In Civil 3D Land we all have a love to hate relationship with new product releases. Whether the new AutoCAD Civil 3D 2018 is ready for prime time in your neck of the woods depends on lots of factors. I’m a long-time developer of Civil 3D template and Civil 3D style tool products. My perspective is somewhat different and yet very much the same. Your productivity matters. The implementation of new release involves both opportunity and significant risk. No matter what, we all know it can steal our time.
Autodesk updates the interface for Layouts in the AutoCAD 2018 interface. The idea was to make things better, more manageable, and more user productive. AutoCAD Civil 3D 2018 upgrades the capabilities of viewports in Layouts for the Plan Production wizards. The idea was to fulfill a long-time wish item and allow multiple plan or profile viewports with order on a Layout. Good stuff.
Plan/Plan and Profile/Profile Sheets in 2018
We know the New Cool Stuff can cause us painful problems. Who knew the simple act of coping Layouts to create and edit new ones would unexpectedly generate recurring crashes? Autodesk will fix this bug and some other related Layout interface weirdness soon enough. In the meantime, we must learn to remember to Dock Layouts above the Status bar. See the new updated Layout right click menu. Need I say it? Save often.
Why be Thankful?
Bugs aside - a new Civil 3D release should give us cause to pause and force us to reconsider how we use the tools. If we miss that in the heat of the new release fever, we miss the most significant opportunity and benefit that each new release and upgrade provides. There’s nothing noble and selfless about this.
Learn and Be Selfish
Below is one of my favorite quotes about Civil 3D software. It came to me from one of my training and support staff back in my old Autodesk reseller days. It’s speaks to the point.
“If civil engineering was easy, anyone could do it. Thank God it isn’t or we’d all starve.
Software tools can make many production things faster, but faster doesn’t always make for better results.
I’m amazed how often people in training and even in real world practice lose sight of the principals they were supposed to learn in school and then understand how to practice that sort of common sense on their job.
I showed a class a grading plan for a 20 acre shopping center with 3 decimal place elevations. They looked at it for like 10 minutes and no one could tell me what was wrong about it. It was a good site design.”
Bulldozers Don’t Do Thousandths
He’d simply exchanged a publish finish grade label style for a quality control check label style in the drawing. The edit took a few seconds. OK. It’s a forest and tree thing. Right? No.
There’s more to it than that.
In old school CAD the data was the drawing. Many people who struggle with Civil 3D still think of the software this same way. This may kill you or at least cause you and your organization unnecessary pain and suffering. It will certainly make trying to explain important things you need to principals and managers above you difficult.
Maybe it’s the AutoCAD in the Civil 3D name? The my drawing type of thinking is dangerous. It increases our struggle for new and very necessary Civil 3D skills significantly.
“That’s My Surface.”
In Civil 3D the problem metastasizes. The user points to the screen. You know what I mean. We all do it. If we don’t point, we certainly imply it.
In Civil 3D that isn’t our surface. It is the picture of the momentary state of the surface data behind.
The subject is not at all about some nuance of semantics either.
The separation of Civil 3D data behind and temporary Style representation is both mindboggling and fundamental. This annoying aspect of AutoCAD Civil 3D is not necessarily intuitive to experienced CAD folk.
The boss asks why do you now need lots of styles and label styles? Why do people edit them?
All the Civil 3D Templates Matter
The new Civil 3D 2018 Release 7 for the Framework triggered a need for much better documentation about all the many important templates in Civil 3D. There’s a whole new dedicated section in the Members>>Documentation>>Templates in Civil 3D section. Yes. There is customization help too.
Yes. You must Register to see it.
Speaking of the need for Civil 3D Sheet and Civil 3D Project Templates…
I often get befuddled looks when I talk about placeholder features and feature naming rules in my training classes. Mind you. The folks I am training often already know and employ Civil 3D for a living. They are skilled and experienced users.
Here’s a fundamental’s test. You use the Civil 3D name templates regularly to your advantage or you don’t.
Then I must ask,
“Why would I prebuild empty data buckets into my projects?”
If you don’t, I could argue that at least part of you doesn’t get it. You may know it, but don’t do it. Why would you keep repeating a process each and every time you build another one in a new project? I ask,
“Who has time for that?”
We make time to wing it and ding it time and time again. We don’t take the time to work a known plan that takes less time and produces arguably more consistent results? What are we missing here?
We can see the picture and still miss the drift.
We Don’t Get the Picture in Civil 3D…
Until We Know the Data Behind
Get Ahead of It
Here’s a couple of in-depth posts on the matter. Why? It’s a matter of time. That time is yours… paid for or not.
- The simple and user friendly way to see data in Civil 3D
- The importance of What, How, and When buckets
- Buckets in Civil 3D and their critical relationship with Names
- The reason and usage of Placeholders in Civil 3D Projects
- Why the Name Templates in Civil 3D matter to us all
- "I read this article and Civil 3D suddenly made sense."
We can all be thankful the Framework for Civil 3D exists.
When you know the data behind you have a completely different Civil 3D bitch or wish list.
We ask very different questions in the public forums.
After a decade we should be thankful for that.