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Civil 3D Survey Alignments and Parcels

Tags survey, alignment, figure, parcel, intersection, survey db, video

I sited my first house at the ripe age of 5. God knows why my parents listened to that youthful advice, but they did. Little did I know I had thereby condemned myself to a childhood of hauling groceries and wet laundry bags over a muddy road in the rain every winter. Trust me. It is possible to walk uphill to school both ways in a storm. As the only boy in our family bunch, the road rehab was too often my chore. A familiar shovel is not always a friend.

Speak of Steep Curves

My neighbors made it worse. Their 2+-mile driveway road was so long the road repair eventually made their house inhabitable. I hear tell my other childhood friends have lately made it a successful tourist adventure destination for nature-loving millennials who visit their trendy town. You can book an arduous day hike with a visit to that now ruined passion of human endeavor. A visit to the ghost house, a picnic, and the requisite skinny dip in a secluded mountain pool are included for those that dare to be bare.

Sounds like Giggles

Perhaps this familiarity allows me to see the relationship between Intersections, Alignments and Parcels a bit differently. Rather it is because Civil 3D is decidedly weighted and invested in the Alignment Feature. This is truth that Civil 3D survey and civil engineering people can and must embrace.

Alignment to Parcel Tools

Alignments and Parcels are mission critical for survey users. Alignments (aka the Civil 3D Design Control Manager) and Parcels are each complex and data rich structures in Civil 3D. They may be related to one another and Figures and Points in very useful ways. Both Alignments and Parcels are actually much more sophisticated in Civil 3D than Surfaces which themselves are far from simple.

The Intersection of Design Control

Intersections collect and relate Alignment pairs and may be employed to create intricate and related horizontal control. See the entire Stop That Civil 3D Wizard post and video. Perhaps many Site Parcels are best seen as collections of Intersection related Alignments which is barely or rarely what we straightaway assume.

When people start in Civil 3D they understandably search out the familiar. There are hundreds of Civil 3D Create from Objects web video demos for Alignments and Parcels. Some of the best video training from the public web can be found here. People say Create from Objects makes sense - it is called AutoCAD Civil 3D. The familiar may not be friendly. The shovel is neither a backhoe nor a Bobcat.

The Way of Civil 3D

Lots of people love the AutoCAD way. However, if you learn the Layout Toolbars and the Feature Ribbon Tools, you are more empowered in Civil 3D. The Civil 3D structured data behind is more useful because it is there – that data behind better models the real world engineering nuance. You actually do have to use the data behind to understand it.
How do you fix that? Draw and create in Civil 3D not in AutoCAD.

Almost all Civil 3D linear features employ ACAD node objects at all the critical selectable points. Many Civil 3D users never notice. You employ old school End and Intersection OSNAPS. Oh, that’s right. You draw in AutoCAD inside Civil 3D.

Points, Alignments, and Parcel Relationships

Autodesk chose not to relate and maintain Point relationships to the data in Alignments and Parcels. They took the civil engineering linear object design approach to the data behind. That is a bit of bad news for Survey and point-based design folk. We can learn to live with it and work around it.
Autodesk is unlikely to change this. They could implement a future form of Point-based geometry locking, but don’t expect it.

There are certainly sophisticated ways to create and manage relationships between Points, Alignments, and even Profiles. These are covered in-depth in our documented Deliverables video training course. Register to get access to that for free.

There are certainly temporary point to object connections potentially at work in the COGO and Traverse Editors seen in earlier posts and in the other Edit Feature interfaces in Survey like Figure Edit. Figures may maintain connections to survey point data or not. I do repeat myself from the earlier posts on purpose.

Recorded Parcels

Unquestionably, multiple Site Parcels and/or potential multiple SuveyDbs are necessary for the managed publication of record, found, and proposed property data. Our classic CAD user might expect all of this in one publication drawing out of habit. Silly jack rabbit. We tend to want to edit the picture to print what we want.

Instead we could build one drawing with the recorded parcels and generate the appropriate Parcel Line and Curves “record” Labels. This is XREFed into my found drawing that includes the found (resolved) parcels with their labels. Yes. Some of those might include figures as parcel segments or entire parcels. Do we need to show the record linework or just the labels?

Alignment, Parcel, and Figure Labels

The General Line and Curve Labels are not Civil 3D Feature segment labels, but they are familiar. There are lots of different type of Civil 3D segment labels for reasons.

  • Do you understand the DATA differences?
  • Do you know why, when, and how those differences matter?
  • Do you label from XREFs or understand when not to do that?

Most of that happens because we all tend focus on the published which can initially be difficult in Civil 3D. That is ditch digging with a shovel. It is occasionally necessary and usually unpleasant. We need to learn focus on the mechanics of better iterative processes.

What the There is There For

This requires we have the Civil 3D Style tools to make it happen without spending all our time building and editing the tools. These days you do not have to build a Civil 3D backhoe to dig a ditch.

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