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Thread: Standards in Storage Beyond Templates

  1. #1
    I could stop if I wanted to Clinton E. Hill's Avatar
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    Question Standards in Storage Beyond Templates

    Being the sole full-time production user on the only full-version AutoCAD (2012) seat as well as performing CAD manager duties in a manufacturing engineering support department, I have the following questions on storing CAD Standards data:

    1. Are there any other file type(s) besides the template . DWT file that you store your CAD Standard annotation styles under?
    2. Do you create and use CAD Standard customized programming routines to set variable and annotation styles? If so, which language(s) do you employ?
    3. Do you use LISP and/or other programming routines from the web to maintain CAD Standards-compliant DWG.'s? Some examples would be appreciated.
    4. Do you update existing and non-standard DWG files via customized programming routines? If so, which language(s) do you employ?

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Standards in Storage Beyond Templates

    1) I use a DWS file. DWS files are the standards files for AutoCAD; you make them much like templates, but they can be "plugged in" to the internal STANDARDS command to help with checking a drawing against standards. As such, you'll want one or more of those to contain every possible layer, dimstyle, etc. Though a little extra work and more files get involved, it's nice because you can put just the regularly used stuff into your templates, without cluttering them with every single possible-but-standardized variation.

    2-4) I've used simple copy-and-paste to command line lists for translating my standard details to older AutoCAD versions, but that's about it.
    2012-02-24: Finally got around to installing my home copy of AutoCAD... no longer relying on my horrible memory for "how-to" advice!

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    Default Re: Standards in Storage Beyond Templates

    1. Almost all of my standards information is now in XML format. It used to be in INI/CFG style format. In both cases, data is easier to modify than code. XML also has the benefit of being self-documenting via live XSL transform to HTML.

    2. Standard programming applied to all applications, clients, and users; the differences come from pointing to different data files on the basis its easier to point to a different file name than re-code endless variations/coding by exception. Most of it is LISP for ease of maintenance, with a sprinkling of C# when it is called for.

    3. Nothing from the web, all in-house, so it meets our needs. Virtually everything passes through the standards interface e.g. rather than setting a layer directly by, the standards system is told to set the layer which interprets the arguments based on the drawing settings. There are also generic add/update/remove/full/migrate tools to handle all settings at once.

    4. Sometimes we update existing drawings, but usually they are just plotted as thin-lines with the rest of the standards ignored.
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    Default Re: Standards in Storage Beyond Templates

    Calling Dgorsman...

    The XML paradigm is where I am headed as the self-documenting feature is more than worth the necessary pain associated with learning more about the XSL transform to HTML.

    On statement 2: Are the data files you mention in XML? If not, which format are they in? If the data is in more than one data file type, do all of the LISP files call all file extensions? In which type of data manipulation does the exclusive features of C#.NET come into use (that LISP doesn't have the capability)?

    Statement 3's comments covering setting manipulations are very interesting. Is this accomplished exclusively by LISP as well?

    The above comments that you provided are most appreciated!

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    Default Re: Standards in Storage Beyond Templates

    All of my common standards data is now in XML. There's a few legacy files in INI/CFG format for application-specific tools that aren't high priority for upgrading right now. Because of the way I designed the LISP-based standards interface nothing needed to change at the top levels after the migration, only a bit of coding inside the core functions ("get layer" and "set layer" for example still take the same arguments and return the same values). I used the migration of standards data to XML as a "springboard" to improve understanding of C# (e.g. object oriented design/inheritance, Dictionary and XRecord handling), all of it could be done in LISP but would require a *lot* more code to accomplish. Error handling is a little more robust in .NET, exception handling means you have a chance of fixing and continuing execution, whereas in LISP once you hit the *error* function thats it. If you do go the XML route, get familiar with XSD schema as well. It will work in various editors like Visual Studio to error-check the data files and provide some Intellisense for accepted values and structure.

    Settings manipulations are exclusively LISP. I developed them back when we were running AutoCAD 2005 which had barely any .NET support, and even under AutoCAD 2008 there was that steep learing curve/long development time. At some point I may re-do them with .NET, but the re-coding necessary for new versions (e.g. the 2012-2013 break to extension methods) is keeping that a low priority.
    If you are going to fly by the seat of your pants, expect friction burns.
    Some say beauty is in the eye of the Beholder... perhaps so, but I've only seen the disintegration beam.
    Everyone else being wrong is not the same thing as being right.

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    Default Re: Standards in Storage Beyond Templates

    I will dig into XML and XSD schema that you mentioned; and soon an instruction manual on ground floor C#.NET programming demanding frequent practice to master it will be added to my list of activities, too!
    As we share a common (process) industry, I have to ask if C#.NET has opened any customization of CADWorx Plant & P&ID to any great extent? If so, which tasks do you apply to it...or we could continue on the other discussion group if more appropriate.

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    Default Re: Standards in Storage Beyond Templates

    Not necessarily opened more doors, but its certainly made it easier to deal with certain aspects like dialog boxes and demand-loading tools. Most of my base-level functions have been unchanged for several years, requiring only minor maintenance so anything new is likely to be complex enough to warrant the additional overhead.

    To give some sense of the scale where I'm applying .NET over LISP:
    - generating ISOGEN FDF and ATT files for drawing/sheeting information instead of using VBA to try wringing something out of an inconsistent Excel line list
    - generic DLL to connect to a CADWorx database (Access *or* SQL Server), designed to be consumed by other applications
    - system to help with connecting the model to a purchasing database, as well as bulk processing a variety of reports for improved cost estimates
    - custom BOM extraction
    - updating attributes on isometric drawings from process data in a database instead of re-spinning isometrics simply to update some numbers or dealing with inconsistent Excel content
    If you are going to fly by the seat of your pants, expect friction burns.
    Some say beauty is in the eye of the Beholder... perhaps so, but I've only seen the disintegration beam.
    Everyone else being wrong is not the same thing as being right.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Standards in Storage Beyond Templates

    Dgorsman,

    Your examples are highly valued as I move forward in programming various applications using C#.NET, etc.

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