Together We Do Work to Improve Civil 3D

Tags linetype, Layer Standards, layer state, customization, implementation, project, CAD Standards, Civil 3D 2020, Release 8

Each time Autodesk releases a new release or Update of Civil 3D some smart folks decide to give the Framework for Civil 3D a whirl. I can’t say I blame them. When people update the software, they tend to want to improve things about their civil engineering and survey production environment. For good, practical reasons, almost no one initially wants to change everything all at once. Let’s face it if you are the Beatles, who needs a fifth wheel?

If you got the entrepreneurial bug and just hung up your shingle, the Framework products appeal to you for completely different reason. To quote the Beatles’ fifth wheel, Billy Preston:

“Nothing from nothing leaves nothing”

I prefer Preston’s song You are so Beautiful that he wrote for his mother. That song became a hit for Joe Cocker. The other Preston hit song makes my point. I fight a war on Civil 3D Style poverty. The Framework will help, but you as a daily user are the most important part of any successful implementation.

Together We Do Work to Improve Civil 3D

I won’t belabor the Change Management mantra expressed in the Manage to Change in Civil 3D post and many other places elsewhere on this site. A continuous improvement mindset underpins the Framework and your success in making the tools and resources supplied work for you.

Participation is the real deal. InstantOn works out of the box. The first issue is not changing that before you employ it. The most important fact is to employ InstantOn and while you do real project work tweak it to fit your specific needs better. The Framework products are designed from the ground up to work this way. Innovative and just a little crazy.

The Framework is not a Civil 3D customization. The Framework for Civil 3D is a managed system built to accomplish that result in less time and with less on-going effort and expense.

Make Improvement Real

Someone asked a good question about the InstantOn templates.
“Why there are no AutoCAD linetypes assigned to Layers in the supplied templates?”

I’ll answer that. We shall also see how the Framework relies on integrated systems which work together to reduce the tweak work at a practical level. I like to say about the Framework, “It’s in there.”
The There and Where is often not as important and How and When to employ the resource, tool, or system.

Linetypes are Specific Preference

Everyone is particular about linetype so a consensus that people don’t complain about is problematic. Some people hate some of the NCS ones. Many customers have their old-time favorite preferences.
In any case, we supply something hundreds of consistent and tested linetype definitions with prototypes for more in Jump Kit. We also supply example drawings of all of them. Who knew?

Linetypes are a Publish Specification

Linetypes should usually be a publishing detail except for a couple here and there in working templates to help users identity mission critical differences while they work.
If we manage them, it actually pays us to limit specifics of Layer linetype assignments as long as possible.

There are New Better Ways to Represent Linetype

Some folks use linetype for utilities any other annotation but others these days use Alignment Group Labels. These are often less work and less hassle. They dumb down to AutoCAD or DGN a bit better.

  • In other words, you are draw or convert utility lines to Alignments and use a Set to apply the groups of Station Label Styles.
    Jump Kit supplies lots of prebuilt ones that employ both text and symbols.
  • Typically, you set the Major Station labels to a super large increment number and use Minor Stations labels to slap 8” Water or 24” RCP to the alignment every 50’ or whatever works.

Alignment Group Label Details

The Blog Videos section has videos with links to posts about annotative Alignment Group Labels use.

See the Alignment Matters in Civil 3D video. About 7 minutes into the video demos what I am talking about. The Major Station increment trick is shown elsewhere. If you try it with Style tools that work, it is easy to do.

Integrated Systems Work for You

All the adaptive Layer Systems in the Framework are built around a system of Layer States and employing them. The properties of Layers in ACAD and Civil 3D are not static. The Layer properties are dynamic and are managed and changed by Layer States. The Layer System functionality operates separately from Civil 3D Styles and all that wiz bang. But the systems in the Framework do work together to reduce your work in the long term.

Put another way - you don’t usually have to use the Layer Manager (LA) Tool but use the LM command and set Style properties instead.

The False Dichotomy of By Layer or By Style

Many long-time ACAD users never use Layer States. Why? Out of old-school CAD habit, they employ the Layer Manager all day every day. They attempt to manage Civil 3D information by Layer instead of by Style. This isn’t an actual choice in Civil 3D. That is a false dichotomy. Civil 3D employs both by Layer and by Style all the time. The Framework addresses and manages both integrated systems by Design.

You set the proper Existing or Proposed Styles and Sets to things and the Civil 3D Style tools and the Layer States do the sweaty work.

I usually suggest new customers employ STB publishing (it is called Style based publishing for a reason), but we supply the CTB solution too.

Change States While You Work

The InstantOn desktop templates ship with prototype Linetype Layer States you tweak and improve as you work through a project. These supplied Layer States for linetypes only set linetype properties to layers and nothing else.

The supplied Layer State System works in conjunction with the Style Tools. The entire Layer System is adaptive and easily interchangeable in context.

In the beginning most new customers are more than happy to do the following for linetypes because the process works. It is simple to execute.

Edit the Layer States

I repeat - The supplied Layer States for linetypes ONLY set linetype properties to layers and nothing else.

  • You do want to preserve the Layer State that RESETS them all back to Continuous.
  • You tweak one Layer State for your working template and drawings.
    Set Only the linetypes you must have to get work done.
  • You tweak another one (or more than one) for your publishing template and/or drawings.
    You might have different ones of these for different clients or jurisdictions.
  • You can and should export edited ones and put them into your updated copies of the supplied Layer Standards drawings.
    In other words, when you get through you first project you have an improved set of Layer States (and Styles) ready for the next project because you updated the Layer Standards file(s).
  • You can employ and edit copies of the supplied Layer Standards Spreadsheet tools to document and replicate this work in a more managed way.

The Fundamental Experience Problem

At a practical level we cannot really learn where the Civil 3D Style components are putting the Layer stuff without using the Styles and the Layer States to perform real work.

We are still not stuck.

Put the newer Civil 3D TREF Technology to Work

In Release 8 of the Framework for Civil 3d we supply entire sandbox/example projects in both STB and CTB so you can test the linetype results away from your project work in progress.

The supplied project drawings now employ a single file Reference Templates (TREF) so you can edit the two TREFs (based on the “stock” IntantOn Design and Survey templates) and see the results for Styles and the Layer States in all the potential forms in any of the drawings.

If you have a recent Civil 3D project (everyone has one of those), you can convert a copy and the Civil 3D data behind of one of your projects to the Framework systems using single-file TREFs by following the steps outlined and detailed in the Civil 3D Reference Templates Made Easy post. There is a video.

If you prefer, you can convert a copy of a current project to a classic Civil 3D template as well. Arguably, this approach takes more time and requires detailed and skilled work.

Most people find this test conversion process instructive. Conversion quickly illuminates the differences and details you want and/or need to actually address if you want to adopt the Framework.

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