Better Civil 3D Property Set Management

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The original Civil 3D development team initially refused allow us all to employ the available and built in Property Set Style definition tools in Civil 3D for many releases. We endured something like ten releases of Civil 3D without it. Arrrgh. A few of us Civil 3D developers asked. What’s the problem?

To build and employ Property Sets Civil 3D users would have to learn to employ the AEC Style Manager Tool. The dev team said that would introduce user confusion about Civil 3D Style and Civil 3D Style management. Like Civil 3D Style confusion never happened anyway? The Civil 3D Style tool interface didn’t employ that Style Manager Tool interface intentionally.

Display and Data Madness

Back in the day we were told that use of the AEC Style Manager Tool would make Civil 3D more confusing for the end users. So much for the value of uneducated focus groups who are asked to comment on preliminary code with a preconception based on raw AutoCAD’s primitive Styles.

The AEC Style Manager Tool interface is not so hot, but the Display System management that the tool allows inside the software is a practical act of Set Theory genius. I still want to meet and talk to the person who thought the Display System up and managed to get paid to do it in code.
Autodesk will never tell.

The Civil 3D team significantly reduced the complexity that the customizable Display System the AEC Style Manager Tool allowed. To this day in Civil 3D, we get controlled and fixed versions of the Display System seen only on one tab of the Civil 3D Style Editor. We know them as Plan, Model, Elevation, Profile and Section display representations.

Property Set Style definitions which allow for the publication of specialized data that can be automatically attached to Civil 3D features and/or primitives come along with the Display System ride. This wasn’t a design afterthought. We just got it that way in Civil 3D.

History Comes Back Around

Time told a different tale. The lack of specialized attached data publishing capability in Civil 3D became talking point nonsense. Both the intake and the publication of this sort of data is necessary in real civil engineering and survey project workflows and project deliverables execution. As some say, Civil 3D would be BIM-Less without it.

Property Set Style Management

Property Set Style Management is important. It is still too much of a dark art in Civil 3D. If you do the Property Set Style construction work, you learn how to make it work by too much trial and error.

I consider that one of the issues is that the Property Set definitions need to grow and change over the course of a project. You need a little here and then, step by step, more is added or even subtracted from what specialized data you need to publish. Seen another way, in the beginning you may get a pile of marginally useful GIS data that you have to massage and refine along with your design. This points to the need for better Property Set Definition Management Tools.

A New Hope

This recent Autodesk video about creating and updating Property Set Definitions with Dynamo for Civil 3D speaks volumes. Maybe this innovative and more adaptive Property Set Definition magic floats your boat.


Property Sets Definitions with Dynamo

Paolo Emilio Serra, an Autodesk Implementation Consultant, steps through the functionality and processes of the Autodesk supplied Property Set Definition examples for Dynamo for Civil 3D.

If you want to create, maintain, and make consistent your Property Set Definitions, Dynamo includes some powerful and very useful tools to do that. Want to read, externally update, and write them back. Say thank you to Paulo and visit his AKN page. We have a whole new section of videos about Dynamo for Civil 3D too.

Don’t forget to consider how you will relate your Property Set Definition Dynamo scripts to your project. Where you store them will matter.

Even without all the Dynamo wiz bang, the video does a good job to both explain and show how to implement standardized pick lists for use with Property Set Definitions. That is a mission critical part of that Property Set Style definition dark art that produces better consistency and results in your daily use of Property Sets and their publication in Civil 3D.

Yes. You can use that nasty old AEC Style Manager Tool to move Property Set definitions around between your Civil 3D templates, resource collection drawings, and project drawings. This is not the same thing as moving and/or updating the Property Set data around.

I hope that maybe you now have a better handle on that. Eheheh.

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