Project and Data Shortcut Setup Methods

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Over time Civil 3D became more flexible about how we can store and manage our project work. That flexibility can make the whole Civil 3D project creation and setup process confusing. Let’s call project creation and the Data Shortcut setup flexible and adaptive and a bit non-intuitive.

The project folder structure you employ is totally up to you. Be aware that project folder structure should shadow in part how Civil 3D actually functions. By now you probably figured that out. Civil 3D functionally demands you employ it’s built in Data Shortcuts XML-based management method to create and manage all the Data Shortcut links to all that beautiful data behind.

Civil 3D Data Shortcut Methods

It always seemed to me that is was easiest to explain the Data Shortcuts location (the _Shortcuts structure) as a project XML driven website – The Data Shortcut site holds and manages all the Data Shortcut XML links. Maybe the website metaphor works for you. It makes sense to me.

The good news is you can put the generic _Shortcuts structure anywhere, move it around, make copies, etc. The bad news is doing that cool stuff without malice and forethought (aka - a plan) can drive you and those around you to distraction.

The fundamentals of Civil 3D Data Shortcuts project setup mechanics is certainly worth a quick video review.

Project and Data Shortcut Setup Methods

People ask for the details outside of a video. Here’s a brief summary. Register and visit our extensive Documentation and Help in the Members section for more nuances.

Shared Project Method

In essence this is the Civil 3D default method:

Data Shortcuts are published and available to create Data References across projects

  • _Shortcuts is published to each individual Project folder root
  • The Working Folder is Set to the root of many potential Projects
  • Users MUST Set the correct Project to Publish Data Shortcuts and employ Data References

Project Centric Method

The popular in-project centric method:

Data Shortcuts are published and available to create Data References only within a project

  • _Shortcuts published to a subfolder within the Project folder structure
  • The Working Folder is Set to the individual Project root
  • Project selection is automatically set to one site by default

We have simple choices and then Civil 3D makes it complicated.

Both Data Shortcuts Setup Methods Can Work Together

The Data Shortcut setup methods are not mutually exclusive. In other words, more than one _Shortcuts structure can be employed in a project. For example:

  • Design employs a Shared Project Data Shortcut site and Survey always employs a separate and internal Project Centric site
  • It is possible to have multiple Shared Project Data Shortcut sites in a large project that requires multiple phases and/or lots of necessary project options.

Data Shortcut Setup Mechanics

How it works. Nothing could be simpler. Inside a project folder structure Civil 3D looks for special folders and files to create and publish Data Shortcuts.

  • The _Shortcuts folder location is the key and is set by Set Working Folder command
    Civil 3D looks one level down from the current Working Folder location
  • We publish/share links in this site location to a set of special folders
    Acts like a website because it is a simple XML file-based site
  • A _Shortcuts site can be manually copied and/or moved
  • The XML file holds any custom named groups of Data Shortcuts
  • The external Data Shortcuts Editor finds and displays editable link details or
    empty results for Data Shortcut sites without any links

We should understand how useful those Civil 3D Project Templates are and how we need to work to improve them. See the Civil 3D Project Templates are More post.

More next time on ways to use Civil 3D Project Templates and creatively employ that tricky New Shortcuts Folder tool.

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