Point Dreams in the Annotative View Space

Tags point display, survey point, COGO points, point group, Point Label Style, Point Style

For reasons that I trust are pretty obvious to all by now, I routinely get lots of questions about AutoCAD Civil 3D Point Styles and their "strange" behaviors.

Not so simple Symbols

The Choices of Confusion

Inside Civil 3D we have lots More choices to make about how we handle our Symbols. This is befuddling to almost everyone in the beginning. What looks simple has become so different.
Been there. Done That. Got a bunch of T-shirts.

While I bite my somewhat irreverent tongue and cheek, I might put it this way,

"The Block, died and went to heaven.
It was resurrected into a Symbol.
The same old story was wrapped in new glory."

That's not exactly "True" (with a capitol) of course, but it does make the point that we have to consider there is More to the simple CAD picture than meets the eye inside Civil 3D. 

Symbol consistency and mutual agreement are important. The graphic content does remain critical to how our plans are interpreted by the many players in the game. Our tool may change, but people's expectations and perceptions don't adjust quite so rapidly. This is true for the Civil 3D user and consumer alike.

Civil 3D changes and evolves to hopefully REDUCE our man-hour commitment to maintaining these annotations (Symbols and Feature produced text labels) in our plan sets. Civil 3D can and does do that well. Jump products help More. 

We need to keep that REDUCTION GOAL in mind.

Readability is a critical factor in today's "Evermore" data dense plan sets. So Civil 3D changed the game and made View based Annotative Scale the central new pivot point around which its world revolves. Or did it?

How Do YOU Handle Point Rotation(s)?

Civil 3D Point Styles always allowed you to tackle this fundamental issue in More than a few ways. C3D needs too have this diverse capability since we arguably have more than one Category of things to identify and symbolize. If you think even a little bit about this you also discover we NEED to show the SAME Point stuff in different ways in different contexts as well. This then begs the question, "Is there only one iron pipe symbol?"

A Classic Point Style

I purposefully picked the IP symbol here as an example because a lot of people don't appear to "like" the "standard" NCS block representation. That block is also asymmetric and text based. Classic CAD people usually prefer a symmetric one.

The Basics of Point Style Spin

Inside the Point Style Marker tab we get to establish and pick the properties of how our Point Marker responds to the ever present ACAD camera that ALWAYS produces what we see in Civil 3D. The Display System Rules.

Separate from the Marker contents itself (the IP picture) we get to define the basis of the Point Feature's rotational spin.

That's More Like It

We can change from the asymmetric to the symmetric picture so now our Point Style Spin matters much less. Or does it? It's more of a quantum question because how we look at it makes all the difference.

New for Old in moments 

Apply and little ol' Twist and Shout...

(If you don't understand how to do this here's a post by Lousia Holland on both the DVIEW and the UCS methods)

DVIew Twist applied

Now we have a whole new set of Spin problems. Or do I?
By default the Jump employs the WCS as the default for many of its Point Styles not because they are really better built that way but because this is what most ACAD and LDT people have come expect from their "points".
A second View based set is mindless to create. Just ask.
 

View based Point Style definitions would have responded automatically to our change of View perspective, BUT that would NOT have solved all of our Point Spin problems either. The real world doesn't conform to the straight up and down we often need in our plan set Plan Views.

Manage By Group

Lucky me...ByDesign there are Point Groups built into our InstantOn Basic template that allow me to select and tweak Points by Groups. This allows me to apply Marker Rotation properties to defined and managed groups of points in specific ways. Since my Point Labels are also driven in much same way we get closer to our desired result in a More managed way.

Points Selected by Point Group and Rotated Some Points Get My Spin  

Note that in our example the Water Valves are intentionally NOT members of this "Topo-UTIL" Point Group to clarify what's happening here. 
ALL the labels are NOT controlled by that Point Group either. 
Yes, we could also FORCE those related Point properties for the selected Group members too. But we employed the principal of...

Filtered Group Management

We decided to handle the Point labels with other Point Groups lower down in the Point Group Priority Stack. Two other Point Group property definitions handle all the displayed labels we see above.

The Single Point of Pain

Release 2012 added even more individual point and label "tweakabilities" to the existing Point whirlpool. This was a wish list item I'm told. Oh goody!

Remember - the MORE you individually tweak single members of Civil 3D Features the MORE work you must CONTINUE to do it to maintain them.

More Marker and Label Rotational Control

The Point Spin in the View Space

The point here is that we must have a known Structure and a Process to achieve both the flexibility we need and at the same time produce the predictable results in a productive way that we can also maintain.

Point Categorize or Get Even More Confused

We need to Categorize Point Styles because some things like signs, street lights, and vaults are really often aligned to linear features. 
Point Groups can do this well if our Keys take it into consideration by employing simple Odd/Even number and Left/Right rules.
Some of these Point Styles may require real world sizing or at least more lifelike sizing too. There's a practical difference there too.
However, the fact remains that a lot of our common Symbols are purely that - symbols that appear nothing like the object and simply represent it in space.

Whew! I thought this was getting complicated.

Point Dreams and Wishes

Maybe you'll want to agree or disagree with the following Point Dreams but please remember to express yourself in writing to Autodesk. Wish List items matter.

1) The doable - Description Keys should be able to scale in X,Y,Z independently.

2) The biggy - we should be able to RELATE Point rotational properties to Civil 3D linear Features like Alignments and Figures.
I think this (rotation) should be is a Point Group property.
Please keep this collection of Points aligned to THAT primary alignment in this parallel, perpendicular, or a fixed rotational state.

3) Please Give me XML driven importable/exportable Point and Figure Group definitions that are NOT dependent on existent Point Features or the current Description Key Set stack that Civil 3D does NOT read in total anyway.

4) The Civil 3D Point Styles should be integrated and consistently work with AutoCAD Dynamic Blocks so we don't have to have near copies of lots and lots of common symbols. Hey? Aren't utility structures utility structures?

5) Point Features and Labels should be much more dynamically connected to and dynamically built on demand from many other Features. I'd hazard to guess that this Neverland wish will take a few more releases of Civil 3D and some pixey dust.