In the last couple of posts we chatted about employing AutoCAD Civil 3D COGO Point Features as quality assurance and quality control devices. In the last post we talked about the basic setups of Features, Style, and Sets required to make Tracking By Point work.
How About Some Practical Production Tips
Building TEMPORARY dirty surfaces from parts (first) and then all of the Survey data definitely helps you locate and identify QA issues in the Survey data.
We need to employ all the AutoCAD Civil 3D power tools that are at our disposal.
Styles designed as QA Styles and NOT as publication devices are a great help.
This is one reason why InstantOn Basic and Jump Kit have so many Style and Set choices and options.
Users practically need more visual help and constructive feedback to become better decision makers.
Employ Civil 3D’s Strength to Save Work
When doing QA and fiixes, I constantly cycle through changes in Style for the Civil 3D Features in question. I’m often watching in multiple views for errors and omissions as well.
We all learned the hard way things might not show up in Plan but leap out and bite you from a different camera angle and/or or representation.
During QA and data assessments multiple crafted viewports are a must.
A well-engineered Feature Style displays the best possible representation in multiple views and viewport applied Visual Styles too.
AutoCAD’s visual tools keep getting better and better. As Cadpilots we get paid to keep improving those core ACAD visualization skills. Like the Beach Boys sing,
“I Get Around…”
If you are not totally and mindlessly comfortable with the Viewcube, the Object Viewer, 3D Orbit and have some personal preferences for stock Visual Styles when viewing Civil 3D Features, it’s time to up your game by upping your practice time.
Any investment you make will save YOU far more time.
Is this menu your friend? Your enemy? Or a mysterious stranger?
Civil 3D’s Quick Profile tool is really helpful visual feedback for debugging Survey data and surface issues. I always keep a dumb ACAD Line object around to move around by Grip Edit and examine the current surface model in section.
Quick Profile also works off Survey Figures. Too bad we can’t click over to the figure related Survey Point from a Figure’s Quick Profile. That’s on my wish list?
Of course you’ve got to have QA Profile View Styles that scale, annotate meaningfully for your QA work. IOB's got them.
Honestly, I also employ tricky and temporary "existing" Corridors Features to cruise some Survey data. That’s a post for another time.
Like I said before Survey data is always in a Survey Db.
Contrary to the workflow a lot of people use I almost NEVER import Survey Points except by Selection or by collection.
I play small ball for more Civil 3D production performance.
Did I mention that AutoCAD Civil 3D 2013 Survey queries rock.
Of course, I employ InstantOn Basic Desciption Key Sets and Point Group collectors to weed, manage and display the selected points the way I need at the moment.
Who wouldn’t. This approach saves a ton of time and system resources aside from allowing me to focus on the data that matters NOW.
Do you use the Update Description Keys command a lot? Why not?
In the past the old software forced to worry about publication when other issues were really more important. We had little display and annotative flexibility.
Civil 3D changes the game.
We can deal with data as data and generate a specific data peek at will.
Survey Db Civil 3D Features from the Network on down pack a lot of bang for the buck if you’ve got actual observation data and Styles that perform.
It takes a bit of experience to understand all the many ways that “Survey” let’s you see, examine in detail, and edit the Network, Setup, Point and Figure data.
Edit Setups that Observe sure beats the old find Waldo game.
However, even if all you’ve got it a pile of resolved points from a "points file" you aren’t without resources within the Survey Toolspace tab.
The FBK Myth
It is myth I often hear that you’re cut off from automated Figure generation and Process Linkwork regeneration without an FBK. Nothing could be further from the truth. Search for "Figures".
What About Survey Db Change Tracking?
Do you turn On and OFF edit tracking in your Survey Db? Can you?
Whoa! There’s a post or two.
I’ll sometimes use QA points to mark both Start and End ranges of Figure edits, splits, and joins. Remember that the Survey Db automatically tracks changes to Figures that change from the import with the Auto-generated field in Survey Figure Properties.
If you or someone else hits a Figure with the Surface Figure Properties box and changes anything it’s marked changed in the Survey Db.
How to Expose Both the Problems and the Fixes
We got some COGO QA points.
We want to get them out of this drawing and exposed for tomorrow and every day thereafter. The QA points are already nicely collected in our Point Group too. First, ALWAYS check the QA points from the Point Group with Edit Points.
Do you need to Renumber any points? Are the elevation values reasonable? Do you want to smack the Points to a surface elevation and/or Datum move them? We certainly don’t want them potentially hidden under stuff in our typical Plan views.
You can get to the Modify Points ribbon and those commands by following the name track – Modify>>Points.
WARNING some of the Civil 3D point commands in the Points Modify ribbon are still very old school. Pay attention to the ACAD command line. Some commands also affect ALL points in the drawing and NOT just selected points so pay attention to the command details.
Files Are Old School and Leave a Record
Output from the drawing all the found Point, Figure and Surface errors, fixes, and/or questions to an external points file. We’ve been doing Export Points for like years and years. You can Export directly from the Point Group without a fuss.
I tend to employ the generic Autodesk AUF file format - KISS
Date and initial the QA point files in the file name. That comes very handy downstream.
Store the exported files in a dedicated project folder.
Remember to DELETE the QA COGO points from the drawing. They are now safely stored away.
Separate the Networks
Import that external file in another Survey "QA" Network in the project Survey Db (or a separate Db) to track the fixes.
Yes. It’s true you can port the COGO points directly from a drawing into a Survey Db. It’s fast, but the external file method allows you to go back and see WHO put in WHAT and WHEN. Therefore, Export to Files has some other benefits too.
Remember you can always yank out a Network from a Survey Db by a number of backup and export methods.
You can Remove specific import events – a particular file import.
Multiple people may add additional imported files into our growing QA Network so this method works pretty well to track changes a different stages, phases, or what have you.
Maybe you want separate QA Networks for Survey and Design. Civil 3D is flexible.
If you have large survey datasets, to deal with, this COGO/Survey Point tracking method works to divide, conquer and share the QA and Fix work load as well.
If the Survey Db containing the QA Network is shared in a project location, anyone can review fixes in any project drawing by the simple Zoom to Survey point functionality. What the Heck. You can even publish the QA points to DWFs for background image use and for anyone to see and markup without Civil 3D. Search the blog posts here for Autodesk Design Review and DWF.
Civil 3D survey functionality allows us to selectively import Points and Figures into a temporary QA drawing. People can be selective. People need not be burdened with too much information and information that doesn’t matter now.
Track Fixed Points
I advocate appending Key front characters to the Fixed point descriptions - maybe “QFX” (or any simple code) to weed done fixes from remaining and outstanding issues.
How you employ the Format property in the Keys and employ the Update Description Keys command matters.
It’s easy to construct a Point Group(s) based on the Raw descriptions and point range constraints to manage Fixes this way too.
When you employ this simple Point Track method people also have a remaining Fix list or an informal work order to help out others. You also have a bit of an audit trail that you may or may not expose uphill to design. They never find problems in your work later?
More Than You May Expect
We all know that once in a while you may have to almost “start over” with the QA Fix list. It happens. Maybe you discover serious issues in the original import file field setups for example.
Your tracked COGO points (and locations with descriptions) may greatly reduce the repeat Assessment and Fix time.
The old QA and Fix points also help validate that you actually fixed the issue faster.
The visual matters. Civil 3D and InstantOn together excel at that like nothing else we’ve seen.
A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum
All of this Point Track stuff might end up getting you a couple of new QA templates with all the details set up in them beforehand.
Civil 3D productivity takes more than “a” template.
But don’t wait around for that…
Get the Jump
Get to Work
Links to all the posts in the Track By Point series: