The Neglected Civil 3D Features

Tags alignment, offset alignment, intersection, Survey, survey db, point group, video

A recent Framework for Civil 3D customer posed a fascinating question this week.

“You’re the Civil 3D wizard.
What are a couple of things that Civil 3D does that people completely miss?”

Perhaps flattery works.

A Sweaty Summer School for Civil 3D

Here’s a written summary of my more than you ever wanted to know answer with some visuals.

Civil engineers and surveyors are smart people. They don’t miss much. But expectation seems to get in some Civil 3D user’s way. They want better solutions to the tasks they know how to do. Autodesk gives them tools. These two shinny objects are not the same thing. We all need to ask more often,

What Does the Tool Do?

What you ask is also moving target. Autodesk is always loading up on cool clicks and hot tricks to stuff into Civil 3D. Not even the Civil 3D dev team controls that. The recent AutoCAD 2018.1 Update rocks with significant productivity improvements to some old, core AutoCAD stuff. The new tools only benefit us if we take the time and practice to learn new ways to employ them.

Do to that we all have to partially unlearn what we know. To bat .333, deliver RBIs, and become an All Star in the Bigs you must adjust your swing habitually. That feels good when it works and bad and ugly when is doesn’t. If you avoid the pain of continuous readjustment, you bat .250 and probably more like .200 or less. All of us tend to suffer from the big fish in little pond delusion. Yours truly included.

Better Information Management Execution

The Civil 3D diva is a big creature with more of everything coming at us all the time. Everyone learns painfully (or sometimes not at all) that planning and a managed workflow is mission critical to better Civil 3D project execution. The problem often isn’t how to do this or that with a specific tool, but how to manage the practical tactics of task workflows appropriately for the data behind.

It seems to me the most neglected Civil 3D Features are directly related to those most powerful and competitive advantage Civil 3D tools. These require more project planning, workflow discipline, and often better team and related Civil 3D Feature data behind execution.

What Intersections Can Do

This video quickie should make our hair stand on end. The video is one of my favorites. It begs the question,
“Can we grip edit that PI to this location related to that alignment?”
A bit deeper yet,
“How to I keep all the related vertical Profile data simple and manageable?”
However, the tools usage questions might miss the big picture point.

I call the Intersection the Control Manager of the Civil 3D Design Control Managers – aka Alignments. I don’t mention in the video that we could be also changing one or more related parcel maps in other drawings without even editing them. See the post Civil 3D Survey Alignments and Parcels.

That depth of Workflow Magic both befuddles and scares people. Can’t say that I blame them.

The complex interflow and managed workflow between Intersections, Alignments, and multiple Baseline Corridors separates the good from the bad and the ugly. The bad and ugly is easy in Civil 3D. If you don’t own the Style and Set tools and only watch demo videos, honestly, you probably never even discover that this kind of power exists.

Because we know what horizontal control is, we don’t ask: -

“How may the engines of engineering design control be connected to one another in more productive ways in our Civil 3D project?”

More about the practical magic in the Intersection Wizard.

Ring-a-Ding! Round Two

Most folk consider Survey the red-haired stepchild in AutoCAD Civil 3D. It’s unruly and not what they’d expect. They’d sooner ignore it than deal with it. God forbid, there could be more than one of them in their future – Survey Dbs I mean. For some the entire idea is deplorable.

For fun let’s put that in a historical and metaphorical perspective. This view is like how the British thought about the rebellious American colonists in July 1776. How did that work out for the British Army and Navy? A mere 21 days at Yorktown in late Sept and Oct in 1781 said very bad and ugly. In a word – humiliating.

Oops! There’s a more recent form of the parable that ties in nicely. Let’s just remember that the Commander-and-Chief of the British forces in North America on the day the British surrendered was named…wait for it…Clinton. Clinton did not show up when it actually mattered.

Clinton was heard to mumble for years after, “None of this was my fault.”

A Little Bit of What Survey Can Do

You should visit the Civil 3D Suvey at Jump Speed page. There are many other video examples there that definitely make the point. Yes. You may have to Register. No biggy. You also have to take the time to do and learn what is shown. Que the theme music…

The Truth is Out There

Intelligent Publish on Demand Alignment Based Point Groups methods might change more than a few things about how you might begin a new workflow to better attack design project publication in AutoCAD Civil 3D.

Get the Magic Beyond the Code