The Multiplicity of Civil 3D Templates

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Civil 3D ships with a bunch of templates. Historically in Civil 3D, our attention immediately gets drawn to Civil 3D Model Templates. Understandably, we want the pictures on the screen to make sense. Maybe you noticed that most of the Standard Styles don’t do that or maybe just barely. I argued from the get-go that Civil 3D Styles sooner or later become a content commodity. Civil 3D Styles should become off the shelf parts we employ and tweak to match our preferences and the preferences of our clients.

The Illusions of Ownership

No matter what you may want to believe we cannot own Civil 3D Styles. All the Style properties and behaviors are owned by the Autodesk. That includes the code that enables their behavior and the Civil 3D Object Model from which they are derived.

We can and do have to manage Civil 3D Styles. To do that we have to name them.

Go ahead and name them anything you like. Good news the name makes perfect sense to you. The Bad news - what you perceive as yours is controlled by someone else. We pay for the right to use it. For most of us this is a fine tradeoff. Autodesk has a fine market cap to prove their end.

Autodesk discovered the you can name it emotional ownership bridge long ago in software years. Autodesk didn’t invent the abstraction of collections of properties to a name. This is a fundamental principal of Object Oriented Programming (OOP) languages.

Autodesk tied the powerful you’re so special narrative to it.

You Pay to Name It so Take That Seriously

Autodesk employs Your Name as long-term strategy to very successfully to separate their customers from their software competition and, perhaps more significantly these days, from each other. This is not some deep dark secret or corporate conspiracy plot. Autodesk enables what works so long as it strengthens the ties that bind their customers to them.

Most software companies envy what Autodesk has accomplished. I saw a new Siemens PLM (Product Lifecycle Management) software ad this weekend. They are now marketing new instant updates for new features or some such thing. Can you hear me now? I’m laughing?

People Don’t Update as Instantly as Software

Maybe we do that just to annoy programmers and software sales reps.

I hope you noticed. There is a difference between your Civil 3D model building drawings and your Civil 3D publication drawings. By this I mean that we must manage the differences for very good reasons related to the success of the project we are face down in. We publish the useful design and best results not all the dirt in between the then and now.

Don’t you find the idea that your project could become something like a Twitter feed a little disconcerting?

Our effective use of the multiplicity of Civil 3D templates enables this productive difference or the lack gets in the way.

Civil 3D Template Types

The Civil 3D Project Templates and Sheet Set Templates define our solutions to the working model and published deliverables dichotomy. Sadly, most Civil 3D using organizations spend little time on the development of their Civil 3D Project Templates. These offer considerable bang for your development investment. This does require that we address and identify the changes of state and workflows to handle that. This benchmark identification problem appears to me to explain why many dodge the Project Template bullet.

More detail about all of that in an upcoming post about The Multiplicity of Civil 3D Drawing Types.

The Civil 3D Project Template

This is the core working project structure, the container for your approved in-use resources, your backup and archival strategy, and ultimately your delivery method to the troops. It represents the current approved snapshot(s) of our on-going implementation project. All the rest is in here. Many people miss the basic reality we can pre-build the core named Features and other useful placeholders in here.

The Sheet Set Template and Sheet Templates

These define the published model output in Civil 3D. There is a folder structure, naming conventions, standard resources, and methods to hold that buried in here. If the daily project quality control and check loops do not happen here, plan set deliverables by definition become the crisis.

Civil 3D Model Templates

These contain the Styles and Set tools we need to create, edit, maintain, and publish the model Features. The Civil 3D Template is said to be the Holy Grail of Civil 3D implementation. A single classic Civil 3D Template is a myth and a deception. The One Ring to Rule Them metaphor works nicely. The good news - You can now avoid that work as much as possible.


Reference Templates Made Easy

Whether you employ classic Civil 3D localized Style collection templates or Reference Templates (TREFs) is up to you. TREFs allow the improved implementation of shared and managed template resources. TREFs allow for more design and template diversity but we must proactively better manage the included resources together.

No Styles or Standards Only Templates

These No Styles or Standards Only templates only include minimal AutoCAD Styles, Civil 3D setup particulars, and the code-built Standard Civil 3D Styles. These are often employed to create Resource container or Style collector drawings.

These should always be used to hold project DREF data behind references as much as possible. Doing so reduces the upgrade and update problems related to Styles and CAD Standards changes that increase the complexity problems in Civil 3D projects. We can easily build these better storage containers into our Civil 3D Project Templates.

Root Reference Template

No Styles or Standards Only templates are basically styleless, a Root Reference Template establishes the minimal opposite condition and therefore a set of CAD Standards for Civil 3D.

A Root Reference Template contains the things that will abide - What will not change. A Root Template contains what minimum Civil 3D resources you need to have to faithfully support the core Style collections and CAD Standards that you employ. That also means if you change a Root Template you can change almost everything fundamental about the CAD Standards that are employed or delivered.

Root Reference Templates are used to create Reference Template (TREF) template resource drawings and classic local Template resource drawings for both Model Templates and Publish Templates.

Settings Reference Templates

If we employ classic Civil 3D templates, we typically tweak the Civil 3D Settings to optimize our workflows. The classic design or survey templates convey this Settings methodology and practice well.

Reference Templates (TREFs) allows us to separate and manage the many Civil 3D Settings and Label Style Default (LSD) details from the current state of the Style collection(s) given we employ a consistent Style naming convention.

Settings resource drawings that collect all the related Settings and perhaps a library of the same allow us to provide more adaptive and flexible template resources that can be focused proactively on more specific tasks.

Our No Styles or Standards Only templates are the baseline Settings to Back to Standard resource.

Reference Model (Working) Templates or Classic Template Targets

Model or Working templates are focused intentionally on the development and processes of our design tasks. These are typically, but not exclusively, more generalized in classic local Style collection and Settings template Targets.

Whether we employ localized Style and Settings resources or shared Reference Template (TREF) Style and Settings resources is a management choice.

In either case, we choose beforehand what resources and CAD Standards will go into the Model templates. Why I employ the term Target.

Reference Publish Templates or Classic Template Targets

Publish templates are focused intentionally on the deliverable publication and processes of our project. The resources are a known subset of the Working Styles and Settings collections. These are typically, but not exclusively, more generalized in classic local Style collection and Settings template Targets.

If we employ consistent Style name CAD Standards name conventions, the Publish template Targets can employ different CAD Standards from the Model template Targets if required.

AutoCAD Standards Template Resources

It seems to me that is way too easy for the Civil 3D empowered to overlook AutoCAD Standards (.dws) files as a template building, delivery, and maintenance resource. What Standards files can do far outweighs what they won’t do.

The Framework for Civil 3D includes all these Civil 3D Template types in a multiple of flavors and with support for sets of more Standards than any other product in the world. The Framework for Civil 3D is a piece of solid ground and foundation to build on.

Labor for What Works
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