AEC Tech News (#314)

3 May, 2012 By: Cadalyst Staff

NCS: Common Language for CAD Users

Version 5 of the U.S. National CAD Standard is available in an online, searchable format to further streamline collaboration at every stage of a building project.

By Gregory L. Jordan

United States National CAD StandardFor CAD-dependent firms in the fields of architecture, engineering, construction, and even facilities management, there exists a simplified, consistent approach to finding, understanding, maintaining, and sharing information in every set of drawings at every stage of the project. That approach is the U.S. National CAD Standard (NCS). Today's NCS is seamlessly integrated with building information modeling (BIM) and is available in an online, easily searchable format.

A Common Language

For many CAD users, coordinating between design and engineering firms on projects can be complicated. Individual companies typically have unique standards — an internal set of preferences that have been developed over the years that dictate how work is to be completed. Moving from one project to the next, CAD users may get confused, as every organization involved essentially speaks a different language. Moreover, on any given project, a CAD user often must coordinate across multiple software platforms and file types, piecing together details from different contributors, each with their own standard. Deciphering and translating the various approaches takes a substantial amount of time, slowing productivity and contributing to costly revisions. How much easier would it be if there were a common language for design data?

Thankfully, NCS is such a language. More than 5,000 workplaces across the country and overseas recognize NCS as the "language" of design data, just as many countries acknowledge English as the language of business.

Since 1997, professionals and companies have been using NCS to simplify their workflow. NCS is an evolving document that continues to respond to the needs of its CAD community through the National Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS) NCS Project Committee. The NIBS NCS Project Committee, the body tasked with the continued update of the existing standard, vets and approves through the NIBS NCS consensus process, input from users and industry leaders to refine the standard. This process ensures broad, democratic participation by all interested persons and organizations. It provides a framework for coordinating and integrating previously independent parts. Additionally, it establishes a mechanism for revising the constituent documents to meet the needs of the broadest possible spectrum of users. Read more »

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Gregory L. Jordan is the Software Asset Manager for Dewberry, secretary of the U.S. National CAD Standard Steering Committee, and a member of the NCS Civil Task Team.


Circles and Lines Tutorial:
Don't Be Shy — Try Out the New UI!

AutoCAD introduces plenty of reasons to move beyond that old, familiar user interface.

By Lynn Allen

It seems that each new release of AutoCAD includes at least a minor tweak to its UI (user interface). AutoCAD 2012 and 2013 are no exceptions: they have added a couple of really nice features. It's natural to gravitate to the familiar UIs of releases past, but you really should give these new features a try!

New Modern Command Line

We all use the Command line from time to time — no matter how ribbon-savvy we are! One of my favorite AutoCAD improvements is the new AutoComplete feature. AutoComplete appears at the Command line as soon as you start keying in characters, with the goal of saving you valuable typing time. AutoComplete displays all the commands and system variables that begin with the keyed-in characters. This comes in especially handy when you can't quite remember how to spell a particular system variable!

Of course you can turn off this great new feature, but why would you? A right-click at the Command line displays additional controls for this new feature. Read more »

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Autodesk Technical Evangelist Lynn Allen writes Cadalyst's Circles and Lines column and is the voice behind Cadalyst's AutoCAD video tips.



Mark Your Calendar: AEC Events


Visualize, Process, and Manage Point Cloud Data
May 9, 2012
11 a.m. ET
This complimentary webinar from Bentley Systems will explain how the company's point cloud software solution enables point cloud processing and management for infrastructure workflows. Read more »

RTC Australasia
May 24–26, 2012
New South Wales, Australia
RTC is an independent conference covering all things related to Autodesk Revit and BIM (building information modeling). Read more »

Meet Vectorworks Architect
May 31, 2012
2 p.m. ET
Wes Gardner of Nemetschek Vectorworks will host this 30-minute overview presentation about Vectorworks Architect software. Attendees will learn about the software's capabilities and functions, such as customized wall styles and smart parametric objects, and about collaboration in a BIM (building information modeling) workflow. Read more »

For a complete list of CAD meetings, conferences, training sessions, and more, check out our calendar of events on Are you hosting an event that you would like to include in our calendar? Submit details at least two weeks in advance to


What’s New at


Cadalyst Poll: How Much Do You Spend on Your CAD Workstation?
Do you ever wonder how much money your peers spend on their CAD systems? Simply scroll to the bottom of the Cadalyst home page and vote in the latest Cadalyst poll to find out! You can even bookmark the results page and come back later, to see how the results change as more voters weigh in.

CADspeed Blog Post:
Hardware Requirements Released for AutoCAD 2013

Autodesk has released the platform and system requirements for AutoCAD 2013, which was launched on March 27, 2012. Read more »

CAD Manager's Toolbox: How to Handle Problem Users When You're Not Their Boss
If there's a bad apple in your department who's causing trouble for other CAD users, try this approach to turn things around. Read more »

Mobile CAD, the Cloud, and Management Mayhem
Will the big changes in store wreak havoc with your workflows? They don't have to, if you keep a few basic principles in mind. Read more »

AutoCAD Tip – Create Smart Geometry Automatically
We all want smart geometry, right? AutoCAD 2011 added the Infer Constraints tool to the status bar to help you automatically create geometry with a higher IQ. In this video tip from Cadalyst and Lynn Allen, you'll see just how easy it is to bump up the intelligence of your AutoCAD objects with little or no effort whatsoever. Read more »

All-in-One CAD Tip #3: Rename Xref Layers in AutoCAD, Customize Inventor Ribbon, Update Your Resume
Discover how to improve AutoCAD file management by renaming xref files; customize your Autodesk Inventor ribbon menu; and keep your resume updated, just in case. Sponsored by the HP Z1 All-in-One Workstation, the world's first all-in-one 27" workstation. Read more »

About the Author: Cadalyst Staff

Cadalyst Staff

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AutoCAD Tips!

Lynn Allen

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