November 14, 2011

The Best and Worst Thing About AutoCAD

First, I remember my English teacher telling me not to use the word "thing". Oh well (or is that oh good?)

I tell my students this all the time. "The best thing about AutoCAD is you can create as many layers as you want. Can you guess the worst thing about AutoCAD? The worst thing about AutoCAD is that you can create as many layers as you want."

Layers are a great way to organize your drawing. However, there are some well known best practices when it comes to layers. First, use only as many layers as you need. Do not create a bunch of layer just because you can. Too many layers just means more layers to turn on and off, freeze or thaw. Do you need a separate layer for desks and chairs or can you put them on one layer called furniture? Maybe you do and maybe you don't. If you haven't thought about it before, maybe this will get you thinking. I know one firm that puts stairs and elevators on the same layer; it works for them.

Second, I recommend using a layer naming convention. I would really like to DEMAND that you use a layer naming convention but America is free country, so I'll let you choose. Here is what I tell my students: As you read the layer name from left to right, the layer name should be more general on the left and gets more specific as you move to the right.

I can name a layer NEW WALLS but a better way to name the layer is A-WALLS-NEW. I start "A" for architecture, "WALLS" for well.... walls. "NEW" describes a more specific wall, a new wall. I could then do a DEMO wall and a LOW wall. Don't forget about the first rule above though, only make as many layers as you need. Another reason for following this layer naming convention is to help alphabetically group layers together.Which layer list to the right is more organized?

Notice how all my architectural layers are grouped together and how all my furniture layers are grouped together.

The best thing about AutoCAD can be better if you follow these two simple rules.
Mark Petrucci

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