The Bucket List for Names

Tags naming conventions, collector, bucket, Name Template, template, placeholder, standards, feature name

Last post we splashed down and around the term Bucket to make Civil 3D Features a bit easier to get our heads around. There’s What, How, When, and Model buckets to AutoCAD Civil 3D Features. For all that strange stuff we have really only one chore.

Ripples in the Bucket

Each and every single Feature MUST have a unique name. This is an OOP (Object Oriented Programming) thing. The Dynamic Model in Civil 3D is based upon and works because of this primary principal.
Our Names connect the moving parts.
The lack of or creation of the Managed Dynamic Model order is up to you.

Man gave name to the animals
in the beginning
long time ago

                                             Bob Dylan

Often in the beginning a new user thinks the Name templates boxes found in every Create Feature dialog box is maybe a waste of time, something to ignore, or confused geek stuff.

“Why do I have to do that?”

Here’s an all too common scenario – a What not to do in Civil 3D.

A User manually inputs “Main Road” into the Create Alignment box. The OK button instantly makes an Alignment with nothing in it. The user then bails or quits out of the Alignment Layout tools box without adding a single segment to the alignment, The user built a valid Alignment bucket. “Main Road” is just an empty Alignment bucket.

Now the user wants to fix the empty “Main Road” alignment. The user hits the Home Ribbon and Create Alignment tool again – That appears to be the obvious thing to do. The Create Alignment box shows you the same “Main Road” name (Civil 3D remembers your last Name preference). You think you are adding to and editing “Main Road” when the Alignment Layout tools open. You aren’t.  You are now working on a new alignment named “Main Road (1)”.

Nothing visible on the screen does not mean something doesn’t exist. Inside Civil 3D we have to remember to Cycle our Focus - more key user issues can be found here.

There’s the “Main Road” alignment over in the Toolspace>>Prospector>>Alignments>>Centerlines collection. (Yes, I’m simplifying.) Select that in the branch and now pick Geometry Edit from the Ribbon. Huh?

CAD Dementia

The Civil 3D interface behavior is not intuitive if you focus on the screen as the only reality you have to deal with.
Manage the Features (data buckets) from the Toolspace. That’s what it’s there for.

Come on…you did this (or a variation of it) yourself in the beginning.
It didn’t work out very well.
You do something else now.

Name Templates

Every Civil 3D Feature has a Name template to make the naming process easier on the User. There is always a “counter” there. Civil 3D is going to do that to avoid duplicates anyway.

The default Name templates are By Intent generic to make them more flexible and adaptable to many civil engineering design tasks. You might as well employ a counter (or other unique difference) that makes sense to you in the Feature’s Name template. It helps more to have a Plan.

Feature Name Standards

You can automate a Feature Naming Standard based on simple rules built into the Feature Name templates in your production templates.  If you don’t have Feature Name Standards, it is something you need to work on if you really want a more managed Structure and better Managed Dynamic Models.

The Name Structure Projects Itself

Reference Surface, Alignment, and all other data shortcut Features are real in drawing data buckets too. You create a new bucket and pour in the contents from somewhere else.  Here the Model data is simply “over there” where the published data shortcut points.

Here’s a not so silly question about project data,

“Can you share an empty Feature?”

Now that would be confusing if you didn’t expect it.

Many of the wizard interfaces that now appear in Civil 3D (Corridor, Intersection, and Offset Alignment create tools for example) employ generic Name templates to make the dynamic model construction hook ups (by name) easier. The Name templates tend to be hidden away in the wizards. It’s an interface thing I suppose. I’d prefer a wizard pane where they are all set up, but that’s not how she works today.

Civil 3D She’s a Diva

She’ll mostly do what you want, but you must know how to tell her.

Think before you except the default Name templates in any wizard. Small changes to the current Name templates can make the difference between a Plan you understand and Way Too Much Chaos.

Template within Templates

I’ve pointed out in a few other posts here that for certain types of work, it’s really handy to have an arrangement of pre-made empty Features that Users can just fill up with the specifics.

What’s a Placeholder?

The concept of employing “Placeholders” is a powerful and all too often overlooked, benefit of model-based software. Animators have no problem with this idea – they must do it in their typical workflow. CAD people seem to struggle more with it – most rarely employ a Placeholder in their traditional workflow. That workflow is linear for the most part. Things change.

What Do the Names Do?

Sooner or later you might discover this is one of the cooler and more productive purposes for a Civil 3D “template”.

Can a Feature Placeholder template be upside down and backwards?

A template with lots of pre-built Features with hardy any preloaded and therefore preordained Styles doesn’t make sense until we understand at a practical level what Style does in model-based software. Style is always temporary in Civil 3D.

Maybe this template appears to be the opposite of what you initially learned about what is important in a drawing template for Civil 3D.

For some tasks the Structure may be More Important to User productivity than other things.
Civil 3D is all about the data.
For us it’s about us managing data.

Civil 3D Hands It Out in Buckets