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The mastery of Points is nothing to take lightly in Autodesk Civil 3D. Like that old saying, “It’s all about location, location, location, Baby.” Points are foundational in the civil engineering and survey professional disciplines. Then your favorite software vendor’s programmers take over.

Points are one of the most overused words in Autodesk Civil 3D speak. Are we talking about COGO points? Survey Points? Point Groups? Point data in a Surface? Points of intersection in our horizontal, vertical, and cross section control?
The point is - this list of Point terms goes on and on ad nauseum.
This can drive you nodal.

The Point Predicament

Maybe the only term View more misused in AutoCAD-based apps. Oh, No Mr Bill!
Views are all about points too. Oh, bother.

Speaking about points of view, my position on Description Key Sets is similar to my position on Civil 3D Templates.

If you believe one of them will solve your problems, you miss the entire point. Eheh.

The Framework for Civil 3D includes multiples of all the many forms of Civil 3D Templates. A multiplicity of Description Key Sets and the Spreadsheet Tools to manage and maintain them is also just built-in.

Autodesk Civil 3D does many things really well. It is safe to say that managing and maintaining all the many details, resources, and dependencies we need to employ those resources effectively in Civil 3D production environments isn’t one of them.


What Do Points Do in Civil 3D?

Kyle Groves, a Technical Specialist at ATG, explains how Description Keys and Figures work in Civil 3D. Aside from some misunderstandings about where and when to employ the Process Linework command in Civil 3D Survey, most of the content is basically pretty solid.

Ok. I would never tell you to dump everything from a Survey DB into a drawing file all at once. God forbid. See our famous Civil 3D Survey at Jump Speed page for posts, links, and many videos that cover these important topics in more depth and real-world production detail.

One of Kyle’s major points is you need to have at least one Description Key Set and an integrated Figure Prefix Db to get anything productive done in Civil 3D. It’s a good point. We don’t want to sweep that away.

Some Framework for Civil 3D customers happily employ CTC Software Tools because they integrate well with our Spreadsheet Tools. The tool's code does make some of the maintenance work easier. I’d guess the folks at ATG and CTC Software probably consider the Framework for Civil 3D their competition.

Many of their customers don’t. Me neither. I’m happy to post their videos obviously
Functional code and innovative, killer content for Civil 3D are not the same thing at all.

Speaking of code…

Civil 3D Description Keys Are Broken

Autodesk somehow managed to break a fundamental AutoCAD maintenance functionality of Description Key Sets in one of the Civil 3D 2020 Updates. Those Civil 3D Object Model changes also cascaded back into the 2019 and 2018 Updates too. Yucky Poo.

The AutoCAD RENAME command will no longer rename Layer names in Description Key Sets.
Can you say, “Oops?” Go ahead and give it a whirl. One key and one layer proves the point. Dooh. Anything inside the Civil 3D Object Model that walls off core AutoCAD Table utilities and dependency tools is unacceptable.

Maybe Autodesk will fix this. Maybe they won’t. The Civil dev team may have other priorities.

Civil 3D immediately needs…

Description Key and Figure Db Export and Import Tools

It is a total no-brainer that Civil 3D needs native Description Key Set and Figure Prefix export and import of CSV, XLSX, and/or some other JSON or XML file-based format.
The many failings of the internal Key and Figure Db Edit interfaces don’t matter if we can import and export to and from common tools we already know how to use.

These Import and Export functionalities should have been done ten releases of Civil 3D ago. This is an ancient but doable Wish List item. Heck - even an external utility would be better than the nothing we pay for now.

Can I get an Amen?

Knock and The Door Will Open

If you are an Autodesk Civil 3D customer in any release,

  • Please file a bug report complaint about the current Description Key Set and RENAME Layer issue
  • Please file a second bug report about the lack of import and export tools for Description Key Sets and Figure Prefix Dbs

Most people who employ Civil 3D today have already mastered the basics of Description Key Sets and Figure Dbs. They got one.
Then one day you discover that you have been imprisoned by your own Civil 3D customizations or not.
To be free, adaptive, and robust is much more productive.

There are immediate actions you can do to address the issues.
See the Civil 3D Description Key Set Simplicity post.

The take away from this post – the most important point if you will –
Is that your best shot at systematically managing and maintaining Civil 3D is going to be external files, resources, and tools.
The truth is it always was and probably always will be.
You can depend on the fact that…
Only you can manage your dependencies in Civil 3D.

The Freedom to Work in Civil 3D
Get the Framework for Civil 3D Release 8


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

Civil 3D Description Keys What We Need

  • How to make Civil 3D Description Keys and Figure Prefix Dbs work better in Civil 3D