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Civil 3D ships with a number of types of Civil 3D templates. Historically, our attention immediately gets drawn to the Civil 3D Model Templates. We all want the pictures on the screen to make sense. You probably noticed that most of the Civil 3D Standard Styles don’t do that or maybe just barely. I argued from the first beta of Civil 3D that Civil 3D Styles sooner or later become a commodity. Civil 3D Styles become off the shelf parts that we tweak and employ to match our preferences and the preferences and/or demands of our clients.

The Illusions of Ownership

No matter what we may want to believe, we cannot own Civil 3D Styles. The Style properties and behaviors are constructed and owned by the Autodesk. That includes the code that enables their behavior and the Civil 3D Object Model from which all the Civil 3D Styles are derived.

We can and must manage our Civil 3D Styles.
To do that we must name them.

Go ahead and name the Civil 3D Styles, Civil 3D Label Styles, and Civil 3D Sets anything you like.
Good news - the name makes perfect sense to you.
Bad news - what you perceive as yours is controlled by someone else. We pay for the right to use it.
For most of us, this is a fine tradeoff. Autodesk has a great market cap to prove to its shareholders that they hold up their end.

Autodesk discovered the emotional you can name it ownership bridge a long time ago in software years. Autodesk didn’t invent the abstraction of collections of properties to a name. The abstraction is a fundamental principal of Object Oriented Programming (OOP) languages.

Autodesk tied the quite powerful you’re so special narrative to it.

You Pay to Name It So Take That Seriously

Autodesk employs Your Name as a long-term strategy to very successfully to separate their customers from their software competition and, perhaps more significantly these days, their customers from each other. This is no deep dark secret or corporate conspiracy plot. Autodesk enables what works so long as it strengthens the ties that bind their customers to them profitably.

Many companies envy the success that Autodesk has accomplished with the strategy. Historically, many Autodesk competitors have found the Your Name narrative difficult to compete with.

No doubt you’ve noticed that Autodesk product Upgrades and Updates do not bash Your Names.

People Don’t Update as Instantly as Software

Maybe we do that just to annoy the programmers and the software sales reps.

I trust that you noticed. There is a difference between our Civil 3D model-building drawings and our Civil 3D publication drawings. We must manage those differences for very good reasons related to the success of the projects we are working on.
Put simply - We all tend to publish the useful design and best results not all the dirt in between.

Perhaps it is a bit disconcerting for some to discover that our Civil 3D projects become something like a social media feed? Just sayin’.

Our effective use of the multiple types of Civil 3D Templates enables this productive difference or the same lack of that gets in our way.

Civil 3D Template Types

The Civil 3D Project Templates and Sheet Set Templates define our solutions to the working model and published deliverables dichotomy. Sadly, many organizations that employ Civil 3D spend little time on the development of their Civil 3D Project Templates. These offer considerable bang for our development investment. This does require that we address and identify the changes of state and the production workflows to handle that. This benchmark identification problem appears to explain why many dodge or miss the Civil 3D Project Template bullet.

More detail about all of that in an upcoming post about Civil 3D Multiple Drawing Types.

The Civil 3D Project Template

This is the core working project structure, the container for our approved in-use resources, our backup and archival strategy, and ultimately our delivery method to the troops of all of that.
The Civil 3D Project Template represents the current approved snapshot(s) of our on-going implementation project. All the rest is in here. Many people miss the basic reality we can pre-build the core named Features and other useful placeholders in there.

The Sheet Set Template and Sheet Templates

These define the published model output in Civil 3D. There is a folder structure, naming conventions, standard resources, and methods to hold all of that buried in here.

If the daily project quality control and check loops do not happen happily within our Civil 3D project structure, our plan set deliverables become the crisis.

Civil 3D Model Templates

These contain the Styles and Set tools we need to create, edit, maintain, and publish the model Civil 3D Features. The Civil 3D Template is said to be the Holy Grail of Civil 3D implementation.

A single classic Civil 3D Template is a myth and a deception.
The One Ring to Rule Them metaphor fits nicely.
Good news - We can avoid that work as much as possible.

This important video makes that pretty clear.


Reference Templates Made Easy

Whether we employ classic Civil 3D localized Style collection templates or the more flexible and adaptive Reference Templates (TREFs) resource is up to you.
TREFs allow the improved implementation of shared and managed template resources.
TREFs allow for more design and template diversity but we must proactively better manage those included resources together.

No Styles or Standards Only Templates

These No Styles or Standards Only templates only include minimal AutoCAD Styles, Civil 3D setup particulars, and the code-built Standard Civil 3D Styles. These are often employed to create Resource container drawings and our Style collector drawings.

These special Civil 3D templates should always be employed to hold project Data Reference (DREF) data behind references as much as possible. Doing so reduces the upgrade and update problems related to Styles and CAD Standards changes that increase the complexity problems in our Civil 3D projects.
Remember. We can easily build these better storage containers into our Civil 3D Project Templates.

Root Reference Template

No Styles or Standards Only templates are basically styleless, a Root Reference Template establishes the minimal opposite condition and therefore includes a set of minimal CAD Standards for Civil 3D.

A Root Reference Template contains the things that will abide - What will not change.

A Root Template contains what minimum Civil 3D resources we need to have to faithfully support the core Style collections and CAD Standards that we want to employ.
That also means if we change a Root Template, we can change almost everything fundamental about the CAD Standards that are employed or delivered.

Root Reference Templates are used to create Reference Template (TREF) template resource drawings and classic local Template resource drawings for both Model Templates and Publish Templates.

Settings Reference Templates

If we employ classic Civil 3D Templates, we typically tweak the Civil 3D Settings to optimize our workflows. A set of classic design and survey templates convey the different Settings methodology and practice.

Reference Templates (TREFs) allows us to separate and manage the many Civil 3D Settings and Label Style Default (LSD) details from the current state of the Style collection(s) given we employ consistent Style naming conventions.

Civil 3D Settings resource drawings that collect all the related Settings and perhaps a library of the same allow us to provide more adaptive and flexible template resources that can be focused proactively on more specific tasks.

Our No Styles or Standards Only templates are the baseline Settings to Standards resource.

Reference Model (Working) Templates or Classic Template Targets

Model or Working templates are focused intentionally on the development and processes of our design tasks. These are typically, but not exclusively, more generalized in classic local Style collection and Settings template Targets.

Whether we employ localized Style and Settings resources or shared Reference Template (TREF) Style and Settings resources is a management choice.

In either case, we choose beforehand what resources and CAD Standards will go into the Model templates. That should help explain why we employ the term Target to talk about those Civil 3D Template resources.

Reference Publish Templates or Classic Template Targets

Publish templates are focused intentionally on the deliverable publication and publication processes of our project. The resources are often a known subset of the Working Styles and Settings collections. These are typically, but not exclusively, more generalized in classic local Style collection and Settings template Targets.

If we employ consistent Style name and CAD Standards name conventions, the Publish template Targets can employ different CAD Standards from the Model template Targets as required.

AutoCAD Standards Template Resources

It seems to me that is way too easy for the Civil 3D empowered to overlook AutoCAD Standards (.dws) files as a Civil 3D template building, delivery, and maintenance resource. What Standards (.dws) files can do far outweighs what they won’t do.

The Framework for Civil 3D includes all these Civil 3D Template types in a multiple of flavors and with support for sets of more Standards than any other product in the world. The Framework for Civil 3D is a piece of solid ground and foundation to build on.

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