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Section Reference Tips

Tags section, pages of sections, alignment, publiish, data reference, DREF, dynamic model

Pages of Sections in AutoCAD Civil 3D employ many Styles and have many properties. All that complexity makes getting exactly what you want somewhat of a challenge. 

This is just one Page of Sections. Obviously a long alignment and its large Corridor with many Sections makes for potentially many pages. That produces large drawings where changes and modifications to the Section details can take considerable time.
We also need all the Sections to present the detailed Section data effectively. We also want them to require as little manual adjustment to individual Section Views as possible. 

Get There in Less Time

How about a couple of sneaky performance and setup tips you might use to help make the process faster and less demanding on your computer resources and time?

Use Data References and the Dynamic Model Effectively

Sections and Page of Sections work because they employ the Dynamic Model to produce their output - Multiple Civil 3D Features are "connected" together to produce Section Views. A typical section employs multiple Surface Features, Alignment horizontal control, and multiple Assembly cross sections (potentially from multiple Corridor Baselines). All of the Features have potential Feature and Label Styles assigned to them too. There's a lot of detail to get right.

However, the Civil 3D Dynamic Model also means that if you Plan Ahead carefully you can set a lot of the Data Reference connections up in advance using simple "place holder" Features and then replace the connections later with More detailed or "complete" ones later.
In other words, you can use simple Feature stuff to do the Dynamic Model building up front and then work on improving the Feature details as the project moves along. As the details become more important to you, you can work on improving the Section presentation too.

Unfortunately, you do have to have a Planned and Managed Project concept in place to do this. Both where you store the Features and what you Name the Features you are going to employ is important. The Jump project employs 10_Model and 20_Reference storage folders to emphasize this idea.

In a recent post I talked about how the Jump Project Structure is important and how that relates to the development of a Civil 3D Project Template too.

Get to the Civil 3D Root Feature

For Sections the primary "collector" is the Alignment Feature. The Section Line Groups are collected in the Toolspace under a Named Alignment. At this point, we can't move the SL Groups around so... 

Do you have an Alignment Naming plan?

Without an Alignment Naming Plan you are probably going to get confused as the number of alignments explode in your project anyway. Civil 3D uses a lot More alignments than LDT. This isn't obvious at first so this is one way the Civil 3D bear can eat you.
In the Jump Project, we employ a basic Alignment naming scheme based on a grid of potential project wide alignments and the primary direction of the alignment itself.

You can open the core Alignment data reference drawing to see the Jump Project's alignment naming scheme at work.
The Jump Project alignment naming method isn't a law. It's just a suggestion. The KIND of project you face does make a difference. Five miles of freeway reconstruction is not airport taxiway project nor is that anything like a new subdivision. Or is it? In any case you NEED Feature Naming Rules and you NEED to follow them. 

Separate the Key Feature References 

The fact that the project Alignments and their key design Profile Features are NOT stored in the drawings used to generate other Features like published Profile Views, and More design Features like Corridors and Intersections is important.
The fact that these Key Project Features are stored without Style in the Jump Project is also important, but that's another story I've covered before and won't belabor here.

Separating Key Features out in the project in this fashion does allow you to REPLACE the Features as things change over the course of the project.
When you do the formal Feature replacement is a quality control benchmark you need to think about and establish.

Will a Section Line Group in a separate drawing that is attached to an externally referenced Alignment Feature update? You bet, but you DO need to pay careful attention. A Civil 3D Feature cannot know about what did NOT exist when it was created unless you tell it. For example- if you lengthen the alignment or move its Start point you will have Section Line Group adjustments to consider and make.
Changing the core horizontal control definition of the referenced alignment may require that you reconstruct the Sample Lines or even completely reconstruct a new or separate additional Sample Line Group altogether. 
Remember BEFORE you just delete an old one bad Section Line Group that you may have a useful example to work from with at least some of the details already established.

If we take the placeholder Feature approach to our Sections, we have some KISS questions to ask:

"What should our "placeholder" Sample Line Group reference when we built it?"

Complex finished Sample Line Styles and Label Styles would just make things more complicated.  The NOPLOT Styles work to show everyone there is a Sample Line and a Sample Line Group, but for the most part stay out of everyone's way.

We certainly do NOT need all the array of Data Source Features seen in the list above. The example above contains Existing ground, multiple Corridor Assemblies and Surfaces, and even Pipe Network parts. We KNOW we can add (and remove) Data Sources to the SL Group later.

"Do I need any Data Sources in a prototype Sample Line Group?" Not Really. The Sample Lines actually don't care. Maybe I want to reference a default placeholder surface in my project.

"What is the smallest simple Section Line Group?" Dooh! A single Sample Line.

"Where should I built it?" The Alignment Start or End might be a couple of default locations to consider. However, these might change and maybe cause problems in the Sample Line Group later. Therefore, somewhere in the about the middle of the Alignment seems to me to be a better choice.
Remember you will be adding More Sample Lines to the Group. You will probably just delete the placeholder Sample Line anyway.  

"Are there other Features I could connect the Sample Lines to that might save me time and energy?"

We'll answer that question next time.