Civil 3D Project Files or Document Management

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That is a question. In January Autodesk officially renamed the BIM 360 cloud tool products and integrated those with the existing Autodesk Construction Cloud product offerings. This is a significant change in more than name. That may be more than a bit confusing to many Autodesk customers in Civil 3D Land who were not previously employing the BIM 360 tools. Maybe that is confusing if you already do use the Autodesk Cloud tools.

Anyone with an AutoCAD subscription back in November already gained Autodesk BIM cloud access via the Autodesk Docs Extension for AutoCAD. That Extension will allow CAD drawings to be published as a PDF directly from an AutoCAD app to the new Autodesk Docs (the old BIM 360 Docs).

Autodesk is heavily selling and pushing all these Autodesk Construction Cloud services.

Let’s take a minute to summarize:

Autodesk Docs

The Construction Cloud based Autodesk Docs replaced BIM 360 Docs and is now available for AEC Collection subscribers and also to AutoCAD based products via the Extension with the limited layout to PDF publication capability already noted above.
The official Autodesk speak:

Autodesk Docs underpins the common data environment for every unified product with centralized document management, providing users with seamless navigation and integrated workflows to create a single source of truth across the project lifecycle.

Autodesk Docs employs a Document Management metaphor.
Submittals are checked in and out and everything has separate Document Management permissions, tracking, and basic reporting attached. A new or updated “SAVE” of a file will generate Versions and potential reporting, notifications, etc.
Someone must manage and administrate that Document Management environment.

Best to think of Autodesk Docs as a publish store for on-going and/or submitted work.

Autodesk Docs is not the common Folder and File structure metaphor we employ on local computers or most of our networks. That old file structure format is also available in File Share apps like Dropbox, Box, One Drive, etc.
In those OS-like environments, the participants must agree (or agree to disagree) on the Folder and File structures and some basic workflows to handle updates and changes. You know the drill.

Being invited to participate in the Autodesk Docs type of project (or in BIM Collaborate for that matter) is not the same thing as managing that project and is a lot less work. The Autodesk Cloud apps do natively support many types of file viewers in a browser including the Markup of dwgs.

Autodesk BIM Collaborate

The Construction Cloud based BIM Collaborate allows for non-authoring collaborators, including project managers, owners, virtual design and construction specialists, and others. The Autodesk speak:

BIM Collaborate enables teams to align and execute on design intent and constructability within a cloud-based solution and common data environment.

BIM Collaborate is targeted at non-CAD users and it all about tracking the execution of construction projects not necessarily the design of the same although that obviously that may play a significant role.

Autodesk BIM Collaborate Pro

The BIM 360 Design offering became BIM Collaborate Pro. In Autodesk speak- Customers will have access to model coordination and Insights and connections to the Autodesk Construction Cloud.

Collaboration here is something else again. To be clear these Autodesk Cloud Collaboration products integrate the storage; Document Management functionality; the Project Management sharing of folder and files etc.; and the actual working project folders and files.

The Key BIM Collaborate Pro Selling Point

You can work in the BIM Collaborate Pro (BIM 360 Design) cloud inside Civil 3D and other Autodesk software from anywhere. That works only if you have the appropriate managed and maintained permissions.

If you are going to work in BIM Collaborate Pro (BIM 360 Design), the structures and supported workflows of your Civil 3d Project Template plays a much more significant role than most people think initially.

Civil 3D and other AEC Collection Autodesk apps still pretty much run locally in a mirrored and managed file share in BIM Collaborate Pro. The managed share becomes a new virtual drive on your local computer.

Civil 3D Survey Db and Survey in Civil 3D functionality are not currently supported in BIM Collaborate Pro. However, you can move that data and published drawing work around in the BIM Collaborate Pro environment.

In Application and In Browser

Autodesk Docs, BIM Collaborate, and BIM Collaborate Pro all support independent and separate access to their Managed stores via most common browsers. All cloud setup and maintenance work are performed in a browser environment.

Cloud Project Upgrades and Updates Maintenance

The Civil 3D Batch Save Utility can be carefully employed to Update the files in the BIM Collaborate Pro environment. This is worth learning how to do before you face the problem. Batch Save is definitely worth practicing if you must maintain working projects in the Autodesk Cloud environment. There are posts here on that subject.

Last but not least…

The Autodesk Desktop Connector

The working BIM Collaborate Pro environment also depends on the independent install and regular upgrade maintenance of the Autodesk Desktop Connector. That code manages the virtual drive and stores on the local machines.

Read the latest details about the recent February release of the Autodesk Desktop Connector 14.6 Update.

The previous December Autodesk Desktop Connector 14.5 Update included some new features and enhancements.

We can expect more new features and enhancements to the Autodesk Desktop Connector et al with the upcoming release of the Autodesk 2022 products.

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