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All of us in Civil 3D Land know learning to come to grips with Civil 3D is easier said than done. Autodesk Civil 3D is a big complex piece of software. We must learn to manage and direct the Civil 3D Diva to deliver acceptable performances. We are talking about integrated software tools that must cope with the many and varied details of complex and diverse civil engineering and survey projects. We document and design the important infrastructure that tends to hang around a while. Sounds serious.

Hmm…Maybe it is time to go all Latin literary and quote the Roman poet Horace. Lest we not confuse his Odes with those other famous Roman Ides…Can we say,

Aurea Mediocritas?

This Latin phrase formally translates to the golden middle way or as we might say today a happy medium. Some say Civil 3D is like life…Things are too often made complicated by our hasty decisions and our habitual ways of seeing and doing things. We can change that.

Things stick in human minds for strange reasons.

While I was first struggling to memorize Horace and somewhat understand his tri-part instructions for men in all stages of life, I lived in a gym with a super sound system. Why live in a gym? Bad stuff happens. Think of this experience as the exact opposite of social distancing. In any case, the Who’s rock opera Tommy was then the next big thing. A stack of Marshall and Fender amps were hotwired to deliver the Pinball Wizard daily.

“He stands like a statue
Becomes part of the machine
Feeling all the bumpers
Always playing clean
He plays by intuition

The digit counters fall
That deaf, dumb and blind kid
Sure plays a mean pinball”

Give Me a Break

Whoa. Sorry Google. Elton John did not first record this song. This current Google search weirdness only goes to show that the most popular is often far from the actual truth of any matter. Horace would agree. You certainly don’t care. Pete Townshend can no longer hear us anyway which seems to me to be a wee bit of a self-fulfilling. prophecy.

I do have a point…
Imagine you are required to memorize stanzas of ancient Latin with Tommy played at 75+ decibels as back-ground study music. Feel me?
You learn to do or you don’t.
The meters of rock and Latin poetry can go together.
I admit that I now remember far more of Tommy than Horace.
What’s that they say? “The mind is a terrible thing to waste.”

The Balance of Focus in Civil 3D

I’m a longtime advocate for a focus on getting the most out of the Civil 3D data behind via the application of great Style, Label Style, and Set resources. This is a learnable and mission critical Civil 3D skill set.

It is not the only learnable skill set we must master in Civil 3D.
We need strategy, form, and balance.
Civil 3D is a martial art. It definitely has katas.

Here’s A Big Three for Civil 3D

  • Style Management – how well we manage and execute those important details consistently
  • Feature Heuristics – how well we know, understand, and manage the Civil 3D Feature data behind nuances
  • Operational Mechanics – how well we perform in the Zone
    What? You never worked for hours in Civil 3D and never realized where the time went?

Spring Training

I rant often that the Civil 3D Operational Mechanics skill set is something we must be professional about and work at. The best in all forms of professional disciplines, trades, crafts, and arts all do the do.

Cadpilot pros should too. We must devote dedicated study time and regular practice time to the effort. The current noise in the gym be damned. The actual physical disciplines are important to employing software well.

If your personal Operational Mechanics have not changed in the last couple of Civil 3D releases, the odds very good that they have not changed for the many releases of Civil 3D that came before. This can cripple you.

These days the Bartels bros of Autodesk are delivering a series of 30 Minute How to webinars on Civil 3D essential Operational Mechanics skills. Thanks guys. We needed that. Here’s Jeff’s latest…


Power Grips and Civil 3D

Everyone will learn something important in this video. Many of the Grips interface nuances are personal productivity game changers. All I can say is that you don’t know what you don’t know. Here I am using know in the Biblical sense of the word. What we don’t use, we lose.

I contend that simply watching for the use of Grips skill in potential Civil 3D employees remains one of the best ways to quickly evaluate Civil 3D user skill and their potential for project production skill under pressure.

The Grips control and capabilities for Civil 3D Features is far deeper than many users learn to employ. That developed and practiced skill shows quickly.

In the Grips of Bias

I am biased. I consider Grips the best edit and create tool improvement that ever happened to AutoCAD. Exercised Grips skill is worth hours of your work week. If you don’t use the Grips tools, there are a number of things in Civil 3D you cannot ever do. Worse. You may never even see they can be done.

If you want to get good at all the Ctrl, Shift, Alt key, and Dyn Grip interface nuances, you must consciously practice and drill. This takes focused work in example drawings in a project context. One reason why the Framework for Civil 3D always includes Sandbox projects for folks to play in.

I don’t practice enough.
5 minutes a day for a week twice a year works for me. Ok. I try do this when a new Civil 3D Update occurs to keep it simple.

If Autodesk updates a Civil 3D Feature in a new Release or an Update, we can bet the Grips’ nuances, glyphs, and Right Click menus improved too.

The only downside I discovered is the more I use the Civil 3D Grips interface well at this level of nuance and detail the harder it is for me to record videos that users can easily follow. People complain, “How did you do that?”

The odds are Civil 3D instructive video recording is not your problem. The problem does make the point that anyone who records substantive Civil 3D training videos must also deal with this hidden issue. Training skill is not the same as Civil 3D user production skill.

Can you hear me laughing? Maybe Jeff still prefers to wear out his Esc key. He doesn't turn on Shift to Add in the Selection Tab of Options. Oh. Bother.

Speaking of other Operational Mechanics recordings…
Jeff’s brother Jerry did a recent video on Extreme Object Snaps in Civil 3D.

“A pinball wizard’s
Got such a supple wrist
How you do think he does it? I don’t know
What makes him so good?”

Come to Grips with Civil 3D
Get the Framework for Civil 3D Release 8