When we create something new and innovative, that product should make a productive difference in the lives of real folks doing the real work. We released the new and powerful Framework for Civil 3D Release 8 Spot Label Style AddOns for Civil 3D 2021 and Civil 3D 2020 last week. This Spot Label Style AddOn was the second Framework Label Style Expression Set for Civil 3D Surfaces delivered in as many months.
I already received some Spot Label Style Expression Set questions from both existing and potential Framework for Civil 3D customers. I am flattered that people pay attention and are interested. A series of posts and videos is in order.
First and foremost,…
Intelligent Publish on Demand
One of the best things about Civil 3D is that a well-built collection of Civil 3D Label Styles allows us the ability to craft our plan set annotation to publish the Civil 3D data behind differently.
Suitably is probably the better word here.
The working environment - We must address the many demands of our daily project development work in Civil 3D.
The diverse publication environment - We must also address the varied (and suitable) deliverable publications of the annotated Civil 3D data behind to our customers.
To perform those Civil 3D annotative miracles, we must learn to perform the work in Civil 3D with our brains engaged.
Hence years ago, I coined the tongue-in-cheek and play on words term - Intelligent Publish On Demand – (aka iPOD). A search for the iPOD keyword on this site will cough up about 50 posts and more than a few practical videos series on the topic.
Do the Do
Funny thing - Without a suitable collection of resources for Civil 3D, what we can actually accomplish with Civil 3D often gets lost in the daily production grind and the habitual way we always do things now.
In technical terms, our functional blindness becomes a most serious productivity problem.
Label Style Expression Set Robust, Consistent, and Adaptive Behaviors
One off Civil 3D Label Style solutions can be appropriate sometimes. The one-off approach is not always the best long-term, maintainable plan to address complex and common Label Style display issues and support for important and frequently requested functionalities.
From a Civil 3D user and Civil 3D customizer’s perspective Label Style Expression Sets content resources must be operationally robust; deliver consistent repeatable results; and be adaptive to corporate and user preferences in the Civil 3D production environment.
See the Civil 3D Label Style Expressions post for important specifications, requirements, and ALWAYS IMPORT Label Style tool mechanics and benefits that I will not repeat here.
The principals and goals of every Framework Label Style Expression Set are all about delivering Intelligent Publish On Demand (iPOD) quicker to more people with less hassle.
We do have to experientially learn the essential iPOD processes and tools inside Civil 3D to reap the rewards.
Site Design and Annotation with the Spot Label Style Expression Set
A basic (eheh) video tour of Site Grading with Corridors concepts and workflows with the annotative innovative power of the Framework for Civil 3D's Label Style Expression Sets at work. Whoa.
Let's take a deeper peek at how Intelligent Publish On Demand mechanics can produce more Label Style Expression Set flexibility as the Sets deliver those consistent and robust results the deliverables work requires.
Publish on Demand Label Style Expression Set Mechanics
Civil 3D user Label Style placement and Label Style selection and update methods and skills clearly matter.
Spot OSNAP placement seems to work best on Surfaces with the TIN visible and/or Features Lines and/or other key geometry displayed above the same. The placement issues revolve around are how well and how quickly users can identify the key, mission critical locations in the Surface model that deserve and require the annotation.
We can/could also employ an Overlay XREFed 2D planimetrics method to establish locations as well. That method might help us QA locations when those 2D planimetrics change…and they do. Where those 2D planimetrics come from? How these are maintained and updated in the project-wide, shared-data context and workflows clearly matters.
The Separation of Powers in Civil 3D
By design, Civil 3D clearly favors multiple drawing and/or DWF publication of annotation from the managed project-shared Civil 3D data behind. In other words – multiple publication drawings employed to craft the suitable deliverable annotative content for the task at hand.
A Civil 3D Project’s Managed Dynamic Model requires that our Civil 3D Project Templates and workflow processes are developed, supported, and maintained with this multiple drawing reality in mind.
See the Those Vital Civil 3D User DREF Skills post and other posts and videos in that series.
To Truncate or Not?
At first sight, the initial value of Elevation truncation seems primarily based only on the datum of the project and the data density of the displayed Surface Spots required in the design or publication in that context.
From a readability perspective, more displayed numbers can be confusing and indeed can practically force us to employ more manually dragged and positioned Labels. More manually dragged Labels also means more repeated maintenance and production hours invested in deliverable production.
Does the time invested in specific Label Style rotation assignment equate to the time invested to manually drag placements? Maybe. When the repeated maintenance is considered, the investment in project man-hours is certainly not a wash most of the time.
Design Time Dynamic Truncation
The not so obvious secondary benefit of variable and/or even fixed truncation in design time or working drawings is that the Label Style Expression Set truncation also appears to help us to focus better on the specific design issues at hand. Less can be more.
The design time benefits of variable-based Label Style Expression Set resources are demonstratable. The Civil 3D skills required to employ these new Style Tools are pretty basic and easy to acquire with minimal practice.
See the Civil 3D Label Style Expression Visibility post and video for the how to details.
Variable truncation Label Styles with the Expression Set Left Digits Setting set to -1 deliver dynamic show actual Surface feedback and annotative results.
A Separation of Views
The Label Style Expression Set’s View-based Style approach of the supplied rotated Label Styles appears to work well to deliver better managed automated annotation in both model and twisted View paperspace Viewports.
The static, model space DWF publication method is easy to learn and maintain in the traditional Civil 3D network project production environment. This classic publication method of named Views also functions equally well in the newer Autodesk Cloud-based BIM Collaborate Pro (BIM 360 Design) production environment. That environment also natively supports Document Managed (tracked) Comparison and Markup functionalities.
The Label Style Expression Set’s View-based Style Tools seems to work well for both twisted and untwisted Site Plans and for Civil 3D Alignment-based Corridors output via the Plan Production Tools and those project-shared ViewFrames and those DREF ViewFrame Groups that we all love to hate.
Spots On the Grid
Grid arrays of Spot Label Styles of any form work great for all types of Civil 3D Surfaces including Volume ones.
Variable truncation Label Styles with the Left Digits Setting set to -1 (this Setting shows actual) and the generic Style collections supplied make annotating Volume surface grids a snap.
An Important Point and Futures
Let me also state clearly that our time and labor investments in any location Label placements may be better invested in Civil 3D Point locations and Point Labels. Why? Civil 3D Point locations are easier to create, report on, share, and maintain in the project-shared data environment and context of Civil 3D.
Simply put. The next Point Label Style Expression Set AddOn for the Framework will be a complimentary collection of resources for Civil 3D Points.
See the Point Wizardry in Civil 3D videos and posts.
A Last but Not Least Basic Benefit
Can we employ the new Spot Label Style AddOns in Civil 3D 2019?
If you own a 2021 or 2020 version of Jump Kit and still employ Civil 3D 2019 in some on-going projects, the new Spot Label Style Expression Set resources and the Contour Label Style Expression Set resources can be migrated back. I suggest you be selective about the resources you want to convert. You can employ the well-documented Insert Explode method into supplied Framework 2019 NoStyles template drawings to create Civil 3D 2019 resource versions that work. Way Cool.
Innovation Beyond the Code
Get the Framework for Civil 3D Release 8
Civil 3D Label Style Expression Set Posts