Civil 3D 2017 Template Reference Mania

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Someone asked me this week what I think about the new AutoCAD Civil 3D 2017. I quickly replied,

“It’s about time…
Your time. My time. Every Civil 3D user’s time.”

Time will also tell whether the many new and powerful forms of reference poured out in Civil 3D 2017 stay stable in complex production level projects. They must to be successful. I expect with proper care and feeding and appropriate Civil 3D user skill and professionalism they will.
Your results may vary.
Referenced Corridors from referenced Feature Lines from referenced Corridors sounds exciting doesn’t it? You gotta love composite corridor surfaces from DREF corridors. Because I have to…I like to say,

Civil 3D Must Be Managed

Happily, Civil 3D 2017 introduces the capability to employ referenced Styles in any drawing from what is called a Reference Template. Gee, folks. That’s yet another uncreative and confusing term – call it programmer speak.
How many forms of reference does Civil 3D have now? Let us count the ways.
You can attach more than one Reference Template to a drawing and they have a priority stack too. Way cool.
These really are…

Referenced Style Collections

Out here in Civil 3D Land I’m jumping up and down for joy. It’s safe to say that I’ve whined, begged, and screamed at Autodesk over the inability to reference Style collections since I can’t remember when. Ok, since long before the 2010 release. I was the official certified maniac for referenced Style.
“Why would you want that?”
Autodesk folks obviously don’t listen to me. I’d guess some major customer made the Reference Template idea mandatory at last. There’s a dim chance the request worked it’s way up the Civil 3D user bitch list. Maybe the lights came on. I don’t care. I have to quote the famous NASA launch refrain.

“Houston. We have liftoff.”

Civil 3D Templates and Styles Unleased

“Dave, I’m laughing hysterically.”

On the Civil 3D 2017 What’s New help page the new Referenced Templates features have a suggested use for reference templates. This somewhat dubious help topic suggests that this new feature works like this and has this structure: a State template>>your Company template>> your Project template.

What? I’m sorry. I could cry if I could only stop laughing. I’m still cleaning the coffee out of my keyboard.

The Chaos of Style in Civil 3D

Whoever wrote this suggestion never managed Civil 3D template and Civil 3D Style for a living and certainly doesn’t employ Civil 3D and the data behind in a production environment. Maybe this is what some Autodesk sales person or large customer manager may hope will work. Put another way, maybe it’s just the latest answer to the common objection to the Chaos of Style.

“Do you want a top-down, controlled production environment for AutoCAD Civil 3D?
You got it now.”

Of course, we do. I want the ability to cascade the external updates of Style to manage them better. We want to actually get real project work done. Oh. I know the top down idea sounds great if you have a large organization, but real world project experience says civil survey production work is a team sport. The economics says it’s a small team sport - one person can do the work of four.

Islands of Productivity

My contention is simply that is way too easy to confuse priorities and process mechanics.
Good management practice says we optimize our working environment for the talent of the team to maximize our results. This is definitely not done by trying to control the uncontrollable. Managed workflow matters when we’re talking about data-centric applications. Just sayin’.

It’s not that bad. Change that word from controlled (such a post-modern, progressive word) to managed. The difference being that we all hope to have skilled, talented, and professional Civil 3D users in our employ. Now we all may understand the managed style implications and benefits.

Task Based Templates in a Managed Dynamic Model

I’m certain that skilled Civil 3D users will get it that task-based Reference Templates (Style Collections) will make a lot more sense until the work is ready to publish. Now we can reference the managed data behind in our working templates into publication drawings that reference our publication Reference Templates.
You might have to think about that a bit if you previously bought the one template to rule them myth that Civil 3D’s old restraints and Autodesk made popular.

Oh. I should warn you. You’d better have your data management hat on and a workflow plan before you implement Reference Templates. With great power comes greater responsibility.

Who knew?

The Framework for Civil 3D is already built and managed to do this.
I do see more Style collection separations in the future. Finally, more is possible.

“Dave? Do our templates and styles do that?”

You Can Fix That

“Innovation sometimes requires the patience to wait for the rest of the world to catch up.”

Posts About Reference Templates in Civil 3D