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Work Smarter Not Harder in Civil 3D

Tags WATT, CAD Standards, Style Management

Is this easy to say, and hard to do? Of course it is. All work worth doing usually is.
That’s why they call the results Competitive Advantage. Competitive advantage is something you make. The Lord knows, it’s easy enough to lose and never, ever get in the first place.

They tell us this technology can help. We know technology can hurt. Oh yeah. Software we depend on can hurt big time. Recently, a good buddy of mine working in a reputable and established company had to spend days just getting back to work after a simple workstation upgrade. This was all because one IT guy who hated that browser accidentally introduced some obnoxious malware onto the machine during the computer build. Call it, “Death by USB”.

It’s all about the execution, Baby. It’s all about all the little details that end up being the proverbial:

“What’s the heck’s the matter with that?”

If you, or those around, ask you this question a lot in AutoCAD Civil 3D, you’re working harder not smarter. Unfortunately, this engineered state of frustration appears to be all too often the normal situation when many talk about Autodesk’s civil engineering and survey software.

The problem is more fundamental than we think.

Autodesk made a mistake with their development of AutoCAD Civil 3D. This had nothing to do with specific product features or tools, but had everything to do with perceived benefit. They believed they could do what had always worked for AutoCAD based product before.

They believed that every customer wants to make the software into their own vision…’er…version.

No skilled professional in their right mind really wants to do that.
Design professionals actually have better and more important things to do.

  • Spend months customizing our Civil 3D so we can work OR
  • Get a real world civil engineering or survey project out the door

"Engineers and Surveyors need to do engineering, not customize software"

I plagiarized a line from our front page. I freely admit I changed “want” to “need”.
Remind me to update the front page. Times have changed.

AutoCAD Civil 3D customers customize software because they have to. They have no choice. This works out well for the Autodesk and not always so much for their customers.
I freely admit a group of skilled Civil 3D users get to become important to their organizations (maybe in the short term) because they CAN customize the software.
A tiny group makes a living doing it and not just talking about doing it.
Trust me. I know.
Odds are you probably pay the wrong folks too much to do this. More in the near future on that.

Real World Standards

If you actually study the differences between civil engineering and survey plan sets in the US the graphic differences are statistically miniscule. These differences grow smaller every day. Everyone does it differently, yet we all fundamentally do it the same.
Oh, yes. There are an overwhelming number of details. This is the issue.

There are pretty common Autodesk and Microstation standard flavors which have now begun to merge for obvious economic reasons. Big customers demand stuff works together. Interoperability is important to both vendors, but probably not for the reasons that their customers assume.
Have you seen the Better Civil 3D Deliverables video?


The customers care because of what they are used to. On a practical level they actually don’t care so much so long as the requisite information is represented “properly” and they see it enough times. Visual memory identification is both consciously and unconsciously important. The science tells us the second issue is much more important than the first. That fact may be disturbing to some, but lots of serious neuroscience research bears this out.

Are CAD standards important? Yes. But we demonstrably care less about this than we did five years ago.
Maybe because there are fewer of us around to care about it? 
Are our preferences important? Of course, they can be substantive to design decisions.
What customers need are innovative and affordable ways to accomplish both.
This is possible. It’s not even all that difficult or problematic to execute and do.
Our Production Solution products for AutoCAD Civil 3D allow that.

Autodesk stumbles over its own feet and plows the Big Ditch that you have to climb into and pay for.
I trust that you don’t have to be from the Northeast to catch my metaphor.
You don’t have to be an industry insider to acknowledge that Autodesk froze Civil 3D development to build another “new and better” piece of development software predicated once again on the essense of same myth.

I can’t say I blame Autodesk. This has always been strategically profitable. I’m only annoyed because they could fix the fundamentals for chump change and allow their customers to get back to work on the more important things that everyone else cares about.

That I presume would be even more profitable for all concerned.

Now please join me in a Moment of Manchester Silence this Labor Day week.

The Liberty to Work in AutoCAD Civil 3D