Base file (autocad)

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    Hello everyone,

    Quick question today, what kind of information should I integrate into my base file? 

    As I’ve understood, my base file will be xref’d into each disciplines (plantation, grading, site work, etc.) So I was asking myself if I’ve to draw my proposal design into my base file. Otherwise it means that I’ll have to xref’d my base file and also my proposal design into my plantation or whatever discipline I work in?

    Best regards, 


    Ellis Cucksey

    I feel like there are a few different ways to handle this, and it really depends on how much information you’re trying to bring together into a single model. For instance, you may have a few individual cad files from various sources, like survey points and contours, civil roadway alignments, deep utility alignments, an architectural floorplan, etc. All those files could be individually xref’ed into your “base”, and in the model space of this base file, you could then create your own linework to model your design.

    On the other hand, you may have a single reference file from an architect or civil or whoever, and it already has everything in one place: survey points, contours, floorplan, etc. All live linework in model space. In this case, I feel like you can decide. Either draft your design right on top of all that existing linework (maybe lock existing layers first), or xref that file into your “base”, and model in that file instead (which seems kinda silly just to xref one file into another simply for the sake of it being an xref instead of a copy).

    Either way, my preference is to use the base file as my modeling file, the file where I draw my design on top of whatever existing cad linework I might have. Sometimes that linework is xrefed into my model/base file, as in the first example, and sometimes I’m just modeling right in the model space of (a copy of) the original reference file. It just depends on whether I’ve got a bunch of reference files, or just one. That base/model file is then xref’ed as necessary into the various sheets in the construction package

    Andrew Garulay, RLA

    I work on residential and small commercial sites – most are less than two acres. I try to keep things as simple for me as possible, but I also try to be easier to work with than some others because it helps with referrals (some other professionals are more concerned with how easy or difficult you make their work and refer their clients based on that rather than other reasons).

    I’m usually working from CAD files directly sent to me by a civil engineer after the building and utilities are sited. I save the original and rename a copy. Rather than xref, I work directly in the file on my own layers and my own layout tabs. I often put things that are already drafted onto my layers. I mostly work in the viewports in my layouts rather than directly in model space. Usually, I have all layers “on” and “thawed” in model space so that I can check for conflicts by simply going to model space.

    When my work is done, I isolate all the layers in my viewport. Then I go to model space and use the “copy with base point” command using “0,0” as the base point and select everything. Then I paste it into a new drawing at “0,0”. I open up the “layer properties manager” and put “L-” in front of all layer names in the drawing. Also, make sure there are no survey points in the drawing. Then it is saved to a file folder called “FOR ARCH” or “FOR ENG” so that I can email it to them. They can xref it or insert it in their drawings, or isolate the layers that they want. No matter what, they have full control because all of my layers are uniquely named so nothing gets dumped onto one of their existing layers.

    The biggest thing for me is that I usually work with decimal feet at 1″=10′ and the civils usually work in 1″=20′ or 1″=30′ and the architects are working in inches and feet at 1/4″ or 1/8″ = 1′ (and often not using autocad).

    Most people don’t want to complicate things and most don’t trust other people’s drawings. Many open up your drawing and copy what they want in order to paste it into their own drawing, often as a block on its own layer. Some will copy the block of to the side and explode it so that they can pick freeze layers that they don’t want to see without exploding the block where it overlaps their drawing.


    Thanks for the reply Cucksey. I indeed prefer the last option. That could be a good way to start for me. Thanks!

    I just thought that there were some “big standards” to manage xref and your sheet set, but I guess this is different in each firms.

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