A symbol is a collection of CAD objects that are grouped together to form one complex object. When a symbol is moved, scaled or rotated, the component objects have the same transformation applied to them. Symbols are commonly used in the production of survey plans to give a graphical representation of such objects as trees and the symbols that n4ce uses can come from two sources.
Firstly, n4ce has a CAD engine that allows you to create the symbols manually. There are various options that allow you to draw basic CAD objects such as lines and circles and then group them to form symbols. If required, the symbols can be stored in libraries for use by other models and projects.
The second way in which symbols can be sourced is from external files that are read into n4ce, such as AutoCAD DWG or DXF files. When such a file is read in, any symbols in it are stored in the current n4ce project. If a symbol with the same name already exists in the project, it is ignored.
In the project manager the symbols loaded into the Project can be accessed via Settings/Project Symbols.
Symbols are stored in individual files in a symbol library folder for n4ce to use. The path for this folder is C:\ProgramData\Applications in CADD\n4ce\Symbols which can also be accessed using the n4ce Support Files short-cut that is placed on your computer desktop during installation. The short-cut will open a file explorer window for the support files and the library symbols are stored in the Symbols directory. Each symbol is stored in a file with a name the same as the symbol and a file extension of SYM. There are two sub-directories off the library folder called DXF Points and OS MasterMap which are for internal use and should not be changed in any way. There are various options that allow you to handle the various symbols. These appear on the Settings Menu of all the windows that are created by n4ce and an example is shown to the right.
The Symbol Library
The Symbols Library option allows you to handle the symbol files stored in the symbol library folder. When selected, the dialog box to the right will be displayed. The list to the left is a list of the symbol files in the library directory and is a multi-select list. The last symbol that was selected is previewed to the right.
When a new project is started, there are of several common symbols that you will probably always wish to load. The Always Loaded check button allows you to do this. If you highlight the required symbols and ensure that this check button is ticked, those symbols will be loaded whenever you start a new project.
After selecting symbols, the Load button allows you to manually load the selected symbols from the library directory into the current project. A check is always made to ensure that a symbol is not duplicated. The Delete button allows you delete the selected symbols from the library folder. A check is made to ensure that deleting the symbols is acceptable as the file in which the symbol is stored will be deleted.
The Project Symbols
The Symbols Project option allows you to handle the symbols that are loaded into the current project. When selected, the dialog box to the right will be displayed.
The list to the left of the dialog shows the names of the symbols that are in the project and is a multi-select list. The last symbol that was selected is previewed to the right.
When loading symbols from AutoCAD DXF files, there are often a few unreferenced symbols. These are symbols that have not been specifically named and by a CAD operator. Instead, AutoCAD has assigned a numeric name with an asterisk in front. The Show * Symbols check button allows you to turn the display of these symbols in the list on or off.
The Load button allows you to load symbols from the symbol library into the current project. When selected, the Library Symbols dialog box described above will be displayed.
The Save button allows you to save symbols that are in the current project to files in the symbol library directory. This may be necessary if you have decided to update symbols or where new symbols have been imported or created. Note that files in the library directory will be overwritten if the symbol already exists.
The Delete button allows you delete symbols from the current project. This may be required if you have updated a symbol and wish to load it from the library. Note that the symbol files in the library directory will not be deleted.
The Rename button allows you to rename the selected symbols. If more than one symbol is selected in the list, n4ce will ask for a new name for each one.
The Invert button allows you to invert the selection of symbols in the list.
There are often symbols in a project that are not being used. The is particularly the case when you import CAD information from other sources. Leaving the symbols in the project means that the project file is larger than necessary and often leads to confusion.
The Symbols Purge option from the Settings menu of the Project Manager or under the Symbols menu in a CAD interface allows you to remove any unnecessary symbols. When selected, n4ce will determine whether a symbol is required or not and, if it finds symbols that are not required, it will display the dialog box shown to the right. The list to the left is a list of the unused symbols and is a multi-select list.
If, for whatever reason, you do not wish to purge certain symbols, select them in the list and click the Don’t Purge button. This will remove them from the list.
If you select the OK button, all the symbols in the list will be deleted. If you select the Cancel button, nothing will happen. Since the purging of symbols cannot be undone, you should consider performing a save on the current project before using this option.
Occasionally, new information is added to an existing project and a symbol that is needed has not been loaded from the symbol library. From the Settings menu of the Project Manager the option Symbols Missing allows you to identify which symbols are missing from either survey, model or CAD data. If there are missing symbols, a report will be generated listing the missing symbols. If one or more of the missing symbols are available in the symbol library, you are given the option to load them. If a missing symbol is not available, you will need to either create it or import it via another CAD model and update the symbol library for future reference.