Annotative Profiles in Civil 3D

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We’ve been talking about Alignments in AutoCAD Civil 3D as Design Control Manager (DCM) objects. Alignments are a bucket of buckets collector. Alignments are indeed a Management interface tool allowing us lots of access to the interfaces and tools of managed control. Certainly part of DCM functionality is Annotative what with View Frames and what not. See this post. If you miss that idea and/or method and practice, AutoCAD Civil 3D can be more painful.

Do We Need Annotative Profiles?

You Betcha. Time to get unstuck? This is a post about the power of backwards linear thinking. Whatever that is?

In Civil 3D Profiles are always children of Alignment parents. As obedient children in the Civil 3D object model Profiles are again a collector - another bucket of buckets. The Properties and Edit interfaces of Alignments and their Profile kids are very similar. This can be considered kind and productive or just confusing as we all know.

On the annotative and Label side of life this is also true.
Do you like Civil 3D Group Labels?
Me. I’m a big fan. You see, I’m lazy. I hate to work hard.
With good Style and an understanding of Group Label Sets, lots of annotative clarity and wonder can be produced quickly and more easily maintained in Civil 3D. There’s a mathematical dark side to models.

There Be Limitations

To have all the math glued together in the Civl 3D model is a good thing. But such data model and data integrity has consequences. In the real world of projects and submission requirements model realities can conflict with old school methods of design plan checks.
Remember, until recently the idea of a coherent model and formal relationships governed by Rules, Tables, and Design Criteria wasn’t a daily reality. Alignments and Profiles weren’t tied together. Most of the time we’re not sharing the model anyway even today. This is a…

Publish on Demand Problem

Suppose your jurisdiction wants PVI like labels at regular intervals on Vertical Curves based on the VCs themselves.
They want these special incrementals based on vertical curve start, ends or even mid points and NOT on the regular Station incrementals that Civil 3D produces easily based on the parent Alignment itself.
Oh! No!
Welcome to the model’s hierarchical and math-based dark side.

OMG! Why would anyone want that?

Often this is because of vertical curve Rate of Change requirements (A values) that need checking.
I’ve seen this type of thing in both DOTs and larger Road departments.
Yes, the standard Station incremental labels for Major or Minor stations document and produce the values, but not every jurisdiction or plan checker understands or agrees with that approach.
Even publishing the A values in the labels in the Station incremental labels may not get you around the problem.
Even formal reports in Civil 3D may not get you around the problem practically.
Been there. Done that. I bet that you have too.

What they want is a vertical curve labeled as though there were imaginary PVIs at some station increment on your VC. There are no REAL PVIs there in the model, of course.
There is no way to label the imaginary from the Civil 3D model. One supposes Autodesk could make such an analysis documentation tool, but don’t hold your breath. I don’t blame them either.
Station and Offset labels work, but these are really labor intensive and tougher to QA and maintain. Not good for our project productivity at all. We need Group Labels. No problem.

We Do Have the Civil 3D Tools to Solve This

We need an Annotative Profile published and built from the model to meet the annotative need.

  1. From the Toolbox
    Run the Profile>>Incremental Stationing Report just for the Station Range of each VC in your Profile ay the incremental value required.
    This report produces what we need -Station and Elevation at any increment for any range of Stations on any Alignment available in the current drawing.
    The output is in HTML generic format. Thank God.
  2. We want to keep an Audit on what we do. How did that get in here?
    If there are changes to the VC’s later we may have to tweak or recreate the Profile(s).
    Paste each result set into named Excel Sheets (Alignment Name VC#) as Unicode text from the HTML report(s).
    This produces the nice table in Excel we need.
  3. Find and Replace the “’” (foot) characters in the Elevation column
    We want real numbers to paste. The Station format will work great for what we need.
    Save the spreadsheet where you store the Data Shortcut drawing that holds them.
  4. Think Hard About where and what you are about to do right now
    You do store your Design Profiles in Data Reference storage drawings?
    These annotative VC Labels profile(s) maybe go to another such container?
    We will certainluy want to QA these again later?
    What these profiles look like is meaningless.
    We only build them to make Dumber labels in publishing drawings. Right?
  5. From a Profile View tied to the MAIN alignment create a New Profile
    We want these annotative profiles tied to the Alignment|Profile pair they annote.
    Use the Add PVI’s Tabular tool in the Profile Layout toolbar.
    Copy paste the Stations and Elevations into the list from the spreadsheet
  6. Save the profile by a close of the Profile Layout toolbar
  7. Share the Annotative VC Profiles as Data Shortcuts in the project
    There’s a video about that somewhere.
  8. Data Reference them in invisible Style form into your Plan and Profile sheet generator drawing or into the final Sheet drawings themselves.
    You can get better production Styles here.
  9. Add Group Labels as Grade Breaks that are Weeded on your original PVI incremental value to the Profile View published in the Plan and Profile sheets

For your Publish on Demand Civil 3D template for this picky jurisdiction…

Did You Remember to Test and Save the Label Set?

The Add PVI Tabular tool is less buggy than in days past.
These days you can even add in new PVIs without destroying the old ones.
It would be nice if the Add PVI Tabular tool obeyed Windows copy paste rules and took the two columns of values all at once instead of one value at a time. Dumb.
Yes. I do recognize we could be putting in different types of curves between the PVIs but we could fill out the table, tweak it, and then check it, couldn’t we? Come on Autodesk.

Half Baked is Undone

Hey? Do similar techniques also work for Annotative Alignment labels? 

The Book of Alignments Posts