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Project Templates Are More NOT Less

Tags ncs, uds, project, project template, sheet set template, sheet template, implementation, Project Management, dynamic model


"What the heck is a Project Template? Why would I need such a stupid thing? We're doing projects all the time. We know how to manage our drawing files. Who needs that dumb junk."

Happy New Year!

The person who said this to me not long ago over the phone was a bit more irate and caustic than I am willing to put in print.

He works for a about a 40-person engineering and surveying firm finally moving from using LDT 2009 (now dying or dead due to Windows 7 upgrades and all the rest). They are trying to start to use Civil 3D every day. Sound familiar?

Me? I was trying to explain to him that all our Production Products include More than drawing templates. You can use these other IMPORTANT templates to help manage projects and your work better.

I'd just finished up telling him that we had a UDS compliant Sheet Set Template. He didn't think that was something he needed either. He personally didn't like the Sheet Set Manager. He said he'd tried that once a while ago and that "didn't ever work". Sound familiar?

You Don't Know What You Don't Know 

That can kill you or at least make you mad as hell. What you don't know and/or what you cannot see can make you work too hard.

Do not ignore the potential of a Civil 3D Project Template

Let's see if I can briefly explain why Civil 3D Project Templates are neither dumb or any less important and/or significant than the couple of thousand Jump Styles and Sets included in our Model templates.

The Civil 3D Project Template

The Civil 3D Project Template was originally created to make adding new projects to a Vault easier and less tedious for the Vault Administrator. If you've ever had to do that work, you're grateful for it. 

"But we don't use Autodesk Vault. We use Data Shortcuts. A Project Template is useless."

WRONG!

These days Data Shortcuts are the More common way many people and organizations appear to use Civil 3D. The Civil 3D Project Template is still an extremely useful tool. Without Vault you simply use Windows Explorer and the Copy and Paste commands to get what you need accomplished. Anyone can start a "standard" project this way.
But what is a "standard" project?

Projects are Not All the Same 

Your projects in the real world vary considerably in size, scope, and complexity. This says you probably need Simple, Medium, and Complex Project Templates that have varied degrees of structure and resource depth but obey the same rules. That second point is very important.

Follow the Path of Least Resistance 

The Jump Template Collection products all employ Uniform Drawing Standard (UDS) recommendations to this basic customizable project structure. That UDS structure is extended into the Sheet Set Template too. 
We're not smart - we're inherently lazy. We believe in KISS. If some smart people spent a lot of time figuring out a tool, I say use that tool until you can do better. It is really no surprise that the Jump Project Structure works in the real world in real projects.

What is More surprising to many people is that the Jump employs the Way Civil 3D works to do so much More for you in the long run. That is ByDesign. That is innovative. That can make your day and maybe make your year. Too Brash a statement? Perhaps. We'll see...

Get the Stuff Out of the Way

If you want to reinvent the wheel, be my guest. Like our LDT using friend above, your previous expertise and way of doing things may cause you to work harder than you have to in Civil 3D. It can certainly cause you to work at the wrong things as many Style creators and customizers soon discover,

While you reinvent, you need to consider these key differences between LDT/ACAD and Civil 3D:

    o   LDT had a project data structure that included Microsoft Jet database and connections to them. 
        You may believe that Civil 3D does not - 
        However, Civil 3D 2011 does use an MSSQL Server Express database.
        Civil 3D is really More project centric than LDT in practice except for very simple projects.

    o   LDT/ACAD relied on external references (Xrefs) to get complex project work put together
        Civil 3D uses Xrefs too.
        Coupled with Sheet Sets Civil 3D takes Xref usage to a whole new level.

    o   LDT did not have data references (DREFs). The LDT project databases gave you a
         glimmer of what DREFs can do. They are NOT the same thing.
        Civil 3D divides and conquers complex work using Feature DREFs.
        You HAVE to Manage THAT

On our webinars page you can find Free videos that detail Basemap construction and differences between LDT and Civil 3D. Search elsewhere in this blog for "Basemaps" too.

The Managed Dynamic Model

A Managed Dynamic Model depends on systematic and managed and use of these FEATURE centric DREFs. Technically, Civil 3D does not require an LDT like "project" connection to function. Therefore, Civil 3D is More dependent on project structure, organization, and an ongoing maintenance process. You can reference a Feature in another project or in a archived version of the project.

In Land Desktop we tend to think that the current drawing is the center of the universe.
We even talk about "My drawing" all the time. You cannot use Civil 3D with this mindset.

In Civil 3D, we must think "Dynamic Model" - interconnected Features stored in drawings.

It's unlikely that your classic LDT project structure is going to be effective at managing the Civil 3D Dynamic Model without some thoughtful and educated revisions.

Features you create within the Model may need to get moved inside the Project Structure because they've changed "state" and become direct References to other new Features as your project moves through the phases of your design process. Ignore this practical FACT OF LIFE at your peril.

The Jump's Project Template structure recognizes that you have a Model from which you will publish you work. Within the Model there are common tasks which have to be performed. There are direct References (both Xref and Dref) that may change. There are indirect References like Existing Conditions that change much less, require restricted access to changes, and/or don't get published at all and yet remain important to the project.

There's More to a Project than That

The Civil 3D Project Template is potentially than More than basic project folder Setup.

In a Civil 3D Project Template, we can even do set up work for future Model construction with simple "placeholder" Featues and drawings before we even have started the real work. As we work we may be just replacing parts in a standardized project Model. That beats redoing this every time.

To save download space the Jump Project Template does not include drawing files with pre-built placeholder Features, but your Project Template probably should. How much of your "standard" published Sheet Set deliverables you put in there is something to work on too.

Civil 3D's Feature DATA driven model and "automated" Style driven annotation is a huge productivity advantage. The Jump Model Templates and their Styles help you immediately take advantage of that.

Your "standard" Project Templates and Sheet Sets should be developed and maintained to take full advantage of that stuff. But More than ONE type of Model Template is usually a necessity for most firms. We have different kinds of work and different kinds of deliverables. That's why we propose 00_Resource folders as a ACTIVE and NEEDED part of a Civil 3D project.

We also supply a working Project with our products. We are NOT just showing off some Style and Set tools. We supply it because most people probably need the FUNCTIONAL example of a working project structure too. We even add documenting PDF files to folder so you and your users KNOW what's supposed to be there.

All we can do is provide you with a Better place to Start with your Civil 3D Project Template.

Every project you work on should help make YOUR Civil 3D Project Template(s) get better. 

That kind of systematic and incremental productivity gain was tough to do in LDT. It is easy to miss the fact that Civil 3D helps you do it, but that only WORKS if you PLAN to do it. 

What you get with AutoCAD Civil 3D out of the box is NOT enough.

What you get in the Jump is More.

Did a light go on? OMG!
I hope so.
Happy New Year