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Follow up on the Figures and Nuff Said

Tags 2011, 2012, 2013, figures, NCS, ncs 4.0, ncs 5.0, block, symbol, points, Survey Figure Editor

In a post last week I tossed out a basic primer on AutoCAD Civil 3D Figure editing. By the way,

“Thanks for the encouraging emails and comments I’ve received. I’m glad the post helped some folks out.”

Here’s a few other Figure Feature related “issues” that keep coming up.
If they keep coming up, we have to consider them worth repeating now and then and clarifying some more. Searching here in the blog about “Figures” and any related Survey Civil 3D keywords should get you a lot more posts about Figure related topics. 99% all still apply. Some videos here too.

Nuff Said

You’ll probably note I quote Stan Lee’s famous “Nuff Said” balloon from Marvel Comics a lot in here.  A couple of weeks ago I posted that Civil 3D is like a Supermodel. Sometimes She makes me feel a bit like Spiderman – conflicted, falsely accused, and a bit tangled up in webs of my own making. “Nuff Said” means to me there’s more to say here but we’ll have to await another comic issue to come back to it. There are no more panels in the available publishing space or in the tired minds of the reader to cover more just now.

The Field Book Myth

Inside Civil 3D many people first think that automated Figure creation works like it did WAY BACK in the Land Desktop Dark Age. Some assume that means that Figure creation requires .FBK file input to function.  Not true!
Come on folks. In a GPS’d equipment world that wouldn’t make much sense, now would it?
The Civil 3D Survey Db cares not a whit whether or not you have a collection of resolved point data or a collection of survey observations when it comes to Figure generation.

It’s Easy to Learn the Ropes without Burns

The project dataset we ship will InstantOn Basic and even our Free template products includes both FBK data and point file data examples. They include all the requisite resources like Description Key Sets, Survey Figure Prefix Dbs, etc. to make them work and help you understand the more advanced Civil 3D way of doing things.  These resources are easy to tweak and put to use in the real world too.

Where else can you get Description Key Set and Survey Figure Db resources based on a careful assessment of multiple state DOT keys and that supports (in depth) the NCS standards too? These work right out of the box. We supply even More resources in our Jump Kit and Symbol Set products as well.

Nuff Said

Process Linework

You can pour your point files into a Survey Db and “Process Linework” whenever that independent Civil 3D process makes the most sense. You can process the figure data by dividing them into separate Import Events and/or even dump in more than a few Import Events to get all the Survey Point and then Process Linework (Figure generation) after all the data is in there.

Civil 3D Context Hierarchy

You are responsible to understand that a different Toolspace “context” matters. In other words, where you are in the Civil 3D Toolspace tree changes how the software acts.
This context sensitive hierarchy in Civil 3D is confusing at first. It’s easy to miss, if you aren’t trained well and/or are trying to learn by the trial and error method. For example each Import Event may have a Figure collection and there is always root Figures collection of all currently generated Figures. It’s easy to wonder why that command appears here in some Toolspace right click menus, but not in others.
It’s about context.

Civil 3D is More Flexible

Civil 3D’s approach to Figure generation is more flexible than old school “serial” data input approach.
You may employ multiple different Figure Prefix Dbs to different collections of Survey data because of Civil 3D’s more “parallel” approach to data input.

For example: your internal field crew staff collects this way and another contracted crew collects that way certainly isn’t optimal for productivity. However, you can technically deal with the different field collection methodologies (and equipment) and their personalized description “matches” back at the shack.

Format Provides a Translation Scheme

Civil 3D’s Format column for point data input can act like a survey dialect or language translator if and when you need it. In formal database speak you can employ it to help you “normalize” disparate point data into a sum greater than the disparate parts. Yes, it does take planning, different Survey and Point Settings, and a consistently applied process.

You can have separate Survey Dbs that you perform a “ data merge” on the generate a single working Survey Db. You can do the same thing with Survey Networks albeit with a more careful managed approach to what’s specifically happening right now inside Civil 3D – You can control that with your Current Civil 3D Survey settings.

Nuff Said

Those Mystery Parcels from Figures

In Civil 3D 2011, 2012, and AutoCAD Civil 3D 2013 Survey Figure input into a drawing will always generate Parcel Features. Survey Figures always generate Parcel segments inside your drawing even if you have the Lot Creation checkbox unchecked in the Survey Prefix Db for the match.

In Civil 3D since you are making a Parcel segment for each Figure you must also have a unique Parcel collector to hold each segment. When you remove the Figures from the drawing (or delete them by any means) Civil 3D does not automatically delete the now empty associated Parcel Features. Arrrrgh!
There is no way from the Civil 3D interface to delete the empty and now useless Parcels.

Therefore, the set of potentially empty Parcels in your drawing will grow and grow as you insert and remove Figures inside a drawing to perform edits, create breaklines, etc. Therefore, the drawing you employ to work on the Figures and create temporary QA surfaces from them will end up in the trash heap. You will always need to produce published drawings.

Nuff Said

Figure Generation May Fail

64-bit AutoCAD Civil 2013 appears to me to be better about not failing to occasionally generate Figures when all the figure data is “correct” and you run Process Linework than previous releases. In 2011 and 2012 (particularly in 32-bit versions with their built in memory constraint issues) you may have Figures fail to generate properly if you do not put them into a drawing when you run Process Linework.
When in doubt put Figures in and then pull them out.

Nuff Said