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There are three distinct and key process concepts in model-based design. Our iteratively built model and the managed data behind on which that model depends on allows us to produce the published results that we will require in our deliverables. It is vital to note and never skip over the fact that there are rules, systems, and structures necessary to execute that daily project effort consistently and successfully.

For good reason Autodesk Civil 3D doesn’t police whether we pile a bunch of Civil 3D Features into a single drawing and then design, QAQC, and publish that way. Civil 3D doesn’t care. We manage that reality or not. Frankly, most of us are unlikely to work on a project that requires only a single drawing in this day and age.

The Managed Separation of the Civil 3D Data Behind

Back in the day the Autodesk folks used to call this connected environment the Civil 3D Dynamic Model. Interactive Civil 3D Features that recognize and respond to changes in other Civil 3D Features are a powerful and very useful thing.

The reality is that in a project these dynamic interactions must be managed, or the project work becomes problematic. Our civil engineering or survey project work requires a Managed Dynamic Model.

There are significant productivity and performance issues that will arise when we do not manage and employ clean, well-structured External Reference (XREF) structures, Data Reference (DREF) structures, and well-planned Reference Template (TREF) capabilities in our Civil 3D projects.

This happens to all of us.

It’s Way Too Easy…

Here’s a It’s Way Too Easy (IWTE) short list:

  • Performance Ramifications – IWTE to degrade working and publish drawing performance
  • Design Limitations –IWTE to kill off design optionality and/or reduce our flexibility to change things in mismanaged reference structures
  • Publication Complexity –IWTE to over complicate publication

For better or for worse, the daily and practical Managed Dynamic Model work rests at the Civil 3D user level. Our personal effort often suffers from the need to get things done in the short term.

It is way too easy for our  Managed Dynamic Model work to center around the Civil 3D user’s personal specific preferences for structure and order. Can we work on each other’s projects?

Why Do We Click About in the First Place?

We all tend to initially mash together the data collection, design resolution, and the deliverables publication mechanisms in Civil 3D. We tend to focus on the visuals and drawing representations and not particularly on the data behind that drives all of that.

At times we are visual beings cast adrift on an overwhelming sea of data.

The model building and the complexity of the output publishing processes can easily become a beast all by themselves in these multi-process and muddied waters. We all know this drill.

Our previous CAD experience may beguile us to focus our time on the present CAD drawing specifics to solve our problem. This CAD primitive, picture, and drawing focus is necessary when the software is fundamentally not project data based like Civil 3D.

The State of the States

We tend to want to ignore the realities of changes of State in the Civil 3D data behind. The identification (recognition) of these State changes within our Civil 3D workflows are a mission critical task.

State changes create Benchmarks we must learn to identify. Those benchmarks drive more managed change, modify structures, and hopefully produce more consistent behaviors inside our Civil 3D project or they do not.

Civil 3D users, Project Managers and Principals can and should have an understanding and say in that identification and the application of the rules, the structures, and those processes.

Our heuristics must adapt to produce a better Managed Dynamic Model.

Civil 3D Does Not Require a Project - Civil 3D is the Project

Do our Civil 3D Project Templates and the considerable number of nuanced Civil 3D resource details (like codes and other naming rules) consistently serve us or not. Would small changes today serve us better in the next project?

We live with the consequences. That’s for certain.

Autodesk Project Explorer and Grading Optimization is in Our Future

At Autodesk University last fall, Autodesk made significant changes to the Civil 3D standalone licensing. If we employ Civil 3D, we now have access to Project Explorer for Civil 3D (PE) and Grading Optimization for Civil 3D. If we decide to migrate to a newer release of Civil 3D, this important announcement can also be way too easy to miss.
See the Civil 3D Suddenly Gets Much Better post.

The PE enhances the traditional Toolspace and Civil 3D Tab-based interface significantly. The PE includes the tools and functionality inside Civil 3D to connect our daily model building, edit work, and QAQC work to our reporting and QAQC deliverables in new important ways.

The GO offers us a new goal-driven methodologies to help us resolve complex site design grading challenges.

Whether we chose to employ the PE and GO or even the latest and greatest Civil 3D, isn’t the most significant production issue that we face.

There are No Magic Buttons If We Are in the Way

A new Autodesk Civil 3D 2024 will soon be upon us.

Let’s not miss the significant opportunity to get our project benchmarks, workflow mechanics, and structures better aligned with Civil 3D and the capabilities of the data behind.

We can and should do that work or we will continue to work harder not smarter.

We perform the systematic management work in Civil 3D - or the Civil 3D diva manages us.

Perhaps there exist affordable products for Civil 3D that already work to help us do that?
The use of adaptive, robust, and consistent standards for production work in Civil 3D matters.

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