The Civil 3D Production Vehicle is sUber

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Autodesk has AutoCAD users well trained. You buy the product and then immediately begin customizing the product to meet your needs. We expect this. We accept this. With the One AutoCAD 2019 release you’ll get the classic Autodesk AutoCAD-based vertical solutions now called Toolsets. You’ll have to customize the Toolset to make that work too. Perhaps the new Toolset moniker is more accurate and honest.

Autodesk Civil 3D 2019

Officially, Civil 3D 2019 will not be an AutoCAD 2019 Toolset. The Civil 3D platform will be renamed to Autodesk Civil 3D 2019. Yes. Civil 3D is a platform at this point. Whether all the product renames are marketing branding hype, a substantive reality with real customer benefits, or something else will be debated by many for years.

Of course, I have some thoughts about this and that, but those are not the object of this post. I want to address my tongue and cheek play on words expressed in the post title.

Over the Resurrection weekend a Framework customer was kind enough to remind me about some practical realities and advice I had once emailed him when he first tried the Framework for Civil 3D.
Everyone say, "Thanks Dave."

The Framework for Civil 3D
Works Out of the Box

We do not expect this. We often cannot accept this. We believe we must immediately begin customizing the product to meet our needs. Technically, we usually want to change the product to meet our expectations of how we think Civil 3D should work.

We must admit that we enter the fray with that mindset and perspective issue.

The New Vehicle

When you bring home a new car or truck from the auto dealership, you don’t pop the hood and begin tweaking the engine or change the installed performance chip unless you make a living customizing cars. Most practical people don’t and won’t.

"Civil Engineers need to do engineering not customize software.
Surveyors need to gather data and analyze not recreate interfaces."

The fundamental purpose and intent of the Framework is to dispense with as much as possible the hassle and silliness of most of that expensive man-hour equation. The Framework’s desktop product is called InstantOn for a reason.

If you don’t know how the drive Civil 3D very well, you have another more immediate problem. The Framework can help because it does work. I do warn people that the Framework is built around how Civil 3D works, not how we expect that Civil 3D should work.

What First Steps to Do

A bunch of people managed to do the following and claim their end results were good. Better yet the results were maintainable with less time and effort. Best of all - the results continue to improve the more you repeat the process.

Remember we are adjusting the seats for the drivers and passengers not rebuilding or redesigning the car.

You can run the following process on a completed project so the data behind and the design decisions are not a serious issue. But you still need to run through all the many create, edit, and quality control steps or you miss the nuances of the real work and the skills development.

Based on a lot of customer feedback and frustrating personal experience trying to skip or short hop the list building by fixing things right away usually costs you much more time and effort. Customers claim I should belabor this point. Done deal.

Use the Templates as Provided

The Framework supplies production templates. You construct publish templates mostly by deletion not addition. We want to generally work the same, but publish to the specifics on demand.

  • Work from copies of the templates with different names.
  • Remember you can change Styles LATER when you have the design finished.
  • You need production templates (for work) and a publish template for the end game.
    These are different things no matter what someone else told you or what you believe.
  • The publish template only needs to be good enough to publish the current project NOT everything that might be.

Manage the Custom Problems

  • You may have a few symbols you must change.
    You hate the SMH block. Put it in a list.
  • You may have Styles you identify you need to change.
  • Make sure that there isn’t a better supplied Style choice than the one you made.
  • If not, then put them in a list and note what’s wrong.
    You can copy the actual Styles into NoStyles template(s), but you need to document why.
  • You may change this list after doing the process below.
  • Keep updating the lists.

Do the Work

  • While you work in the production drawings you can delete the Styles that seem unnecessary.
  • Mistakes are OK.
    You can get any Styles back.
    Use the Style Import Tool and/or Drag and Drop
    Sadly, we must learn there is important nuance here in Civil 3D.
  • For example: you need a surface built.
    Before you add ANY data to this drawing do this:
    • You don’t needs tons of stuff.
      Delete Styles like crazy.
      Do not kill any Generals Styles.
    • This is now a surface-build production template
      SaveAs it as one.
      Now Go to work.
  • Import back in Styles you discover should not have deleted while you work.
  • When you are done Style update your initial surface-build production template from the working drawing.

Do the Project Data Management

The key to Style flexibility is the storage of the Civil 3D data behind in project drawings without Style.

  • The surface now needs to be put into a project-based Data Reference drawing without any Styles except the Standard ones.
    Why there are NoStyles templates.
  • Learning how to do that is REALLY IMPORTANT.
    There’s more than one video.

Do the Feature Publication

  • From a full template create a published version of the surface from the DREF.
  • Get rid of all Styles except what you would print or
    (add only those into a NoStyles template).
  • Delete the DREF and you have your Styles for a Surface publish

Civil 3D Feature By Feature Delivers Results

Repeat the process Feature by Feature.
The combined results will be a great production template

It should also create that all important and separate publish template for you.

You could change the words Feature by Feature to design problem to design problem. I tend use the Feature by Feature term because the care and feeding of different Civil 3D Features can be different.

You will soon catch on to the fact that we really use collections of Styles do to tasks.
You’ll learn how to cheat to avoid the boring delete process.
Sorry, there is no other easy way to learn this Style and Information Management Skill Set except by the experience and the discipline of doing it.


  • Civil 3D is heavily weighted towards the Alignment as a primary design tool, annotative engine, and more.
  • None of us work the same way or organize projects the same way.
    God knows projects differ a lot in the real world.
    Civil 3D is robust and supportive about our project structure madness.
  • Obviously, you don’t have to worry about Parcels if you do not have that problem in the project.
  • There will be a few core Styles and Sets (familiar and comfortable ones) you always want around.
    Put them in their own resource drawing.
    That can be used to update other the other task templates.

Now Do the Fixes From the Lists

You want to concentrate on only the publish template first. Publish templates have a significantly smaller, and reasonably-sized Style collection.

  • Go back and fix the Symbols
  • Edit the graphics of the symbols in a COPY of the templates or in the Symbol Set library drawing resources.
    Remember to WBLOCK out the changed block to a folder.
    There is a Symbol Exchange Tool supplied with the Framework.
  • Typically, most symbols ONLY need to be fixed in Point publishing templates.
  • Those are different from Point Label publish drawings.
    Never do Point Symbols and Point Labels publish together.
  • Do the Styles (follow the Simple Styles Rules) in the list
  • The Edited Styles with your names get put back into the appropriate publish templates and/or production
    You want to be careful to keep the separate resource drawing(s).
  • Combining the results will now be a piece of cake because you are good and comfortable with Style Management.

Reference Templates

The Reference Template tools in Civil 3D 2017+ really can help you consistently implement the results of this process. For the most part to employ Reference Template tools within the process is a pretty dicey and a too advanced methodology for most. The nuances of how Civil 3D handles the Style and Settings parts can be overwhelming when the Style collections themselves and the tool behaviors are both in flux.

Innovation Magic Beyond the Code
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