You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out the annual Autodesk Right of Spring and product release is about to begin. A new, cloudy host of Autodesk software will hit the street real soon now. The misty-eyed folks will dance around the May pole and declare the new power and majesty of the standing stones.
If not, Autodesk shareholders will soon headhunt some Autodesk C-level officer heads.
We are soon to be bombarded with new AutoCAD 2022 features and benefits. Soon to follow will be the Autodesk Civil 3D 2022 and perhaps the more significant AEC Collection 2022 goodies this time around.
We have some things to consider.
Civil 3D 2022 Considerations
To upgrade to 2022 or not? Maybe you noticed? This is not a real question we have to answer. Some of the Civil 3D 2022 functionalities will cascade back into older versions via Civil 3D Updates. Please recall that you voted for this with your wallets.
My recurring vote for the Autodesk 2022 release theme song…
“One way or another, I'm gonna find ya. I'm gonna get ya, get ya, get ya, get ya” - Blondie
Go ahead. Try to get Blondie’s lyric chant/rant out of your head. Yes, the one line is fundamentally the entire lyric of the song. More than creepy if you ask me. This ode to Punk made Pop, most say created New Wave.
Speaking of a sharp stick in the eye and another golden oldy…
Noah? How Long Can You Tread Water?
Folks? How well do you systematically employ the Civil 3D Batch Save Utility?
Bat Sav is not the Weds mystery meat in the high school cafeteria. Bat Sav is not Bruce Wayne’s best bud. Nor did Bat Save originate in Wuhan.
The Civil 3D Batch Save Utility is a viable inoculation against Autodesk Upgrade and Update fever.
Seriously…No Sales Pitch Intended
Existing and upcoming AEC Collection subscription benefits may be the most important thing about the Autodesk 2022 release for Civil 3D users.
Can you say Project Explorer?
Do you get Grading Optimization?
What is BIM Collaborate Pro?
What the heck is new for Interoperability?
Autodesk has been publicly clear all year about the above sans the new 2022 specifics of course.
The Project Explorer (the PE) is a Civil 3D interface rethink and retool. The PE alone already does more to change and improve how we employ Civil 3D in more productive ways than anyone can really name or demo.
To use PE is to love PE.
Use will make you wish for more.
The Grading Optimization rethink of common or traditional grading design workflow and process is sure to make some folks uncomfortable. Some other folk will make hay while the sun still shines. Neigh. I guess many people these days don’t actually understand the hassle (pile) and work (spread) of making hay in the first place.
The most interesting common denominator with all the above mentioned Civil 3D and AEC Collection 2022 improvements is that these tools only make sense at all if you use them.
Knowing they exist and installing them does little to bring clarity to the matters.
The learned experience reality cannot be ignored.
If you don’t, they won’t.
Style is a Commodity Not an Ego Trip
“Your so vain. You probably think this song is about you.”
The entire concept of my Style is better than your Style is summed up by this Carly Simon lyric
My Style is better than your Style is so old school. We endured a decade of that.
Back in the day I, and a couple of others who don’t want the blame, introduced the Simple Style Rules. These were spawned by reality of the Power of Names (the namespace) that underlies the fundamentals of object-oriented programming (OOP) and substance of Style as we know it.
The purpose of the Simple Style Rules is not to own the Styles but to take accountability for them when we change them. The point of Style accountability (not ownership) is only to make a better method of maintenance of Civil 3D Style Libraries possible.
The Painful Truths
We cannot really own or possess a collection of properties generated by code and maintained inside an object model massaged and managed by others. This is like the belief that a stimulus check is free money.
Yes. We maintain and sell one of the largest sets of Civil 3D Style libraries on the planet. The Framework content is an important and marketable thing.
Style Tools are only useful and valuable if they are employed, maintained, and improved.
Have you seen the latest Label Style Expression Sets?
On occasion new Framework for Civil 3D customers who own the code that allows them to automatically change all the Style name suffixes have done so to Framework Style collections.
Possession is nine tenths of the law. Fine by me. Names can make stuff familiar.
Anything renamed you are now condemned and accountable to maintain.
Trust me. You probably don’t want that.
What’s the difference between Styles with different suffixes? Oh. Bother.
If you want keep and maintain the Match lists…No worries.
Corridor Design Rocks
We all complained, and/or still complain, that Autodesk invested too much time in Civil 3D Corridor design tools over the years and not enough in more classic site design tools. I call that - Feature Line based grading. Silly me asked in the beginning why can’t we have Assemblies in grading objects. Made sense to me, but not to the powers that be at the time.
The newer Corridor Baselines from Feature Lines, DREF Corridors, and the Data Shortcut Manager (DSM) – (Should I mention Connected Alignments?) are available in more recent Civil 3D releases and can radically change how fast we can develop, edit, and manage site design solutions with Corridors. The advantage of managed horizontal, vertical, and cross section control over unmanaged collections of Feature Lines is indescribable until you Do the Do a lot.
The learned experiential reality cannot be ignored. That is something to consider.
The art and the Civil 3D skills of learning to manage Multi-Baseline Corridors (I prefer the term Complex Corridors) with ordered sets of replaceable parts, pays significant production design benefits. It speaks to the essence of the iterative and continuously-improved, design practice.
The Managed Separation of Civil 3D Project Power
We must embrace the discipline of structured Data Shortcut (DREF) management and separation. That statement is more than a mouthful. Successful project implementation takes a plan and a managed process – aka workflow. Yes. Autodesk can still make some important improvements to the management tools in the Corridor Property manager, but the functional guts of the processes work.
Recent updates to the Data Shortcut Manager (DSM) should not be overlooked. Thar be magic in dem thar trees.
Managed Project Based Annotation
Corridor-based location annotation is possible and much easier to produce and maintain these days. Recently we’ve shown the Style Tool magic of the Framework’s Label Style Expression Sets. See the Civil 3D Spot Label Style AddOns Basic Rewards and Civil 3D Spot Label Style Advanced Rewards post and videos
The concept of employing Survey Dbs to solve design annotation problems is a game changer. See the Point Wizardry in Civil 3D video section and links to posts. The Corridor Station Points series of posts and the earlier Alignment Based Point Groups series show a bit of what can be done. ‘Nuff said.
The New Basemap
We’ve spent more than a couple of decades in AutoCAD and Civil 3D Land practically bound to the crucifix of the XREF-based basemap. Everyone employs the concept in one form or another. It isn’t going anywhere either.
The over simplified justification is that this XREF basemap device somehow ensures that what we publish is up to date. This doesn’t actually jive with the way most project processes work, but never mind. It is what we do?
The empirical evidence says this XREF (can I add DREF) basemap device comes at a considerable price in both publishing performance at project deadline and consistency issues from the detailed user plot-time accountabilities and required Civil 3D publishing skills.
Sadly, the second problem is the more practically problematic of the two. Wasn’t XREF tech and the basemap supposed to reduce the complexity?
Both the level of annotative detail and the reported diversity of that published annotation in civil engineering and survey projects also continues to do nothing but increase. I could argue these couplings lead in part to what I call the BIM Resistance Effect.
If we empirically examine our QAQC processes, most of the basemap is a published and approved result long before deadline day. Why not pre-print all or part in DWF form? Technically, we replace complex XREF and DREF structures with print optimized IREFs hosted in XREFs. See The Civil 3D DWF Publication Reprise post and videos.
The DWF publication nuance and process significantly reduces both the performance problems and the immediate user plot-time complexity. I’ve had truly staggering performance numbers reported back to me by those who took this road less travelled.
Why more people don’t do this is beyond me. Try it. You’ll like it.
If Style and your Civil 3D Template is no longer the ego trip, Style consistency and management issues remain a major Civil 3D production issue. By now you have that all worked out? I consider that the best thing about Reference Templates is that the tool may actually kill off for good the One Template to Rule Them Civil 3D fantasy.
Perhaps that sounds counter-intuitive?
Aren’t Reference Templates (TREF) there to allow you to have one template? That’s perhaps the pitch, but not the practice. Once you figure out how to manage Styles, Settings, and other resources with one that works, the gloves tend to come off.
Reference Templates that manage task-based templates and/or publish specific templates will sneak their way into your production process. KISS. Less is more?
A Reference Template Tool based templates solution is worth serious consideration, don’t you think?
Like most people my early focus about Civil 3D Project Templates was initially mostly about the project’s Data Shortcut structure and those project construction and Civil 3D functional considerations. DREF management is a mission critical and vital critical path subject in Civil 3D. One day a light came on. I did a series of Project Setup posts with videos to try to get to the heart of the matter.
The built-in flexibility of Civil 3D Project Template structure is the Civil 3D project blessing and the curse. There is simply too much potential benefit in consistent project structures, resources, and the many forms of placeholder tools to continue to ignore PTSD - Project Template Structure Defaults.
We can also now think about project structure beyond the confines of what structures the Civil 3D software requires to function. We can add all that other real-world stuff we have to manage to get a project out the door. There is a lot of that. If we let it, Civil 3D can be much kinder to work with.
If you move to the Autodesk Cloud, all that integrated Civil 3D Project Templates works pays off quicker.
The best news about Autodesk BIM 360 cloud products is they force Autodesk to recognize the challenge of those considerations in the long run. Does your sense of information order matter? Don’t others who have other diverse project responsibilities think about that order differently?
We all need to chew on that a bit.
A continuously developed set of Civil 3D Project Templates may be the most productive thing you could do this year in Civil 3D to improve your project throughput.
Let’s not forget. Why wait?
The Liberty to Make Civil 3D Work
Get the Framework for Civil 3D Release 8