Civil 3D Focus Cycles

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I’ve been hard at work improving the site access to more helpful and useful information about AutoCAD Civil 3D. The ever-growing and special Members section has a new and free Civil 3D Documentation and Help section where we’ve gathered together some of the Most Important Things to help users get their bang for the buck in Civil 3D. Yeah. There's a reason we host the most downloaded Civil 3D templates and Styles collections in the world. They work.

It is easy to forget that sometimes the simple things make the Civil 3D interface a challenge.
We can fix that.

Civil 3D Driver Training

Inside AutoCAD Civil 3D we have to remember to consciously readjust our focus.
Watch. All skilled Civil 3D users do this unconsciously.
A new Civil 3D user simply doesn’t know where to look when - or worse they focus on the wrong things.
Our expectation can be our downfall.
I see this all the time in Civil 3D training nor am I personally immune from the stumble.

What went wrong?
You looked in the wrong place.

The classic defensive driving “cycle” we all learned in Driver’s Ed works:

Window>> Review Mirror>> Side Mirror>> Speedometer>> Window

In Civil 3D, we would replace that basic pattern with

Screen>>Ribbon>>Command Line>>Toolspace>>Screen

I’d argue the Screen is less important than you expect, but you get the point.
This basic Focus Cycle pattern will help you avoid many self -inflicted and idiot operator accidents.

Call me dumb. Like I said - I still do this if I haven’t done a task in Civil 3D for a while.

Cycle Focus or Lose It

To be really productive in Civil 3D we need to be – CAD Pilots. In the sky things come at you from front and back and side to side but also from top and bottom as well. The Civil 3D interface may tell you there’s a problem, but you have to know when and where to look. It is our responsibility.

The command line is asking you to pick a point.

Work the Task to Space

Complex model-based software is really more like piloting a high performance aircraft than a car. Different interface elements on the instrument panel become critically important to introduce into the basic Civil 3D Focus Cycle at different times.
Landings require different information and controls than takeoffs.

Corridor design requires different tools than Parcel construction.
Survey point and Figure QA and even the somewhat familiar Civil 3D Surface building tasks are best done with different sets of interface tools.

In Civil 3D we must deal with lots of different Buckets. What’s a Bucket?

What we pay attention to must change.
Getting control of that is what workspaces are in there for by the way.

Get the Wheels Up

We are accountable to control the WTMI (Way Too Much Information) and our attention Focus problem appropriately. Which brings us too…

The most important Civil 3D training tip of all time

Read a different part of the Civil 3D Help file(s) for 1-5 minutes a day every day. No more.

It doesn’t matter what you read.
It doesn’t matter if you understand it.
That may be impossible…at the moment.

Focus Cycles are a Learnable Skill to Practice