Civil 3D Templates and The Tuple

Tags Style Management, TREF, Dynamo, template, Reference Template, structure, tuple, implementation, CAD Standards

The title for this post sounds like something out of Harry Potter, an epic fantasy, or perhaps a military sci-fi space opera. It’s a mystery. Is The Tuple the newest Marvel action hero blockbuster movie due out for the July 4th 2020 weekend? If so, I want a cut for the title name…

The Rise of The Tuple

What the heck is a Tuple?

You employ tuples all the time. We civil engineers and survey folk don’t think of them as such. If you are a LISP, Python, or a newly emergent Dynamo for Civil 3D programmer, you smile with me. For those Lost In Silly Parentheses, List of Lists is your thing.

A tuple is an ordered list. The order of the members of the list in a tuple matters. Therefore, a tuple is not the same thing as a Set in formal Set Theory. A tuple of (1,3,2) is not equivalent to the Set of (1,2,3). Simple enough.

Maybe we have an Ah Hah moment. Civil 3D Surface models are tuple of tuples structures. Can we count the other Civil 3D Features that look and behave like this?

Enough of the geek speak. What do tuples have to do with Civil 3D Templates?

Recently, I was asked an important question by a CAD Manager of a mid-sized AEC firm.

“How do you document what goes into a template?”

Fair enough. I sent him a detailed and ordered list (a tuple) of my typical Civil 3D template construction process. Someone will ask for that list. This list is tweaked for the construction of different Reference Templates (TREF):

  1. Raw CTB or STB drawing with Units settings
  2. Layer Standard with Layer States in one drawing –
    this includes other ACAD Styles like textstyles
  3. Block Collection for Core Styles in another –
    Styles collection resource drawings carry the special ones
  4. 2 Separate drawings with stinking C3D Object Settings for Design and Survey –
    specific to the Layer System
  5. Insert/Explode Style collection resource drawings as needed
  6. Styles Import separate Civil 3D Feature Settings resource drawings as needed
  7. Test with real live Civil 3D project data

Where did this come from? The Style Maintenance Handbook posts start with The Elements of Style in Civil 3D post and are linked below.

Register and become a site Member. Get more free help and documentation for Civil 3D Templates, Civil 3D Styles, and more Civil 3D resources.

What the…?

Silly me. I supplied a great answer to the wrong question. Huh? LOL.

He sent me a picture of an Excel list of a bunch of templates his firm employs in multiple AEC disciplines. There were templates built for multiple purposes in those contexts as well. To keep it simple - he’d included both a good number production templates (for different software) and publishing templates for the same. They were all AutoCAD-based; I think. Not that it technically matters mind you.

Ah! We all have the…

Trouble with Tuples Problem

If you are perhaps too young and miss the Trouble with Tribbles Star Trek analogy, Google it.

“How do I produce useful template documentation for the next guy that says what is in there?”

In that context, his template documentation problem should matter to the end-users, Project Manager staff, and certainly the powers that be. We all must maintain this same sort of complexity. We get it.

My response to him,
“I think of templates as assembled collections of separated resources because that works for me, the [Framework] products, and the maintenance [of lots of templates].”

My use of the term collections is correct but, sadly I now recognize, incomplete.

That word collections here means a tuple of tuples –
An ordered list of ordered lists assembled from an ordered structure of resources.

In AutoCAD Land, Civil 3D Land, and even Revit Land

We all think of our templates as the sources of the Known Good. The template is The Keeper of the Standards of CAD so to speak. This unwarranted focus is an illusion of our own making. The what, why, where, and how they come to be is more significant.

When we give the Law primacy over more substantive human matters, it often becomes the millstone and deception that often leadth to our damnation and becomes the root of sin in others. Excuse me if I paraphrase the Big Guy. Seemed to be appropriate.

My experience with the Framework for Civil 3D (and a bunch of other complex software and the implementations of them) made me a Managed Systems geek or freak. The geek or freak part is a matter of your perspective. My perspective is based on the fact the I see things as integrated patterns of structures and/or tend to make them that way. Bad news and good news.

My non-procedural manner of thinking and speaking (aka – my primary intelligence) tends to drive the more sequential thinkers (like civil engineers and surveyors) a little bit crazy. There’s no 1>2>3. Instead there is a 1 and/or maybe 2 and/or 3 and maybe even back to 1.

The comic book magic of The Tuple superhero comes to my rescue.
Once you get it you don’t forget it.

We all know how to deal with file structures. We know how to use Excel with lethality.

Template Documentation By File Structure Tuples

The good news is that the Framework for Civil 3D includes those separated resource structures in file systems that you can copy, rearrange, order, and link to. Links in Excel still work for me. The many supplied Framework Spreadsheet Tools should help you keep the ducks in a row; manage and maintain the details; and even reorder everything as you see fit.

To properly document the construction and maintenance of your own templates you need an ordered file structure where each folder includes ordered files of various types. For example – in template construction and maintenance Scripts can be as important as resource drawings. Maybe you want the ordered Batch Save script and LISP files needed to do the next round of Civil 3D updates in that there file structure?

Yes, even our Templates Only trial package includes most of the basic resource structure to create, manage and maintain templates. Templates Only couldn’t be a product without it.

When in doubt tuple it...

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The Civil 3D Style Maintenance Handbook Post Series

The Elements of Style in Civil 3D

  • The important AutoCAD Style and Civil 3D Style essentials involved in Style maintenance and improvement.

Civil 3D Template and Style Libraries

  • The methods and structures needed to store the source of the known good for Civil 3D Styles.

Civil 3D Template Targets

  • The Classic Civil 3D Template Target or the newer Civil 3D Reference Template Target choices and benefits.

AutoCAD Style Updates in Civil 3D

  • The practics and importance of AutoCAD Layer and Block Style maintenance matters in Civil 3D.

Civil 3D Style Import and That Maintenance Work

  • The Civil 3D Style Import Tool and the vital role the essential tool and Change Management play together.

Civil 3D Classic Template Target Methods

  • A review with details of the classic methods, tools, and processes for the construction of collection targets.

Civil 3D Reference Template Target Method

  • Reference Template Target nuances and those Other Important Style Maintenance Tools in Civil 3D.