Model the Old in the New Civil 3D

Tags Description Key Set, codes, conversion, survey

Before Christmas I did a quick customization for a Survey customer. He could have done the work himself, but he needed it done now. No problemo. InstantOn Survey (IOS) is an AutoCAD Civil 3D terminator. IOS makes it easy to tweak because it got built that way by Design.

Our surveyor wanted to use a classic numeric coding system you are probably familiar with and that you may still employ.  To change your field gathering practice can be most problematic. Why? Some say it’s because the field folks are more married to their habits and in-place rituals. Yes and No.

Ritual and Resistance

This appears to be the reason, but I don’t think it is true for the oft stated reasons of human stubbornness and resistance to change. When you hear that kind of speak, you are usually dealing with misapplied technology.

I’ve been around this pole more than a few times with clients both large and small. It appears to me the real issue is a simple matter of the cost of a field man-hour versus the 72 degree man-hour of “shop time”.

It is like play on the field in a football game - the less time you spend thinking and the more time you spend doing the better. Chip Kelly and Payton Manning make that all too apparent.
Field folk will change their ways if it really is faster and easier and they don’t have to think about it a whole lot more.

I like following way of putting it since this sort of Structure and Process viewpoint also applies to the design side civil engineering processes in AutoCAD Civil 3D as well.

It is Easier to Edit than to Create

That core concept in central to the Production Solution Products design specification. Release 5 is our fifth engine rebuild. R5 works and may be tweaked quickly in three (Yes. I said 3) different releases of Civil 3D – 2014, 2013, and 2012. How did we do that? You know the trick…the replaceable part – more consistent and predictable replaceable parts that is.

Ok. To flip an IOS from alpha codes to numeric codes we’ve got to identify the parts and plug them in. Frankly, we supply the spreadsheet tools to simply match the codes and translate the field numeric (or your own alphas) into IOS speak in a shop pass or two. Whoa. Civil 3D can do that? Yup.

Layer, Level or Model

Old school numeric code systems were almost all built to categorize the field stuff into Layer or Level CAD management systems. You get groupings like the 80 stuff is all sanitary sewer stuff etc. Second, third, and even fourth digits get more specific. Maybe all the #1s are manholes. But not all systems have manholes do they?

The coding system employed in all our InstantOn products is actually MODEL management based.
What the heck does that mean?
The kind of PART is more important to its identification (or classification) than the TYPE of system the part is in.
Simply – It’s a manhole or a vault BEFORE you nail down the system.
This MODEL classification approach produces many fewer codes (much less to remember) and the ability to get more or less specific about stuff “on-demand”.

We accomplish that nifty trick via the use of what I call “Not Keys”. Search for Not Keys in the posts and that pattern matching capability in Civil 3D. It’s cool beans. The BESTWay codes do the same for linear structures. Between the two you’ve knocked off 90+% of the field stuff with quick and easy to remember patterns.

Next time we’ll explore the numeric conversion is some more detail.

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