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A question I get a lot when I’m working with clients to set up their Civil 3D Standards, or when I teach my CAD management classes, is: “Should I use a single Master template or a number of process-focused ones?” In other words, do I put all my styles and settings in one giant file, or do I break them down into templates for survey, roads, grading, etc.? In the past I’ve usually advised the latter, since using a Master file tends to load a lot of unnecessary info into your DWG files and makes them much larger than they need to be. That excess data can also be confusing – nobody wants to scroll thru 300 different C3D styles or a few thousand road design layers when they’re doing a simple survey!

Here’s a new thing for you to consider though - how about a Reference Template?

With a Reference Template, you can create one Master Template (which is, I admit, much easier on the CAD Manager to control/set up) and then reference only the data that you want from it into other DWG files. It’s very similar to the concept of an External Reference (XREF) where, when data is updated in the source, it’s automatically pushed to the destination file. That way, when you make a Standard change, it can be automatically pushed to every DWG connected to the Master Template. Cool, right?

The push back against Ref Templates has been two-fold:

  1. You don’t want to take the time, or even trust everyone, to add the Reference on every DWG, on every project you ever do.

  2. You don’t want to automatically update settings because it can change existing projects and cause issues.

Not to worry, both of those concerns are easily addressed! To handle the first concern, all you have to do is Reference from your Master Template (DWT) to your process templates (Roads.DWT, etc.) instead of directly into all your DWG files. That way, the settings are added and updated automatically when you create new drawings – the user doesn’t need to do anything! What? You didn’t know you could Reference between DWT files? Not to worry, most folks don’t – Autodesk hasn’t done a great job of explaining that feature in their help system.

The second issue is even simpler – if you want to prevent automatic updates from Ref Templates, just use the AeccRefTemplateAutoUpdate variable to control updates and alerts when reference templates change.

At the Command line, enter AeccRefTemplateAutoUpdate.

Enter one of the following:

  • 0: Turns off automatic updates. Notifications are displayed to alert you when reference template components need to be updated.

  • 1: Turns on automatic updates of components from reference templates. This is the default setting.

  • 2: Turns off updates of existing layers only. Existing layers in the host drawing are not updated automatically and they are not updated if you click Apply or OK in the Attach Referenced Template dialog box.

Too easy, right? You can have one DWT Master to work in, that automatically updates process templates which will, in turn, update all the DWG files you work on. A nice, hybrid alternative to a pesky CAD Management issue!

Jim Coppinger

ZenTek Consultants provides sales, training, and services for Civil 3D and related products. Check our website for our latest class offerings.

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