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We will wrap up the calendar year 2022 and unwrap a collection of the Top 5 Best Civil 3D Production Tips? Why not. Everyone loves a top five list. I use the production word here not the productivity one even though both do apply in this context.

This post may have a Civil 3D management and implementation bias over a classic set of Civil 3D user tips and tricks. We can bet the Autodesk University Online for 2022 content has a session or two with both these and those themes.

We’ll play the best of the year game in the countdown format. Most of these is all tied together in the usual collected way of Civil 3D.
All you sequential thinkers out there in Civil 3D Land are encouraged to mess with the order and importance as you see fit.
We will all do it anyway.

We should not have to look to hard here on the cadpilot site to find the multiple post series available for each of the 5 Best Civil 3D Production Tips topics. The links below are linked to many posts or pages that include videos. Enjoy.

Cloud Collaboration Goes to Work

Autodesk would certainly like Cloud Collaboration to be higher in this list. This year Autodesk spent considerable time, effort, and resources directed toward the improvement of the performance and behaviors in Autodesk Civil 3D and the other major AEC Collection products on the Autodesk Cloud platforms.

It can be argued that the July 2022 Autodesk Civil 3D 2023.1 Update is clearly Cloud publication focused. It introduces a new, mostly functional, Cloud-based Sheet Set Manager.

The end of year release of a much-improved Autodesk Desktop Connector 16 (ADC) coupled with the tiny Autodesk Civil 3D 2023.2.1 Update wrap up the Civil 3D development effort for the year.

The new ADC 16 (call it ADC 2.0) does function with older cloud aware Civil 3D releases albeit with some minor known issues with workarounds. The useful Reference Explorer Tool included with the ADC can help us resolve reference issues in any Civil 3D Project.

Whether we like it or not and maybe even if today’s Autodesk Cloud offerings seem to make no immediate financial sense to you, Managed Collaboration is more than marketing hype.

The method and practice of managed collaboration is all about building and employing healthy and functional feedback loops into our daily Project execution. The more numerous loops add value for more and multiple participants in the project food chain (aka the mission critical project path).

Most of these other folk don’t use the software that Civil 3D Users do. Every civil engineering firm or surveyor manages to do some file share collaboration to one degree or another. Organizations that do that work well internally manifest the benefits, increase their value add, and learn to manage the costs. They have few objections to playing well with others.

We learn the managed collaboration and external partner interop game best because we already practiced and proactively worked at managed collaboration internally.
Put another way – Those that get the rest of these tips benefit the most.

Embrace and Employ Grading Optimization

We should never zone out and ignore Grading Optimization (GO) for Civil 3D.

Before AU 2022, Autodesk changed the Subscription licensing for Grading Optimization for Civil 3D. If we have a standalone Civil 3D license with Subscription, we now have access to Grading Optimization (GO).

GO is not a typical Civil 3D push button software tool or wizard.

GO is wondrously iterative, rule based, and goal directed. Therefore, GO allows us to answer a plethora of grading design questions quicker than ever before. GO allows the computer to perform the many analytical reps to modify a simple or complex grading surface even while we work on other things. Now that’s a neat trick.

In short order and at the gross level, GO can determine whether our basic grading concept is possible based on our goals and many possible grading design geometries and parameters. At the same time, GO exposes where in our design the significant problem areas may arise.

GO directly eats and modifies directly TINN surface models or, better yet, cropped portions of surface models. Currently, GO outputs editable Civil 3D Surfaces, Feature Lines, and Points.

The mastery of GO requires a certain disciplined and simplified (KISS) approach. It is way too easy to over complicate matters. We may miss the significant benefit that GO establishes or resolves the critical grading design points and linear features with easy to set up standardized tools and quickly repeatable methods.

Learn and Employ the New Civil 3D Interfaces

There are 3 parts to this Civil 3D Interfaces tip. We can think of these as a three-stage rocket booster to our daily Civil 3D productivity and production execution. Yes. There is Learn and Burn for us all to apply here. We must learn to stick the landings.

Right before AU 2022 Autodesk changed the Subscription licensing for Project Explorer for Civil 3D. If we have a standalone Civil 3D license with Subscription, we now have access to the Project Explorer (PE). Civil 3D user mastery of the PE edit and reporting interfaces is worth 10x the time spent learning to employ it. The PE Rocks in all the supported releases of Civil 3D.

I often kid around about the design by Feature Lines Only crowd in this blog. Feature Lines are a production grading design tool in Civil 3D.

It just so happens to be true that Managed Feature Lines produced by Civil 3D Corridors are even more productive, flexible, and consistent. Managed Feature Lines come from learning how to better employ Alignments (the Design Control Managers for Civil 3D), their many children, and employ the full depth and detail of the Corridor design tools in Civil 3D. I always like to remind folks that this code is where Autodesk put the big bucks.

The new Corridors Targeting interface first introduced in the Civil 3D 2022.1 Update and steadily improved in Updates and Releases since is another Civil 3D interface production game changer. The mastery of Corridor Targeting matters.

The newest Corridor Transitions and Sets interface are only available in Civil 3D 2023.2+. This new Civil 3D interface can help us avoid some painful Targeting altogether.

The Design with Corridors learning curve is admittedly steep with some unfamiliar parts, pieces, and nuanced mechanics. The real benefits don’t really begin to show up until we’re skilled and practiced in the Corridor design workflows. There are more carefully tuned Civil 3D resources and Style tools required to perform faster and better Design with Corridors work.

If we can execute a site design with Feature Lines, we can do the same with Corridors. When done, we will end up with a more manageable result. We can maintain more potential options and deliver more potential change with less effort. Documenting the results for deliverables can be much more automated as well.

The third significant Civil 3D interface triad member we must learn to embrace and master is the Data Shortcut Manager Tool (DSM). Civil 3D is all about the project’s Civil 3D Feature data behind. The DSM allows us to see, edit, and manage how that Civil 3D project data is linked together. A mastery of the DSM allows us to fully develop, manage, and execute on many proposed Design Options in Civil 3D.

Reference Templates to Manage Standards

The Civil 3D Reference Template (TREF) is now in it’s seventh Civil 3D release. What? The Civil 3D Reference Template Tool is our best hope to achieve managed Style consistency coupled with managed Style adaptability and flexibility into our workday Civil 3D environment. Civil 3D Style is the visible front-end side of production projects we all depend on both perform the daily project production work and deliver acceptable and consistent published results.

The Civil 3D TREF Tool isn’t perfect. As is, the Reference Template tool is much better than the classic Civil 3D template - that sharp stick in the eye that we all know so well.

Our own Styles aren’t perfect either. We may discover a few of our old Styles don’t perform as we expect from a TREF collection resource. TREF implementation requires us to clean up our act.

Civil 3D Reference Template implementation in our production projects also means we learn to think differently and seriously about Style management and resources.

Get the Framework for Civil 3D

Well, that’s a bit self-serving. It is safe to say that the Framework for Civil 3D as product proactively attempts to address all of the many interrelated issues that we face.
For all of us in Civil 3D Land a Managed System for Civil 3D is a production necessity.
We get there on our own and/or we learn to take advantage of all the affordable help that is offered.

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