Project Design: The J-standard in Use

Having adopted the J-standard in early 2015 and then becoming fully compliant with it later the same year, we now find ourselves almost two years on. In that time the J-standard itself hasn’t changed but the way we have understood it and the way we use it has.

Initially we adopted the J-standard shortly after its release in 2015. The creation of a standardised set of AV symbols had been on our to do list for quite some time. The release of the J-standard suddenly removed this rather daunting task from our to dos and we immediately began researching how we could put this new standard into practice. The release of the d-tools J-standard compliant symbols in early 2015 made its adaptation even easier for us. You can see this initial adaptation in figure 1.

After using these symbols for a little over six months we decided we needed to create our own versions which would adhere more closely to the J-standard but also still allow us to show the J-standard category types AV, Communications, Control, Safety & Security, etc. We also wanted to have a fixed font size as per the J-standard specification which is not available within the standard d-tools set of symbols.

This development led us to create a whole new style of plan drawings. Not only did we now have the symbols we wanted with outline category colours and fixed font sizes we also began including detailed socket elevations on the drawings including back box information thus making the cable schedule a thing of the past! You can see this development in figure 2 below.

Project Design_FIGURE 2_Page_1
Figure 2. 

After having these new symbols in use for just over a year we began getting some feedback that pointed out a few flaws which needed to be addressed. The main issue raised was that the symbol legend was over complicated and the mount type letters and device options shown on each symbol were getting overlooked by the guys on site running the cables. Clearly this was not right and we needed to address this issue quickly, with one eye on clarity and the other on adhering to the J-standard.

Our initial idea was to switch from the coded letter mount types we were currently using (W=wall mount, C=ceiling mount, etc.) to a more graphical indication. We knew that there was a graphical representation for mount types within the J-standard, using circular surrounds for ceiling mount symbols and square surrounds for floor mount symbols. However, the wall mount symbols posed a bit of a problem. The J-standard has the wall mount graphical indication as the standard symbol with a line protruding off and connecting to the wall to be mounted to, there was nowhere for our colour coded surround to go. We went back to the J-standard documentation and found that there are actually three types of surround or backgrounds you can use for symbols. The circle for ceiling mount, the square for floor mount and a rectangle which doesn’t indicate anything specific in the standard it’s just to use for the category colour coded background. Reading on we found that the rectangle could have rounded or chamfered corners, so we took our rectangle chamfered the corners a lot and ended up with a hexagon. This shape is what we have decided to use to indicate wall mounted items. We still include the J-standard line to connect to the wall to be mounted to but with the hexagon as the colour coded surround. This give us three very clear visual clues as to the mount type of each symbol shown on our drawings.

To simplify the device options we decided the best thing for this would be to remove all but the most common options from the standard legend. Then when we create a drawing that has a rarely used device option it could simply be added to the legend as required.

We also noticed that having the socket elevations right next to the legend had the potential to lead to confusion over where to look to find out what a particular symbol represents. We decided the socket elevations would be better laid out horizontally across the top of the drawing page giving a much cleaner appearance than what we had previously. You can see this very latest version in figure 3.

Project Design_FIGURE 3
Figure 3. 

This new version also includes a darker Architect’s CAD drawing for better rendering on tablets, mobiles and scanners which was another niggle that needed addressing.

That is our potted history of our experience of the J-standard in use, what’s yours?

Keith Jones studied Product Design at Central St. Martins where he graduated in 1996. Since then Keith has worked in numerous high end audio outlets, culminating in owning and running his own AV installation company from 2001-2008. After a career break he started Jones designs in August 2009 which has recently morphed into a Ltd. company called designflow with his business partner Kelly Ashforth. Designflow aims at increasing awareness of design in AV and help installers win jobs and create proper documentation for them.

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