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Let’s face it. Most of the time in Autodesk Civil 3D we all tend to initially shoot for some form of immediate and published annotation. It’s an old school CAD User’s habit. Can we call this lust the One and Done? For surveyors this may mean Point data from Survey Dbs. I trust we have all moved beyond imported point files and drawing-centric COGO points? The Lord knows, we have better methods and workflows to manage our survey and design data in our Civil 3D projects.

Did you Civil 3D design folks hear that? We get it.
For civil engineers, the One and Done often means labels on all their linear design stuff.

In the recent Civil 3D Label Style Choice post, we attempted to address the mission critical need for Label Style collection choice and optionality in Civil 3D. There is obviously a lot more going on here in Civil 3D.

In Civil 3D training, I try to remember to point out that most things worth reading or watching did not initially start out that way. A book, a movie, a fine dinner, or political election - we all would rather not see exactly how the sausage is made. We aren’t so lucky.
We must learn how to become better editors in Civil 3D.

Data Visibility Matters to Get the Job Done

It is somewhat remarkable that Civil 3D appears to recognize that surveyors and civil engineers don’t think about the same data in quite the same way. We must recognize that the professions are paid to see these things differently. Ok. That might take a bit of head scratching and a deeper thought process to discuss in detail. Some other time perhaps?

Let’s get practical.

The State of Babel…er…Label

Old school CAD technology forces us to believe our drawing is what we publish.
Get it right and leave it alone – the One and Done.
To shepherd and QAQC 100s to 1000s of Text and Mtext objects around is painful and man-hour expensive in practice. Back in the day, we only had layer management and AutoCAD primitive tools available to do the work.
We published the drawing we produced.
For some really good reasons, we don’t need to do that anymore in Civil 3D.
People still do.

Data Behind and Publish On Demand

If we think and act like that in Civil 3D, we may forsake or simply ignore the benefit of having Replaceable and Dynamic Label Styles.
Ouch. Not Me.

Civil 3D is built to:

  • Increase our civil design speed and control
  • Improve our design and publish quality control capabilities
  • Reduce our annotative man-hour burden at the same time

Why Take Advantage of the Framework

If those three things listed above aren’t happening around you today, the good news is they can.
Style choice matters.

There are contradictory signs of the common Civil 3D Label Style problems.
After we employ Civil 3D while, we all tend to fixate on a few commonly useful versions of any Label Styles. I do. Do you do that too?
Odds are our corporate Civil 3D Template mostly tends to collect only those commonly employed Label Styles.

It is a fact that the longer we employ Civil 3D, the more Label Style we have.
One way or another we discover or decide we need more.

We must continue to maintain our Label Style collections across many Civil 3D Updates and Upgrades.

Unless we recently made Label Styles for a specific Feature (for example a set of new Structure labels) or have a set of Civil 3D Label Style power tools like our Framework for Civil 3D products with a rich Set of Feature Styles and Label Styles all built and maintained for us, we can miss the Style productivity boost that’s possible here.

Visible information at the right time and place pays.
We need to work smarter not harder to be paid better.

A Classic Design Process Example

It’s true.
Let’s picture this common problem in subdivision design.
Sometimes we want an Offset Alignment’s Line and Curve labels to read/behave as much as possible like Parcel segment labels.
Show me bearing and distance and specific curve data.”
Our Offset Alignment that is modified with a Widening is included in a Site Parcel.
The Offset Alignment and Widening represent and annotate the typical roadway Right of Way.

An hour earlier in the design process we may care about the geometry itself. We must visualize and annotate what the complex curve geometry details and specific Curve Sub entity Index number of that portion of our cul-de-sac’s Offset Alignment.
We also want the Alignment’s data behind to be checked and compared against our parcel design criteria.

Someone somewhere asks, “Can Civil 3D do that?”
You bet.

The odds are also pretty good that sooner or later we may have to go back and see either version of the same Labels again. Did we forget to mention our additional need to evaluate the grading design details that exist behind the not-so-simple linework? People change their minds. Designs change.

People care about the annotation of different design details at different times within any design process.

Why DREFs Matter

Our project deliverables may require that we separately publish labeled versions of the same geometry.
This happens to me. This happens to you.
Our deliverable end goals matter. Hoorah for the Data Reference (DREF) capabilities built in to Civil 3D.

Label Styles and Reference Templates

Our challenge is very often to learn to manage better how we get there.
Practical innovations like Civil 3D Reference Templates (TREF) make the management of larger, separate, and more complex Label Style collections easier.

Projects Matter

In the old days deliverable production in CAD was all about the structure of our drawings.
These days with XREFs, IREFs, DREFs, and TREFs at work, the work is also about the structures, workflows, and the proactive management of entire Civil 3D projects.
Our Civil 3D Project Template customization efforts matter more.

In Civil 3D the Replaceable and Dynamic (or data behind driven) both matter.
Which matters most is the problem of the moment.
Why I tend to rant in this blog about the need to identify change of State and our need to create known Benchmarks in our Civil 3D project processes, structures, and our workflows.
Register. Become a Member and discover more.

Style Change Skill

The skill and ability to see it now so we can make better design and quality control decisions is what Civil 3D user productivity is all about. However, the work requires richer Style collection resources and the Civil 3D user Style changing skills to employ and publish them.

“Can our Civil 3D Styles do that?”

There’s both corporate and Civil 3D user personal accountability at work here.
Civil 3D Style change skill takes focused and purposed repetition to acquire.
There are a lot of ways to get there in the Civil 3D interface.
Do we practice under pressure to perform better when push comes to shove?
To know that a command or Style tool exists in Civil 3D doesn’t mean we do it enough for that to matter.

Some can argue,
“What are you talking about? Who cares if it is an alignment or a parcel?
I just draw and label polylines or better yet – the raw AutoCAD lines and curves - and label them.”

Dude. We already learned where that ends up. Elvis has left the building.

We can learn to think and act differently as we learn to pursue a Managed State of the Current.
The following methods and tools may be obvious or not depending on your Civil 3D skill level and habits. Yes.
That does mean there are levels of experiential nuance hidden away here that we learn by doing.

Annotative Scale

It’s dynamic and fundamental that Civil 3D Labels automatically adjust to changes in the current drawing’s Annotative Scale. We may know folks who still say or think, “Really?”
Our old AutoCAD habits die hard. Do we zoom and pan to read more or less annotation instead of attacking this time and space problem in other new ways? Put another way…
How many clicks does an Annotative Scale change take?

A View on Plan Set Strategy

Then again - the AutoCAD old school skills can be a good thing.
Do we recognize we can employ named Views to restore Annotative Scale changes?
Yes. An AutoCAD View does that or not. These commands, tools, and requisite skill sets couple well with the Sheet Set Manager skill sets and improved usage of Civil 3D’s Plan Production tools too.
AutoCAD Views are also clearly exposed in the Civil 3D ribbon and screen interface.

The practical reality is that all projects contain critical areas. The faster we can systematically identify them and name them, the better off for all concerned.
If we can learn to identify and track these areas, we benefit with better quality control and more real-world production productivity.

How does Civil 3D help us automate and manage collections of Views in a project?
Oh. That’s right.
AutoCAD Views are not sharable for God knows what reason.
Which things that do contain Views are sharable between drawings in Civil 3D?
This is not a stupid or trivial question.

Use the LSD?

Label Style Defaults –I call it LSD so you remember it - are one of the most powerful ways to make rapid and specific changes to the vast and ever-growing Civil 3D Label Style stack.
What do Civil 3D Label Style Defaults do?
Do our customized Label Styles obey the Hierarchy Rules of LSD so we can make fast adjustments to get what we and our users need now?
This is possible.
Framework for Civil 3D product Label Styles do.

The Framework Can and Does Help

In our Framework for Civil 3D products for multiple releases of Autodesk Civil 3D provide our customers with more enhanced Label Style mastery.
We supply unmatched Replaceable and Dynamic Style excellence.

We mentioned the detailed Civil 3D Line and Curve Label Styles above.
Our Label Style naming conventions are standardized, consistent, and inclusive.
Our Label Style collection resources are organized and separated.
For Line and Curve Label Style customers = They get flexibility in the display of all the related symbol markers too.
A Civil User is able to quickly identify what a Line & Curve label does; how they might use it; and what Civil 3D Feature representation the label is there for.
You’re welcome.

Why do we bother? So you can…

Deliver More Work in Civil 3D in Less Time
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