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There are many things that make all kinds of sense in Autodesk Civil 3D 2023. Maybe you noticed? Some other things – not so much. If we employ the software for a few releases, the familiar AutoCAD and Civil 3D interface mechanics become sensical. These days Autodesk is careful not to change the core daily mechanics too quickly. That tends to make Civil 3D end users unhappy. Autodesk has been there and done that.

One of my favorite Civil 3D User productivity improvement posts from The User Rules for Civil 3D section of Members, takes a somewhat unique perspective on these daily work issues.

Cycle Our Civil 3D Focus Skills

“Autodesk Civil 3D is a virtual feast of fundamental capabilities for civil engineers and surveyors. We can easily debate whether the resultant Civil 3D complexity is the result of the considerable depth of function built into the software or whether the sheer number of potential Civil 3D workflows is an obstacle to Civil 3D users all by itself.

We could also argue that such attention is unwarranted. The emphasis is only necessary because of the strange mix of old and new interface design mashed up in Autodesk Civil 3D.
Regardless of that, our daily productivity in the software is what we get paid for.

…Complex model-based software is really more like piloting a high performance aircraft than a car. Different interface elements on the instrument panel become critically important to introduce into the basic Civil 3D Focus Cycle at different times. Landings require different information and controls than takeoffs.”

The entire Cadpilot post on the continuous need to actively manage our focus in Civil 3D deserves a read or reread now and then. I won’t repeat myself here.

Sheet Sets and Productivity Tools

Autodesk has been hard at work attempting to get long-standing AutoCAD Sheet Set Manager and Civil 3D Plan Production Tool technology to work successfully as a consistent publication engine for BIM 360 Collaboration for Civil 3D.

The SSM improvements and specifically the new AutoCAD SSM for the Web are the main focus of the recent Autodesk Civil 3D 2023.1 Update. Resolving the file dependency issues in the document management environment of the Autodesk Cloud are challenging.

Even if we don’t work in the Clouds, these production issues are important to us all.

See The Civil 3D 2023.1 Summer Update and related Civil 3D 2023.1 Framework Product Updates posts.

Register and get more Documentation and Help for Civil 3D.

Intuitive or Non-intuitive?

Back in the day Autodesk introduced the Plan Production Tools for Civil 3D to help us publish both Plan and Profile Sheets and Pages of Sections for anything Alignment related in Civil 3D.
Odds are you probably employ either or both. By now we know…

Sections are dependent on Sample Lines collected in Sample Line Groups.
Sample Line Groups are collected in the Toolspace under the parent Alignment.

Plan and Profile Sheets are dependent on Viewframes collected into ViewFrame Groups.

ViewFrame Groups are not collected under the parent Alignment. Huh?

That is sort of bizarre.
A DREF of a ViewFrame Group knows the Alignment the ViewFrame Group references.

ViewFrame Properties

The height, width, and Civil 3D Viewport Type properties of each individual ViewFrame are set when the Group is created. Titleblock graphics and specifics go along for the ride.

These properties are then dependent on the AutoCAD viewport definitions in a named Layout in a named Sheet Template.

The last bit about a named Layout in a named Sheet Template is pretty counter intuitive.

Dependency Gymnastics

The reason to do all this Plan Production Tool dependency gymnastics is to help us standardize the output and the mechanics. Repetitions are a good thing.
The Civil 3D Plan Production Tools are a publishing mechanism.
Plan well. Get all the details just so, and we can Publish on Demand.

Make Sense Out of Nonsense

Inside the Civil 3D interface, the ViewFrame Properties box for a ViewFrame does show us the file dependency details. Makes sense.
However, we cannot update the references there. Arrrgh?
We cannot update these properties in the ViewFrame Group Properties box interface either?
What gives?

What if we need to update the named Layout and named Sheet Template file dependency for a ViewFrame Group? Wait for it…

Yes. Sometimes it is simply easier to kill a ViewFrame Group and then recreate a new one with the appropriate named Layout and Sheet Layout Template details.
Did you pay more careful attention to the names of all those details?

Then again…
Sometimes a ViewFrame Group recreation is absolutely the last thing we want to do.

The non-intuitive answer to the crisis is to Right Click of the ViewFrame Group in the Toolspace and pick the Create Sheets tool. Huh?
We don’t want to create Sheets with properties we know we want to change beforehand.”

Civil 3D Wizardry

The Create Sheets Tool is a Civil 3D wizard, as is the Plan Productions Tool itself. So is the Civil 3D Intersection Wizard.

The most important thing to know about Civil 3D wizards - We are not required to complete all the steps covered in all the pages of the wizard. Yep. Non-intuitive for sure.

There are times when partial questions and answers are exactly what we need.
This may seem like magical thinking. It isn’t.

The first page of the Create Sheets wizard asks us to confirm those same named Layout and named Sheet Template reference properties that drive those ViewFrame particulars.
Change them here and bail.
Civil 3D will update the effected properties in the ViewFrame Group. Hoorah.

This Create Sheets trick is even easier to pull off if the previous Sheet Template file reference is no longer available at the old location.

We do want to check carefully and/or remove any previously produced output results if the ViewFrame height and width particulars (and perhaps other Layout details) in the named Layouts are changed.

Then again - maybe we really don’t want to do that either.

Maybe we just need to republish and old Sheet Set that was technically broken because of out-of-date file dependencies that we never plan to reuse. Stuff happens.

Civil 3D can be truly circular.
Is that intuitive?
Is that magical?

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