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Below is one of my favorite quotes about modern model-based software. It came to me from one of my training and support staff back in the day. It’s worth thinking about.

“If civil engineering was easy, anyone could do it. Thank God it isn’t or we’d all starve. Software tools can make many production things faster, but faster doesn’t always make for better results. I’m amazed how often people in training and even in real world practice lose sight of the principals they were supposed to learn in school and then understand how to practice that sort of common sense on their job.

I showed the class a grading plan for a 20 acre shopping center with 3 digit elevations. They looked at it for like 10 minutes and no one could tell me what was wrong about it. It was a good design.”

Bulldozers Don’t Do Thousandths

He’d simply exchanged the publishing finish grade label style for a quality control check label style. OK. It’s a forest and tree thing. Right? No.
There’s more to it than that.

In old school CAD the data was the drawing. Many people who struggle with Civil 3D still think of the software the same way. This will kill you. It will certainly make trying to explain important things you need to principals and managers above you difficult.

Maybe it’s the AutoCAD in the name? This my drawing thinking is dangerous and increases your struggle for new and very necessary Civil 3D skills significantly.

“That’s my surface.”

They point to the screen. You know what I mean. We all do it. If they don’t point, they certainly mean it.

That isn’t your surface. It is the picture of the moment. The issue is not at all about some nuance of semantics either. The separation of data behind and representation is both mindboggling and fundamental in model-based software. This trying aspect of AutoCAD Civil 3D is not necessarily intuitive to experienced CAD folk or their management.

I Forget

I get the befuddled look when I talk about placeholder features and feature naming rules in my training classes. Mind you. These folks I am training often already know and employ Civil 3D. Here’s a basic test. You use the name templates regularly to your advantage or you don’t.

“Why would I prebuild empty data buckets into my projects?”

If you don’t, I could argue that at least part of you doesn’t get it. You may know it, but still won’t do it. Why would you keep repeating a process each and every time you build another one in a new project?

“Who has time for that?”

You have time for wing it time and time again, but don’t take the time to work a known plan that takes less time and produces arguably more consistent results? What are we missing here?

You Don’t Get the Picture in Civil 3D…
Until You Know the Data Behind

You can get the picture and still miss the drift. We can be thankful the Production Solutions exist.

When you know the data behind you have a completely different Civil 3D bitch or wish list and ask and answer very different questions in the public forums.

After almost a decade we should be thankful for that.

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