The Framework for Civil 3D is a Managed System that supports the production use of Civil 3D and any customization of the backend resources that you can imagine. Customers say the Framework even enables forms of customization they never dreamed of before they started to employ it.
When a new CAD Management tool arrives from Autodesk, I tend to personally take notice and pay careful attention. The Framework for Civil 3D supports multiple releases of Civil 3D with lots of different resources. Today we even support different flavors of those resources. The Framework includes multiple project datasets as well. All that stuff has to be updated sooner or later. That means I personally, as much as anyone, will stretch a new tool’s limits and work to find ways to hammer it into a form of useful submission.
There is a new Autodesk Batch Save Utility included with Civil 3D 2019 which perhaps technically exists as much to fix drawing bloat and performance issue problems as anything else.
The Autodesk Batch Save Utility is also available to subscription customers running older releases of Civil 3D via the Autodesk Desktop app or via the subscription center.
Here's a basic walk-through...
Autodesk Batch Save Utility
Autodesk claims the Batch Save Utility tool can be employed to update Civil 3D templates and project drawings more systematically. The tool is definitely a CAD management tool that expects that the user understands a number of familiar AutoCAD customization tools and Civil 3D specifics.
As is the norm for new Civil 3D tools, the tool is not particularly intuitive for a first time or casual user.
Here the link to the Batch Save Utility tool help page in the Civil 3D 2019 help. Read it.
After reading the rest of this post you should also read the follow up post Reprisals and the Civil 3D Batch Save Utility which covers a personal face plant of my own with the Batch Save Utility Tools.
The tool employs an XML-based configuration file that can be edited. This file is currently undocumented, but the intended relationship to the tool’s options in the XML is pretty obvious.
- By default the config file is located in:
- The current version of the tool does not appear to save all the available options to that file.
- There is no Apply button in the interface to save your choices to the file before you run the tool process.
- You do not have the option to Save or Load different saved configuration files.
A save of previous selection list, exclusion lists, and options would be really handy.
Folder Selection and Specification
The Batch Save Utility tool includes a folder-based DWG and DWT selection capability coupled with other find and/or exclude options to simplify (or complicate depending on your perspective) the file selection process. The selection Add and Exclude tools are not file specific.
The lack of the ability to load an external text file list of files to process is a serious shortcoming.
Script Powered Updates
The new Batch Save Utility tool includes a script call reference. What is in this called script is central to the effectiveness and results obtained by the tool’s use. Left unsaid is the fact that the called AutoCAD script (that may include LISP) does the actual work. The Batch Save Utility tool creates and manages the sessions.
There are potentially some nifty maintenance tricks we could do with the Batch Save Utility. The tool appears to support SCRIPTCALL, SCRIPT, and LISP in combination so you can potentially do a lot of automated maintenance work on a selection of DWT and/or DWG files.
Faster Civil 3D Updates is Better
The tool can call the core AutoCAD engine with all the necessary Civil 3D code without any user interface at all. The performance is significantly better than regular SCRIPTCALL, SCRIPT, and/or LISP methods used inside a full working session of Civil 3D.
You may employ the tool with a visible AutoCAD command line. This can be helpful for testing, but it degrades to speed of the tool as well. Without the visible command line, the tool will generate both summary and the important individual file log file records to a dedicated local computer directory.
The Batch Save Utility tool can and will process multiple files at once by running multiple behind the scene sessions of the core AutoCAD engine with Civil 3D. If you are processing large drawings keep your local computer’s memory resources in mind when setting the tool’s options.
Batch Save Utility Works
Yippie! If you need to update the Layer system in your templates, update some blocks, update the Civil 3D release, or do all of those things at once to an entire project of Civil 3D drawings you can potentially pull that miracle off.
The new Batch Save Utility tool is not a magic button and requires some common CAD management knowledge, skills, and some practice. Frankly, your first crack at using it will probably fail unless all you want to do is update the Civil 3D release for a set of project folders of drawings.
Test and Work On Copies
WARNING: Currently, the error trapping for open files and option variables in memory when you QUIT the tool is non-existent or broken.
In other words - the tool will Quit but leave files that the tool has open locked in the file structure. This may include not only open drawings but the tool’s log files as well.
Not good. The fix of the open files may require a Restart and/or logout and/or other OS Administrator skills to fix.
- Therefore, you probably want to employ the tool with copies on a local computer.
- You probably want the default time out values to be as close as possible to the typical time to process your script(s) requires.
You do not want the default 20 minutes unless you are processing large files and you are a lot more patient than I am!
- The time out values should take into consideration the size and content of the DWG/DWT file processed and the number of files processed simultaneously.
Currently, quiting the tool in process appears to also leave some tool config settings (variables) in memory. In repeated testing, I had to restart my testing computer a couple of times when the tool seemed to lose it’s way.
No Raw AutoCAD Support
Why Autodesk restricts this tool to only Civil 3D releases is also beyond me, but somewhat understandable. No one wants to anger the AutoCAD platform group folk too much.
However, the capability or option to turn off the Civil 3D code and to process the raw AutoCAD resources that sit behind Civil 3D (and other AutoCAD resources like DWS files) would be a useful option.
In future we potentially won’t have to build separate file lists, spreadsheets, and scripts to upgrade projects and/or specific Civil 3D resources.
I successfully tested the Batch Save Utility tool to update:
- From one release of Civil 3D uphill to another for DWG and DWT files
- DWT files with new Layer systems in the same release – in 2018
- DWT files with new Layer Systems (multiple script tweaks with SCRIPTCALL) to an uphill release
- A subset of a Civil 3D project to an uphill release
Not too shabby results with one hand tied behind my back and a new tool.
Test Specifics and Hints
I did modify the default supplied script(s). The supplied one are basic samples.
- My edited scripts employed SCRIPTCALL and chained multiple scripts in an order and a LISP call.
- Layer System rename changes came from multiple recent Layer Standards AddOn supplied scripts.
These scripts were employed without edits.
- The new scripts also performed Regapp purges and other typical maintenance processes.
- I did not test visual Zoom to, Select, and/or Erase scripts.
Since I employed the more powerful SCRIPTCALL command and not SCRIPT, I found I had to employ full paths to the script and LISP resources.
I could not always depend on the tool to in-process locate the tool’s default folder.
I found that it is often easier to mark DWG/DWT file read-only in the file system and turn on the option to ignore read-only files in the Batch Save Utility tool than employ Exclude and move folders/files around in the existing folder structure.
Note that I did not test Date and Time option criteria which probably could have accomplished the same thing particularly in working projects.
During testing I found it is way too easy to forget that the Batch Save Utility tool logs are keeping track of previously processed files.
Remember to clear the logs, if you are reprocessing files in the same folder locations.
Needless to say the best time-saving upgrade you can make in Civil 3D is to upgrade to…
Civil 3D 2019 and the Framework for Civil 3D
The current Release 7 for 2018 build of the Framework for Civil 3D runs great on Civil 3D 2019 based on our preliminary testing of the shipping build of Civil 3D 2019. You can try Templates Only for chump change.
At this point the Release 7 runs on a staggering number of supported releases of Civil 3D albeit with some differences in capabilities based on the Civil 3D release you want to run. We’ve released multiple AddOns recently. More Release 7 AddOns are on the way.
Get Back to Work
Our upcoming Release 8 will certainly include more than one groundbreaking and innovative reason to upgrade to the best Civil 3D Template and Civil 3D Styles solution on the planet.
See the earlier Release 8 futures post for some highlights.