Understanding Sheet Naming

When you start a new map in CC3+, you’ll find that there is normally 20 or so sheets in a map. One of the main reasons of these is to ensure the correct drawing order, that symbols goes atop the floor and not below it and the floor goes atop the background terrain, and so on. Most tools will select the appropriate sheet automatically to ensure things goes where they are supposed without the user having to micro manage everything.

Obviously, these sheets are named so their purpose is understandable by people so you can know what their purpose is, but there is also some interesting tricks when it comes to sheet naming that can be used with the tools. This is something to keep in mind when you create your own sheets, as following the appropriate way of naming can help greatly.

My first recommendation with naming is how to use the case. Usually, the official sheets in a ProFantasy template are all named in UPPER CASE letters. If you name your own sheets using lower case letters, it is easy to differentiate between the two. The reason that may be important is that the tools for the style are usually set up to work with specific sheet names, so you should not rename the official sheets unless you REALLY know what you are doing. So if you keep your own sheets in lowercase, you know you can change those without breaking the tools, but leave the UPPER CASE ones alone. For reference, CC3+ is not case sensitive, so as far as CC3+ is concerned, SYMBOLS, symbols, Symbols or sYMBOLS are all the same name, and the SYMBOLS prefix (see below) would still match any of those four examples. Note that I do type all sheet names in uppercase in this article, even when I suggest creating new sheets, simply because it becomes more clear that I am typing a sheet name, but I still recommend you using lower case when actually making them in your map.


Now, if you look at the sheet list in my image above, you’ll notice that there are several SYMBOLS sheet, such as SYMBOLS, SYMBOLS LOW, SYMBOLS FLAT, SYMBOLS WALL. As you can easily see, they all start with the word SYMBOLS. Is there a reason for that? Well, yes, two actually. First of them is the simple explanation, all these sheets are intended to place symbols on. But if that was the only reason, I would probably have written it the other way around, like WALL SYMBOLS, FLAT SYMBOLS and so on. But it turns out there is a secondary reason, which is actually more important. Most tools that work on specified sheets in CC3+ has the ability to work with a prefix instead of a complete name. This means that a tool can use the SYMBOLS prefix for the sheet to operate instead of the absolute sheet name SYMBOLS.

So, what does that actually mean? Well, it is quite simple actually. If a tool is set up to use the SYMBOLS prefix, what it will do is to check the name of the current sheet (as you can see yourself in the status bar). If this sheet starts with the same text as the prefix, that sheet is used, but if not, it will simply go to the actual sheet matching the prefix name exactly.

For an example, if I am placing a chair symbol, and that symbol is set to go to the sheet with the SYMBOLS prefix:

  • If the current sheet is SYMBOLS LOW, the chair will be placed on that sheet, since SYMBOLS LOW starts with the word from the prefix, SYMBOLS.
  • If the current sheet is WALLS, the chair will be placed on the SYMBOLS sheet, because WALLS does not start with the prefix SYMBOLS, which means we pick the sheet matching the prefix exactly, i.e. the SYMBOLS sheet. Note that if there isn’t a sheet called SYMBOLS at this point, one will be created and the chair will be placed there, it will never default to another sheet that shares the prefix, like SYMBOLS LOW, those are ONLY considered if they are the active sheet.

Of course, I only used SYMBOLS as an example here, any word can be used as a prefix. For example, if a map have several TERRAIN sheets, like TERRAIN WATER and TERRAIN DIRT, then a drawing tool may be using the TERRAIN prefix.

The whole idea with this prefix option is to give the user control over where the symbols and tools go by simply picking an appropriate sheet beforehand. But if the user do not have an appropriate sheet picked, then the tool or symbol just goes to the default sheet for that tool. This ensures that you never accidentally place chairs below the floor because BACKGROUND was the selected sheet, but if you pick one of the legal sheets, according to the prefix, it will go there.

This has an impact on how you name your own sheets. For example, let us say you wanted a sheet for extra tall symbols (like columns) so you could set up a sheet called SYMBOLS TALL with an extra long shadow effect on it. Now, all you have to do to get standard symbols to go to that sheet is to set it active before placing symbols. On the other hand hand, if you had called it COLUMNS or TALL SYMBOLS or LONG SHADOWS you would have found that even if you made it active, the standard tools wouldn’t have used it for placing symbols, they would all have gone to SYMBOLS instead, because your custom sheets didn’t match the prefix. So as you can see, paying attention to the prefix makes your own custom sheets work all that much better because you don’t have to manually move everything to the new sheets after placing it. Naming the sheets correctly basically makes the tools work for you, not against you.

Do note that different symbols can use different prefixes, not all of them will always use just SYMBOLS. For example, maybe in a style with column symbols, the designer of those columns wanted them to only go to the SYMBOLS TALL sheet, so they set that as the prefix. That means that those symbols would never go to SYMBOLS LOW, because the SYMBOLS TALL prefix doesn’t match that. But maybe you wanted some extra tall symbols in your map, and then the appropriate name would be something like SYMBOLS TALL EXTRA. You see how that works? I make sure to keep the prefix, and append my additions after that. Because if I had called it SYMBOLS EXTRA TALL, it would obviously not match the prefix, so it wouldn’t be used by the tool.

Also note that not all tools use a prefix. Some use an absolute sheet name to force the symbol or entity to go to that specific sheet regardless of the sheet picked by the user. Usually, there is a good reason for it (but sometimes it can also be an oversight by the designer of the style), but in any case, when a tool or symbol is set to NOT use a prefix, no matter of clever sheet naming will override this, you will either have to edit the tool itself, or more commonly, move the entity after it has been placed, for example by using Change Properties on it.


If you make or modify your symbols or drawing tools yourself, you may also wonder how to specify these prefixes. Basically, when you set the sheet for a symbol (the Force Sheet setting in the symbol properties) or a drawing tool (The sheet setting in the properties, either for the main entity, or the outline entity) you can place an asterisk after the sheet name. If there isn’t an asterisk there, it is treated as an absolute name, so if it just says SYMBOLS, the symbol will only go to the sheet named SYMBOLS and will never consider SYMBOLS LOW even if it is the active sheet, but if it instead says SYMBOLS* it is a prefix, meaning it follows the rules for prefixes as I explained them above. Note that the asterisk is not a generic wildcard. You cannot place it in the middle or beginning of the text, it has to appear at the end.

If you have questions regarding the content of this article, please use the ProFantasy forums. It can take a long time before comments on the blog gets noticed, especially for older articles. The forums on the other hand, I frequent daily.

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