Friday, June 27, 2008

Plot file standard -- STB or Not STB?

I have moved to the AEC Standard.stb plot style and boldy declare that it is the best and you must all change over so we can be on the same page (ducking for cover now).

The problem I found using ctb's is that I was trying to use colour to do two different things – ie. a colour of an object in 3D and in plan view a pen thickness. Now I know that these can be separated using the DispReps but I have found it so much easier now that they are not linked. Because I have always sought to do 3d renders for everything (spent way too much time) I really notice the ease with which I can operate compared to using a ctb file. Lots of items in my schemes will not have a render material added and just rely on the objects colour. For a simple column or window frame colour, you may not need the extra rendering time required in adding reflection etc to make the material more realistic as the item is thin or not prominent. Being able to change the colour on the fly and know it will not change printed output is great. If you work for a big firm then the plot file used will probably be a much bigger decision and out of your hands but if you are a small or one man band then I encourage you to take a look. If you like the idea that you can 'see' on screen pen thickness by colour then you can still apply the colour (near) to the layer and get the same effect. One reason I bring this up is that, as I work on content to share, I realise the impact of us all using different schemes and how it makes OOTB difficult to achieve. Indeed this is one of the great strengths of that frog sounding competitor in that it doesn't allow so many options. I hear that it's WYSIWIG all the way. So by demanding individuality we make it more difficult to help each other. But then we are involved in architecture aren't we!

I know one person out there who likes to print drawings in colour and by using an stb file he has freedom between colour and pen thickess. He is using the AIA Colour.stb.

If you open stb templates in 08/09 you will see that Adesk ACA team have moved to the AEC Standard.stb file as it's default. So it's OOTB! It's a simpler standard whereby in the plot style only Saturation (Full,50%,25%), Standard (Colour) and invisibility are provided. The actual pen thickness is set in layer or overridden in Style or object. I think it's simpler than the AIA Standard.stb and gives you a little more flexibility.

If you search on the newsgroups ("Plot Styles") you can find a number of discussion about this topic. I did that to try and decide if it was worth changing, the advantages and the implications. Since changing, I have had to do some work in updating files that I want in the new standard but it didn't take too long (that depends on how you've set things up of course). Someone posted affirming AEC Standard.stb and I thought it sounded the most straight forward. Of course you may have good reasons for staying with your present system but if you are struggling and looking for something better then I recommend moving to AEC Standard.stb.

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