Toolspace and Its Settings (CAD Clinic: Civil 3D Tutorial)

31 Jan, 2009 By: Phillip Zimmerman

A look the relationships and settings in the Toolspace Settings tab.

Editor's Note: This tutorial courtesy of Imaginit

For all the time I have spent on Styles, I haven't tried to explain the myriad of relationships and settings in Toolspace's Settings tab. First Toolspace's Settings is a hierarchical tree. In other words, settings at the tree's top push down to each branch's end. Secondly, at critical tree-branch points, any setting can be changed. Thirdly, the change's scope depends on where in the tree the change is made.

The Hierarchical Tree
Setting's hierarchical tree pushes two groups of settings: object settings and label style settings.

Objects - Edit Drawing Settings
Units and Zone, Object Layers, and Ambient settings, affect object layers, listings, listing and reporting defaults, and commands.

Object Layers
Edit Drawing Setting's Object Layers panel defines layers for all Civil 3D object types.

Edit Drawing Settings - Object Layers panel.

An object needs a layer assignment to exist in a drawing. This panel defines an object's drawing layer. Each object layer can have a prefix or suffix and a value. The prefix or suffix's value is generally the object's name. For example, the alignment layer with a suffix modifier and a suffix's value of -* (dash asterisk); the asterisk forces the use of the alignment's name. For an alignment named OAK, the resulting object layer is C-ROAD-OAK. By assigning a prefix or suffix to an object layer, the objects will use the same root layer name, but have a unique layer name based on the object's name. Because each object has its own layer, you are able to Freeze the object's layer without affecting other objects of the same type.

The new object layer C-ROAD-OAK has the same layer properties as the root layer C-ROAD.

The object components will use a layer list defined in the object style.

Object Label Layers
The Object Layers panel also defines an object's label layer, such as surface contour labels. If you review the Civil 3D Imperial template surface contour label styles, their General tab assigns different layers for the existing or proposed labels. When assigning a specific label layer, you have to define specific layers for existing and proposed surface labels. If your drawing has two proposed surfaces, using the proposed labels creates labels using the same layer for two differently named surfaces. Because the proposed labels are on the same layer, there is no way to independently display one proposed surface's labels.

However, would it not make more sense to have the label layers contain the surface's name, i.e. the label layer is appended by the object's name. For example, the existing surface labels would be on C-TOPO-TEXT-EXISTING and the proposed surface labels would be on C-TOPO-TEXT-PROPOSED. When working with alignment labels, the need to have independent control of each alignment's labels becomes even more important.

To force any Civil 3D label to an Object Layer value, in the style's General panel, you need to set the label layer to 0 (zero). Setting the style's layer to 0 (zero) forces the style to use the Object Layer values to create and assign a layer. In Figure 2, the Object Layer value for TIN Surface – Labeling is set to C-TOPO-TEXT with a Suffix modifier and its value set to -* (dash followed by an asterisk). The asterisk concatenates the root layer name with the object's name. This method reduces the number of label styles. The newly created layer has the same properties as the root layer (C-TOPO-TEXT).

Assigning an Object Layer for Annotation. The Edit Drawing Settings dialog box is the only place to create and edit Object Layer values.

Ambient Settings
The Ambient Settings panel affects how Civil 3D prompts and reports values. Ambient settings do not affect label settings. For example, when entering directions, Ambient settings set the default precision, quadrant, and bearing format.

Ambient Settings Direction Values.

With Figure 3's settings, when using the Bearing Distance transparent override, the direction prompts for input as surveyor decimal degrees, minutes, and seconds (Input: dd.mmssss (decimal dms)). With these settings and using the Bearing Distance Transparent Command override, the prompts for Line changes to quadrants, bearings, and distances.

Command: l LINE Specify first point:
Specify next point or [Undo]: '_BD
Quadrants - NE = 1, SE = 2, SW = 3, NW = 4
>>Specify quadrant (1-4): 1
Current direction unit: degree, Input: DD.MMSSSS (decimal dms)
>>Specify bearing: 37.3342
>>Specify distance: 224.54
Resuming LINE command.
Specify next point or [Undo]: (271.866 4894.59 0.0)

Unlike Object Layers, Ambient settings can be changed at branching points in the Settings tree (the object node and command). Where you edit Ambient Settings also affects the change's scope. If editing Ambient settings at the drawing level (Edit Drawing Settings), the change affects all objects. If editing Ambient settings at the Feature level (Edit Feature Settings), the change affects only that branch. When editing Ambient settings at the Command level, the changes affect only that command. Why so many places? Simply, it is a mater of control and change of standards.

When implementing Civil 3D, we think so much about layers, layer properties, and how things look. Yet, there is another aspect to an implementation; how things should behave. The questions to ask are, does everyone use decimal degree entry? If so, then setting this ambient value at the drawing level insures all objects will use this method. If the answer is everyone but surfaces, then you must edit Surface's Feature settings so the entire surface branch uses it own special value. Changing the value at the feature level affects everything in the branch using the changed value. If the answer is just this or that command uses a different value, then the change occurs in the command's copy of ambient settings and the scope of change affects only that command.

About the Author: Phillip Zimmerman

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