Linear Figures from the Field in Civil 3D

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Let’s to take a moment for a brief, but important, aside before we pursue our discussion of a numeric Code conversion in InstantOn Survey for AutoCAD Civil 3D. Last time I made reference to Not Keys and BESTWay figures as Production Solution methods we can employ to reduce to our man-hour costs in field gathering.  

It appears I’ve covered the Not Keys before in some detail, but not talked in a blog post about BESTW Keys and Figures. Silly me. I meant to. There’s so many cool and useful things in the Product Solution products it’s way too easy to forget to talk about them.

As more than one customer has said,

“I keep finding new issues in Civil 3D, but then I discover your product’s already solved them.”

Basic Pattern Matches in Chaos

AutoCAD Civil 3D still employs very basic text string pattern matching technology for Description Keys and Figures. This is good news and bad news. Maybe there’s little bit new to learn, but we are significantly confined to text matching systems with primitive rules. Put it this way – if search engines and password matching still worked like AutoCAD, the Internet as we know it would not be possible.
‘nuff said.

We formally rolled out BESTW Keys in Release 5 as a way to help reduce field time and improve Survey functionality in AutoCAD Civil 3D.
Therefore for the InstantOn Survey product it’s built in there for AutoCAD Civil 3D 2014, 2013, and 2012.

The BESTW pattern employs the Not Key concept and pattern matching method.

What does BESTW do?

It allows you to employ a simple method to gather the data for ANY linear feature without having to memorize a complex coding system.  
Everyone gets:

“B” is for Bottom.
“E” is for Edge.
“S” is for Surface.
“T” is for Top.
“W” is for Wall.

A typical set of InstantOn BESTW Description Keys looks like this for a Weir:


Basic Description

WEIR[~ B,E,S,T,W]##















  • Here we employ an NCS (National CAD Standard) Standard Keys based optional 4 character predicate of “WEIR”. No one said the Standard Keys can’t be shortened for field usage - Certainly not me.

  • Codes that include the double” ##” number matching allow us to generate double digit based left and rights and the resultant identified Civil 3D Figure features. Single digit codes work, but not as well.

  • As is typical in Civil 3D, the ORDER of the codes does make a difference because of the find first rule built into Description Keys and Figure Prefix Db linework processing.

The result of the BESTW method can be a simple SITE structure like a top and bottom of bank or a very complex multiple figure ROAD or LEVE structure that may include slope breaks and even intermittent vertical walls, curbs, or whatever.