Performance Amnesia and Invisible Civil 3D

Jump Kit

The Framework for Civil 3D
Get More

Templates Only

See The Framework Work
Get More

Become a Member

Master Civil 3D
Get More

Autodesk Civil Videos

Free Civil 3D Training
Get More

Framework Videos

Free Civil 3D Videos
Get More

AutoCAD Civil 3D demands a well-managed project model. Civil 3D real world performance depends on that managed Dynamic Model. This can be a painful lesson to learn at publication crunch time when work has to get out the door. You practice regularly to eliminate crunch time performance problems? Say what?

Pros Practice Execution

We must organizationally and personally decide to manage the amount of Feature and Reference Resolution Civil 3D performs. You’ve probably noticed by now that the Civil 3D diva doesn’t care whether you actually manage Feature and Reference Resolution or not.

The Civil 3D diva’s notion of performance is not related to your expectations or our project deadline either. Producing an initial flop is normal. She delivers the show we choreograph even if that’s terrible, boring, and slow.

Get to the Data Behind

One of the methods we employ to manage resolution in Civil 3D is the classic NoDisplay or Invisible Feature Style. We get access to the Feature data without any on-screen performance hit. Invisible may not always reduce data resolution, but it always saves in the display resolution time. At least we reduce the on-screen clutter. Good News.

This Ghost Haunts You

There is some bad news. I keep stumbling over the problem in publish scenarios whether that publish be printed or a digital deliverable. The Civil 3D diva doesn’t care whether I pay attention to the Invisible or not. I took a brief straw poll of some customers.
What do other people do?


Mind you, there is no statistical basis for any conclusion. But everyone expressed that they ran into the issue from time to time. Most told me that if they did forget about those very useful Invisible Features, it almost always had annoying consequences. Some amount of work redo was the usual complaint. For obvious reasons, most said they had issues in projects and drawings that they had stepped away from for a while.

The No See Ums

What can we do about it barring the very unlikely event of some future Autodesk code warning? As the folks pointed out, there are other annoying kinds of No See Ums.

Here’s some brief feedback tips from the folks out there in Civil 3D Land:

Use the Toolspace and Palettes

“Always open the Toolspace>>Prospector tab and review what’s in there when you open a drawing.
I taught myself not to trust the screen. Lots of the time I have big corridors. I also tend turn off regions and the autorebuild for things I don’t care about.
We use lots of XREFs too.
I still forget to check the XREF tool palette much too often for unloaded XREFs.”

Since I probably belabor his points too much, I’ll leave it at - take the time to look.

Use a Bing Map Visual Trigger

“We use a publish checklist.
We never actually use Bing Maps.
That’s something we’d never plot.
We try and leave the Hybrid Map image on if there is stuff to adjust in the drawing.”

Autodesk released a hotfix to update all versions of AutoCAD 2015-2018.
Bing Maps effectively dies on June 30, 2017 unless you install it.

This was an interesting twist of how to employ a part of AutoCAD I would not of thought of to employ this way.

This customer’s follow up comment was also well worth repeating.

Use a DWF Visual Trigger

“We do lots of site design and we use lots of Invisible surfaces during design.
Before we started with the Bing Maps trick, we employed a DWF of a surface to do the same thing.

We usually used a Banded Elevation Style and DWF’ it. Then we put that in the background.
I can’t remember where I first saw that, but you can actually work on top of those pretty often.
We DWF print it with Layers so we can turn off the displayed DWF layer.
Some of the guys use DWFs of your colored Contours or Triangles Surface Styles instead.
That weirds me out because I’m always trying to select them.

Maybe DWFs are better than the Bing thing.
Anyway they both work.”

DWF production happens out of the Plot box and nothing else is required to generate a DWF. You can plot to DWF out of model space. In drawings with an assigned coordinate systems the DWF will be coordinate system aware. Remember that Layer separations can be employed in DWFs with the layer control turned on in the DWF settings.

Never forget…

DWF and Design Review is Your Publish Friend

Autodesk released a new and updated Autodesk Design Review 2018 back in early April 2017. Obviously, if you are not using 2018 you probably employ the older Design Review 2013 version. The new version will probably work if you haven’t installed the old one.

Get the Freedom to Work in Civil 3D

Export from Civil 3D Cheat Sheet Posts