Cycle Manipulations of Segments – Part 8

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The fundamentals of the Parcel Dances of Free Form, Slide, and Swing we talked about in the last two Parcel posts. The Site Parcel topology engine helps us out a lot once we recognize what really happening behind the scenes. Most of the time, we’re going have to manually tune up the results of the automated Parcel design tools.

The ever present Site Parcel duality of Grade and Chop (or Chop and Grate if you prefer) should remain foremost in your mind.

Grips on a Parcel Segment

The Parcel Posts - a study guide to Read and Test in AutoCAD Civil 3D
Site Parcel Essentials – Part 1 | It’s Not Yo’ Daddy’s Parcel – Part 2 | To Edit Parcels is to Create? – Part 3 | Parcels Have Priorities - Part 4 | A Strange Universe of Parcel Inverses and Mapchecks – Part 5 | Dances with Parcels – Part 6 | Pack Dances with Parcels – Part 7 | Cycle Manipulations of Segments – Part 8 | Select Manipulations of Segments – Part 9 | Visual Manipulations and Many Segments – Part 10

Grip Edits of Parcel Segments

Core AutoCAD editing skills are important to Parcel Segment edits and achieving cleaner resolved Parcels in less time.

Our AutoCAD primitive experience leads us to believe and/or assume a Parcel Segment should behave like a line, an arc, or a polyline primitive. Since we often feed those primitives into the Site Parcel that makes sense, but it isn’t true. Parcel Segments do not behave the same as primitives even at the essential and basic level of grips.

Attached Segments Before

A tangent Parcel Segment doesn’t have a midpoint grip like a line primitive. An attached segment has one grip at the attachment location. A Curve Parcel segment doesn’t have a center-point like an arc primitive grip either. For all Parcel Segments Endpoints and nodal intersections matter more.
For a curve Parcel segment the how of the geometry definition (chord, radius, etc) remains critical. At the basic level a curve Parcel Segment has to be able to stand alone without other connected geometry. These grip differences between AutoCAD primitives and Parcel Segments make more sense in the context of the planar and nodal topology of the Site Parcel Feature. See the previous posts.

Currently, Parcel Segments do not have any special Civil 3D (typically cyan) grips or niffy built in Hover menus either.

I lust for a Hover menu on Parcel Segment nodes. It would consist of:  
Attach, Flip, Angle (for attached segment edits), and a Match Elevation.

  • Attach makes a dumb Parcel segment an attached segment at the node location
  • Flip reverses the attachment node from end to end
  • Angle allows you to redefine the relative angle at the attachment location
  • Match Elevation allows you to pull elevation data from other nodal elevation data or by surface assignment

Civil 3D dreams aside, at this time only core the end point Parcel Segment grips are available. These are connected to the underlying input Parcel Segment geometry. Remember we only edit the input Parcel Segments. We do not and cannot directly edit the Site Parcel model. That is always resolved.

The basic Parcel Segment grips are definitely really useful. Parcel Segments are really easy to edit, copy, and modify with the AutoCAD Grips Edit Interface and all those marvelous OSNAP tools we have in AutoCAD Civil 3D.

How you use the Civil 3D interface in the manual manipulation of Parcel Segments matters. There is really a lot to keep track of at once within the Parcel Duality we talked about in so much detail lately.

A number of User issues are pretty clear:

  • Cycle Your Focus
  • Selection Create and Edit Skills
  • What You See is What You Want

Recycle Your Focus

Inside Civil 3D you have to remember to consciously readjust your focus. The classic defensive driving “cycle” metaphor works - Window>> Review Mirrror>> Side Mirror>> Speedometer>> Window. In Civil 3D, we should replace that basic pattern with Screen>>Ribbon>>Command Line>>Toolspace>>Screen. This basic Cycling basic pattern will help you avoid many self -inflicted and idiot operator accidents.

To be really productive in Civil 3D we need to be –CAD Pilots. Complex model-based software is really more like piloting a high performance aircraft than a car. Different interface elements on the instrument panel become critically important to introduce into the basic Cycle at different times. Landings require different information than takeoffs. We are accountable to control the WTMI (Way Too Much Information) and attention Focus problem appropriately. This is a learnable skill.

Parcel edit and create potentially requires the user to employ many more interface controls and instruments than most users initially expect. If we approach the Parcel tools as merely an annotative engine, we tend to miss a lot of what’s potentially possible. It’s the Parcel Chop and Grade duality at work.
In the sky things come at you from front and back and side to side but also from top and bottom as well. The Civil 3D interface may tell you there’s a problem, but you have to know when and where to look.

A More Panoramic View

In the current Civil 3D interface important information and tools can get buried in a blink of the eye. The Panorama based tools are famous for this. Parcel edits (particularly in grading) may employ many variations of the Panorama based tool palettes.
How many Panorama tabs are open now? Are they all currently pointing at the same thing or even the current selected thing? 

Not necessarily. Civil 3D is a diva. She will do what you want. But you are accountable to tell her explicitly to do it. For performance reasons Civil 3D expects you to know that multiple Features and their tools need to be Refreshed, Rebuilt, etc. at the appropriate time. By default the Toolspace does not bother to Refresh Parcel or Feature Line collections.

Parcel Properties

Even Properties Get Grouped

We have both AutoCAD properties and Civil 3D properties to keep track of. While they are related they aren’t the same thing at all.

Keep the AutoCAD Property box visible. If you hop your current Feature selection between the Parcel Segments and the resolved Parcel properties, the information can provide invaluable feedback. You can interactively change important Styles here too. The Select Similar tool is Style aware. Even this kind of “basic” property edit mechanics may require that we change our tool use behavior – as I like to call it our Method & Practice.

Next time how our Selection Skills allow us the manipulate Parcel Segments.