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Point Wizardry, Surface Wizardry, and these days - Corridor Wizardry are each important and creative aspects of Civil 3D tradecraft. By Civil 3D tradecraft and craftmanship I mean those mission critical skill sets wrenched and painfully derived from the real project work that allow some Civil 3D users to become super productive Tool Users inside the software.

Civil 3D Point Wizardry Sweat Produces Equity

Last time in the Five Keys to Civil 3D Points post we discussed vital topics that might change for the better how we think about and employ points in our Civil 3D civil engineering design and survey projects. Viable examples seem to make sense when coupled with a discussion about the interaction between that tradecraft skill and the usage of employed options - what risks we are willing to invest in and take.

Malcom Gladwell’s famed and popular 10,000 Hour Rule or better yet - the 20 hours per week for 10 years rule expressed in both the books Blink and Outliers attempts to make this point about domain expertise. Gladwell as a writer tends to conflate domain expertise with tradecraft. It pays him better to do so.

Most think Gladwell’s rule means that doing the time magically gains you the expertise and the Blink. Sustained and regular effort matters, yet many, if not most, still seem to develop the bad Blink. A visit to almost any governmental office, a car dealership, or maybe a call to tech support clearly makes the point. The apparent difference was a major talking point in Blink, but that point can get lost in a skim read of the follow ups.


For all forms of tradecraft and craftmanship there are the traditional apprentice, journeyman, and master level variations of the skill sets and tool use. The traditional separations here continue to work. These perspectives work across all history, cultures, trades, and crafts. Performing the same apprentice level work with the same tools in the same way for 10 years will only make you a good apprentice. It may cost you your job. Worse it may make you almost untrainable. My lifetime of intermittent guitar playing speaks loudly that I know all about that.


The journeyman is a working professional and professional tool user. The great ones surprisingly adapt quickly to new and better tools. Their expertise and craft wisdom is in their doing not the knowing.

The journeyman is paid (often handsomely) to identify, solve, and execute. Some of the best and most productive Civil 3D cadpilots I know have the consummate Civil 3D tool use skill sets and employ them in astounding ways. They make Civil 3D Feature Lines, Surfaces, and Corridors dance and do things the most of us could envy.

Points in Civil 3D seem to be an often-neglected craft. First, let’s talk about site plan deliverable options.


Point Wizardry to Site Plans

Point mastery in Civil 3D is not only about tool use and skill sets in a drawing. The most potent and productive implementations are not drawing-based but project-based. This is a bit easy to miss and dismiss. COGO points and not Survey points for good reasons. Points express themselves in project drawings, but the Points data behind and the deep Civil 3D Points annotative engine spans the entire project workflow and project timeline. That requires better tools with more options.

We do have options. Options can matter more to project execution and success than individual performance and tradecraft.


A motivated few journeymen become masters of their craft. They learn how to train and change themselves. They manage learn how to impart those tool use skill sets to others. For most, to work with and for them means their way or the highway for very understandable and practical reasons. They can become the keepers of the Standards - that thing we can all worship and abhor.

Thankfully, some of these masters show up at Autodesk University and stand and deliver before their peers for the benefit of us all. The best things about AU is that it is coming soon, and AU never ends.

If you are a Civil 3D journeyman or master, you use and visit AU Online. Why? It is an easy cure to the bubble think (aka groupthink) problem that surrounds our personal working world. Discover more options. Your point options can matter significantly or NOT.


Point Wizardry and the Plan Production Tools

The Civil 3D journeyman level tradecraft expressed in this video for Points annotation mechanics, Alignments (and her many children), and Civil 3D report tools cannot be adequately summarized in the short video with a focus on the tool resources themselves.

The entire Deliverables course will get you most of the way there. Intelligent Publish on Demand (iPOD) works according to Framework customers. Better yet you can easily improve and optimize the mechanics and workflows to your types project work.

The point of the video is that without the tools and resources learning how to employ them at this level of tradecraft requires Civil 3D tool construction time we really do not want or need to spend.

Tool Users and Tool Builders

A master carpenter once trained me (painfully I might add) how to construct and maintain chisels, molding planes, and Japanese backsaws from raw materials because I asked to learn. Tool making is another craft. Once upon a time this skill fed my family when there was little other work to be had.

As a professional tradesman and later as a master builder I always bought my production tools. I discovered that people tend to covet and sometimes steal the better tools of others. The replaceable tool became a better option. This was a manageable level of risk of loss coupled with a much larger potential upside.

If you employ journeymen with that level of skills, you must also supply them with decent, dependable, safe, and well-maintained tools. Sure, the Respect matters. What you respect is their ability to productively employ the tools. The ones that take as good care of your tools as their own become the ones you want keep working. In turn, they want to keep working for you. These are often the most willing to train more apprentices do accomplish more and better work.

Non-Linear Results Are Not Accidental

The key point is the best real options in life and business are both have potential non-linear results and are affordable. We simply cannot ignore the real benefits of practical and applied forms of optionality particularly when coupled with enabled higher-level tradecraft. This is indeed is design professional wizardry when seen from the outside.

The option to tweak what you must and pay real attention to what matters is priceless.

Innovation Beyond the Code
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Adaptive and Integrated Civil 3D Posts

Most posts include videos

Civil 3D Point Wizardry

  • Practical production improvement for Site Plan and Plan and Profile Deliverables with Civil 3D

Five Keys to Civil 3D Points

  • Why adaptive and integrated Survey Codes, Description Key Sets, Point and Figure Resolutions Matter in Civil 3D

The Civil 3D Setup Checklists

  • Civil 3D Setup Checklists and mechanics in detail.

Better Civil 3D Sandboxes

  • Sandboxes provide the ability to better visualize, evaluate, and employ Adaptive and Integrated resources

Structure Matters In Civil 3D

  • Structured Resources in Civil 3D allow for more Adaptive and Integrated Production Solutions

Back to the Future in Civil 3D 2020

  • The power of Adaptive Standards coupled with Reference Templates (TREF) and managed Style libraries in Civil 3D