Civil 3D 2020.2 Shaken not Stirred

Tags SHP, XML, Property Set, points, feature line, figure, Enhancements, Civil 3D 2020, Update, utility, Connector, ESRI

I prefer Gin over Vodka and a good IPA over both. I’m decidedly not James Bond. My car certainly doesn’t cut it. I totally missed the Cash for Clunkers thing. A stated choice of a lethal weapon would probably would not be polticially correct. We’ll avoid that trigger to focus on more important Civil 3D 2020.2 Update matters.

There have been Civil 3D related Updates and enhancements related to Civil 3D 2020 Update 2. The SHP Import/Export Utility 2020 enhancement may create ripples in your pond.

Speaking of The Pond

Some personal rough experience in the North Atlantic made me wonder about the person(s) who coined the “across the pond” expression.

The historical experts say the euphemistic phrase was around over 280+ years ago when the Puritans and 20,000 other folks (including my family) ditched (or were ditched by) England for America during the Great Migration. Perhaps the phrase was part of a royal sales pitch to get the deplorables out of town.

I hear tell this same type of thing is going on in California at this very moment. History repeats itself. Mind you a Clinton failed to show up at Yorktown and made a lifetime of excuses too. It’s true.
Gets you a thinkin’ and a drinkin’. Maybe that should be a dark Jamaican rum. Arrgh!

Shiver Me Timbers

[que the soundtrack Shiver Me Timbers by Tom Watts]

Autodesk released Civil 3D 2020.2 Update and then re-released a new build of Update 2 a couple of days later. Odds may be the update fix is related to the release of the Autodesk SHP Import/Export Utility 2020 which you may find won’t install without the update to the Update.

Civil 3D Update the Update Mechanics

If you installed the early version 13.2.1748.0 Civil 3D 2020.2 Update, that build must be uninstalled before this newer 13.2.1758.0 Civil 3D 2020.2 Update build can be installed.

In Windows 10, the tools to uninstall an update is squirreled away in
Control Panel\Programs\Programs and Features\Installed Updates.
These Autodesk Updates do not show up in the installed programs list.

There is also a recent Autodesk AutoCAD 2020.1.1 Update that fixes a couple of block and xref issues.

What SHP Import/Export Utility 2020 Install?

The Autodesk SHP Import/Export Utility 2020 install may first appear to do nothing. It’s a Civil 3D Enhancement thang. All the new SHP utilities and other useful goodies end up buried in the Civil 3D Toolbox in a new SHP Import/Export Utilities collection.

Pay Attention Me Maties

Capt’n Jack be talkin’ ‘bout some buried treasure…and some ghostly goings on.

Autodesk and ESRI together are making a big push to you Operations Engineering folks out there in Civil 3D Land. Maybe Autodesk marketing will call it BIM for Operations.

The new Civil 3D utilities included in the SHP Import/Export Utilities collection are not all about SHP files. Take the time to root around and read the new Autodesk SHP Import/Export Utility Civil 3D 2020 help file section.

Property Set XML Tools

There are nifty and important Export and Import Property Set Settings to XML tools. These show up in the install in the SHP Import/Export section under Settings instead of as a Property Set Management section. Oops.

You could fix this Toolbox display problem by editing the ToolBoxCfg_SHP and PointTable.XML file with a good ASCII text editor like Notepad++ that supports XML. See the
C:\ProgramData\Autodesk\C3D 2020\enu\Data\ToolBox folder

Properties Set definitions can already be dragged and dropped for one drawing to another. Property Set definitions can be collected into separate Style resource collections and/or templates.

Property Set Import Export and Import was on my Civil 3D Wish List of something we all need to make Property Sets more consistent and reusable in Civil 3D. See the Better Civil 3D Property Set Management post for some more about that.

There’s an XREF Copy Civil 3D Objects command that includes Property Set data too. This is found in the Geometry and Breakline Tools section. The other Feature Line tools found in the section are sure to be a hit among the Feature Lines only crowd and the design by Corridor folks as well.

Points to Alignments Tables

In the Points Table section, there is support for new Points to Alignment Table with Edits and Updates. Now we can document station and offset point locations with more ease and flexibility. Sorry. The Point locations are not dynamically related to the Alignment. Arrrgh.

What you store and report in the Point descriptions is up to you. See the popular Legend and Lists videos page for some different and innovative ideas for how you might employ tables and data sources in Civil 3D. Ok. Point Wizardry in Civil 3D methods are useful for documenting all dem Feature Lines. These methods do require live Survey Db support.

SHP Import and Export Tools

In the SHP Import/Export section Export the SHP for COGO points and Feature Lines tools are included. An improved SHP Import command is included. There’s a new SHP Data Manager Tool with limited query support to help us better manage SHP import of data inside Civil 3D drawings.

The Important SHP Import/Export Settings

As with most things Civil 3D, it pays off significantly to setup the Settings for the COGO Points and Feature Lines before you run any of the SHP Import/Export commands. Notice also the translation .csv file mentioned below. Sorry. You do have to read and understand the help files.

What the heck is this?

Import Civil 3D Survey Database

The initial current implementation of Civil 3D projects in BIM 360 Design does not support live Survey Db access in the cloud. A live Survey Db database in a BIM 360 database gets a bit tricky.

The Import Civil 3D Survey Database command is one workaround with limitations. The new command may also have some other potential uses.

Nothing says you can’t employ Survey constructed drawings in a BIM 360 project as XREFs. You cannot construct, edit, and maintain them up there in BIM360 Design currently.

The Import Civil 3D Survey Database command allows you to dumb down a Survey Db into a Civil 3D drawing(s).

  • The command assumes you will employ a functional Civil 3D Template and understand Civil 3D Point resolution including DescKey Sets, DescKey Set Priority, and Point Group mechanics.
  • The command assumes you understand Civil 3D Site, Feature Line, and Feature Line Priority resolution.
  • The imported dumbed down data from the new tool is editable unless you Lock the Civil 3D Features or employ the results as read only file XREF resource(s) in your BIM 360 Design project.
  • All survey points import by default as COGO points with Standard Style and Standard Label Style Point overrides. You current Settings can change this.
  • All survey Figures import by default as Feature Lines with the first Feature Line Style found applied. Figure Names get written to the Feature Line names. You current Settings can change this.
  • Survey Db Feature Data may be imported as Property Set data.
  • Any special properties of the survey database are included in the import as Property Set data.
  • An optional Import Civil 3D Survey Database translation .csv file can be used to translate Style, Label Style, and Layer assignments for both Points and Figures. The contents of this file are detailed in the help, but I could not find an example .csv file anywhere in the install.
  • The command currently produces a named SHP Data Manager Event in the new SHP Data Manager Tool but that tool provides no direct control over the imported items.
  • The command checks your current Survey Working Folder for an Open or Closed Survey Dbs to open and convert into the current drawing. Therefore, some careful attention to the current drawing Style and Set resources and all the related Settings before you run the dump is probably in order.

Good God! Not another drawing type among the Multiplicity of Civil 3D Drawing Types and the Multiplicity of Civil 3D Templates?

Publish to SHP or Not

Unlike Survey Dbs, after transferring information to Civil 3D through using SHP files, the survey information is contained within Civil 3D drawings. No link to the survey database is retained. No relationship between the converted Feature Lines and the Points is created.

To share survey SHP data between drawings, the line work and/or points must be copied between drawings or imported separately into other drawings. Arrgh.

You can employ the separate Export Cogo Points to SHP and the Export Feature Lines to SHP commands (selection set based) to produce more manageable resources in drawing(s) with the SHP Data Manger Tool. Don’t forget the separate Settings commands!
The resultant eternal SHP files may be queried with the SHP Data Manager Tool.

New SHP Export Performance and Maintenance

The new SHP Export commands create multiple text-based SHP and their interrelated files. Maybe you want to manually separate the file collections into folders in your project or not.

It seemed to me that the new Civil 3D tools do the actual SHP export quickly, but the .log.csv files produced by the commands appear to have bogus/partial content and currently take way too long to process. Dooh. Remember the new Point and Feature Line Settings thing mentioned above? Be patient.

It is Easier to Edit than to Create

Maybe it is just me…
It seems to me the Autodesk should be willing to publish and maintain a library of Property Sets in XML that matches at least the fundamental data behind available in the Civil 3D Features.

The concept that everyone must create their own personally customized Property Set definitions does little to advance project collaboration, interoperability, and consistency.

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