Does Audit Matter in Civil 3D

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One of my long-standing Civil 3D wish list items is a basic form of elementary Audit functionality. I acknowledge that even the concept of some form of audit in Civil 3D is unlikely to reach high into an everyday Civil 3D user’s wish list for obvious reasons. We all get it.

“I already know what’s wrong with my drawing.”

You Manager types might beg to differ. Civil 3D users might agree they need elementary Audit if their perspective about what Audit can do for them changed a little. More about that in a bit.

Elementary Audit for Civil 3D

What do we mean by elementary Audit functionality in Civil 3D?
Specifically, it would be useful to add a couple of editable and reportable Audit properties to the ever-present Information tab of all Civil 3D Styles and all Civil 3D Features – what we see in the Toolspace.

Properties? What Properties?

We are not out to create a Young Frankenstein or forensic accounting audit for Civil 3D. God knows there are enough humps to overcome in the software as it is. We want simple practical tools that do not get in our way that produce beneficial results quickly. In short, we need…

Tools to Create Better Feedback Loops

We don’t need all that much. KISS.
We need only couple of properties and the ability to search, find, and report on those Audit properties in our working project drawings and Civil 3D resource drawings. By the second drawing type we mean resource drawings be they Civil 3D templates or other collections of Civil 3D Styles, Label Styles, and Sets.

The following two new proposed Audit properties for the Civil 3D object model are technically independent of one another. I’ll avoid the potentially convoluted query logic and reporting issues here to keep things simple.

Call the first – FixThis

  • The FixThis property is a simple checkbox that flags the Civil 3D Feature (object) or the Civil 3D Style that something is wrong with it.
  • Show me a list of all the Styles that have marked FixThis issues?
  • Show me a list of all the Civil 3D Features (objects) that have FixThis issues?

If we can do this in drawings, we can report on results in projects and other collections of drawings. Elementary Audit enables issues identification and improved, practical workflows in Civil 3D.

Call the second – FixWhat

  • The FixWhat property is a textbox with a big text field like the Description field that allows us all to describe in detail what the specifics of the issue are.
  • FixWhat could remind me as a user (or my peers) the specific work I need to get done
  • FixWhat might save us all from having to write some of those explanatory emails

Do we need explicit and separate FixWho and FixDate properties? Probably not since other existing Civil 3D properties already track that change in Civil 3D. I won’t complain if these too are implemented.

We must have the tools to selectively reset these audit properties to defaults.

Civil 3D Name and Description Property Discipline

“Can’t we employ the existing Description property to implement audit in Civil 3D?”

No, you shouldn’t really employ the Civil 3D Feature and Civil 3D Style Description property to write up the Audit details. Yes. Given no other choice that is perhaps better than the nothing burger we have now in Civil 3D. Try to produce a useful report. Let me know how that turns out.

In the Framework for Civil 3D we ritually employ the Style Description property to say what the tool does and identify its specific substantive property differences. Since I’ve seen a lot of Style collections over the years, I know this level of Style detail is not all that common. Customers say they love it in the Framework, but they only notice it when they need it. That alone speaks volumes.

Proper use of Description property significantly reduces the Civil 3D user Style tool learning curve.

For Civil 3D Features the Description property can be employed to explain to others (and yourself) what you thought you were doing.

Why the heck did I make this intermediate surface to solve the grading problem? What is the Feature Line there for? You know the drill. We all pound our heads on the keyboard when we lose or forget to perform the Name and Description discipline that is an essential Civil 3D skill.

It’s All About the Manhours, Baby

We need to consider the number of man-hours the lack of this simple form of audit inside Civil 3D costs. In my discussions with Civil 3D Managers this is no small issue. Most say all the related issues and workarounds are significantly frustrating and time consuming to deal with.
Here’s the common mutual refrain…

“Why didn’t you tell me it was broken?”

For some perspective take a short tour of the AKN site or the forums. Consider how much Civil 3D user time is spent documenting issues while they seek help for their questions. Essentially, users often resort to screen grab pictures to describe Civil 3D Feature and Civil 3D Style property issues.

The same thing happens every day in your office. Worse yet…This hardly ever happens.

Fix This May Mean Fix Me

I want to point out that a FixThis property report would help us all better identify internal training issues. Humans overlook the obvious on a regular basis. Civil 3D confusion, ignorance, lack of skill, and/or momentary acts of blindness are common problems. These can be addressed when the issues become more transparent.

Basic tools based on a FixThis property selection could potentially export out the problematic. Anyone who does Civil 3D tech support is going to cheer.

We don’t want to hear about the lost opportunity costs.

Did You Know?

The Framework for Civil 3D includes supplied Description Key Set resources to employ Survey points and a specialized Survey Db to implement location-based project-based audit with a set of easy to learn Point Codes. A specialized format in the DescKeySet even keeps an audit trail too. What do you know? It works.

The key issue remains the elementary Audit properties. These are needed inside Civil 3D to produce viable Audit feedback loops that help us all perform the work in Civil 3D better.

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