Civil 3D Managed Data Reference Replacement

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Autodesk introduced a new and much improved manage Data References tool in Autodesk Civil 3D 2020.1+. Autodesk also cascaded that same mission-critical code back into the Civil 3D 2019.3+ Updates. If you employ a reasonably current version of Civil 3D, there is better Data Reference (DREF) fix it tool. At the time, Autodesk sort of made a big deal about this. We all know that some important things can get lost in the Civil 3D Update and Upgrade shuffle.

The Civil 3D Data Shortcut Manager

If our project DREF things go south or when we just want to figure out how Data Shortcuts are employed in any project drawing, the Data Shortcut Manager Tool (DSM) comes to our rescue. That happens to me. It happens to you.

If you work on Civil 3D projects with others, a DSM visit should probably be part of your regular drawing open checklist. The DSM is much faster than rooting around in the Toolspace for a DREF overview. You have to love that Show only broken data shortcuts checkbox. I want a Show only data shortcuts checkbox too.

Both Autodesk Civil 3D 2020+ and Civil 3D 2021+ additionally support the Data Shortcut Manager tool in BIM 360 Design. In the Autodesk Cloud environment, we get [Cloud] Drawing Objects in the DSM dialog box drawing pane instead of Drawing Objects to connect to the current Civil 3D Working Folder and Data Shortcuts structure.

Dooh. Back to Civil 3D 101. Did you simply forget to Set your Working Folder to the right project place? It happens. Folks sometimes confuse the word right with the pertinent word managed. More on than in a moment…

The Data Shortcut Manager tool does have Manager in its name for good reasons.
See the Manage Civil 3D Dependencies post and included links to other important posts and videos.

The DSM comes in pretty handy sorting out Data Shortcut issues when we migrate projects to BIM 360 and notably when we move (upgrade) projects around on internally.
I know you know that.
As a Civil 3D user, you are a Manager of Civil 3D projects whether you like it or not.

The Better Half - Replacement Beyond Data Shortcut Repair

The Data Shortcut Manager can do far more than repair a broken DREF.
If we uncheck that Show only broken data shortcuts checkbox, we hopefully recognize that we can replace any of the DREF supported Civil 3D Feature geometry (Surfaces, Alignment Parents and children, Pipe Networks, Pressure Networks, Corridors, and View Frame Groups) with any other shared Data Shortcut geometries.

Ponder that replacement capability for a minute. Don’t panic. Breathe into the brown paper bag.
This is powerful stuff. Good news for every Civil 3D user.

Project DREF Optionality is Liberating

Managed Design Optionality is an important and very significant production benefit powered in part by the thoughtful use of the Data Shortcut Manager tool in a managed Civil 3D Project.

This brief roadway Corridor example video demonstrates how easy the DREF Replacement approach to better design optionality is in Civil 3D today.


Design DREF Replacement in Civil 3D

We take a complex roadway design, upgrade its specifications, change fundamental design control details, and manage to produce effective results in a few minutes.
With a managed plan, naming convention, structure, and workflow in place, we employ the Data Shortcut Manager tool to perform the heavy lifting that ties those results together.

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

Managers can plan and create standards until they are purple, train everyone comatose, and preach until they are apoplectic. But the Civil 3D user attention to the Civil 3D data behind details and the requisite skills needed to manage published Civil 3D DREF project models remains a most significant operational benefit or obstacle in Civil 3D.

Data Shortcut 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 in our project.
These are important Civil 3D user and corporate skills we must pursue.
There are practical steps we can take to identify and implement the necessary details and heuristics.

Vision Beyond the Code

It does take a bit to get our head around the fact that the specific geometry and where that geometry is located is not the most significant issue or even what really inhales our workdays in Civil 3D.

Continuously improved Design Prototypes in our specialized Civil 3D Project Templates can help.
Are Civil 3D users rewarded to proactively work on Project Template Design Prototypes?
Why not?

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Civil 3D Project References and the Object Model 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

How To Be Ready When Civil 3D Changes

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