Civil 3D in BIM 360 Project Maintenance

Tags Civil 3D 2020, Upgrade, Update, Migrate, implementation, BIM 360, project, Batch Save, Connector, Project Management

We all discover quickly that both migrating Civil 3D Projects to BIM 360 Design and employing Civil 3D in that cloud-based document management context is not quite the same as working locally and/or our own local network.

Even if you’re not ready to do the BIM 360 cloud thing today, this detailed post contains important Civil 3D maintenance tips and links that do apply to local and/or network Civil 3D Projects.

In the earlier Migrate A Civil 3D Test Project to BIM 360 post we discovered that we can probably get up there and work in Civil 3D 2020.2 and in the BIM 360 Design cloud one way or another.

Civil 3D BIM 360 Design Project Maintenance

One thing is certain, there will be new releases of Civil 3D. There has already been a recent Update to the Autodesk Connector. If you don’t quickly upgrade to new numbered Civil 3D releases, there will always be upcoming Civil 3D Updates. See the How to be Ready when Civil 3D Changes link below.

Can we employ the maintenance and management tools we use today to update project drawings in BIM 360 Design projects?

Yes, and yes. Technically, this question deserves a couple of answers.

  • If your target project is not upgraded to Civil 3D 2020.2 or above, you will need to upgrade that first. More on that in a bit.
  • Once a Civil 3D 2020.2+ project in put up into the BIM 360 cloud and becomes the known and managed good, we want to know if we can upgrade the project drawings in a system managed way today.

You can manually Upgrade each and every Civil 3D project drawing (and resource) to a new Civil 3D Update or numbered release. No, thank you.

The Civil 3D Batch Save Utility to the Rescue

The Civil 3D Batch Save Utility is the best, fastest, and most practical approach to get to our first answer. As an Autodesk Civil 3D upgrade and maintenance tool, Batch Save cannot be overlooked.

The Civil 3D Batch Save Utility is built to help you update and see the effects of the latest Autodesk Civil 3D code on your work and production environment. Batch Save does the same for entire Civil 3D projects. Batch Save requires that you know how the tool works, what the tool does, and what you are doing.

Batch Save will allow you to successfully upgrade one or more of your projects locally or on the local area network to Civil 3D 2020.2+. I’ll bet that if you do the Batch Save do more than once, you won’t accept tedious manual methods ever again. You should not.

Batch Save and BIM 350 Project Maintenance

The Civil 3D Batch Save Utility will update Civil 3D Project drawings and resources stored in the BIM 360 cloud. Technically, the current version of Batch Save is not specifically Autodesk Connector aware, but the tool works as is.

We should recognize that by definition the Autodesk Connector and the local cache are involved in the processing one way or another. The known good for all Civil 3D project drawings is in BIM 360 not in any users’ local cache.

As a practical test I decided to swap the entire Layer System in a BIM 360 migrated port of a Framework for Civil 3D Sandbox Project.
In other words, I poked the tiger to change completely to color of its stripes instead of just a simple incremental Civil 3D Update.
This is a more involved initial Batch Save script and a chained SCRICTCALL set of .lsp and .scr couplets as discussed in the recent 5 Better Civil 3D Update Batch Save Script Tips post mentioned earlier.

Batch Save Maintenance of a BIM 360 Project Results

The results for about 100 Civil 3D drawings of various types and complexity:

  • 99+% success for project and resource drawings and templates
    BIM 360 file version number were properly updated to reflect the update
  • Files marked as read-only in the local cache were not processed as expected
    Note that BIM 360 itself doesn’t exactly support or expose read only properties by default.
  • One drawing failed to do the final save for reasons unknown (probably some weird timeout).
    The temp file the fail created was the successfully upgraded drawing. The Batch Save log file did not report this and showed success in both the summary and the detail log. The Connector sucked up and processed the renamed result from the local cache without issues.
  • The BIM 360 internal publishing process for BIM 360 Views croaked on one complex corridor drawing of a Rehab Corridor subassemblies employed in a Civil 3D Intersection. The drawing updated properly, logged as success, and opens and saves from the cloud without issues. The drawing will not generate BIM 360 shared views. The BIM 360 publish log provided did not help to resolve that issue.
  • One drawing with XREF and DREF references rebuilt a Related Data folder structure. Probably because I simply forgot to clean that out from the local cache prior to processing.
  • All the references resolved to the proper cloud locations changed earlier in migration cleanup.

Notes

Intentionally, I did not process publication Sheet Set drawings as most of those examples in the Framework Sandboxes employ only XREF, and IREF references. In any case, Layouts updated and published acceptably to BIM 360 in the project drawings that were processed. Project example drawings included Plan Production Tool output of all types.

Intentionally, I did not test processing of BIM 360 Locked files with Batch Save to keep things simple.

Neither BIM 360 drawing Sets or Publications were not employed.

The Civil 3D Batch Save Utility and Autodesk Connector Setup

An important goal in this BIM 360 Update and Maintenance process is to make sure that the BIM 360 version control, history, and updates happen consistently.

The necessary manual cleanup steps outlined in detail in the Migrate A Civil 3D Test Project to BIM 360 post were performed in BIM 360, Civil 3D, and in the local cache prior to processing.

Needless to say, to perform a Batch Save update a live BIM 360 Civil 3D Project you want to carefully check the Lock state of the project drawings beforehand.

Project team members should be informed and should leave the project alone while the maintenance or upgrade processes run.

You may want to have all BIM 360 team members:

  • Manually turn off the Autodesk Connector
  • Manually delete their local cache folder contents for the targeted project
  • Only turn the Autodesk Connector back on after the upgrade

Things get a bit more dicey if you have multiple live BIM 360 projects.

Check the State of the Local Cache

Many civil engineering projects have long time frames and some have multiple phases that are pretty certain to span multiple Civil 3D Updates and may also span multiple Civil 3D numbered releases.

Note that the current BIM 360 help states that files without changes (or called as references) are not updated in the local cache based on a 15-day expiration timeframe to save local disk space.

BIM 360 Design has an automated download process for the entire Revit models, but this automation does not yet currently exist for Civil 3D BIM 360 Design projects.

Therefore, you may need to check and manually download files you do want to be updated that no longer appear in the local cache. There is currently no obvious interface user tool in BIM 360 to force a local cache to be updated with all files and updated files beforehand. I did not explore employing BIM 360 Sets or Publications to potentially manage that.

Batch Save Specifics

These details assume that you have experience and some skill already with Batch Save mechanics in the local and/or network environment. Nothing beats repetitive practice under pressure.

The targeted selected folder(s) in used in Batch Save were the local cache location in for the Windows user. (e.g. C:\User\<username>\BIM 360\ <path to project>)
The drawing files and drawing resources were already updated to Civil 3D 2020.2 so the Civil 3D release check was not enabled.
Files in the selected folder(s) not to be processed were manually file property set to read-only.

Note that as per earlier recommendations some careful attention should be paid to the number of simultaneous Batch Save sessions run and particularly to the session timeout parameter for those sessions. Know thy data. Before the en mass processing, it is best to test with reasonable timeout parameters.

The Autodesk Connector Specifics

Batch Save update tests were performed with the Autodesk Connector turned off and with the Connector in the Work Offline state.

The better results appeared to be with Autodesk Connector state is set to Work Offline.
This state essentially tells the Connector you will be updating the local cache versions.

The Work Offline state when employed while still connected also allows the Connector to pull down latest versions of the files and references being processed by Batch Save. This produces more consistent BIM 360 version updates and also seems to better error trap references in the local cache.

After the Dance

After the Batch Save processing is complete:

  • Turn off the Work Offline state
  • Do not open project drawings until the Connector resolves, processes, and completes the update into the BIM 360 store.
  • Monitor the Pending Connector update que to BIM 360.
    Allow the entire Pending que to process and check carefully for problems and/or Reference Data issues to be corrected.
  • Check the state of the project and processed drawings in the BIM 360 interface
  • Perform manual cleanup operations – See the Migrate post above

Notes

The typical folder .log.csv files generated by Batch Save are ignored by the Autodesk Connector at this point. You may want to erase them from the local cache before changing the Work Offline state.

Batch Save and Civil 3D BIM 360 Design Project Maintenance

Hoorah. A Civil 3D BIM 360 project does not push us back to the dark ages of Civil 3D project updates and maintenance.

One hopes and expects that Autodesk will in the future improve Batch Save to be more Autodesk Connector and BIM 360 aware and vice versa.

Batch Save Interop

A better Batch Save interop should:

  • Recognize the Batch Save selected folders are in a BIM 360 location
  • Include the ability to set the Connector to the appropriate operational state
  • Include the ability to add automatic Batch Save description notes to the BIM 360 version update that produce a reasonable BIM 360 audit trail of updates performed with the tool.

Autodesk Connector Interop

A better Connector interop should:

  • The Connector should be able, by All and/or Set collections, update a local cache to assure that all the project drawings and resources are current in the local cache prior to or during managed Batch Save updates.
  • As a workaround the Connector in Windows should be able to generate a list of Locked files in a Civil 3D BIM 360 project.
  • Better BIM 360 interface reporting on Locked state conditions in Civil 3D project folders would be more than handy.

We will all have some more administrative, management, and maintenance wishes now and in the future. Meanwhile, if you take time to practice a bit Civil 3D BIM 360 project can already be successfully upgraded, updated, and modified with the current versions of the available tools.

Make Civil 3D Work Better and Pick your Flavor
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BIM 360 Civil 3D Batch Save Upgrade Posts

Civil 3D in BIM 360 Project Maintenance

  • The Civil 3D Batch Save Utility and detailed upgrades to Civil 3D in BIM 360 design project drawings and resources

Civil 3D and BIM 360 Projects

  • Why Civil 3D in BIM 360 Design projects matter and how to get started on the road to implementation

5 Better Civil 3D Update Batch Save Script Tips

  • Five Scripting Tips to make the Civil 3D Batch Save Utility work better

Migrate A Civil 3D Test Project to BIM 360

  • The necessary details to migrate a Civil 3D test project to BIM 360 with the Autodesk Connector

How To Be Ready When Civil 3D Changes

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