The Data Points of Civil 3D In and Out

Tags point, point display, point group, Description Key, Description Key Set, survey db

One of the Autodesk memes about AutoCAD Civil 3D is there are always a bunch of ways to get anything done. Variety is the spice of life. AutoCAD Civil 3D Point display is no exception. These varied methods to get to Point display resolutions are powerful. They can be overwhelming. That point may cause us disquiet or dismay. We can keep things the same and make ourselves more work or change our way of thinking and doing.

Go Back in Time

The common early approach to Civil 3D implementation is to get the stinkin’ points to work and most times look like they did in the old CAD software you used before. This has the obvious benefit of making old school CAD users more comfortable.

For Land Desktop specifics the ImportLDTData command still works from the command line to even get your old Description Keys and project COGO points mdb files over from a Land Desktop project. In the Civil 3D Ribbon go to Insert>>Import Panel>>LandDesktop. Frankly, this method is a bit like using the Autodesk supplied example Civil 3D templates and Styles in production. Good luck with that.

People say the Framework for Civil 3D solves the template and style problem affordably.

These days most civil engineers and survey folks have managed to bash and hash their way through the Civil 3D Point Style, Point Label Style, a Description Key Set (or two), and basic Point Group resolution to get what they expect from a point.

Is Civil 3D skill and victory a plan sheet that looks the same as it used to?

Make a Point Resolution

AutoCAD Civil 3D point display doesn’t operate the same way as any other older CAD software. The resolution of Style and model-based reality of Civil 3D is not the same thing as blocks with attributes even if Autodesk tries to make it appear to be that way.

There are serious man-hour production and publication issues in the “make Civil 3D like” Land Desktop, Carlson, or whatever CAD software approach:

  • We basically assume we must commit the same number of process man-hours to cope with Civil 3D point display and label annotation.
    If we employ and old school CAD approach, we may even spend more man-hours.
    Did they tell us that? We find out.
    Worse yet…
    We may still believe after years of Civil 3D use we still have to put up with this.
    After some initial effort we make it work. We don’t mess with it.
  • CAD is a drawing-centric environment. Civil 3D appears to sort of look like that too.
    A managed production environment to employ Civil 3D and its data behind is not drawing centric.
    A drawing is only a way to express data in Civil 3D.

Could we say that Civil 3D should be drawing agnostic?

It Rises Like a Flood

How we daily practice the in’s and out’s of points seems to get in our way.
We want points to be over. We probably hope they are pretty static…or not.
Sadly, if you don’t employ one or more Survey Dbs in your daily work, you really cannot have a clue about what I’m talking about.
There is no business or job employment insurance for ignorance.

Let’s ask a somewhat disturbing but instructive question.

When Does a Point Become?

This is a more significant question than:

  • How does a point become?”
    That can only be answered with discussions that include distinct process methods –aka workflows.
    The how is certainly part of the when.
  • “What (the heck) is that point in that drawing?”
    We’re visual. This is normally where we tend start looking for answers.
    We make snap symbolic judgements that look to be correct.
    We try to assess a singular result from the end of a process that could have had multiple outcomes.

The answer to the When Does a Point Become inquiry can be, and is, a bit befuddling.

When the interpreted text data becomes a member of a Point Group in a drawing, the point feature can resolve itself and evaluate and display its current properties.

That point definition sounds like programmer geek speak.
The answer is not exactly a satisfying Ah Ha moment is it?
Everyone is disturbed by the fact that…

There is no such thing as A point in Civil 3D

This is not semantics.

  • Points are always collected into a group
  • Points usually are members of multiple groups
  • A point feature always includes multiple related Civil 3D objects – seen or unseen.
    In the most simple aspect – at least a Symbol and a Label and
    technically even more component stuff like markers, leaders, etc.

Plan for What We Get

If we plan to make our points like Land Desktop, that’s exactly what we get. If you pursue this strategy and tactics the odds are you will employ a few large Description Key Sets. Usually you miss out on the concept of better managed point data. It won’t matter to you until you recognize that it does matter.

If we have a plan and a goal for the points determined by the varied project needs and tasks, Civil 3D will also get us there. The odds are you will employ many large and small Description Key Sets at different times in the project workflows. You will spend more time on the integration of your Survey codes, Survey Queries, Point Groups, Description Keys, etc.

What if someone already did that work for you?

Get the Magic of the Framework for Civil 3D

Point Display Strategies in Civil 3D