Most of my work has been in smaller residential projects and I just think it's over-kill. Vision-Rez must agree and had created their own one file/multi level approach though you can use the PN if you want. There are advantages to splitting files up. I still do that keeping entourage for rendering and the survey in separate files but on the main, it's all in the one file.
Just to clarify I am talking multi-storey residential or small commercial/industrial. If I were to do a larger many mutli-floor project again I would happily consider using the PN.
So what are the advantages to a one file approach and why would I bother?
- I can easily project a wall to a gable roof without having to copy a roof into my present construct (adding the layer), project and then delete the roof again. I don't need to draw a PLine either! It's all there.
- I can add a mutli-storey window to both floors without having to add an ME to subtract in the 2nd floor file or wall edit etc because it's in the same file! Just add the window as an interference to the 2nd wall - done.
- I only have to create object styles used on 2 or more levels once and if I edit, it's edited!
- If I edit a material for the ground floor, I don't have to copy/overwrite it/save/reload x-ref/regen in any other files to get it to the 2nd floor. This especially applies to render materials. Editing and copying across gets old real quick!
- I can create a file trail legacy by simply renaming the file, advancing a version No. without worrying about without messing up a PN file hierachy. (I have had files corrupt completely.)
- I can even create multi-floor walls that span more than one level though this may or may not be successful depending on the circumstances.
- I use only one stair and it's there, available to project walls to the u/side etc.
- Only one person can work on the project at one time - not quite true as you can either keep the model in a one file approach and x-ref that into other files to create elevations, sections, room layouts, details etc if required. These can be dropped back into the main file once completed for easy filing etc. Remember you can even import a page layout if it's been setup in a different file. You could also adopt a 1 file for the model approach and x-ref that into other drawings to document. This method would even work within the PN.
For most of my projects I have tried to create some degree of a rendered image, because I enjoy it. In ADT2006 each copy of a render material would come through the x-ref and you would end up with say 3 seperate copies of the same "ExtBrick". The new Mental Ray rendering engine in ACA2008 onwards is clever enough to assume the same name is the same material (but you can still end up with lots of materials anyway) so that's a big plus. (If I succeed in removing an unwanted Material from one file I don't have it come back again from the 2nd floor.)
I am intending to add future posts about how I set about to create 'a System' to achieve this approach and hope you come along for the ride. It may offer some other tips even if I don't convince you to have a go. It involved creating;
- A Layer Key Style that includes a layer designator. Early Autodesk Australia offered Australian content packs with ADT1 with 'L1-Wall' as the the layer designator. It seems they abandoned this approach when the PN came to power as it does away with any need for level designators in your layers (1 level per file) but it was interesting that they had it there at all. At some point they must have considered a one file multi floor approach. Oh and the level designator could be anywhere in your layer name such as A-Wall-L1.
- Ability to control the Z level and lock it at that. (So when you draw a 2nd floor wall it's at the 2nd floor level and doesn't snap to ground floor entities.
- Place to hold your different floor height levels (i.e. 2nd floor height above ground).
- Ability to efficiently switch between levels. (One big reason why I wanted to learn AutoLisp). This should automate this whole list here.
- Ability for a variety of options in layer display (ie. show 2nd floor with ground floor walls underlay, show ground floor electrical layout, roof or footing plan).
- Some simple additions to Display Representations to allow the change to the cutplane. (Don't worry this part is easy!)
Here's a quick preview
I type L1 and the drawing shows me the ground floor ready to draw.
I type L2 and the drawing shows the upper floor ready to draw.
I type L1E and the drawing shows me the ground floor electrical layout ready to draw.
and I think it really should be that simple.
If you want you could make a toolbar/pallete command/ribbon button to type L1 for you but typing is by far quicker.