A Civil 3D Managed Dynamic Model Works

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As fate would have it, last month I somehow got started on a series update on AutoCAD Civil 3D fundamentals and essentials. I trust you noticed. These days we have lot of new Framework for Civil 3D customers. People do ask those most important and sometimes uncomfortable questions. It seemed apparent I needed to rewrite, update, and clarify the whole series of posts on the significant topics that underlie effective production work in Civil 3D. That list of posts is at the bottom of this post.

Silly me to question the popular visions of Civil 3D orthodoxy. We must if we desire better Civil 3D skills, improved competency, and a better production Civil 3D.

A Managed Dynamic Model Works

AutoCAD Civil 3D does not technically require a project connection to function. Civil 3D supports a more flexible, adaptive, and practical mechanism that Autodesk calls – association. We took a peek at the variety of methods and structures we might employ these association mechanisms of Data Shortcuts and Data Reference (DREF) tools and management last time.

Historically, Autodesk abdicated from an old formal software-driven, project-based structure to a user customizable construction. Sadly, this can lead the unwary to believe the misconception Civil 3D is not project based.

A Managed Dynamic Model depends on systematic and managed and use of Civil 3D Feature-centric Data References (DREFs). Civil 3D is actually more dependent on project structure, organization, and an ongoing project maintenance process. The whole kit and caboodle gets dumped in the Civil 3D user’s lap.

My Drawing

In the old school CAD applications we tend to think that the current drawing is the center of the universe. This proclivity is based on our visual/screen driven work habits. Even skilled Civil 3D users are likely to talk about My Drawing all the time.

I contend that we cannot artfully employ Civil 3D with this old school CAD mindset. Ok, you can do it. But the work will generally be more painful and time-consuming.

The Data Behind Rules

We must think Dynamic Model – a collection of interconnected Features stored in multiple separate drawings.

Then we will stumble over the same stone again and refer to the model as my drawings or my project.
More skilled Civil 3D folks tend to talk about my Surface, my Corridor, and my Parcels.
They have made the emotional break from drawing to the more vital and valuable data behind.

It's unlikely that our old CAD project structure is going to be effective at managing the Civil 3D Dynamic Model without some thoughtful and educated revisions. Let’s put that another way.

Dynamic Means a Change of State

Civil 3D Features you create within the Dynamic Model may need to get moved inside the project Structure because the Feature changes state. Features do evolve to become direct References to other new Features as your project moves through the phases of your design process.

Ignore this practical fact of life in Civil 3D at your peril. The skill to recognize and identify these state changes is a mission critical Civil 3D skill. These state changes are the data-centric benchmarks in all practical and functional Civil 3D workflows.

Civil 3D Project Templates are More

Civil 3D ships with a Civil 3D Project Template which most of us simply ignore. Because the supplied examples are next to useless should not dissuade us from seeking and seeing the true value of this template.

In the Framework for Civil 3D the UDS (Uniform Drawing Standard) compliant Civil 3D Project Template structure recognizes that you have a Model from which you will publish you work. Within the Model there are common tasks which have to be performed.

  • These structures are notably Feature centric.
    This remains true even if together those Features produce a more classic published basemap.
  • There are direct References (both XREF and DREF) that may change.
  • There are indirect References like Existing Conditions that change much less, require restricted access to changes, and/or don't get published at all and yet remain important to the project.

What you name to the folders and the drawing containers is up to you. You must have a plan. A Project Template only helps you and those around you to consistently execute that plan.

There's More to a Project than That

The Civil 3D Project Template is potentially than more than a basic project folder setup. This is true even if your primary method of implementation at project start is a copied project performed in Windows Explorer.

In a Civil 3D Project Template, you can do the setup work for future Model construction with simple placeholder Features and the drawings that hold them before you start the real work. As you work you just replace parts in a standardized project Model. This will improve the use of your Feature naming conventions. Yes. You need them.

A Civil 3D Project Template certainly beats redoing and retooling the structure and all the necessary details every time.

  • To save download space the Framework’s Civil 3D Project Template does not include drawing files with pre-built placeholders.
    Your personalized Project Template probably should.
  • How much of your standard published Sheet Set deliverables you put in there is something to continuously work on too.

Civil 3D's Feature data-driven model and Style driven presentation and annotation is a huge productivity advantage. The thousands of Styles in Jump Kit or even in Templates Only make that clear. The Framework’s working or model Templates and their Styles help you immediately take advantage of that.

Yes. You still have to decide the smaller set of Styles that your publishing templates must contain.

Your standard Project Templates and Sheet Sets should be developed and maintained to take full advantage of that stuff. We all have different kinds of work and different kinds of deliverables.

We supply a working Project example with our products. We are not simply showing off some Style and Set tools. We supply it because many people may initially require a functional example of a working project structure too. We all need a sandbox to test our understanding.

Understanding how the many parts in Civil 3D all work together matters.

Every project you work on should help make your Civil 3D Project Template(s) get better. It is easy to miss this basic fact that Civil 3D enables you to make both systematic and incremental productivity gains this way.

The miracle only happens and works if you plan and do it.

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