Civil 3D Style Management Tool Goodies

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If we employ Civil 3D, we need to understand there is a tension - a difference between our Preference and Production Performance. We build and maintain our Civil 3D Standards to improve our ability to communicate complex ideas and information to others consistently. We also recognize that there are important collaboration and/or project team considerations at play for most civil engineering and survey organizations.

When we talk standards from a Civil 3D user perspective, this means we are practically talking about…

The Known Good and How to Get There Faster

While it’s a bit off the beaten path and topic, it’s probably best to remember…

The good news about Style in Civil 3D is that you can standardize almost anything.
The bad news about Style in Civil 3D is that you can standardize almost anything.

You can substitute standards for Style in Civil 3D too. Eheh.

Most of us recognize, sooner or later, that our historic preference and work habits can make the changes needed to improve our production performance and even the addition of new team members weighty and expensive problems.

Everyone Who Employs Software for a Living Gets Stuck

We need to take the time to assess if our current Civil 3D Standards produce improved productive performance or if they mainly reflect that historic Preference and work habits.
Don’t get me wrong. I believe Preference and Style Choice coupled together are great thing.
I’m biased. This pairing is a big part of what the Framework for Civil 3D is all about.

Customers purchase Jump Kit, to validate and answer the question I ask a lot.

“Dave? Can Our Civil 3D Templates and Civil 3D Style do that?”

Where else can you get thousands of tested and supported production Civil 3D Styles and Templates for a song? Can the Framework for Civil 3D be employed as a benchmark? The Framework is a managed system for Civil 3D that works out of the box. Most of those customers were more than pleasantly surprised.

In practical Civil 3D user terms, the daily work is about the build and the management of the Model in a project. I call this unavoidable Civil 3D user accountability – the Managed Dynamic Model. If you don’t manage the dynamics (how the Civil 3D parts interact), the stress of project combat can tear your project apart. You use Civil 3D. You probably get that.

To make Civil 3D work we also need structured methods to manage Style. There are new tools like Reference Templates in recent versions of Civil 3D that help us do that. These structured methods are key to get to those standards and the productive performance power of…

Publish on Demand

We have that ETERNAL and EVERLASTING Style problem...What is the known good? Maybe that question could also be: Where is the known good?

Style in Civil 3D is always intentionally temporary. This makes some folk run screaming into the night. We require the power of Style choice. Style choice improves our ability to make better design and data behind based decisions faster.

How do we practically simplify after those mission critical design and quality control decisions have been made?

Style Purge

In the Civil 3D ribbon the Manage>>Styles>>Purge (PurgeStyles) command is the power chipper for unreferenced Style removal. Like all power tools Style Purge can suck you in. You can lose a limb.

Read the operating instructions before starting. Backup before use and/or work on a copy. Practice and experience are required. Practice the continuous development mantra. Plan...Do...Check...Act.

First a short video about the Style Tool basics with a healthy disclaimer that this video avoids lots of the nuance and, at times, problematic issues with the tools.

Style Import and Purge Styles Essentials

Here's a link to a Find and Replace Civil 3D Style Essentials video if you are interested.

In principal the PurgeStyles tool is pretty easy to get. It gets rid of all the unreferenced Styles in a classic AutoCAD PURGE command way. A complete wipe of the unreferenced Styles takes more than one pass.

Is Finding the Known Good Really This Simple?

The PurgeStyles tool allows you to get rid of most of the unnecessary Civil 3D Style references in project drawings.

  • You can employ PurgeStyles to FREEZE the current presentation of Civil 3D Features to one fixed FORM or Set of Styles in a drawing or a set of project drawings.
  • PurgeStyles allows a method to build a Set of publishing Styles – aka those somewhat elusive publish standards.
  • If your projects are complex, you will want to divide and conquer the disassembly outlined here and reassemble the results.
  • The KISS result is great for publication, reduces confusion, and can improve your presentation and annotative consistency.

Style Purge is Not Permanent

Words of caution: PurgeStyles will also kill Standard Styles too. My Civil 3D wishlist for PurgeStyles:

  • A Leave the Standards checkbox in the tool's dialog box
    Please Civil 3D don’t purge the built-in Civil 3D ones.
    You may need those generic references to disconnect the named Style references that remain.
  • A Convert Styles to Standard checkbox in the tool's dialog box
    Better yet this would be a handy separate Style Management Tool particularly with an option list like the Style Import tool.
    Let me choose what Styles I want to convert to Standard.
  • A command line version so PurgeStyles is easier to script and employ with Batch Save

In any case you can and should employ the Style Import Tool in your post PurgeStyles procedure to slap the Standards back in. We want the finished work to stay stable.

Two Style Tools Combined Are More Than One

Style Purge cannot remove Styles and Sets currently referenced in Command and Feature Settings. They are still referenced and are in use. Dooh!

You can employ a Style Import before your Style Purge with that sneaky little Import Settings checkbox checked. Nothing that you import in at this point is what you want to produce a better known good.

Huh? Ok. I admit that’s a bit confusing.

You import from a dwg or dwt with the Command and Feature Settings all set to Standard. The Framework supplies this naked code-built resource for a number of reasons. The Style Import rids your drawing of unnecessary Command and Feature Style settings. Your repetitive Style Purges will be more effective more quickly.

Don’t Trip

If you employ LSD (Label Style Defaults) to standardize Label heights for particular Types of Styles in your production/working template(s), you probably want to create a naked Command and Feature Settings all set to Standard prototype with your typical LSD in place. Sorry. If that doesn’t make sense to you, it should.

“Dave? What Did We Just Do?”

We created a publishing template for a project in less time without a whole lot of messing around.

The Framework for Civil 3D is like that.

If you want to convert to the Framework, run the process on a recent project or two. The reduced and processed results produce that elusive critical-path list of your mission critical Styles that you need to help you identify the Framework’s Style lookalikes. Yes. They are in there. Those benchmark folks mentioned above tell me so.

Release the Power Beyond the Code
Get the Framework for Civil 3D Release 8