In Search of the Magic Buttons in Civil 3D

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At the beating heart of civil engineering model-based design is the core concept that an iteratively built model and the managed data behind that the model depends on will produce the published results we will require in the deliverables. It is vital to note and never skip over the fact that there are rules, systems, and structures necessary to execute successfully and consistently these three distinct processes.

For good reason Autodesk Civil 3D doesn’t police whether you pile a bunch of Civil 3D Features into a single drawing and then design, QAQC, and publish that way. Civil 3D doesn’t care, but only we can manage that reality.

The following section is updated from the important The Arts of the Separation of Powers in Civil 3D post. That post includes links to other related posts.

The Managed Separation of the Civil 3D Data Behind

Back in the day folks used to call this the Civil 3D Dynamic Model. Interactive Features that recognize and respond to changes in other Civil 3D Features are a powerful and useful thing. The reality is that in a project the dynamic interactions must become a Managed Dynamic Model or the project work will become problematic, burdensome, and expensive.

There are significant productivity and performance issues that will arise when we do not manage and employ clean well-structured External Reference (XREF) structures, Data Reference (DREF) structures, and newer Reference Template (TREF) capabilities in Civil 3D projects:

  • Performance ramifications – it is easy to degrade production and publish drawing performance
  • Design limitations – it is far too easy to kill off design optionality and/or reduce the flexibility to change in mismanaged reference structures
  • Publication complexity – it is way too easy to over complicate publication

For better or for worse, the daily and practical Managed Dynamic Model work falls to the Civil 3D user level. Therefore, the Managed Dynamic Model work too often tends to specialize around Civil 3D user personal preferences of structure and order.

All of that individual effort can suffer from the immediate need to get things done in the short term.

We all tend to initially mash together the Civil 3D collect, resolve, and publish mechanisms. We tend to focus on the visuals and drawing representations and not the data behind that drives all of that.

We are visual beings, socially distanced, and cast adrift in an overwhelming sea of data.

The model building and publishing problem and the complexity of the output publishing processes can easily become a beast all by itself in these multi-process and muddied waters. We all know this drill.


Automate Staking Plans with Dynamo

Stephen Walz aptly details and compares two Stakeout Plan workflows - A classic and tedious Civil 3D manual workflow and a Dynamo for Civil 3D script workflow to speed up the production process.

As usual, Stephan delivers an interesting approach and Dynamo for Civil 3D solution to a classic and tedious Civil 3D problem with some nice clear Dynamo script goodies. Stephan's systematic buildup of the complexity of the Dynamo script is worth our attention.

Some of us might like to assign Point Numbers by his Description Point Groups via some managed numbering plan. This is possible. To add the Point Numbering Code Blocks to the final scripts should not be a big deal if we employ an Excel or CSV file to lookup those values for each Point Group list.

We could also employ a simple traverse like Alignment to Group the point locations by Setup location and maximum distance metrics if we are so inclined. That might be useful if you employ Corridors and Features line output to design and document the design.

Don’t take this wrong. I’m a big Dynamo fan. I’m not picking on Stephen’s solution either. Good stuff.
The more important issue is our need to change our perspective and management approach to the problems.

Why Were We Clicking About in the First Place?

Our decades of previous CAD experience teach us to go back and focus our time on the details present in the CAD drawing specifics to solve the problem. That focus is necessary when the CAD software is primitive-based and not fundamentally Feature data behind based.

Visit the Point Wizardry in Civil 3D page for multiple exemplary videos and details. That content approaches the entire concept of automated survey and design deliverables differently. It works.

The State of the States

We tend to want to ignore the realities of changes of State to the Civil 3D data behind. Identification of these State changes within our Civil 3D workflows are a mission critical task.

Civil 3D users, Project Managers and Principals can and should have an understanding and say in that identification and the application rules, structures, and processes. All need to avoid an old school approach to those solutions. Our heuristics must adapt to a better Managed Dynamic Model.

State changes create Benchmarks we must identify. These benchmarks drive more managed changes, structures and consistent behaviors inside our Civil 3D project or they do not.

Civil 3D does Not Require a Project - Civil 3D is the Project

We all know one, or many, staking plans are going to come along from the day we accept any project. Do our Civil 3D Project Templates and the considerable number of nuanced Civil 3D resources details (like code and other naming rules) consistently serve us or not.
We live with the consequences. That’s for certain.

Autodesk ProjectExplorer and our Futures

Autodesk recently acquired the ProjectExplorer software tools.
See the A New Autodesk ProjectExplorer for Civil 3D post for videos and some details.

Not so simply put - the PE enhances the traditional Civil 3D Toolspace and Tab-based interface significantly. It includes both the tools and functionality inside Civil 3D to connect our daily model building, edit work, and QAQC work to our reporting and QAQC deliverables in important new ways.

Whether you chose to employ the PE or even the latest and greatest Civil 3D isn’t the significant issue.

Where are the Magic Buttons when we get in the way? 
We do the systematic management work in Civil 3D - or the Civil 3D diva manages us.

Don’t miss the significant opportunity to get your project benchmarks, project mechanics, project structures, and workflows better aligned with Civil 3D and the capabilities of the data behind.
You can and should do that work or you will continue to work harder not smarter.

Maybe there are affordable products for Civil 3D that already work to help us do that? The use of adaptive, robust and consistent standards for production work in Civil 3D matters.

Does Your Civil 3D Do That?
Get the Framework for Civil 3D Release 8


The New Civil 3D Directions Posts

The Arts of the Separation of Powers in Civil 3D

  • The principals of good governance applies to our Civil 3D Projects and our people

Civil 3D Templates and The Tuple

  • An ordered list of ordered lists assembled from an ordered structure of resources... seems to say it all

Multiple Civil 3D Description Key Sets

  • A new look and direction for our old friend the Description Key Set

10 Best Civil 3D Production Tips for 2020

  • The essential Key goals for better Civil 3D development and implemention

The Best Civil 3D for 2020 Ready or Not

  • The Hows, Whats, and Whys the matter for Civil 3D Project execution

Civil 3D Styleless Data References

  • Why and How Styleless Data References make Civil 3D work better and reduce Upgrade and Update hassles

How To Be Ready When Civil 3D Changes

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