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Detail Library best practices

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I am in the process of going back into some of our drawings and building a symbol library of our detail's (i.e. service door at cmu with metal furring) Does anyone have recommendations on best practices on how to build such a library? Title, record information, etc.

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We have never used symbols for our detail file system, but a library could probably be set up in a similar fashion, using files for broad categories, and symbol folders for sub-categories with in the broad catagories.

The system we use is to put each detail as its own layer in a detail file. We turn off the visibility for each layer as it is created, such that only one detail is visible at a time, the one on the active layer. This way you can quickly scroll through a hundred or more details by holding down the command key and hitting the up or down arrow key to move up or down through the list of layers. Also, as each detail is on its own layer, the details can all be at different scales.

We create a file for each category of detail, and these categories can be as broad or specific as you wish. Then we create a folder structure of all the various detail files organized by a category prefix.

We give each layer a name composed of the file catagory prefix followed by the index number of the detail. We then put this same prefix as text on the detail drawing just below the drawing title. This way, when a detail is printed out, either individually, to place in a set of reference binders matching the CAD library catagories, or on a sheet of details in your construction documents, you can find a detail on you computer by checking the printed prefix for each detail and navigating through you computer folder structure to the correct file, opening that file, and going to the layer with the correct index number.

Another nice feature is as your detail library expands, to create new details, you can open the correct detail file, find a similar detail to the new detail, copy this, and paste in place on a new layer and start modifying from there. Even if you are drawing a new detail from scratch, you can at least paste in place and modify the detail name and index number so that the details will stay in the same location on each layer. This facilitates flipping through and viewing the details by the command/arrow system.

To get these on our drawings we just create a detail sheet with one layer for each different layer scale, and copy and paste the details from the library to the correct scaled layer on the sheet. You could also use Workgroup Referencing, but then you will end up with one layer for every detail on your sheet.

I do know others who also use symbols for their detail libraries, but we have always done it as described above. Either way, I think broad categories separated into sub-categories by prefix and index number both in the folder structure and placed on each detail is a good system. I see the plus of symbol details as the ability to view thumbnails of you details in the symbol library, but we like the ability to quickly flip through full size detials using the layer system.

Maybe others could share their systems as well. Ther are many different ways to set up detail files.

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That's a very interesting approach. Could you give an example of the layer name and prefix system that you use for a detail? I'm also curious as to how you actually organize them ie by section type foundation, wall/floor, wall/roof, etc. It would also seem that your system would work very well with viewports. Have you tried that yet?

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For various reasons we don't currently have a detail library as such. We have a few common exemplar details but there're not really enough to call them a library.

In terms of how we manage details for each project, we draw floor plans and sections and then Workgroup Reference (WGR) these into another file and trace over them to produce details (sometimes they all merge to create full detailed sections). We then use cropped Viewports to present each junction/detail on a Sheet Layer (usually 6 to an A1 at 1:10), turning the WGR'd plans or sections off in the process.

The advantage of this method is that it's easy to keep details co-ordinated with plans and sections (and vice versa), while also keeping them usefully separated. (the other method similar to this, which we used to use and which I put a stop to, is to integrate the details into your sections and plans by drawing them on dedicated high-detail Classes and turning these off in the plans and sections.)

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I concur with PeterT's method. However, we do workgroup reference the layers into our set. This allows us to create a viewport of each detail, with only the detail layer referenced in the viewport. Then when we want to place another detail of the same scale on a detail sheet we copy and paste the viewport, and turn off the layer of the first detail and turn on the layer of the new detail. If all the details are drawn, (as presumably they are, being in the library file) this allows for very quick setup of your detail sheets. Our detail layers are named with the title of the detail (we typically have very descriptive titles), so to find the proper detail for the viewport, it is a matter of simply scrolling through the layer visibility box and clicking on the visibility of the layer. The whole procedure is much easier than it sounds. When I first read about this technique in some earlier threads, it took me a while to understand how this would work, but setting it up is easy.

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We do predominantly residential work so our structure is set up for that, but you could set up catagories for any or all constructoion types. We set up our broad categories by siding material as this is a good break for us, but we could divide it differently if we chose. We have a hard copy binder structure that parallels our CAD folder structure.

For example, we have one book for stucco (Book 1), one book for wood siding (Book 2), etc. Within Book 1 we then divide out 10 sections, 1-1 would be Roof Elements, 1-2 would be Windows, 1-3 would be Doors, etc. Inside these sub-category sections, we then switch to letter abbreviations for the third level catagory. So for example, inside the section 1-2 Windows, we have divisions of 1-2.WH Window Head, 1-2.WJ Window Jamb, 1-3.WS Window Sill, etc. These are the VectorWorks files themselves. So then the 19th detail in the Stucco Window Jamb file would have an index of 1-2.WJ.19. This would then be both the layer name of that detail in the file, and the index number we would write as text on the detail drawing just below the detail title. The title of that detail then might be "Window Jamb at 2" recess", or whatever the specifics are of that 19th detail.

If you wanted, you could get the full drawing title abreviated into the layer name, but after we get deep enough in the folder structure depending on the number of details in that category, we make that the file level and switch to a layer numbering system. That way we can stack the layers in the file according to the numbers, and it is easier to get to a specific detial in the file if you know what its index number is.

If we start getting too many details in one file to be managable we would then split the category into two files and re-do the index numbers and come up with a new section in the binder. We have not had to do this too much, as VectorWorks files can have a lot of layers before we find them too hard to manage.

As for the viewports, we do not currently use them for our detail sheets. We started this library long before Viewports were available, and with the detail library in a different file than the construction doc detail sheet, the cut and paste approach works well for us.

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Thank you Peter. That gives me something to think about...I've just done over 100 details for a friend's residential project but they are all randomly organized. I've been wanting to get some kind of order into a system for my own projects and this helps.

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J.Johnson & PeterT,

Your organization system is different than ours. I am interested in it, b/c ours has just sort of evolved and never had the time to analyze and rework it. We typically have all our information for a project in one VW file. Making each sheet in sheet layer and saved views. We don't utilize any workgroup referencing as you do, but I don't see why it wouldn't work. Instead we are trying to make every detail a symbol with record information that can be searched with criteria, so if we are designing a building using wood studs we can search for wood and set criteria for EIFS to generate a selectable list of details that would apply in door, win, roof, and wall details

PeterT, In your detail library are you creating each detail on a design layer or sheet layer? J.Johnson, How do you keep your CD set from compiling an abundance of layers not needed?

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I have written a blog that has a little information on this. I can see two ways to set up your detail library:

1. Make a symbol library;

2. Use WorkGroup Referencing to import a layer of symbols

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When the details are referenced in, they are at the bottom of the list of layers in the navigation pallate, so I have to scroll down to find them. Yes, there ends up being many layers, but the ones I need access to are at the top of the list. Also, we have been experimenting with having separate model and sheet files. The model file contains most of the building information, while the sheet files reference in the model information. The first project we did like this had only one sheet file, which made it difficult to concurrently work on the same project. We have since split it up into a number of sheet files which workgroup reference the model file. One of those sheet files is for all of our detail sheets, so most of the referenced layers are only the details.

The other sheet files are sheets sharing similar information: notes that are shared, etc. So our plans are all in one sheet file, our elevations and sections in another, our enlarged floor plans and interior elevations in another, and so on. So the number of referenced layers are typically just the layers in the model file.

At each submittal, we break the references, but keep the referenced layers in the file, and lock the file so if the references change later, we still have the "moment in time" of the submittal.

Probably more than you asked for....

Jake

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This is what my office is trying to get to. Where can i find additional post or resources on setting up our projects like this?

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