAOC
>membership.  I do think though that there is a need to develop
>some CAD guidelines to help engineering community to standardize
>the way our drawings look and to reduce the retraining period
>for new employees.
>I see the need to address this especially for the smaller firms,
>because they do not have enough resources to develop their own
>complete CAD standards.
>Larger companies though will continue to use what they have
>developed so far, because of the human's nature to resist the
>change, and because of the differences in their areas of
>expertise and personal preferences of their CAD managers.
>Sasha Itsekson, P.E.
>Eichleay Engineers
>Speaking strictly from a small office perspective, I do not see
>the necessity in developing a standard that are clients
>(architects and designers) will not follow. For each different
>client, there is a different standard that their drafting
>support has developed.
>I work from my clients background via X-referencing. This does
>not load the drawing into mine, but stays in the background like
>a slide. This is far more practical since my designers and
>architects tend to make many last minute changes that prevent me
>from working on their backgrounds.
>BTW, our lack of response is not due to general apathy. I
>believe it is simply not an issue we are concerned with and need
>not take the time to respond. I believe that James original
>question assumed that if there was no response, then the issue
>was moot.
>If you are interested, my system is very simple and straight
>Sheet numbering:
>S1.0 - S1.x General Notes and Specifications
>S2.0 - S2.x  Framing Plans and Foundation Plans
>S3.0 - S3.x  Details
>Cad Layers
>Frmg_ Same as above
>Roof_Same as above
>There are minor variations within each layer, but this is the
>clearest way that I can work. Again, I don't concern myself with
>what the architect or designer is doing since I do not work on
>his sheets.
>Another advantage to designing by way of referencing is that he
>has prepared the background showning the slab edges and all I
>need to do is dimension them and add the shear information.
>If you wish to discuss Xref or any cad method for production
>usage, I'd be happy to jump in.
>Dennis S. Wish PE