Civil 3D Legend and Abbreviation Lists

Tags AddOn, InstantOn, tablestyle, points, Description Key Set, legend

We’ve all been annoyed for a long time that AutoCAD Civil 3D doesn’t have a built in Symbol Legend or Abbreviation List generator tool. That was a tool that all old CAD drafting software just had to have. Look all you want through all the many Ribbon menus of Civil 3D and this “simple” tool is nowhere to be found. Arrrrgh!

My bet is you make your current Civil 3D Legends, Lists, and the like by old basic AutoCAD methods. That works if the contents don’t change too much. If you’re not so lucky and have to please different customers, that method isn’t so user friendly. Frankly, we all must deal with the unexpected and the ever present exceptions anyway.

To save wasted man-hours is what we seek in our Production Solutions.

It’s also very unlikely the Autodesk Civil 3D development team is going to produce a Legend tool. Perhaps, from their perspective, they believe they solved the problem long ago.  What? It’s true.
The functionality to meet the challenge is indeed built into the Civil 3D data model and it’s powerful Style tools.

We do need to be a bit innovative about how we employ them. We’ve all heard it before…

Think Outside the Box

“In this case, I actually want my results in a box.”
Ok. Never mind. You catch the drift.

Civil 3D is always about styling the data. Remember Topo grids, surface quality assurance, or tracking QA inside Civil 3D? Start with the data and Civil 3D Style tools will produce for you what you need.

On the surface, Civil 3D Features generate symbols in what looks like a lot of ways.  Everywhere Civil 3D actually wraps the symbol (and AutoCAD block or a point marker) in a Feature component. The penultimate  (I always wanted to use that word in a blog post) form of this is the Point Feature.
I’ll freely admit that initially Civil 3D’s much more flexible approach to point representation and annotation can be befuddling. Go ahead search this blog for Points here.

A Point of the Strange Brew

In Civil 3D we manage our graphic symbolism by this strange brew of Point Styles, Description Key Sets, and Point Groups. The result all hinges on the point data itself. Our legend and list tools are buried in there unless you want to spend a lot of time programming up the tool yourself. Yuck. Most of us have more important and more mission-critical engineering and survey work to do.

Back to Civil 3D Point Basics

Let’s take stock and look at what we’ve got and what we have to deal with.

  • Ok by easy to understand NE (northing and easting) point data we can generate points in a carefully arranged stack of locations. We need a special point data file. A spreadsheet tool can create it. A Survey Db can store it.
  • We need a collection of Point Styles that display our wrappered graphics - Got that. It’s what we publish on the sheet(s) anyway.
  • We need a tweaked Description Key Set to handle the slightly different scaling and layout issues in our published list.
    We also want to generate the appropriate and specialized descriptive text that we want in our Legend, Abbreviation, or other specialized symbol List. Whew!
    We can make that. Copy paste is something anyone can do.
  • Finally, it might be nice to have a nice border and columnar format arrangement for the output. A Civil 3D Point Table Style will do that trick nicely.
    We do have to deal with some automatic layout things that are built into a Civil 3D Table Style feature. However, we can adjust our point data to the particular details of the Type Style feature and the font we employ.

A Smarter, More Flexible, More Productive End Game

Once we lick it and kick it we can employ this “device” and the repeatable process to generate any kind of structured list in Civil 3D. We’ll have a tool that will allow us easily visualize the graphic output of any Description Key Set and Civil 3D point style library.

We can also do that for just about anything we like that isn’t covered by the typical Civil 3D Table Styles. This technique allows us to be tricky and produce lists with any forms of graphics in them.
Maybe you want specialized construction notes, revision marks, or detail notes in a table?

Our Production Solution AddOn for the month is a set of Legends and List tools.

Get informed in detail:
Here’s a link to the AddOn Legend and List documentation pdf.
This is a step-by-step guide to the process and use of the included tools. It’s all in there.

See it:
Here’s a link to an in-depth video that demonstrates how it’s done.

Legends and Lists in InstantOn

An overview of the Legend and List Creation AddOn for InstantOn
Reviews the AddOn for Release 5 in AutoCAD Civil 3D 2014+, AutoCAD Civil 3D 2013, and AutoCAD Civil 3D 2012

Take Five and Jump Ahead