Civil 3D Point Display Override Strategy

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In our previous post on Point Display in Civil 3D we talked about the fundamental interpreted nature of point data in Civil 3D. We discovered it can and usually does take a while for the practical realities of the deeper forms of point display resolution and management to sink in.
Civil 3D delivers the means to accomplish sophisticated point display resolutions.
Civil 3D is notoriously bad about suppling management tools to make these subtle integrations easier.

Managed Point Display

The Framework for Civil 3D includes a bevy of robust Spreadsheet Tools to help you integrate and develop a sound information management practice for your point data. The Framework’s Spreadsheet Tools allow us the luxury of building of adaptive and robust standards for AutoCAD Civil 3D.
Register to learn about the all the Spreadsheet Tools.
Here are the big three Spreadsheet Tools for point management:

  • Survey Codes Tool
    Match and build your Survey codes from a list of thousands
  • Description Key Set Tool
    Build, Edit and Maintain Description Key Sets from the codes
  • Figure Prefix Tool
    Build Edit and Maintain Figure Prefix Dbs outside of Civil 3D from the codes

The Key takeaway should be:
If you don’t attack AutoCAD Civil 3D management with external tools you are often too easily overwhelmed by the potential multiple relationships and details inside of the software.

Let’s get back to our pursuit of Point Display Strategies

The Point Display Override Strategy

Recall that points only become when the interpreted point data enters a drawing. At the minimum a default Point Style of <none> will be applied and all the points will become members of the default All Points Point Group.

The Override Strategy is intentionally KISS. It basically reflects the old school (I have one or two Description Key Sets) approach. Your users don’t have to pay much attention to the Description Key Set Priority property. Users do not need to get the feel for a more complex set of point display filters and sophisticated point display choices. There is less to do and therefore less to worry about.

The Crown of the Hill

Executing the Override Strategy in a Description Key Set is also simple. The Frameworks typical supplied Check DescKeySets (that are employed to validate Survey Code to Description Key matches) are good practical examples.

  • EVERY Key has an explicit Point Style and optionally a Label Style assigned in the Key.
  • Every piece of point data that enters a drawing with this Description Key Set currrent will ALWAYS have a Point Style and optionally a Point Label style assigned to it.
    In Civil 3D speak we are “forcing” the Point Style and optionally the Point Label Style properties of each and every point.
    Description Keys assign Style overrides to points and/or point labels.

With Override Strategy approach usually you also do the same SINGLE decision thing with the values in the Format column in each Desc Key.
In other words - A Raw Survey Code matches A Description Key and generates A Description.
This is like AAA insurance.
Users won’t be stuck on the side of the road for too long when the car breaks down.

Check Survey Codes and Setups

Notice how the descriptions still come through yet still give you clue on unmatched codes. We can certainly do more with the Point Labels if we take more control of the Formats available. See the To Format in Civil 3D Description Keys post for more on those details.

In the Description Key examples shown above note the use of NCS 5.0 compliant layers tweaked to allow for easy infrastructure layer management in a civil/survey working environment. The NCS "like" Point Style names (and associated NCS named blocks) by the thousands make Style and graphic identification easy with lots of optional graphics. These are all available in InstantOn, our NCS Symbol Set, and Jump Kit Framework products.

No Match Style Tools

Points that match NOTHING In the Description Key Set(s) float to the ever present All Points Point Group. The All Points Group (or another Point Group that collects every point) may be assigned a Point Style and Label Style like “No_Match”, “Non-Standard”, or something like that.  This sort of Style trick can make the uncoded, no-match points clearly visible.

This is another classic Civil 3D Point Group trick that makes sure that you don’t lose out on the opportunity to see what might be uncoded in your point data on entrance. Everyone blows codes and/or miscodes points in the field.

What You See is What You Get

The Override approach almost assumes and sort of implies that ALL the points will also show up with some kind of symbol and optionally some kind of label all the time. Yes, you could assign Styles and Labels that show nothing or use the Civil 3D null of “<none>” here and there. In the Override approach, however, this is the exception not the rule.

Override acts like the Get the Old Way Working approach I mentioned previously and most of CAD folks are used to. It’s comfy. We can still change things and do more.

Double the Overrides

When you need to display points and/or point labels differently you create or edit Point Groups and employ the Point Group Override tab properties to force the filtered and matching points to OBEY a Point Group Override. Yes. Technically this becomes an override of an override. Such double negatives in data may confuse the unwary.

Your Civil 3D users really only have to worry about the current Point Group Priority Order property and the specifics of the Point Group property definitions themselves. The Point Group definitions will become more specific and the Point Group Priority more mission critical.

Point Groups definitions are drawing specific. We have to load named Point Groups and their property values into your Civil 3D template and/or resort to other levels of Civil 3D trickery to move the Point Group definitions around. See the Civil 3D Point Group Standards post and a video of the details. I won’t go there again right now.

The Override Strategy is good a producing a few consistent variations of point symbols and point label annotation.
ThIs sounds good.
It is good.

Headlights of the Oncoming Traffic

However, it also says that you and your users care about the final published representation of the point almost all the time. I pointed out this dark side last time. Typically, users will also think and/or perceive that they have to manually edit more points and labels individually.

How they see the points will drive their in drawing production edit and point display behavior. That behavior is ALREADY weighted towards exactly the individual point edit approach by their previous working CAD history and experience.

In the past, we had limited point display and annotative choice. All of that individual point handling has a hidden project man-hour backside to it.

Each manually tweaked point has to be maintained and maintained and maintained forever.

The Point Director Strategy

To put the petal to the metal and get more performance we have to look at the Civil 3D tools that are there right in front of us and find another way.

Next time we’ll explore what I call the Priority Strategy aka – The Point Director Strategy.

Get the Freedom to Work in Civil 3D

Point Display Strategies in Civil 3D