The Text Component Editor and Dragged States Settings (CAD Clinic: Civil 3D Tutorial)

31 Aug, 2007 By: Phillip Zimmerman

Adjust dragged state settings in AutoCAD Civil 3D.

A few month's ago, I began to define a Pin and Parcel Area label. The initial steps of defining a label occur in the Label Style Composer dialog box. This dialog box contains the Information, General, Layout, Dragged State and Summary tabs.

In the last article about creating styles, we looked at the Layout tab and its settings in detail. This month's "CAD Clinic: Civil 3D" installment concentrates on the Dragged State settings and using the label styles. After reviewing the dragged states for labels, we'll review specific label and object style display properties.

The first style property is display order. When defining parcels, there is a configurable display order for plotting the parcels correctly for a plat. For example, if a single-family parcel has a front yard line that is also a right-of-way (ROW) line, how does the ROW line plot and not the front yard line? It is done through a draw-order property of parcel object styles. This also means that you have Merge turned off at the plotter.

Dragged State
Civil 3D considers any label that has been moved from its original position to have been dragged. When dragging a label from its original position, Civil 3D looks at the Dragged State tab's settings. The Dragged State tab has two sections: Leader and Component. These sections define if a leader appears and the label's relocated behavior. When a label is moved, the orientation and plan view settings are respected. However, when moving the label, its component text layout may change radically.

Leader Section
The leader section of the Dragged States tab defines if and what characteristics a dragged label's leader possesses. The values set the type of arrowhead, visibility, its size, type, and other properties.

The Dragged State and its leader settings.

You change the arrowhead style by selecting its value and selecting a style from a list of predefined styles. A leader can be straight or A-splined.

In this section, by assigning leader properties, you can have a different color, linetype, and lineweight than the label text.

Dragged State Components
The Dragged State Component section defines the behavior of the label's text components. The primary setting in this section is Display. The display value defines the label's behavior when it's moved from its original position. Display has two values: Stacked Text (the default) and As Composed. When Display is set to Stacked Text, a label changes from its initial definition to a list of the label components.

Dragged State components.

The left side shows the original placement, and the right is the dragged state.

A dragged label that is stacked text can have a circular border, a background mask, a leader and border gap, a leader attachment, text height specification, and separate color, linetype, and lineweight assignments.

When you set Display to As Composed, labels anchored at their middle center have issues with the leader showing under the dragged label. Even setting a mask in the original component definition doesn't hide the leader emanating from the center of the label. You must define the original label's anchor point to be something other than the component's middle center (bottom or top center). This new anchor point sets the leader's attachment point to the dragged label's bottom or top center.

Middle center and bottom center anchor points.

Parcel and Its Label
When creating a parcel from objects or with the Layout Tools toolbar, you assign each new parcel a style and an area label. There is no obvious setting that assigns a Parcel ID Number (PIN) as you create parcels. You must add PINs after defining them. Each PIN is a user-defined property of a parcel. After adding the PIN to the parcel property, the parcel label updates to show the assigned PIN number.

Component Layout Display Order
A label may contain multiple components. A multiple-component label may need a component draw order to correctly display the label. The draw order for a label's components is found in the Layout tab of the style. All label styles have an icon (to the right of the red X) that displays the component list and sets their display order.

Draw-order settings for a complex label.

The Component Draw Order dialog box lists all of the label's components and their drawing order. The initial order is the order of their definition with the last defined at the top of the list. You must adjust the list if you need a specific item to always be on top. The draw order also is an effective way of setting a mask so that it's always below a label's text.

Parcel-Style Draw Order
When defining parcels, there's a specific set of lines that must plot to create a correct submission document. For example, the outer boundary of the site always shows, the ROW lines overwrite the single-family lines, etc. When using only layers, how do you make sure that a line represented on three layers always plots correctly? This situation is where the draw-order setting for parcel styles comes in handy.

Parcel line draw order.

In the figure above, the draw order for parcel styles is bottom to top, or property to Site. Because the Parcel styles have different layers and properties and they overlap, there has to be a way to correctly plot overlapping lines. The Parcel style display order solves this problem. With Site as the last drawn style, it's always above the lower styles. This is why the site line covers the road and single-family linework in the figure above.

The only place you assign the display order is in the Parcel properties of a site's parcel list. This is where you assign the Site style as the outer boundary style. You must assign the style, exit, and then reenter to see the Site style as an entry on the list. After Site is on the list, you can select a style and move it up and down the list using the up and down arrows to the right of the list. To plot correctly, you must turn merge OFF on the plotter driver. If you don't toggle merge off, the plot will show the merged, overlapping lines.

Wrapping Up
A label, when moved from its original position, has settings in the Dragged State tab affecting its format. The tab defines two controls: Leader and Component. The Leader section affects the arrowhead style, size, type of leader, visibility, and other important values.

The Component section has two states: Stacked Text and As Composed. When setting the display to Stacked Text, all of the Text Components from the Layout tab convert to a list of stacked text entries. You have control over border, mask, color, linetype, and lineweight properties. If you toggle Display to As Composed, the label remains as defined in the Layout tab. You may have to adjust the text's anchoring point to avoid the leader showing through the label.

All labels that contain multiple layout components have a display-order control. This control is a bottom-to-top, first-to-last drawn list. The items on the top of the list are drawn last, ensuring their display. Similarly, the parcel node in Prospector defines a drawing order for parcel styles. This is also a bottom-to-top, first-to-last drawn list. The style at the top overlays any overlapping styles lower on the list. It ensures that overlapping lines plot correctly on your document.

About the Author: Phillip Zimmerman

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