Description Key Size and Number in Civil 3D

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A couple of months ago I received a surprising comment from a new Framework for Civil 3D customer. The firm is a pretty typical regional civil engineering and survey firm with multiple offices. They have a wide-ranging professional portfolio that seems to span a good number of common civil disciplines.

The folks in the AEC firm have been using Civil 3D since release 2012. They said they chose to purchase the Framework for Civil 3D mostly because they never managed to get common Civil 3D templates and Civil 3D styles working across projects and offices.

Civil 3D Happens

You may know all about that. Office A gets swamped. Office B people can’t help without staff relearning an entire project. When the remote people do try to help, “stuff” gets messed up. Template, Style and Project management hell.

One of their CAD project manager types asked,

“We’ve used the same company Description Keys for like a couple of decades. I’m happy that most of our codes did match yours. I don’t understand why you have all these different ones (Description Key Sets) in your templates. Seems to confuse things. Why you even have Description Keys and Point Styles in your Design templates is beyond me.

Is there an easy way to remove the crap? Maybe I am missing something?”


It is Easier to Delete Than to Create

“Dave, I won’t be hurt if you delete Styles or Sets. The more you delete the happier we’ll all be.
But seriously?
You only use one Description Key Set?
That’s like using Civil 3D with one arm tied behind your back?”

“Our field crews are well-trained. The head of survey is real particular and a stickler for detail.”

“I know, Dave. He picked the Framework for your company.”

Life Gets Better If You Work at It

At one level the purpose of Civil 3D Description Keys has little to do with what a field crew gathers.
We all know that is what the old school one(s) in LDT were all about – the single task tool.
Expectations can create the present.
Times change.
Civil 3D Description Keys Sets do more.
This is classic Civil 3D… Autodesk uses the same name and delivers an entirely different deal.
Can you say Alignment?

Forgive me. I’d better stick to the points.

Civil 3D Survey Points are More than COGO Points

How and how consistently the points are gathered is significant. The codes themselves not so much.

In Civil 3D you can build a DescKeySet that translates old codes into something completely different. There’s even a supplied Survey Codes Spreadsheet Tool resource included in the Framework that does exactly that.
Some customers love the Match Keys tool because now they can contract out work more easily to more folks.

Plan and Prepare

Multiple DescKeySets and multiple Survey Dbs help you see, annotate, and publish ANY point data in many different ways.

If you employ only ASCII point files and Civil 3D COGO points you are more stuck in the past. Sorry. These days I puke when I see another How to Import a Point File in Civil 3D video.

Ah Ha Moments

I asked around. My survey results are subjective and the sample size was small. It was interesting.

  • Most Framework customers interviewed found that large and few DescKeySets worked well for debug, surface evaluation, and survey QAQC.
    Almost all said it took them awhile to begin to employ more.
  • A couple of survey only folks always employed tiny DescKeySets to tweak jobs and correct errors.
    I never thought of that! I’m not that audit paranoid.
  • All agreed the deeper into the project they got the more DescKeySet they used and the smaller the number of Keys in a specific publishing DescKeySet became.
    That makes sense considering the ever rising need to publish more and more differently.
  • If their design people used Survey points, they loved DescKeySet multiples otherwise not so much.
    One bought the Framework just because of the Subassembly Code DescKeySets that are already built in. Wow.

I was surprised. Two survey customers had only one DescKeySet they used.
The reason – one customer (a government agency and oil company) and basically the same kind of work job after job. Nice work if you can get it.
They never technically published anything except data. That makes sense.
Both already use and planned to diversify more into drone reality capture.

Get the Magic Beyond the Code

Point Display Strategies in Civil 3D