Standards -- who needs them? You do!

"The great thing about standards is that there are so many of them."

To some, that statement might seem comical, but it rings very true. The main concept behind standards (at least in the AEC and geospatial context) is to bring things to a common, consistent end, minimizing confusion brought on by chaos that would otherwise result.

In the world that we are in, there are various ways to achieve this, each having their own pros and cons. These are often done at the "bookends" of the overall design workflow:

  1. Pre-process (i.e. as data is input)
  2. Post-process (i.e. one of the last steps before submittal... also known as Quality Control)

When one or both are done, they are usually never done the same way by different organizations -- and sometimes they are not done the same way even by different groups or divisions within the same organization. That is a corporate culture issue that can be very challenging (let me emphasize the VERY part) to get everyone to agree to... regardless of the fact that relaxing the "pride in authorship" and "that's not how I do things" mentality will actually make things easier on everyone in the long run. Having been very much involved in designing, implementing, and then enacting (and, yes, even enforcing) standards and all the things involved with them, I can honestly say that the effort is well worth it. Projects get done more efficiently, in shorter time, and with less data management issues to address.

Much has been said about standards -- and even the standards themselves exist everywhere. If you don't believe me, do a Google search on CAD Standards and you will probably see over 500,000 hits on that subject. Included in those results are content (like the US National CAD Standard and National BIM Standard), information integration (like ISO Standard 15926), discussions, expert opinions, and even software that can be bought to improve compliance. An interesting fact about all those items is that Bentley is involved with them.

For many years, users of our products asked for things that would support standards compliance. When MicroStation V8 was being designed and implemented, a Standards Checker was included. In MicroStation V8 XM Edition, Element Templates were also included. Both of these things provide the front- and back-end of standards compliance. And, if you have an existing "standard" (or even if you do not), there is this handy remapping ability that you can use when saving files. If you have not looked into what these capabilities can provide, you really should -- my bet says that you will be very glad you did.

  • That really happens, though. I know some companies (sorry, not naming names...) where even offices within the same company had their own standards -- working on the same project! Fortunately, with the visibility, tools, and utilities that exist today (particularly those that exist in our products), that way of working truly is becoming yesterday's-way-of-doing-things.

  • :) "Here at <Your company name here>, we think that Standards are so important... that each one of you should have your own"