Civil 3D Feature Line Priority

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One of the more interesting aspects of life is that the things we at first do not understand lead us directly to unexpected and new forms of often useful enlightenment. Sadly, this does not happen for everyone all the time. The current bemused ramblings of leftist political pundits comes to mind.
Changing our perspective takes real work. Understandably that’s something most of us often seem to avoid. Who has the time?

Step Beyond Denial

In Civil 3D Land, Site Parcel mechanics are one of those difficult things that led me to a much deeper understanding of AutoCAD Civil 3D’s dynamic and can I say, “Resolved” capabilities and potentials. There are a huge raft of posts on the topic that start here. I suppose one day I should perhaps turn them into a series of Civil 3D training video posts.
So much do to and so little time. You know the drill.
If you chew through the posts with a drawing open and try out what is being talked about, I promise it will be worth the effort.

"Work is not a spectator sport for the 20% that do most of it."

To Learn is to Experience

Jeff Bartels of Autodesk recently did a video post on the Civil Imersion blog about building sidewalk ramps with Feature Lines in AutoCAD Civil 3D. The methodology demonstrates our ability to dynamically produce new results in a surface via Feature Lines.
Ain’t new Feature Lines capabilities all the latest Autodesk rage?
What is not said in Jeff’s useful video is the methods he employs also works in conjunction with complex corridor models and applies to any kind of Civil 3D surface. Watch the video. You will learn something.

Sidewalk Ramps from Feature Lines

A Careful Amendment

I don’t really like to disparage anyone willing to put Civil 3D video training content on the web. We need it. None of us ever get everything right. It is often also impossible to cover the nuance in short and sweet videos that people will actually watch. I personally miss speak all the time myself too.

If you’re even semi-skilled at site design in Civil 3D, I trust that you know some of this Feature Line stuff that Jeff shows. It is really useful. Feature lines do behave somewhat like old 3D polyline friends from the old school LDT and manual TIN edit days. That makes us comfortable.

However, Jeff also hands out some subtle but demonstrably incorrect misinformation to the unwary.

  • He doesn’t name his Added breaklines in his surface.
    What if you want to yank them out later?
  • He says and implies that Feature Line priority is based on last in or last edit.

It isn’t exactly true. I am sure Jeff knows this. But the Management by Style concept and practice is beyond the scope of his quick how-to topic.

Feature Line Priority and Manage By Style

“What does that mean?”

Civil 3D allows you to manage the priority of Feature Lines in a site Parcel collection by Style.
In the Toolspace>>Prospector>>Sites>><Site Name> Feature Lines collection–
Right click and pick Properties.
Yep. Site Feature Line Priority in hidden away and too easy to overlook.

Since many people don’t like or understand those deplorable Site Parcels, this Style Management truth gets washed down the river of our own discontent.

The order of the named Feature Line Styles in your drawing (aka – your template) matters or it doesn’t.
If not, you are forced to rely on last edit rules. Yuck and muck result.
That equates to time and effort and loss of capability in Civil 3D - Can I say it? "Lost productivity."

Sooner or later, usually later, you figure the Feature Line priority thing out.
The AutoCAD Civil 3D help file for the topic says,

“When two feature lines with different styles intersect, the one with the higher set priority determines the elevation. Feature lines without a style have the lowest priority. If two feature lines have the same style or no style, then priority is given to the last edited feature line.”

If you employ Corridor Surfaces in conjunction with Site based Feature Lines, you really want a naming plan for your Feature Line Styles.
Actually. You always want to manage these priorities.
In the real world of Civil 3D dynamic model-building the names always matter or you work harder and harder to confine the chaos of your own making.

“Dave? Do our Civil 3D Templates and Styles do that?”

What do you know? The Framework for Civil 3D includes integrated named Feature Line Styles that are easy to identify by name. That alones makes it easier to sort out the priority you need now.
Yes. The help means you can manage the priority of Named and Styled Feature Lines by Site membership.
This gives you options. Imagine that.

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