As I’m sure most of my readers are aware, with the 2013 release, the ability to import images from Google Earth was not included. The fine folks at Autodesk have been working on getting us a replacement and this is it (at least for imaging). When you are in a drawing that is georeferenced (the tutorial file “Intro-1.dwg” works if you want to test it out) all you have to do is turn on the image.

In the drawing (with the assigned coordinate system), simply go to the Geolocation tab on the ribbon and choose the Online Map type you want.

Map Type

Map Type

You’ll need to log in to your Autodesk account (if you don’t have one, they’re free) and agree to the terms, etc. etc. Once you’ve done this, your image just shows up (provided you have a decent internet connection). Nothing too new here, we’ve been able to do this for a while (see my other posts HERE and HERE).

So, what’s new in 2015, THEY PLOT!!!!!

Ok, so there’s another step you have to take before they’ll plot but it’s not difficult, you have to capture an area. Once the imagery has been displayed in your drawing, go back to the Geolocation tab and choose “Capture Area”.

Capture Area

Capture Area

After you have captured the area, a new object type will be created, a GEOMAPIMAGE or “Map Image” as it’s displayed on the ribbon when selected. This object will plot as you can see in this plot preview:

Plot Preview

Plot Preview

Another really cool thing about the GEOMAPIMAGE is, if you edit the image extents, the image will update. Simply select the image frame, adjust a grip, and the image updates. Additionally, if you need a better resolution or less resolution, when you select the image, you’ll have those options on the Ribbon.

Image Options

Image Options

Oh, and by the way, this isn’t really a Civil 3D feature, this is a core AutoCAD feature!

<If you don’t like reading, there’s a video at the bottom of the post.>

I’ve been playing around with InfraWorks for a bit now and I’ve always meant to but never got around to figuring out the Style Rules until now. All I’ve seen with regards to the rules is how to randomize your display. Well, I don’t want to randomize it, I want it to be very specific! I want my offroad roads to look like offroad roads, I want my highways to look like highways, and I want my local roads to look like local roads. Well, read on and see how it’s done! It’s actually a lot easier then I expected.

This is what I’m getting, all the roads look the same:

What I Get

What I Get

And this is what I want, the roads stylized based on their classification:

What I Want

What I Want

First of all, you need a data source with information in it that you’ll use to stylize the InfraWorks objects. In the example I’m using, I downloaded the data from the GIS department for Loveland, Colorado. To get a quick idea of the data that’s in the shape file for the roads, I attached it to a Civil 3D drawing (just drag the .shp file into the Civil 3D drawing) and opened the data table. This particular data source has a field called ROAD_CLASS. Some of the values for ROAD_CLASS are: RAMP, LOCAL, HWY, CLCTR-MINOR, etc.

Road Classification Data Field

Road Classification Data Field

This is the data that I want to use to determine the style of the road. I’ve broken the process up into three steps, adding the data to the model, creating the style rule, and applying the style rule.

Adding the Data to the Model

I’m not going to get into how to add the shapefile to the model here, what I’m going to discuss is how to get that particular piece of data from the shapefile and add it to each road in the model. When configuring the data source (this can be done when it’s added or after the fact if needed), you’ll need to tell InfraWorks to include the piece of data you need. In this example, I’m going to add it to the description of the road. On the Common tab of the Data Source Configuration, simply hit the pull down to add the ROAD_CLASS field to the description of the roads.

Adding GIS Data Fields to InfraWorks Objects

Adding GIS Data Fields to InfraWorks Objects

Note: If you want to add the data to a different property, you can do this on the Table tab of the Data source Configuration dialog box.

Close and refresh and now we are ready to create the Style Rules.

Creating the Style Rule

Now, we want the style of these roads to be determined from the description so, let’s create a Style Rule. To open the Style Rules, select the big orange I in the top left of your model (I’m using 2014 R4 for this), select the button just to the right of it, “Create and manage your model”, and then select Style Rules.

Open the Style Rules Panel

Open the Style Rules Panel

In the Styles Rules, select the tab on the left for the feature you want to add the rules to (in this case I’m going to choose Roads) and then add the new rule by selecting the green plus. Give the rule a name (I’m using the roadway classification here) and then click OK.

Add a Rule

Add a Rule

Once the rule is added, double click on it to edit the rule. In the Rule Editor, you can change the name of the rule and add a description to the rule if you would like. The important part here are the “Expression:” and “Styles:” sections.

Rule Editor

Rule Editor

In the “Expressions:” section, select the Edit button to edit the expression (sounds obvious, doesn’t it?). In the Create Filter Expression dialog box, double click the property you want to filter on (in this case expand out Common and choose Description). This will add that property to the expression. Now, I only want this rule to be applied to the roads with a specific description so, type an equals sign “=” in the expression after DESCRIPTION. Finally, add the property to the expression. If you know it, you can just type it. If you want to select one of the properties that is in the data source, on the right hand side, find the property and then double click on the value to add it to the description.

Create the Expression

Create the Expression

After hitting OK, you’ll be back in the Rule Editor. In the “Styles:” section, simply add the styles you want this rule to apply. If you want them all to be the same, simply add the one style you want. If you want them to vary, you can add multiple styles and then adjust the probability to force one style to be added more often then another.

Completed Rule

Completed Rule

Now continue the process until you’ve added a rule for each roadway type you have.

Rules Created

Rules Created

Applying the Style Rule

This is the easiest part, once the Style Rule has been created, all you need to do is click on the Run Rules button at the bottom of the panel.

Run the Rules

Run the Rules

There are also options to export and import the Rule Styles so you don’t have to recreate them every time you need to do this.

Now get out there and have fun playing around with InfraWorks!

So, if you haven’t heard yet, Civil 3D 2015 is due out soon. Wondering what’s new in the latest and greatest? Well, the C3D team has released the help for 2015 already. If you are interested, you can find the new features listed HERE.

Stay tuned. As the software gets released, you’ll see some more detailed information on exactly what’s in the new version.

W08_C3D_install_help_banner

Infraworks. Wow. What a great program. I love this thing, I truly do. If Autodesk keeps up development on this, it’s going to rock the industry. The problem with it as it stands today is, there are four different versions of it. That’s right, four.

Infraworks – Comes with the Infrastructure Design Suite Premium
Autodesk InfraWorks 360 Pro – Available to lease
Autodesk Roadway Design for Infraworks 360 Pro – Available to lease
Infrastructure Design Suite Ultimate - This pretty much tells you what it is.

So, what’s the difference? In short, if you want ALL the tools, you’ll need the Autodesk Roadway Design for Infraworks 360 Pro. It has tools that the Ultimate Design Suite doesn’t have, such as Sight distance analysis and Documentation services. The Documentation services is a cloud service that will allow you to create plan and profile drawings in Civil 3D without needing to open, or even install, Civil 3D (sounds pretty cool to me).

You can find a matrix that shows what each version has HERE. In case the website has changed, I’ve printed a page of the Autodesk website and included it HERE for you to download.

So, you want to bring a surface from Civil 3D into Revit? It’s pretty easy, provided you have both Civil 3D and Revit Structure. What? You don’t have them both? You only have Civil 3D? Are you sure? Recently, anyone that had Civil 3D on subscription was automatically upgraded to the Infrastructure Design Suite Premium and, guess what, it has Revit Structure! So most likely, unless you specifically opted out of the upgrade, you have access to Revit Structure.

Please read this entire post as there is some very important information near the end. First, I’ll tell you how to Import the Surface and then I’ll tell you about the Limitations and Issues.

Import the Surface

The Bridge Modeling Tools have been around for a while now. If you haven’t installed them yet, go to the subscription website and download them. You’ll need both of them, one for Revit Structure and one for Civil 3D.

After you have installed them, simply open the drawing that has the surface in Civil 3D and then open the file in Revit Structure you want to bring the surface into. In Revit, there is a little bit of setup you need to do (if you’re a Revit person, you probably already know this stuff). Go to your “default 3D view” (that’s the “doghouse” on the quick access toolbar) and edit the Visibility/Graphic Overrides.

Setting Up Revit

Setting Up Revit

In the Visibility/Graphics Overrides, turn on the display of the Topography.

Topography Options

Topography Options

This will allow you to see the surface when you bring it in. Once Revit is set up (I’m sure there are some settings I’m not aware of and I’m sure a Revit Guru will correct me on this), go to the Extensions tab, expand out the Civil Structures tool and choose “Integration with AutoCAD Civil 3D”.

Integrate with Civil 3D

Integration with Civil 3D

If you have more than one drawing open in Civil 3D, you’ll need to choose the drawing with the surface in it, the surface(s) in the drawing you want to import, and then have it import the surface into Revit.

Import Settings

Import Settings

After hitting OK, you then have some options when importing the surface, such as the material that will be assigned to the surface and the limits of the surface (if you don’t want the entire thing).

Terrain Definition

Terrain Definition

Once done, you’ll have a surface in Revit that you can do whatever you want to with it.

Surface in Revit

Surface in Revit

Limitations and Issues

This tool is really, I mean REALLY cool! A few years ago, one of my coworkers (Brian Mackey) and I worked up a technique to do this very thing and believe me, it wasn’t this easy. This is easy but, you need to know what it does. If I take this surface in Revit and I compare it to the surface in Civil 3D (I’ve stylized it in C3D to be similar to what we see in Revit) you’ll see they are quite different.

Civil 3D vs. Revit

Civil 3D vs. Revit

As you can see, the limits of the surface from Civil 3D aren’t honored in Revit. In fact, the only thing that comes through in Revit is the surface points. If you have added any breaklines or boundaries to the surface in Civil 3D, Revit doesn’t recognize those. For you civil folks, to get a feel for what Revit is doing, basically extract the surface points from a surface and then add them to a new surface and that’s what you will have in Revit. This is still better than what we had though so it’s definitely an improvement. If this is important to you, file a support request with Autodesk so they know and perhaps they will adjust the way the tool works (the method Brian Mackey and I developed has the same issue by the way).

Note from Brian: Something new in the 2015 release. The images plot. HERE

So AutoCAD 2014 has this cool new feature called Live Maps and Geographic Location (basically, AutoCAD now owns the coordinate systems for Civil 3D and Map 3D). When a coordinate system is assigned to the drawing, you get a new tab on the ribbon allowing you to display an aerial map, a road map, and do some cool stuff.

The problem is, this isn’t in Civil 3D 2014 at all. Here are the steps to add this ribbon tab to Civil 3D 2014.

HERE is a video showing the steps

  1. Open AutoCAD 2014. This can either be AutoCAD 2014 or Civil 3D 2014 as AutoCAD 2014.
  2. Go into the CUI (Customize User Interface) dialog box (type CUI at the command line).
  3. In the CUI, go to the Transfers tab and create a new CUI file.
    CUI Transfer Tab

    CUI Transfer Tab 

     

  4. Drag the Geolocation ribbon tab from the ACAD.CUIX file to your new CUI file (just drag and drop)
    Drag and Drop

    Drag and Drop

     

  5. Save the CUI file and close AutoCAD.
  6. Open Civil 3D 2014 and type CUI just like in AutoCAD (don’t go to the Transfer tab, stay on the Customize tab).
  7. Load in the CUI file you saved in AutoCAD
    Open Partial CUI File

    Open Partial CUI File

     

  8. In the just loaded CUI file, drag the Geolocation ribbon tab to the Geo Coordinate System Assigned Contextual Tab State.
    Contextual State

    Contextual State

     

  9. Save and your off and running.

Now, when you assign a coordinate system to your drawing, you can also display aerial maps or road maps in the drawing as well.

Map Display Options

Map Display Options

I WANT YOU TO MAKE THE SURFACE LOOK PRETTY!!!!!

Yes, we’ve all heard it before, Civil 3D makes contours that sometimes look like the recording of an earthquake on a Seismometer:

Seismometer Recording

Seismometer Recording

Really, it’s not the fault of Civil 3D, it’s the data. Add the same data to any other civil design program and you’ll get the same results. This seems to crop up quite a bit when you have cross grades. In the following image you can see that there are two roads going opposite directions and this is where the jagged contours are coming from:

Jagged Contours

Jagged Contours

No contractor would build it this way so, let’s see what our options are.

Option 1: Smooth the Contours

You can smooth the contours of the surface. In the style the surface is using, you can toggle on the option to smooth the contours. This is a great way to make a drawing “look pretty”. It will take the contours and smooth them out. This is only editing the display of the surface. If you have a profile through this area, smoothing contours does nothing to the profile because we aren’t smoothing the surface, we are smoothing the display of the surface.

To smooth the contours, go into the style the surface is using and, on the contours tab, toggle the option to smooth the contours to True. Once you have this toggled on, you can select the type of smoothing you want to apply to the surface as well as how aggressive you want the contour smoothing to be. Play around with these settings and see what looks best for you. There isn’t a correct setting for this because your goal, when smoothing contours, is to make the contours look pretty.

Contour Smoothing Options

Contour Smoothing Options

And here is the same area of that surface with the contour smoothing option set to True, the Smoothing Type set to “Add Vertices” and the contour smoothing maxed out.

Surface with Smoothed Contours

Surface with Smoothed Contours

There are some things to be concerned with when smoothing contours, you are sacrificing the accuracy of the contours to make them “look pretty”. If you have a spot elevation that happens to fall very close to a contour or perhaps a point that was used in the surface creation that’s really close to the contour elevation, you might see some discrepancies. In the following image, I placed a spot elevation and snapped to the contour and you can see it’s not the exact same elevation as the contour:

Smoothed Contours Labeled

Smoothed Contours Labeled

Another issue with smoothing contours is you might end up with contours that cross each other. You’ll see this sort of thing primarily where you have some really steep areas such as retaining walls.

Crossing Contours

Crossing Contours

Anyone that’s done any amount of surface modeling knows this is not allowed.

The last issue that I’m aware of with smoothing your contours is, it’s all or nothing. You can’t smooth just a portion of the contours of your surface. This is because it’s a part of the style.

Option 2: Smooth the Surface

The other option is to smooth the surface directly. This is an edit that is done to the surface and is found in the same place you can raise/lower the surface or paste in another surface.

Smooth Surface Command

Smooth Surface Command

There are two options when smoothing surfaces, “Natural neighbor interpolation” and “Kriging”. I’m not going to go into detail on how the different methods work or what settings to use. You’ll need to read the HELP FILE and do your own research to find out which method works best for your situation. In this example, I’m going to use the natural neighbor interpolation method.

Smothing Options

Smothing Options

So, how does this differ from smoothing the contours? Well, when you smooth contours, you are smoothing the display of the surface. When you smooth the surface, you are actually editing the surface and not just the display. Here is an image of the surface with the smoothing edit applied to it:

Smoothed Surface

Smoothed Surface

As you can see, the contours look much different then when the contour smoothing was applied. If you take a look at the triangles of the surface, you can get a better idea of what happened here (I did a 5′ grid in this example):

Smoothed Surface Triangles

Smoothed Surface Triangles

A couple things to note here, I didn’t smooth the entire surface, just the  area that needed it. Second, any data that was added to the surface was not modified in any way at all. If there are points, or breaklines, or corridors, or gradings, they are preserved (including the triangulation along the breaklines). This only affects the way the triangulation in the areas between data are calculated. Basically, instead of doing a straight grade between one point and the next, it rounds it out.

Something to be aware of, this can add a LOT of data to your surface and can make it very slow to work with so play around with the settings and get the results you want without adding too many points to the surface.

Hopefully this helps out when someone is complaining about your ugly contours!

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