A New Autodesk ProjectExplorer for Civil 3D

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Earlier this week Autodesk announced the purchase of ProjectExplorer for Civil 3D. ProjectExplorer is a unique editing, reporting, and custom reports tool for Autodesk Civil 3D from 3AM Solutions Limited, a privately owned UK-based third-party software developer.

Autodesk has made no immediate commitments or promises about how, where, and when the ProjectExplorer product and tools will be integrated into Autodesk Civil 3D.

That is a bit of a loaded question when we consider Autodesk’s history with such matters. Hopefully, Autodesk did not just buy the rights to just part of the ProjectExplorer tool set and left the nicer and most needed management tools out.

Stay tuned. Hopefully, our daily work inside Civil 3D will get a whole lot easier in the near future. Thanks to the Civil 3D Team for apparently walking away from the all too common not invented here groupthink.

Take what follows with a grain of salt.
In other words, we all need to manage our expectations. Seriously.

ProjectExplorer for Autodesk Civil 3D

ProjectExplorer provides for a much more dynamic, interactive, and customizable interface for editing, reporting on, and managing Civil 3D Features and the resultant Civil 3D models inside Civil 3D.


The Essential Features of ProjectExplorer

ProjectExplorer allows us to cope with the nuances of the Civil 3D Data Behind in a much more integrated, systematic, and managed fashion. The key point - we can get the Data Behind displayed, edited, and reported our way.

Engineers and Surveyors Live in Spreadsheets

Why not give them spreadsheet like tools on steroids?

ProjectExplorer Layout Styles, the coordinated and managed power of Object Sets, and the general spreadsheet like approach to Civil 3D and the vital Data Behind reporting will be a welcome sight to see in a future Civil 3D. Hoorah.

Ok. I do have some questions about drawing internalized Object Sets in the context of an entire Civil 3D Project full of drawings. Next thing you know someone is going to ask about functionalities and even, God Forbid, edits in DREFs. Oh, my!

A less tedious and repetitive approach to the classic dancing around inside the Civil 3D interface should make many of us in Civil 3D Land happier and more productive.


ProjectExplorer and the Ctrl Key

“Where the heck is that bleeping thing?”

From my perspective one of the better and unspoken things about the ProjectExplorer approach in this ability to see and identify the structures and the parts inside the Data Behind for the host of Civil 3D Features. These details are painful, if not downright agonizing, to learn for users in the traditional Civil 3D clunky 15-year old, Tab-dependent interface.

Everyone asks,
“Why do I have to go there?”

The general Civil 3D interface metaphor and mechanics really are that old.

Can you hear me laughing?

The PE Acronym is Cute

Maybe you missed that? Probably not. Everyone knows EIT really stands for Edit It Today.
Did you notice we don’t have Surveyors In Training because they don’t get to do that.

I propose that ProjectExplorer get a new name.
Autodesk legal and marketing will probably do this anyway.
How about the Data Explorer Tools or the Civil 3D Explorer Utilities.
The terms may make a bit more sense in context.
A new CEU might get confused with the old CUI. Oops.

Shout it Out - Hear Here

Given the hit counts of the videos above on 3AM Solutions YouTube channel, the ProjectExplorer product flew under the radar for most folks in Civil 3D Land. All kinds of fun. We should all have new stuff to learn real soon now.

ProjectExplorer was first launched as a Civil 3D third party software product in Nov of 2013. The product has a track record in the Civil 3D marketplace and in production Civil 3D environments.

Autodesk did not acquire 3AM Solutions Limited which continues to operate as an independent company. This is not their first rodeo. Autodesk has previously purchased software from 3AM Solutions Limited including the Civil View for 3DS Max product. I recall there were some others.

Notable Quotables

“We are excited by how ProjectExplorer addresses many strategic customer requests in the areas of reporting and table generation. As we spent even more time with the product, it became clear that it offered users a more accessible, holistic, and informative understanding of the Civil 3D model.

Information otherwise exposed in disparate Civil 3D properties and inquiry interfaces is surfaced in a unified panel where users can view, edit, and assess design conditions. We are thrilled to welcome this technology into the Autodesk Infrastructure solution family.”

– Dave Simeone, Sr. Product Manager, Autodesk, Inc.

“I’m very excited to be working with Autodesk to help bring ProjectExplorer to a much wider audience.
I know that Civil 3D users are going to be delighted about getting a powerful tool for building custom reports, spreadsheets and dynamic tables. But more than that, users are going to be surprised to learn how this tool can help them to better understand their projects and work more efficiently within Civil 3D. This acquisition should be a win-win for everybody concerned.”

– Bruce Harfield, Director, 3AM Solutions (UK) Limited

More Details

See the 3AM Solutions Ltd website for more about ProjectExplorer functionality.

Read the announcement on the Autodesk Infrastructure Reimaged blog.
The post includes some basic Q&A and frequently asked questions.

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