CAD Standards Manager – Themed Layers

For our CMI Standards Manager (CSM) customers, I would like to share a product feature we’ve worked on over the years that really makes a difference within a CAD standards configuration and deployment.

One of the most common arguments with regards to layering standards is the interdepartmental scuffle with regards to layers.  One department requires a layer screened while another department needs the same layer dark.  This becomes especially difficult with shared master drawings.  Although AutoCAD contains nice tools to help make the necessary plotting adjustments, you still have to manually change the layer properties.  Multiply that by 10, 20 or more CAD users …will they all make the same layer property choices for the layers without someone standing over their shoulder?  Of course not.  Mistakes happen, even in the best CAD environment.

There are multiple ways we can handle this.  This post will show one method of how to manage duplicate layer styles between disciplines with CSM.  Future posts will show different techniques.  Most methods take advantage of our “hidden component” capability on the Layers tab of the Administration module.  Hidden layer components cannot be used for end user layer creation from within a discipline.  A hidden layer component’s main purpose is to provide alternative layer properties for layers created within another discipline.

For example, an organization’s Survey department may need to plot existing ground contours dark (layer V‑TOPO‑*) .  Meanwhile, the Civil department will XREF the survey drawing and want to plot the contours 50% screened in their design drawings.  Here are the steps to accomplish this using CSM:

  1. Open the CSM Administration module and select the standards database.
  2. In the Standards Explorer window, in the Survey discipline, click on the Layers node to display the layer groups.
  3. Right-click on the group containing the survey contour layers.  Click Copy Layer Group.
  4. Expand the Civil discipline tree.  Right-click on the main Layer node and then click Paste Layer Group.
  5. On the Layers tab, select the Civil discipline.
  6. Set the current layer group to the name of the group you copied in step 3.
  7. The component “V” will now show up in the first category.
  8. Right mouse click on the “V” component and click Hide Layer Component(s).
  9. Select the first option in the Hidden Component Options dialog and click OK.
    • The component text color will turn blue.  These layers are not for creation in the Civil discipline, but can still be created in the Survey discipline.
  10. Open the Assign Layer Properties dialog,
  11. Set the layer property group to current.
  12. Change the properties of the newly generated “V-TOPO-*” layers to plot screened at 50%.
  13. Click Build the Complete Layer List before you exit the Administration module so that your new layers will be available to your end users.  CSM will prompt you if you forget, so no worries if you skip this step.
  14. Finally, test it out within AutoCAD by externally referencing the desired contour drawing .  On the CSM menu, click Reset Colors/Linetypes/Lineweights.  You will be prompted to select the controlling discipline if the drawing contains layers that are duplicated within your standards database.


  • Hidden components must be in your first or last layer component category.
  • If the layer group already exists it will add the Survey layers to the existing group.
  • You can only copy layer groups between disciplines that utilize the same number of layer categories.

Here’s a short video example:

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