Both AutoCAD Architecture & MEP have Project Standards tools to synchronise AEC content throughout the files that make up project(s). These tools arrived back in ADT 2006 and have been refined over the years. They now are found in the Project Browser (below) and Ribbon>Manage>Project Standards panel (right).
There are functions to manage object versions within Master/Project files, control how changes are transferred to projects and to import settings from a template into your existing projects. However, one thing that’s missing is a way to confirm the project you are working with has the current project standards configuration applied.
For those working job by job it’s not a big issue as you’ll likely have different project specific standards for each client/project. However, where projects are being used to manage multiple facilities over a long term its important to know that you are getting the latest content from the right place.
I found a simple way to have ACA/AMEP warn you when a Project’s Standards Configuration needs updating. This post started out as a quick tip about that but, as you can see, grew. If you’re already familiar with Project Standards work scroll down to the tip in the section “Are my AEC Project Standards current? How ACA can tell you!” marked with a red headline, otherwise read on!
Project Standards are one of the most powerful tools in ACA/AMEP for reducing the workload when things change as they eliminate the overhead of transferring style changes between files.
But first, how are content standards managed?
Project Standards use content stored in master file(s) to manage content in project(s). In brief, any style based content (objects, property data and display) in project files will be updated to match its “parent” in that project’s assigned standards files.
This happens as project files are opened/saved, while you work, or en-mass when a project is “Synchronised” by the operator. This “magic” allows a change made in a standards file to propagate through hundreds of projects, thousands of files. This is achieved with little effort other than editing and versioning the style, updating the master, then getting on with your work.
Style Versions manage Object/Display setting updates
The styled objects have version control enabling changes to be tracked. Below you can see a MV Block that has just been versioned. Clicking “Version” on the Version History tab will prompt ACA to record who made the change (logon), when it happened and prompt for an optional comment.
The key to the system is that GUID generated by ACA when you version the content. If, like below, an old style suddenly changes you can see who, when and (if they added a comment) why in a report ACA generates.
You can edit and version styles directly in the master standards drawing but I don’t recommend this as locks the file for other users. I prefer to edit the content in a Project File, version the style, then push the changes back to the master files. When you close a Project File the Update Project Standards dialog will appear and you can select “Update Project Standards” for the updated styles.
AEC Project Standards control what is updated, how, when and from where.
You can have content in multiple master files, to suit your needs, and specify what sort of content is referenced in each. Project Standards will only update content that is already present in a project. They cant be used to, for example, add a new display style to your files. However once there any change to that style will be updated.
I find it’s best to keep schedule related content (Schedules, Tags, Property Sets, Classifications, Themes) in one file as it makes them much easier to edit. Other content can be organised however makes sense for your organisation. For us that means retail, building and “core” files with various object types and styles stored in each. It’s best to minimise the number of files but have enough to spread the workload and avoid them getting too large.
You specify which master files are used in the Project Standards dialog. Add the drawing and specify what type of content should be inspected within it. The order files are arranged in the standards dialog is important as ACA will check files Left > Right. If the same content is found in two files the first dwg it’s found in is the one that is honoured when doing updates.
EG: The same MV Block Tag in my Schedule file may be found in other standards files but, even if different, will be ignored for the purposes of standards updates.
I use a “Global > Office > Project” priority to control how the the content updates (for a given object type/style) are applied.
How & when files are synchronised is set on the Synchronization tab. The behaviours are described in the dialog (in detail) and range from manual to fully automatic, with varying levels of user interaction.
Import your latest AEC Project Standards in a click (or two)
Set up your Template Project with the desired Project Standards, specifying source files/content types. This will be used in all new projects made from that template.
You can import these settings to an existing project with the “Copy Standards From Project” button. Select the Template apj then whether to replace or append the imported settings (enabling global settings to be applied while project specific standards are preserved).
Are my AEC Project Standards current? How ACA can tell you!
Unfortunately ACA/AMEP doesn’t have a mechanism to push Project Standards from your Template Project to existing projects. Not such a big deal as this only controls what type of objects update from where, not actual object updates themselves, so once established they are pretty static.
However Facilities Management Projects can be in use for years so it’s important they evolve with your standards. It’s useful to have an reminder if a Project’s Standards Settings are out of date so you can import them from the current Template Project.
Creating an Update Reminder File
The last file in our project standards is an empty .dwg file which includes a revision date and “Update Project Standards from Template” in the file name.
When I update the standards this file is removed and replaced with one named with the new revision date. Projects will complain about the old “missing” standards file indicating the new set-up needs to be copied. Having “Update Project Standards from Template” in the name helps users know why the warning is appearing.
It enforces the update by annoyance as you have to dismiss this dialog every time a project file is saved until done! Of course your current Project Standards will reference the current “Update…” file so the missing file warning won’t appear.
You could “version” a real standards file but that would mean re-establishing it’s settings every time it’s replaced. I just use an empty file with nothing ticked in the “Objects” column to avoid this.
Reporting: Standards Configuration and Content changes?
When you click on the Update Standards in an ACA project a lot happens:
- The project is processed to see what content exists and it’s current versions
- They are compared with the AEC Object/Display Standards File versions
- Files/Objects needing updating are processed.
With all that going on it’s nice to know what happened. You can manually initiate a report on Project Standards Set-up or a Project Audit from the Manage > Project Standards panel. The result is a well formatted HTML file created it same folder as the project or files being audited.
I recommend creating these manually even though an automated log system is provided. I’ve found ticking the “Create log file” option in Configure Project Standards will cause a report file to be created every time a file/project is used. It does slow the application down and, at from 1-10mb and versioned, can consume lots of server space!
This shows a typical report which lists all the files, objects and changes. It can be filtered to isolate Problems to check.
The result of all this is a content change in your library files propagating to every project that contains that content with little or no additional user input. Power, simple to use once established and very BIM.