Streamline Your Pipe Network Settings

I made a discussion group post the other day. Matt Wright was creating a new template and wanted some suggestions about pipe and structure layers and names. I have my ideas about what works well for me and I guess James liked it, so here’s what I do. Check it out after the jump.

I create all of my pipe networks right in my template (with no actual pipes or structures added) and apply all settings to the networks so that my users just need to edit the existing networks when they want to add parts. This allows the users to concentrate on designing and not what parts lists, layers, and naming conventions to set up when they create a new pipe network.

When they create a design drawing all they will need to do is edit the desired network and start adding parts.

In the Object Layer settings there are layer settings for pipes and structures
The modifier appends the pipe network name to the layer name. Create a pipe network named “P-STM” and your new layer will be “Pipes_P-STM” or “P-STM_Pipes” if you change the modifier to Prefix.

Given a drafting standard that says:
“Thou MUST use these 4 layers for pipes; X-STM, P-STM, X-SAN, P-SAN”

The Object Layer settings for pipes will not work. Sure you can name the network “P-STM”, but the darn setting needs 2 parts; a layer AND a suffix. If we could just have the suffix (the network name) all would be well, but we can’t. You need to select that base layer…and you can’t leave it blank…and you can’t use layer 0, trust me, I’ve tried. “0_P-STM” is the layer you get.

In addition, you’re depending on the engineer, tech, drafter; whoever is creating this pipe network to use your company’s standard naming convention to name the networks properly. My motto is, “You can’t trust anyone to follow standards. People will usually follow the easy path. Make standards easy to follow (easier than not following them) and they will be followed.”

Luckily, pipe networks have a plethora of settings to make your standards easy to follow.

They have their own layer settings that override what the Object Layer settings prescribe.
Note that the default Pipe plan layer is initially set to the Object Layers default. Click the arrow on the right to set the desired layer FOR THIS NETWORK ONLY. Set up all 5 layers above and whenever you add parts to this network they will all go on the correct layers.

Of course, in your template, you can’t assign a surface or alignment. Before you add pipes and structures in your design drawing be sure to assign these.

This would be great on its own, but there are a few more things we can set up to make life easier.

In the Pipe Network Settings dialog:
You can setup naming conventions for pipes and structures. My client requires storm sewer manholes to be named D1, D2 etc. and sanitary sewer manholes to be named S1, S2 etc. I’ve left the pipes alone since I don’t need them named in any particular way, but you can see I’ve changed the naming convention to “D <[Next Counter]>”. for my sanitary network I would use “S <[Next Counter]>”.

You can setup default label styles for pipes and structures.

You can setup the required parts list.

In the profile and section tabs you can specify label styles and layers for profile parts and layers for parts in cross sections.

You’ll notice that there are no settings in the pipe network properties for label layers. I use the Object Layer settings for this.
My storm sewer labels will go on layer “P-STM-Text”.
My sanitary sewer labels will go on layer “P-SAN-Text”.

It’s all about making it easy for people. Setting my template up in this manner makes it VERY easy for my users to put everything pipe related on the correct layers using the correct styles and named correctly.


  1. I really like this method. I mainly like the idea of having the networks preset so that users have less to walk through, and have the settings in place. It seems so simple, but such a good use of template information.

    Thanks for writing it up in more detail, Matt!

  2. Matt Kolberg says:

    My pleasure James.

  3. Thanks Matt and James.
    I’ll make sure this gets passed around.

  4. Jason Hickey says:

    You know, I never thought about doing it this way – I think I really really like it. Now, if people would just stop trying to overthink the process, I think your way could really take off. It’s given me some ideas…

  5. Richard Carter says:

    We have been struggling for months to figure out an easy way to get our pipes and structures on the right layers. Your method appears as though it will work for our situation….and it’s amazing how simple it is! We were trying to make it more complicated than it needs to be. Thanks for the info!

  6. Rick Carle says:

    Thanks Matt. This is helping out a lot with standardizing our company. The only problem that I have is setting the appropriate pipe style with the different networks. I need our existing pipes to be on color 8 and our proposed on color cyan. I noticed that the pipe style in plan and profile is based on the pipe style display properties and not by the pipe network layer style. Therefore, I created a E-SAN-SINGLE, E-SAN-DOUBLE, P-SAN-SINGLE, P-SAN DOUBLE, ETC….. The difference being color of the pipe. Am I approaching this wrong? I don’t see a way to set the pipe style to be used with each network.