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An Alignment in Civil 3D

Tags alignment, design control, horizontal control, vertical control, cross section control, annotation, Style, group labels


What does an Alignment do in AutoCAD Civil 3D? That’s a loaded question. It pays to consider the doing of Alignment Features in C3D carefully. If we’ve used old-school, legacy CAD for a long time, we probably have some misconceptions about Alignments in Civil 3D. Autodesk invested a lot in their Alignment beast. That old familiar word is more sophisticated and more nuanced in meaning these days.

As I pointed out last time an Alignment isn’t what you see on the screen. That path of lazy thought and talk often leads to mass confusion.

Maybe we should consider that it is really something else. Is it a thing? No, not really. It’s a bucket of buckets. Every named Alignment collects many other things. Maybe if we called the Feature something else that might help. How about the AutoCAD Civil 3D…

The Design Control Manager

This interpretation of the Feature name perhaps clarifies what the Feature does better than the word alignment. Last post we talked the Civil 3D Alignment Types. Perhaps these are about the level of managed Design Control you need to do what you need to accomplish?

We might consider the Alignment beast is a collection of data management interfaces. Civil 3D supplies these to user through Layout toolbars, various Ribbon and panels, and wizards. Kindly, Civil 3D is very consistent in its interface approach given the complexity of the many related managers listed here.

Horizontal Control Manager

This is what we classically think an alignment is in civil engineering speak. Hence Autodesk’s understandable misnomer. The HC manager collect and manages:

  • Site Parcel context
  • Direction
  • Stationing and related Station Equations
  • Design Speed
  • HC Segment Type and Relationships and the Segment math
    We are responsible for segment direction and how we approach PI or Segment definition

Design Rules and Criteria Control Manager

As we discovered last time this is what Alignment Type is mostly there for.

  • The applied HC Design Rules Table
  • Design Criteria – customizable specific rules defined by Criteria Style

Vertical Control Manager

Profiles are hierarchical children of parental alignments in Civil CD. There is no such thing as a Profile without an Alignment.

  • Site Parcel context and Direction derived from parent above
  • VC Design Rules from parent above
  • Design Criteria - customizable specific rules defined by Criteria Style
  • Profile Views provide the graphic interface
    but you don’t need Profile Views to have Profiles available
  • VC Segment Type and Relationships and the Segment math
    We are responsible for segment direction and how we approach PVI or Segment definition

Offset Control Manager

We could consider this to be the basis for HC and VC for cross section Control.
How much we choose to employ this depends on what we do in the uphill Corridor properties and related Assembly Subassemblies’ properties and perhaps some or all of the following:

  • Offset Alignments
  • Widenings
  • Their (often optional) Profile children

Superelevation Control Manager

The Superelevation Wizard attempts to resolve and compensate some, but not all, of the above and produce HC and VC adjustments to the Design control based on several supported methods and roadway design norms.

  • Superelevation Views and Tabular Editor provide interfaces

An Annotation Manager

What we want to display at the moment often makes all the difference. This sometimes frustrates us the most in AutoCAD Civil 3D. Life without good Style can be hell. You can fix that.

All the many other Design Control managers here can make us lose sight of the fact that Alignments and their many potential children have lots of different kinds of Style and other capabilities like Masking. These include the largest collections of Label Styles and potential Sets in Civil 3D. Simply put - Group Labels rock.

Roll With It

You can make the linework for Alignments and Profiles look like almost anything with the simple combinations of the linework Style and applied Group labels. Yes. That includes symbols. One might argue we can almost dispense with linetypes in Civil 3D if we’re willing to support the Styles and employ them well.

I’ve talked about Annotative Alignments often enough before so I won’t belabor that here. Our Production Solution products and most notably Jump Kit includes many of them.

Do you manage your annotation with Alignments?

The Alignment Management posts: a study guide to Read and Test in AutoCAD Civil 3D.

Civil 3D Alignment | Civil 3D Alignment Types | An Alignment in Civil 3D | Baseline Civil 3D Alignments | The Alignment End View in Civil 3D | Annotative Profiles in Civil 3D | Civil 3D Horizontal Control | Alignment Based Point Groups

Alignment Video posts: (see the Deliverables course in the Members section)

Civil 3D Alignment Matters - An Overview | Civil 3D Best Fits are Fast and Better | Civil 3D Best Fit Segment Tools