Civil 3D Report Project Placeholders

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I probably go on and on too much about Intelligent Publish on Demand (iPOD) in Civil 3D. There is reason to my madness. I want to save every Civil 3D user tons of time. The people that care to pay attention say I do. Thanks for the feedback folks.

In the real world planned and systematic methods produce more consistent deliverables and better iterative civil design. The sometimes painful reality is that the data behind in Civil 3D drives all of our project development and project publication productivity or else the mechanics of getting that done in the day to day becomes our production stumbling block.

Reprise Civil 3D File-Based Project Placeholders

Inside and outside of Civil 3D there are layers and layers of execution details here. Come on, folks. Aren’t we talking about civil engineering and survey procedures after all? If this was easy and not too complicated, we wouldn’t get paid.

Ok, it’s true. Autodesk has a habit of getting things 90% done and then leaving the nasty customization to actually complete the whole job to you. The Framework for Civil 3D is built and maintained to help you with that expensive problem. Who knew?

In my series of posts on Civil 3D Project Templates and Project Startup, I did neglect to mention Civil 3D Toolbox Reports and the file placeholders for the same. Silly me. Happily, I was reminded in a timely fashion.

Kyle Groves, an Application Engineer at CAD Technology Center, released a well-produced video walk-through of the Civil 3D Toolbox and the essentials of Toolbox Report customization and tweaks. Say thanks to Kyle.


The Toolbox Reports in Civil 3D

Kyle’s overview does a good job at hitting all the key issues for Toolbox Reports. He admits that in his previous production work experience he didn’t use them. Sadly, the fixation on Civil 3D visual/screen tools is all too common for Civil 3D users. I bet his previous employers didn’t employ Civil 3D Project Templates either.

“Why would we need that?”

Kyle doesn’t relate the discussion of Toolbox Reports to Civil 3D Project Templates and placeholders at all, but that stretch should be pretty obvious.

  • In many Toolbox Reports, Civil 3D by default employs the same name and file location unless you tell Civil 3D differently.
    Always do that or become bemused.
  • I do hope you notice that you need the right tools, like the Notepad++ editor, to perform many and even very simple Toolbox report customization tasks.
    You’ll work ten times as hard if you don’t have a good tool.

On My Civil 3D Bitch List

The drawing centric focus of many Toolbox Reports, while understandable at one basic QAQC level, can be counter-productive from a project perspective. I need a Report. Go get the data from here, here, and here.

I still think we should be able to pick previously exported LandXML file(s) instead of always producing a new one in the typical Report interface. This is particularly true for the many XML based ones. Sometimes you want the report but not for the current drawing or even the current State of the current drawing. Come on Autodesk. This isn’t rocket science nor a difficult improvement to the Report interface. Don’t hold your breath.

Bye the bye – the Miscellaneous Utilities>>Project>>Project Summary Report can be a powerful Civil 3D project progress reporting tool if you learn the nuances. My favorite- I need a list of all the DREFs, but that is the tip of the iceberg. Thanks to the customer that initially paid Autodesk to do this.

Toolbox Reports Are More

My apologies to Kyle - Toolbox Reports should play an active role in everyone’s project development from beginning to end. Access to more transparent data is where the work is at.

The competent use of Toolbox Reports requires you understand the data the specific report requires and what gets produced. This is the classic chicken and egg learning problem that only a little disciplined practice with real data can overcome. You do have a Sandbox Project?

  • There are operational reports
    These often perform a QAQC functions, but can do a lot more like Alignment-based Point Groups which are Toolbox Report based.
  • There are the classic published reports that must respond to the project’s regulatory requirements.
    Often we have to format these to make those folks happy. Watch the video.

Operational and Published Reports

While the same Toolbox Report may be produced for both operational and publication reasons, these are not the same thing. The systemic process and project workflow is not the same thing as a deliverable result. Doesn’t the nuanced difference here cause some confusion? We should fix that.

What you name and where you publish these reports is a powerful Civil 3D Project Template placeholder.
This is a continuous development Project Template improvement that is relatively easy to accomplish.
The name of and/or location of a report file may seem to be too trivial to worry about until we look at the lost opportunity costs and wasted project man-hours when we don’t.

What the heck! The entire better Plan and Profile Deliverables methodology of relating Point data from Survey Data or Corridor output to Alignments is Toolbox Report based. I don’t expect Autodesk to ever make Alignment-based Point Groups a Civil 3D Alignment or Corridor Ribbon pick, but they are welcome to.

That Open Dialog Box is Your Friend or Not

Simple Windows shortcuts imbedded in a Civil 3D Project Template helps a lot when the user is asked where and what to name the report. I bet that the Civil 3D default locations are probably not at all what you want. Don’t get that? Watch this short video.

Civil 3D is the Project
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Project Startup Series Posts

Civil 3D Survey Project Prototypes

  • A primer on Civil 3D Project Templates details and mechanics for Survey.

Civil 3D Project Templates are More

  • Why Civil 3D Project Templates matter and how new tools in Civil 3D make them more productive to employ.

Project and Data Shortcut Setup Methods

  • The technical fundamental mechanics of Civil 3D’s flexible approach to production projects with video.

Civil 3D Project Creation

  • The detailed mechanics and Civil 3D Project creation with video.

A Tale of Projects and Plant

  • A real world rememder about the invisible dangers of success and our constant need to adapt.

Civil 3D Reference Templates and Project Placeholders

  • How to create and employ Reference Templates and Project Placeholders within a Civil 3D Project Template with video.

Civil 3D Placeholders and The Others

  • A collection of varied Project Placeholders within a Civil 3D Project Template saves us project man-hours. Includes a video.

Civil 3D Data Shortcut Project Folders

  • How to build and maintain custom Data Shortcut folders via Civil 3D Project Templates. Includes a video.

Civil 3D Report Project Placeholders

  • How to Toolbox Reports make powerful Civil 3D Project Template Placeholders. Includes a video.