In my last post about Questions of Power in AUTOCAD Civil 3D, I tried to point out that our traditional CAD thought processes about AutoCAD Civil 3D don’t always line up with the way the software actually behaves. This is because our thinking processes most often line up with how we used to do things.
The statement above may sound a bit moronic or circular, but it ain’t.
We humans are tool users. How we employ our tools defines how we think about most things.
Civil 3D is All About the Data
I repeat this mantra all time in many ways and in many forms.
The Civil 3D Data perspective helps us shake up our old school CAD thinking patterns.
The point of View (multiple puns are intended here) hopefully generates a new perspective that allows us to think about and approach our civil engineering and survey real world problems differently.
It’s true Civil 3D is all about the data, and then again it ain’t.
The software does have a real world job to do – spit out a plan set.
So ok, I lie - or at least I try to supply some quantum, model-based spin on such matters. You tell a good story and at times the plot tends to runs away from the characters or vice versa.
She’s a Diva
Her abstracted Style power makes the Civil 3D diva able to deliver a continuous stream of crafted Instagram photo ops(Style), Twitter tweets (Label Styles), and interconnected blog posts(Sets). To get a well-managed handle on all of that is a new required skill we must acquire.
Nothing in Civil 3D makes the Data|Picture dichotomy more apparent than the Alignment feature. The Alignment is where Autodesk puts the big investment bucks into the production that is AutoCAD Civil 3D. I’m sure you notice that the Alignment feature long ago and far way ran away with the Leading Actor (Feature) Award inside Civil 3D. OK - so Surfaces are important too, but mostly pretty boring without the leading man (or woman) and a purpose to drive the plot (multiple puns are intended here too).
Go ahead. In your head start listing the things you might want to do in Civil 3D. You’ll have to work impossibly hard to try and get anything accomplished and still avoid Alignments. Luckily, we actually have the opposite problem. There’s almost too much an Alignment can do.
The more competent list to work on is:
What are all the other things I can employ an Alignment for in my projects?
As I allude to in my last post, we often get emotionally stuck on CAD-based information management practice. Yeah Alignments and Alignment spawned Features is the stuff of critical design data. Alignments can be Parcels as I talked about in my Parcel posts earlier this year. Yada yada yada…
If it’s linear, we can Style it, Annotate it, and Manage it as an Alignment. Hence our InstantOn and Jump Kit products are chock full of Style, Label Style, and Label Set tools that employ Alignments as dual purpose data/annotative tools. We supply thousands and thousands of graphic symbol elements in our products.
By popular demand, the fastest growing collections tend to be alignment related graphics. Fancy that. Once the lights go on for an AutoCAD Civil 3D user the desire for useful choices explodes.
A Drift Over the Centerline
Frankly, you can almost argue that with a bit creative license and ingenuity you just might rid yourself and your drawings from AutoCAD linetype dependencies and similar CAD machinations completely.
I’m not saying we want to eliminate AutoCAD linetypes, but with what’s graphically possible within the Alignment feature context it is something to consider now and then. How much managed graphic detail can you cram into an Alignment’s Label Set etc.
Is that method the best way to deliver the desired published result?
Of course, we supply annotative Alignment Styles, the typical National CAD Standard and related Labels for the classic uses of alignments, and then some. We also supply typical NCS and typical US State Dot versions of infrastructure linetypes and more. Our latest Release 5 products actually include more in-depth and more consistent NCS 5.0 linetype resources as well. Find out some more details here.