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Whether or not you choose to employ Civil 3D Styleless Data References in your projects is a business decision that deserves careful consideration. There are Civil 3D technical, stability, and project performance reasons to take the time to do so. The NoStyles workflow mechanics are mindlessly simple to execute for the most part. The man-hour investment to perform the work is negligible in the context of most Civil 3D projects and the business value of the project work.

In the earlier Civil 3D Styleless Data References post, we walked through the important reasons to employ No Styles DREFs. We won’t repeat those arguments here except to first review exactly what a Civil 3D No Styles Data Reference is for the sake of clarity.

The NoStyles Data Reference

A NoStyles Data Reference contains only the Civil 3D Standard styles created by the Civil 3D code itself.
Standard styles are by definition both built by and updated by the Civil 3D Object Model code/virus itself. By definition, DREF sources that contain only Standard styles are easier for Civil 3D to Update. The new data behind of Civil 3D Features that happens in Civil 3D Upgrades and Updates is less likely to fail.

No Styles means that as few of our custom Styles are embedded in the DREF as much as is possible.

Simple Styleless DREF Mechanics

You’ve produced a set of data behind for a Civil 3D Feature that is worth sharing in the project context. How do we make it a NoStyles DREF?

We do need a NoStyles Civil 3D template constructed from the appropriate raw ACAD CTB or STB dwt file.
We supply them in Templates Only for next to nothing.
The Civil 3D code generates all the Standard styles when the Civil 3D virus infects a drawing.
Typically, you want the required basic Civil 3D Units settings and perhaps your most basic textstyle defaults included so Standard Label Style results are readable.
Rule of thumb – Do as little as possible to customize a NoStyles Civil 3D template.

Seven Steps to Better DREFs

  1. Publish the Data Shortcuts into the DREF project structure as would be normal
    A regular Temp folder in the DREF project structure is a good place
  2. Immediately, start a new drawing from the NoStyles Civil 3D template
  3. Save and store that new drawing with the appropriate name into the appropriate place for DREFs of that type in your project structure
  4. Promote the previously shared DREF data from the DREF structure into the new drawing
  5. Rebuild, Rename, Clean up, etc the promoted data as necessary – do not take this lightly
    Yes. You can go back and add related/dynamic child Features to the DREF(s).
  6. Delete the temporary Data Reference(s) you created earlier
  7. Publish the new NoStyles DREF(s) from the new drawing into the DREF project structure

I like to point out that going through the NoStyle DREF mechanics process recognizes the change of State of the drawing and data within the project context. The event is and therefore creates an auditable project benchmark.

We should recognize that there are important human factors at work in the NoStyles DREF mechanics workflow as well.

As Much As Possible Matters

No Styles means that as few of our custom resources are embedded in the DREF as much as is possible.

Ritually and regularly, employing the NoStyles DREF mechanics workflow significantly reduces the problems of problematic DREF dependencies in Civil 3D projects.
In other words, not performing something like this workflow often tends to produce projects with DREF and/or XREF dependency and performance issues.

Civil 3D Feature Matters

DREFs are all about managing Civil 3D Dynamic Models more effectively to achieve results with less hassle.

Civil 3D Alignments have lots of children and related Features for example.
There are Civil 3D Data References that do inherit references like View Frame Group frame definitions.
DREF Corridors that are DREF dependent on Alignments, child Alignments, Profiles, child Profiles, and/or Feature Lines require a bit more planned, regular, and systematically managed DREF mechanics.

Civil 3D Surface DREFs of existing surfaces require some important mechanics and details that are covered pretty well in the Civil 3D Surface Care post. LandXML can be a friend to both survey and design folk. Sometimes in design work you want a dynamic Corridor driven surface. Other times it can be an unwanted burden. It might occur to you that you can have both.

Familiar use of this practical Civil 3D NoStyles DREF workflow also teaches/trains Civil 3D users how to replace and/or upgrade DREFs and those dependencies in projects.
These are Civil 3D skills and project management practices we need to encourage.

Civil 3D Project Performance Matters

The thoughtful and managed separation of your project Data References certainly effects Civil 3D project performance even more than any Civil 3D Styles in project Data Reference resources.

Note that regularly performing the NoStyles DREF workflow outlined above tends to lead to better project construction practice and the important separations of DREF structures inside of them. These results do produce recognizable and identifiable increases in Civil 3D project performance.

Am I the only crazy person who thinks Civil 3D DREFs could have a DWF publication option built in? Publication performance in Civil 3D matters at crunch time. In the meantime, does your project structure enable that?

If you don’t believe the performance benefits, it appears that you’ve been challenged to test these in a project of your own.

Civil 3D Projects and Optionality

Optionality is an important and growing concept and practice in Civil 3D and all the related tools that we employ every day. See the series of posts on Civil 3D and Optionality that start with the How To Be Ready When Civil 3D Changes post.

The potential DREF replacement methodologies that allow us more rapid design development via the access to and ability to employ other and additional design options are dependent on these same Civil 3D user DREF and in-project management skills.

This isn’t some new arcane, rocket-science engineering practice. Improved Civil 3D in project optionality is only an optimized for optionality version of the typical phase-based concept to design to published deliverable project mechanics we’ve all employed for a long time.

Better Civil 3D skills produce improved project workflows and superior results faster.

Civil 3D Project Templates and the Endgame

This all leads us back to whether you’ve already made a concerted investment in your Civil 3D Project Templates and the significant help that a well-built, well-endowed Civil 3D Project Template offers.
See the Civil 3D Projects and Setup page for videos and links that can help you make it real.

We can enable our Civil 3D users to work smarter not harder.

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Civil 3D Data References and the Object Model Posts

How To Be Ready When Civil 3D Changes

  • Proactive and practical steps to take to make Civil 3D Upgrades and Updates easier

Civil 3D Updates and Object Model Changes

  • How Changes to the Object Model effect Label Styles and Civil 3D Upgrades and Civil 3D Updates

Civil 3D Styleless Data References

  • Why and How Styleless Data References make Civil 3D work better and reduce Upgrade and Update hassles

Civil 3D Styleless DREF Mechanics

  • The Civil 3D Styleless Data References workflow mechanics in detail and the benefits of its usage in Civil 3D projects

Surface Data References and Civil 3D

  • Civil 3D Surface mechanics and methods for better project Data References in detail

Civil 3D TREF Styles and Local Styles

  • Both Reference Template Style collections and Local Styles work together in Civil 3D projects and maintenance