SpecChecker expert cuts through CAD standards confusion.

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By Eiren Smith, Axiom’s Vice President for Technology
There are a million and one different CAD standards: national standards, client standards, project standards and company standards, ad hoc standards defined by CAD managers. It’s a very big field. When it comes to enforcement of CAD standards, even at a small shop, it’s hard to get things to hold still long enough to figure out where to begin.

With so many CAD standards possibilities, it can be easy to get bogged down with choices

The majority of CAD standards enforcement consists of checking attributes of individual elements. The most common element attributes MicroStation CAD managers want to check and enforce are level, color, weight, style, type, font, text size and cell name.

By laying out the basics simply, I hope to remove confusion and help you define the best CAD standards compliance path for you.

Choose your CAD standards
There are numerous milestones at which users may check their design files for CAD standards compliance. Some users check their own files; some rely on others to check their files for them. Some companies check all submitted design files for standards compliance upon receipt and some companies check all files before those files leave their doors on their way to the client. In addition to these major milestones, many companies also want to check every element as it is created or modified, immediately notifying the user when he violates the current standard.

The first thing you need to do is decide — or find out — what standard or standards you are going to enforce.

Once you know what standards you’ll be enforcing, you’re a third of the way there.

Decide when to check CAD standards
The next step is to decide when you want to check your design files for standards compliance. Do you want users to be notified the moment they create a non-conforming element? If so, you need to use SpecMonitor. Most companies that use SpecMonitor still use SpecChecker for checking entire files (as SpecMonitor only checks for violations as they are committed) or multiple design files all at once. They check partial and full submittals and, sometimes, entire projects at regular intervals, such as every two weeks. On the client end, they often check all submitted files before accepting the submission. They use SpecChecker to do all of this.

SpecChecker main dialog box

As a rule of thumb, it is usually a good idea to at least check your files for standards compliance whenever those files change hands, be it from one department to another in your firm, between you and your client or between you and subcontractors. It is generally agreed that checking your files for standards compliance for the first time near the end of the project is dangerously late.

If you’ve decided how often to check your files for CAD standards compliance, you’re two-thirds of the way there.

Define your rules
By now you should know which standard you want to enforce and have decided when you want to check your design files for compliance with it. Whether you need SpecChecker or SpecMonitor, or both, you need to tell them what exact standards you want to enforce. You do this by defining what we call “rules.” Rules are your CAD standards in a form SpecChecker and SpecMonitor can understand. SpecChecker and SpecMonitor make it very easy for you to get your standards defined in rules. Using the included Rule Wizard tool, which is available from SpecChecker’s main menu or from within the stand-alone rule management tool, RuleManager, which is delivered with both SpecChecker and SpecMonitor, you can easily create rules to enforce your CAD standards. The Rule Wizard will help you create your rules interactively.

Once you’ve defined your rules, you’ve completed the third and final major step and are officially on road to CAD standards compliance.

We understand that CAD users’ needs vary and there is no one right way to help all users enforce all standards in all scenarios — it takes judgement and requires very flexible tools. SpecChecker and SpecMonitor are designed to provide you with the means to make your own choices based on your project demands, personal style and situation.

And to help you further, Axiom has expert trainers and technical support staff on-hand five days a week to help you get started with SpecChecker and SpecMonitor and to provide you with creative solutions to whatever standards enforcement demands you can think up. If you need any more help, give us a call.

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