ByLayer vs. ByStyle

Everyone who has heard of Civil 3D has heard the catchword “Styles”. Styles really run the program. Without them, the program is almost useless. People starting off playing with Civil 3D generally don’t have any default styles in their drawing and end up getting so frustrated that they just drop the program altogether.

A lot of the functionality of styles really changes the way we think and draw – we can have styles assign our objects colors and linetypes rather than having everything “ByLayer”, which is what we’re used to. That’s been drilled into my head since I first learned AutoCAD, so much so that I even chant it in my sleep -“ByStyle, ByStyle, ByStyle” With the “new” way of working with Civil 3D, we can effectively draw everything on Layer 0 (WHAT? This goes against all of the “best CAD practices that we’ve ever known!) This is exciting, and works very well once you change your way of thinking. However, there’s one small (ok, not so small) problem with having everything set up “ByStyle”.

Do you ever share your drawings with someone else? Ever give your site plan to an architect? I certainly do – that’s a pretty big issue for most people. The problem with having everything “ByStyle” is that those styles don’t convert over to other AutoCAD platforms very well – for example, a Civil 3D 2007 drawing set up “ByStyle” sent to a user running Architectural Desktop 2007 will see everything on the layer that object was created on. This can be bad – if you set up and draw everything on Layer 0 and assign it a style, then your architect is going to get information only on layer 0. This could be bad. This is why, for data interoperability issues, Autodesk suggests sticking to the “ByLayer” school of thought, unless you live in a vacuum and only use Civil 3D.

Oh, and play nice – I know some of you Civil people are thinking that it’d serve the architects right if we sent them unusable information for a change… 😉


  1. John Postlewait says:

    Link to The Crazy World of Civil 3D gives a permissions error 403

  2. Jason says:

    Try again – works fine from my browser.

  3. Anonymous says:

    When you can freeze styles in viewports only (w/out turning them off in modelspace) and have shortcut buttons to do so (express tools / layers II), then I’ll consider using style more than layer.