Thursday, June 23, 2005

Using Divisions to Manage Design Options

Note: Divisons are a part of the overall project management system included in ADT, which allows for a building model to be split up into a "distributed database" of multiple drawing files. This enables easier teamwork, automated management of external reference files, smaller file sizes, and as you will see in this tutorial, multiple plan options. While an understanding of divisions in particular is not necessary, this tutorial assumes the reader has a basic understanding of the workflow of Project Navigator, and understands the terms "constructs", "elements", "views" and "sheets". For more information on these terms and Project Navigator workflow scenarios, there are several resources available. In addition to the Autodesk Architectural Desktop tutorials on Project Management, there are a number of third party publications and web-based tutorials.

Divisions are intended to be used to divide a project up laterally. For example, you could divide a hospital project up so that each wing was a different division, or a campus could be divided up so that each building was a division. Divisions can span multiple floors, so they are indpendent of levels, which divide the project up vertically. Divisions are optional; you don't have to use them, but they do provide you another level of flexibility if you choose to do so.

Because divisions don't actually "live" anywhere as defined, users tend to get a bit confused at first as to how to use them. Levels are easy to figure out - Level two is assigned an elevation of 12', therefore anything that is assigned to level two must exist at 12' also. But it is the very fact that divisions are so "nebulous" that gives them additional power beyond what they were originally designed for. This tutorial will show you how to use divisions to manage various plan options, then easily combine the various options into multiple sets of plans, elevations, models, sections etc. for documentation purposes. As an example, we'll use a typical scenario - a residential project with multiple elevation options - a common need for many volume home-builders.

1) First, start a new project - give it any name and number you like.

2) In Project Navigator, select the "Edit Divisions" button in the upper right corner of the "Divisions" section of the "Project" tab.

3) In the Division editor, create four divisions:
Base Model (for all objects that are present in all options)
Elevation A
Elevation B
Elevation C

4) Close the Division Editor. From this point forward, when you see the word "Division", you can just translate that to "Option". That's about the most difficult thing about this.

5) Create a new Construct - call it "Base Model" and in the Divisions/Levels matrix, assign it to Level 1, Division "Base Model". Open it up. Draw a simple exterior of a house - any shape you like, and save it.

6) Create another new construct - call it "Elevation A", assign it to Level 1, Division "Elevation A". Do NOT bother to open it up.

7) From your base model, which should still be open, select the elements that make up the front part of the house (those elements that would change with the elevation options), and drag them on top of the "Elevation A" construct, then release. They should disappear from the current drawing and will now be in the "Elevation A" construct, in the same X,Y,Z coordinates that they were originally drawn in. (You could open the construct up and check if you like, but trust me, they're there).

8) Still in the base model, draw a different facade. Create an "Elevation B" construct, assigning it to the "Elevation B" division and drag and drop your new facade into that construct.

9) Repeat to create an "Elevation C" construct with it's own unique facade, then save and close the base model.

10) Go to the "Views" tab, and create three categories - "Elevation A", "Elevation B" and "Elevation C".

11) Create a new view in "Elevation A" and call it "Elevation A Model". For the "Context" simply select the "Elevation A" division, then confirm the contents and finish. Open the View and viola, you should see the base model combined with the elevation A option.

12) Repeat step 11 to create the Elevation B and Elevation C models.

You're done. Whew! Now, wasn't THAT difficult ;-).

Obviously, this is a simple example - but you can expand this out to any number of scenarios and option combinations. It works the same whether you have three options or thirty, one level or ten. Creating the views is just a matter of checking and unchecking the various option combinations, and you can add new options (divisions) any time you like. Using the drag/drop functionality you can move and copy geometry from one division to another with ease.

For more information on the workings of Project Navigator and Project Management in ADT, you might find the following link useful:

Drawing Management Braindump (Paul McArdle - ADT Development Team)


Blogger J said...


In Step 11 when you are defining the "Context" of the view "Elevation A Model", wouldn't you also select the "Base Model" division as well as the "Elevation A" division? I followed your directions, but when I opened the "Elevation A Model" view at the end of Step 11, the base model was not present, only the elevation A option was there.

2:24 PM  
Blogger Matt Dillon said...

Yes, that is correct - thanks for catching the oversight!


7:31 PM  
Blogger Wesley said...

Thank you for posting about this method. I have one question about it - how to document models and use the Divisions as an options manager. ADT is set up, from what I understand from AutoDesk, to document models in Views. If parts of models are swapped out using Divisions, how would documentation go with it. I have thought to document using Constructs and then set up Divisions to have documentation and model divisions. Then the model and document files could be selected for each option. Do you have a method of doing this? I would be interested in hearing your input.


11:32 AM  

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