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Strange Civil 3D Point Export Behavior

Tags export, COGO points, Point Style, survey point, DGN, surface


Editable Digital Deliverable production for other CAD apps from AutoCAD Civil 3D is less of a pain today than in the past. However, it’s sad to say that all is not as it should be in Civil 3D Land. I suppose whether you believe the current behavior of the menu pick Export command (EXPORTC3DDRAWING) is buggy or a benefit depends on how you do things and what you are dealing with. My guess is the Civil 3D dev team tuned the command for what their State DOT customers wanted.

For most people the new Export does many things well but makes some really bad pictures too. This is particularly true for Civil 3D Points. Many folks have a tough time with Civil 3D Point Features anyway.

Bogus Point Symbol Export

The current EXPORTC3DDRAWING command currently ignores AEC Editor Profile settings for Civil 3D points. The command is theoretically supposed to read these. Arrrgh. We could live with that, but the produced results are worse.

My testing shows the following is true for the Export command in all AutoCAD Civil 3D versions with current SPs and Hotfixes applied for Civil3D 2015, Civil 3D 2016, and Civil 3D 2017.

To be blunt, Most AutoCAD people would expect that Points with Point Styles that have blocks attached would end up with blocks on their assigned layers (aka levels). Good luck with that.
I think the Civil 3D dev team got lost in the plethora of export commands they’ve built over the last few releases trying to fix interoperability problems. Bad QAQC happens. If you employ blocks with objects assigned to Layers the results would be fine. Most people don’t want to convert their symbol library to include explicit references to Layers. Note that the Microstation using State DOTs tend to do exactly that.

Interoperability goals like political agendas can overwhelm common sense. The Civil 3D dev team is currently lost in their own translation.

Luckily for us, we can still produce useful results. Thankfully, some old Civil 3D code never dies.

Dumb Down Civil 3D Points

Don’t be silly. Divide and conquer is the way to deal with all Civil 3D stuff. By that I mean if you have half a brain you learn to have separate publication drawings for your point symbols and your point labels.
“What?” you say. Yes, you can do that.
“But Why?” That way you can control both sets of from Survey DB output differently as need demands.
“What? We don’t use Survey Dbs. That’s too complicated. We get point files and use the COGO points.”
Load the point files into a Survey Db and get a more productive Civil 3D life or suffer – your choice.
COGO points are Ok too. But really you should use Survey power. It’s all about the managed data.
You probably employ Point Groups in surfaces too. Another famously used bad practice. Use files.
This is the second decade of a new century, folks.

Register and see the Better Deliverables video training in our Members section. Awesome stuff.

“Dave? Can our Civil 3D templates do that?”

Got your symbols drawing(s) all prettied up and good to export?

There are still things to consider before we push the magic button:

  • I recommend you print to DWF and check the result.
    There are good reasons to plot to DWF out of Model space a lot in Civil 3D.
    What?
    You don’t use DWF references to speed up you production publications?
    Silly rabbit. The Civil 3D Dynamic Model must be managed.
    Publish on demand is the goal.
  • You want to be careful to employ Point Styles made up of actual blocks not varieties the many PDMODE markers. These are good for many things, but not for export.
    I’d bet the end users you deliver to don’t want the cross markers that are reduced to pairs of lines or other AutoCAD primitives.
  • Is the current Annotative Scale appropriate?
    A Point export freezes the current one.
  • Did you get all the Point Marker rotations straight in the right DVIEW twist?
    A Point export freezes the current one.
  • For projects with both Site plans and Plan and Profile roadway improvement plans you often need scale multiples of your digital deliverable point symbol and point label exports.
    Why? Annotative Scale, Styles, et all can only do so much.
    Autodesk simply refuses to include rotation property storage or maybe give Point Groups a rotation property is beyond me. Don’t hold your breath.

Now Are You Good to Go?

I do tend forget to Detach unloaded XREFs from some reason. Export commands ignore the state of XREFs. Dooh.
It is also way too easy to forget Invisible or No Display DREFs. Oh. Bother.

Select the Civil 3D points you want to export.
Select Points from the Toolspace>>Prospector tab - It is faster, but be patient.
The following is a modern noun verb command.

Type –EXPORTTOAUTOCAD at the command line.
Autodesk has renamed this command without any notice that I can find.
The command may be called -AECEXPORTTOAUTOCAD if you do not have latest Service Packs installed.  
I hear tell this technically calls the AutoCAD Civil 3D object enabler code.
This command actually still can read your AutoCAD Profile’s current AEC Editor settings. Imagine that.
The first time through walk through each of the command options to set/check the values.
Assume nothing.
Set some reasonable drawing name Prefix or Suffix.

Remember, contrary to what you might expect, you do NOT want to Maintain the properties for Points with Point Styles assigned.
That is counter intuitive. Just say “No”.

The –EXPORTTOAUTOCAD command will overwrite an existing file with the same resolved name. It even asks for permission. Hoorah. The common Export command in some releases will choke on this.

The drawing produced will still contain unnamed Block References wrapping the AutoCAD blocks just like the old days.
EXPLODE all the Block References. Save.

You get real AutoCAD blocks assigned to the Layers driven by your Description Key Set in Civil 3D.

The AutoCAD drawing will now produce decent editable AutoCAD or open in DGN output.

DGN Considerations

Do you want to assign other object property specifics to your symbols before you Open in Microstation? If so do that first. Of course, AutoCAD PURGES, RENAMES, INSERTS, etc are still fair game and often really useful. Maybe the end users will need more Shared Cells?
Yes, we even manage to get Shared Cells on the “right” levels without resorting to Mapping gymnastics.
Yes. If the Export code writers paid attention they’d recognize explicit Block to Cell DGN mapping would have made the current C3D Point export massacre unnecessary in the first place. Oops.
Now say, “Thank You.”

Want to be more productive in AutoCAD Civil 3D in any release?

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PS - Someone will ask about surface exports. What you want is simple polylines at elevation typically. With the right Style assigned employ the Surface Export command in the Surface Ribbon and select just the contours for export.
What? You don’t use Surface Export and the surface build properties to produce ACAD polyline surface boundaries for surface edits and clean-up a lot? Ah, well. It’s your time so…

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