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Civil 3D Settings Reference Templates

Tags Reference Template, Civil 3D 2017, Style Management, Style, template, implementation

When Autodesk introduces a new tool into AutoCAD Civil 3D we get a bunch of opening hype about it followed by a pause as the real folks in Civil 3D Land try and figure out a way to make the new tool work. Reference Templates in Civil 3D 2017 are no exception. The tool sounds great. People ask…

“How do we make the Reference Template tool work?”

Maybe you tried to follow the nebulous instructions in the AutoCAD Civil 3D 2017 help file. How did that work out? I’m sincerely interested. I’m a fan of the concept of Reference Templates. I do manage a vast library of Civil 3D Styles that is part of the Framework for Civil 3D for a living after all.

Search for Better Style Management

We’ve been discovering the issues and challenges along to way as we wander through the Wilderness of Style in a series of posts on the topic as we seek to find the magic ring in Reference Templates. Last time we talked about a Root Reference Template – aka a Root Template. Here are the links for the entire series.

Reference Templates in Civil 3D

The A Civil 3D Root Reference Template post led us to discover we might also require something else new under the sun. Put another way - It’s one thing to say over there is the right Style. It’s another thing all together to command that Style to behave as you want it to for the task at hand.

Truth be told - Civil 3D Style is as much about expected behavior as looks. Like I always say,
“The Civil 3D diva is a consummate performer. She’s a literalist of the highest order. She reads and does exactly what’s on the script. You’re the director and producer. Get the order of the process right.”

Civil 3D Settings Templates

This is the Unexpected Journey and Reference Template resource you initially perhaps don’t see coming when you step out the green door of your hobbit hole. Settings resources are not transparent to Civil 3D users in the Reference Template Stack (it ignores them). Settings are not obvious even in a Root Template either. The original idea was to hide such nuanced Settings details from the everyday user.

Am I the only person who thinks it might help the Civil 3D interface to simply hide/collapse/gray out the Ambient settings and/or the default/unchanged Settings in the Toolspace so things aren’t so overwhelming and confusing?

Someone has to ask,

“How do I build a Settings Template?”

It is easy enough to build a basic Settings Template. If you want to get started with Reference Templates, this new resource drawing will also work as the quick and dirty top Reference Template that may be added to your Root Template.

  1. Take a NoStyles template that includes only Civil 3D code built Styles
    I’d suggest this has your AutoCAD styles resources in it. Add them now.
  2. In that drawing create a Referernce Template entry of your existing template
    This will reference in the drawing ALL your Styles.
  3. Employ Style Import to Import ONLY the Settings from the same existing template
    This will get you the 1000+ Settings and create the Settings links to the aforementioned Styles
  4. Employ Style Purge a number of times to rid the drawing of all extraneous/unreferenced Styles
    Odds are you will probably end up with more Styles than you expect.
  5. Save
  6. Employ the Style Import tool to Import ONLY the Standard styles and NOT the Settings from the original NoStyles resource.
    That gets you back the Standard styles – You want a stable template without Style holes where Civil 3D sooner or later expects something.
  7. Save

The process produces a drawing that you can now employ as a Reference Template and to Import only your current Settings for your all-inclusive template. From that basic resource make copies and you can further remove and/or tweak the Style references for the different Civil 3D Systems or combinations thereof.

The word System is used here to refer to BIM or “Key Based” design concepts. See the post - Key Based Site Design in Civil 3D.
Roads, Parcels, Surfaces, Pipes are all Systems in the Civil 3D project model – aka the “dynamic model”. This concept underpins almost all Layer-based CAD management systems like the NCS as well. There are a bunch of posts about that and those Key concepts here - NCS Key Discipline Relates to Workflows.

If that idea turns your brain to mush just get the idea that you need Civil 3D Style Settings set after you load the Civil 3D Styles in the Reference Template Stack. You do want to refer to only the Styles in the Reference Template Stack, don’t you?

  • System Settings Templates allow you to Import only Settings on demand
    • Feature Settings
    • Label Style Defaults
    • Command Settings

If the only Reference Template in the stack is a single template, then the Root Template may obviously include the Settings too. You might do that for them. Still that does require users to always remember to load ONLY Settings on Import if they add more Systems.

Simply Put:

  1. Attach the Reference Template(s)
  2. Then Import ONLY Settings (No Styles) from the Reference Template

It is possible to load the System Settings from your Reference Template Style resource collections themselves.

  • Remember the Reference Template stack has priority. First in wins.
  • Duplicate Styles found in multiple Reference Templates can and will drive you or others batty.

Since I support some really huge Style collections I don’t like this Settings from the raw Style collections idea. This is a maintenance issue. No Settings stored in the Style library gives you more adaptive Style libraries and the liberty to employ tools like Label Style Defaults and managed near duplicate collections (name replacements) more effectively. Better Adaptive standards is the Framework for Civil 3D goal.

As stated you might find it more practical to store the System Settings in separate collection drawings built around System task purposes. Why? If you have a road Corridor, you probably have Alignment, Profile, and Profile View styles ad nausea. This will vary by the type of design corridor you have. If you are working on a survey surface you have no need for Pipe system Settings, Styles, etc. It is simple enough to pare down the collections per the System tasks at hand. That should make sense.

System Settings template resource drawings should only employ Reference Template Styles for maintenance reasons. Remember:

  • Keep the principal of one known good.
  • The drawing level Ambient Settings and Label Style Defaults do most of the work from the Root Template
  • The user will ONLY import Settings from a Settings Template
    These are mostly Feature Style and Label Style type specific overrides.

Have a nice trip should you forget about the LSD – Label Style Defaults. You need to define these by Label Style Type in the Root Template and/or Import those Settings. See the Hierarchy Rules.
Register and get Civil 3D help for the User Rules for Civil 3D.

Some more unexpeccted good news about System Settings Templates - they are self-documenting.
To find a Key to unlock a door you cannot see to get access to a treasure can be a good thing.

We’ve identified that we need Root Templates and System Settings templates resources to employ the Reference Template Stack. Get to work on that.

Get the Magic to Make Civil 3D Work

Next time: Use a Reference Template Stack in Civil 3D