Managed Civil 3D Views and User Discipline

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We must work within the current AutoCAD and Civil 3D limitations no matter what we wish for. This has been a serious Civil 3D adoption issue for way too many folks over the years.
Why doesn’t Civil 3D work like what I expect it should?

If you like, you can call my previous post a rant or a HSSPHI (How to Steal Something and Pretend to Help the Ignorant) fit about the lack of VIEW sharing and functional VIEW management tools in AutoCAD-based apps. I know I’m not alone with that complaint. To quote Stan Lee, “nuff said.”

Views Remain a Serious Matter in Civil 3D

The basic ability to define, name, and share Where we are working and publishing is part of the critical path to working together to achieve project success in Civil 3D.

In practical terms, must we resort only to Civil 3D user skill and individual discipline to manage VIEW definitions and those closely related standards, tools, and features in our Civil 3D projects? Of course not. We should be proactive systematic managers to help enable our Civil 3D users.

The Somber Matter of Project Template Management

We can build some of the fundamental prototypes into our Civil 3D Project Template(s). Note that I am being careful not to only allude to only to a working Civil 3D template that some see as the panacea for all problems Civil 3D. Too much unused and/or unnecessary stuff in a Civil 3D template is often counterproductive.

Within our Civil 3D Project Template(s), we can certainly establish our organizational naming conventions and critical path requirements and essentials. The series of posts about the mechanics and often overlooked capabilities of Civil 3D Project Templates with listed links and videos are collected on the Civil 3D Data Shortcut Setup and Workflows page. The basics of some of the managed Alignment-based methodologies are discussed below.

A Civil 3D Project Template is arguably one of the hardest things to do well in Civil 3D. The continuous development of them appears to have some of the most potent productivity payback for the committed few who do the work. That old saying that the better you start the better the results oversimplifies the demonstrable results.

We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Views

Our personal familiarity with the current project data automatically breeds contempt for information management practice. I know and the important Where(s). They are obvious to anyone with eyes to see. We also do this with XREFs and DREFs mechanics our Civil 3D projects. We do this with our publishing mechanics. We believe our project deadlines force us to take shortcuts.

Some of us plan to fix things later. We don’t. We are human. The principal issue is that we forget that everyone else doesn’t think like we do. We just act like they do. The painful problem is we may think differently ourselves when we come back to the project in a month. Go ahead. Raise your hand.

From a Civil 3D standards implementation perspective, I find that folks who don’t employ VIEWs don’t usually employ Layer States, the Civil 3D Plan Production Tools, and the Sheet Set Manager very effectively either. These folks rarely train their staff to employ the same. Consistent deliverable results cannot be produced in less time by wingit and dingit. That is a Civil 3D user skill and individual discipline thang.

There’s no prison or crime here. Only the freedom to get more productive work done in Civil 3D.

Those Closely Related Standards, Tools, and Features

AutoCAD and Civil 3D together probably provide an overwhelming number of ways to integrate the Where in a drawing and a project’s collection of drawings. The mission critical issues are neither about different strokes for different folks nor about ways to skin a cat.

We can take a look at the Civil 3D Section Editor for a out of the box example of the things we might want to consider. What’s makes the SE tool function and makes it useable and useful?

  • A Viewports setup
  • A standardized Code Set Style which pretty much does for Corridor output what Layer States do for Views
  • A Naming convention based on a core Civil 3D Feature – aka the Alignment

Do Frame Based Naming Conventions Work for You?

The Civil 3D Plan Production Tools and ViewFrame Group child collections of Alignment Features are always a great place to start. Alignment-based VIEW solutions can be employed for both traditional Plan and Profile and many classic site projects as well. Ok. Mapbooks work too but that’s not the topic today.

The employment of an Alignment as a publishing and management device is a key concept in Civil 3D. These concepts and mechanics are detailed elsewhere in the Members section of the website. There are public videos of the methods and workflow available. We get on the horse or we walk.

Civil 3D builds the ViewFrames from Layout viewport definitions we supply. I like to point out that those Layout viewport definitions do not need to be formally tied to the publish problem. Say What? The working environment problem also applies. Multiple ViewFrame Groups are allowed.

Sadly, Civil 3D does not automatically construct named modelspace Views nor the related DVIEW twists from the available information. The Civil 3D user skill and discipline is to always take the time to create the VIEWs at the appropriate DVIEW Twist definitions.

I might ask the question - How is the available Frame information related to the potential DVIEW problem? Obviously, the classic CAD techniques work to get ‘er done. There are a couple of good videos on that over on the Civil 3D Basics page.

Do Surface Based Naming Conventions Float Your Boat?

Project and specific task work areas and VIEWs can be certainly related to our surface models and their boundary definitions both existing and proposed.

We could also consider these to be Site Parcel area problems. Those can collect Features Lines. Corridors make Feature Lines... Oh, never mind.

The Civil 3D user skill and discipline is to take the time to externalize them to make them readily and consistently available separately from the surface models and/or parcel models so they may be employed for our VIEW standards working enironment production issues within a project context.

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