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Hey, maybe the Autodesk Civil development team knew something before we did? If you have to work from home for the next month, Civil 3D Collaboration for BIM 360 Design may suddenly make a lot more sense. This may not happen in your corner of Civil 3D Land this week, but it might sooner rather than later.

I’m pretty sure I’ve already seen Autodesk will help you work better from home links on the AKN site and other places on Autodesk.com. Autodesk likes to Seize the Day.

Do We Face a Cloudy Future?

Does that pitch border on the egregious practice of selling horded bottles of hand sanitizer at outrageous profit on Amazon? Nah. Many of us said for ages that cloud-based applications and the entire interop thing is not the next new thing, a fad, or just Autodesk social media/marketing hype.

We don’t want to stock up on a six-month stockpile of toilet paper, canned tomato sauce, and white beans either.

The Autodesk SaaS applications can make sense and give you and your organization the ways and means to get more project work done and done better. Whether you have staff with the discipline and skills to work effectively remotely, is probably a viable topic for another day. It can and is being done.

The following should help. See the Migrate A Civil 3D Test Project to BIM 360 post and the related series of posts on the practice of that important topic. Civil 3D in BIM 360 Design and Docs got much easier thanks to that to the latest Civil 3D 2020.3 Update in many ways - See the Civil 3D 2020 Update 3 Arrives post.

Small is Beautiful

A move to the Clouds (this is practically always plural) is actually easier for small companies to get done than large ones. Sadly, for those medium and small civil engineering and survey organizations that is less likely to be the case as well.

Why? I suspect that one major reason may surprise you.

If we experiment a little or we just browse the posts above, we discover …

Our Project’s DREF Publish Workflows and Structures Matter

In practice, many medium and small civil firms treat the DREF publish workflows and structures much more individually. This personalized reality occurs because of the Civil 3D skills of specific users who work in their separate projects.

Put another way - if no one else needs to work on your personal Civil 3D project, you are less likely to do the work to help make those things make sense to others. Our personal sense of order is not necessarily a corporate form of order. The desk where I work is a classic example. My huge desk has more piles than free space. Woe the helpful person who moves around my personal Piles of Chaos. Dust but do not touch.

The design and practice of BIM 360 assumes you want some form of corporate order. Civil 3D always assumes that we want a corporate repeatable and consistent order in our Civil 3D projects too. Civil 3D Project Templates were built in Civil 3D resources from the get-go. Fewer people than should appear to use them. Diabolically, neither application formally requires that we establish a corporate order. They just assume that we have one.

A Civil 3D Design Illustration

Earlier this month Kris Hodne, Sr Civil Technical Specialist at ATG did this excellent webinar training presentation about how to create a Complex Corridor of a roadway with intermittent medians and turn lanes in Civil 3D. This is a Civil 3D intermediate or advanced level training demonstration.


Design Corridors with Medians in Civil 3D

This is one of the better detailed how-to walkthroughs on this important Civil 3D topic I’ve seen in quite a while. Kris covers all the mechanics and details of the stock Civil 3D subassemblies that he employs to get most of the work done. He employs tools like Assembly Offsets, Marked Points, and intermediate surfaces to drive the design concept. He rightfully emphasizes the need and use of naming conventions and Name Templates. Good stuff.

The Corridor Region construction and management works and hopefully makes sense to you. I personally might have wished that he’d employed and demoed Civil 3D Transparent commands like ‘SO for that. That’s me being picky. I would probably start from the Intersections work out, but again that’s me being a bit hyper-critical. All the extra Regions would probably confuse most folks in a demo. That is going to happen to you.

Obviously in the time allotted, there is no way for Kris to cover all the potential project-based nuances of a final design. This speaks directly to the point of this post.

What You See is What You Get

Kris demos all the work in a single drawing with no use of project managed DREFs to manage the complex Design Control based on all the many Alignments and Profiles in the design. DREF use is a topic outside of the scope and intent of his video.

You can do the design in Civil 3D this way. You probably will.
That doesn’t mean that is what you want to do…
Downstream in a project the results  are then locked to the design solution in this one drawing.
Everyone who performs intermediate to advanced design work in Civil 3D falls into this trap. We might not recognize that we dug the ditch. We tend to complain about Civil 3D instead.

We want to build adaptability and preserve our capacity to employ options in Civil 3D.

Project DREF Optionality is Liberating

For example: For most of the Regions in the Corridor the Offset Alignments and slope-controlled Offset Profiles at the median edge would better drive the design with more flexibility. In a final design, we might be required to transition the lane slopes as we approach and leave each intersection. Station controlled slope transitions in Offset Profiles can do this. External design control from DREFs is easier to replace, and only marginally more difficult and time intensive to maintain.

Yes. These classic design issues may vary intersection by intersection based on design constraints we cannot know at this point in the project design. The odds are our intermediate corridor driven surfaces at each intersection will be a different surface at each intersection. We are best served if these are DREF based in the design as soon as is reasonable. Yada yada yada.

DREF Use and Replace

A DREF use and replace strategy demands that we employ consistent names, rules, structures, and workflows to get the benefits without exploding the man-hours we invest. These are Civil 3D users skills we must pursue. There are practical steps we can take to identify and implement those details. These are covered in the posts below. I won’t repeat myself here.

We cannot take it personally that Civil 3D project DREF mechanics must be more managed, systematic, and corporate than they are personal. Someone else baked that assumption into the cake.

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Civil 3D Dependency and References Posts

Manage Civil 3D Dependencies

  • What we can and need to do about all those references and dependencies we employ in Civil 3D

Civil 3D Object Model Nuances

  • Answers to the most important Civil 3D User questions about How, When and Why for the many references we employ in Civil 3D

Those Vital Civil 3D User DREF Skills

  • How to learn to improve our mission critical Civil 3D Data Reference skills individually and corporately

Civil 3D Design and Data References

  • How and Why the differences between Civil 3D User DREF personal and corporate skills effects our production Civil 3D project work