I’ve been doing this one for a long time and someone asked about it on the discussion groups recently. I figured I would link them to my blog showing them how to do it and I realized I’ve never written this one up.

So, here’s the problem, Civil 3D does not have dynamic labels for assemblies. There are labels for just about everything but not for assemblies.What do you do?

Well, it’s pretty simple, just add a piece of text adjacent to the assembly and then add a field to the text. To insert a field, you can click the button on the ribbon (as you are editing the text) or press ctrl+f.

Add a field to text

Add a field to text

In the field dialog box, you’ll want to change the category to “Objects”, choose “Object” from the list, and then select the object.

Choose an Object

Choose an Object

Once you’ve selected the assembly (the vertical line, not one of the subassemblies), you’ll want to choose “Name” from the list (not “Object Name” or you’ll get “AeccDbAssembly” in the text). You can also format the case of the text in the right hand window.

Adding the Name

Adding the Name

Once you are done, you’ll see the field in the text with the assemblies name. If you change the name of the assembly, the field will update when the drawing is regen’d (it’s not immediate like Civil 3D labels).

Label Added

Label Added

You can also copy the text, edit the field, and have it reference a different assembly. And, another cool thing, if you copy the assembly and the text together, the new text will reference the new assembly.

 

Well, it’s once again that time of year, we get to see what cool new features are available in the new release of Autodesk software. Well, do you want to see what I think the best features are? I’ll list a few of the new features in the order that I think they are the most beneficial. Of course I’ll leave the best for last so, ranked from 5-1, my top five features in Civil 3D 2017!

Splash_Screen

Autodesk AutoCAD Civil 3D 2017

5 – Object and Data Shortcut Folders

On large projects, managing all your data can be cumbersome at best. Having several different surfaces that end up getting combined into a single surface, multiple alignments for use in an interstate interchange, and the examples keep coming.

In Civil 3D 2017, we can now organize our object data and data shortcuts in folders, simply right click on the object collection and choose the Create Folder option. You can create as many folders as you like and can create sub-folders as well.

Not only is this option available for the objects, they are available for data shortcuts too. In fact, if you create a data shortcut for an object in a sub-folder, the data shortcut will be placed in an identical sub-folder in the project folder.

Object_Folders

Create sub-folders for objects and data shortcuts

On a related note, you can also create multiple data references at once. Just select all the data shortcuts you want to reference and drag them into your drawing (or right click and choose “Create Reference”). You won’t get the options you get when creating a single data reference but you could always go edit the ones you wanted to change from the default.

Multiple_References

Adding Multiple References at Once

4 – Style Management

There are a lot of situations where the current method of managing the styles within a drawing leave a lot to desire. Many companies have very strict CAD standards but how do you know if someone has changed a style? Other times, you may work with organizations that have different standards and you may work on these different projects daily. How do you keep track of which drawings need which styles?

Well, 2017 will greatly help you here, that’s for sure! You can now attach a drawing  or drawing template to a drawing as a “Referenced Template”. If styles in the template are changed, deleted, or added, the styles will be changed, deleted (if they aren’t being used), or added to the attached drawing. In fact, multiple Reference Templates can be added to a drawing (you can even create a template specific for a project and attach it to the project drawings only). The new command can be found on the Manage Tab of the Ribbon.

Reference_Template

Referenced Templates

3 – Pressure Network Content

This one is pretty huge and I almost placed it further down in the list but, it’s just content and not functionality. I often get asked if CAD-1 is going to create pressure network content for the Civil 3D Pressure Networks like we have for the Pipe Networks and I was always hesitant to do it because I figured Autodesk would create the content the release after I created ours. Looks like it worked out for me because that’s exactly what Autodesk did (without the me doing it first part).

In Civil 3D 2017, there has been a ton of added Pressure Network content! In fact, there are now 6 catalogs that are installed by default.

  • Flanged
  • HDPE
  • Mechanical
  • Push On
  • PVC
  • Steel

Just to give you an idea of some of the added content, the following image shows some of the appurtenances available in the PVC catalog and, yes, that’s a hydrant!

Sample_Catalog

PVC Catalog Appurtenances

2 – Featurelines as Corridor Baselines

This is one I’ve been anticipating for a long time! Yes, alignments and profiles are powerful and have a place for roadway design but sometimes you just need to push an assembly along a feature, well now you can. Featurelines can now be used as a baseline in a corridor!

Now, honestly, I probably wouldn’t use them much to replace the traditional alignment/profile workflow for roadway design but what about those offset targets? They can be used for assembly offsets too! And don’t forget curb and gutter in a parking lot!

Featureline_as_Baseline

Featureline as Corridor Baseline

1 – Corridor Corner Cleanup

And finally, you’ve made it all the way to number one! What do I think is the best feature out of everything that’s available in Civil 3D 2017? Well, that would have to be the Corridor Corner Cleanup! You have an angle point in your corridor baseline? (I almost typed alignment but a baseline can be a featureline now…) Does that angle point cause your corridor to do odd things such as crossing sections on the inside of the bend or short cutting on the outside?

With the new feature, this is no longer an issue! As long as the subassemblies used in that region of the corridor have a constant width (in other words daylight subassemblies don’t work yet), they will clean up to each other! Now, add this with the option to use a featureline as a baseline and you have amazing new tools for modeling a parking lot!

Corridor_Corner_Cleanup

Corridor Corner Cleanup

Bonus Feature

Ok, so this last one I’m not quite sure about yet. It’s a great tool, I’m just not sure how it would be used, it’s something I’m going to have to play around with for a bit and see how useful it is. What’s the feature? Well, Corridors can now be data referenced! It’s great that we can do it, I’m just not quite sure where it will fit into the workflow just yet. If you can think of how you would use it, just leave a comment and let us all know.

Data_Reference_Corridors

Data Reference Corridors

Final Thoughts

So, what do you think about these features? Would you have ordered them differently or added some of the others and removed some of these from the list?

All in all, I’m very excited about this release of the software! There’s a ton of new stuff in here but, it does come with a cost. Although AutoCAD 2017 still uses the 2013 .dwg format and is backwards compatible, Civil 3D 2017 is not backwards compatible. If you open a Civil 3D drawing in 2017 and save it, you won’t be able to use it in 2016 or earlier any longer so be cautious as you explore the new features, use copies of your drawings until you are ready to make the leap to the new version.

Now get out there and see what amazing out of the box ideas you can come up with now that we have these new capabilities!

So, I’ve been struggling for a long time with the reports in Civil 3D no longer working (at least some of the reports). It’s not directly an issue with Civil 3D, the issue is the reports only work on Internet Explorer 9 or earlier. If you have Internet Explorer 10 or newer, some of the reports don’t work. I say it’s not directly an issue with Civil 3D but, in my opinion, it’s rather silly that the reports haven’t been updated to work with the newer versions of Internet Explorer.

Anyways, I had a client call today asking about something completely different. He just recently upgraded his Civil 3D and was wondering why the ability To View Pipe Networks Part Catalog Content wasn’t working. Basically, you can double click on a .htm file in your pipe catalog and view the parts in Internet Explorer. Well, it turns out it works but not if you are using Internet Explorer (IE) 10. If you downgrade to IE 9 or earlier, it works just fine.

Pipe Catalog in Internet Explorer 10

Pipe Catalog in Internet Explorer 10

I sent him that information and he replied back with a workaround! I LOVE it when my clients teach me something new! Turns out, all you have to do is change the browser mode! Once the file is open (allow blocked content if prompted), press the F12 key, and change the browser mode! That’s it! I changed mine to IE 9 and now it works just fine!

Document Mode

Document Mode

This same technique works for the General Legal Description report from the Toolbox in Civil 3D. Run the report (make sure IE is the default browser!), change the document mode, and away you go!

General Legal Description Report in IE 10

General Legal Description Report in IE 10

On my computer I’m running Windows 7. If you are running Window 10, this still works (based on the limited testing I did with a coworker). The concept is the same but the layout is a little different. Here are the settings we used to get it to work in Windows 10.

Settings in Windows 10

Settings in Windows 10

Not sure what the warning are but it seems to have worked (didn’t test the report, just the Pipe Network Catalog).

Hopefully, this will help you all!

Ok, this has absolutely nothing to do with Civil 3D, civil engineering, and just a little bit about AutoCAD.

Anyways, I watched this cool video by Numberphile (it’s a YouTube channel that deals with numbers and math – or “maths” if your from outside the U.S.).

If you enjoyed it, go subscribe, it’s a great channel!

Anyways, I decided to try this out in AutoCAD and created a parametric drawing that shows this capability. If you would like to try it out yourself, you can download it HERE.

The white lines represent the triangle, the red lines are the medicenter, the yellow lines are the circumcenter, the green lines are the orthocenter, and the blue line goes from the orthocenter to the circumcenter passing through the medicenter.

Euler Line in Blue

Euler Line in Blue

In PART 1 of this series of posts, I showed you how to create a surface in Civil 3D from a shapefile that contained contour data. I also showed you some of the issues with using that command. In this post, I’ll show you how an alternative method for creating a surface from a shapefile. There are pros and cons to this method compared with the previous method:

  • Pros
    • Allows you to use all the data in the shapefile as needed.
    • Gives you control over the weeding and suplementing factors for the surface creation.
    • Allows you to use the correct options for minimizing flat areas.
  • Cons
    • There are a lot of steps to this process.
    • It potentially creates a much larger surface (data wise)

There are a lot of steps to this process so rather then detailing each step like I normally do, I’m going to summarize the steps here and then, if you need more detailed information, you can watch the included video.

  1. Import the shapefile into a drawing as AutoCAD entities (create object data from the shapefile data).
  2. Save the file as a new drawing and close it.
  3. Create a new drawing and attach the drawing with the contours to it via the Map Explorer in the Map Task Pane.
  4. Query the contours from the old drawing into the new drawing altering the elevations of the polylines to the elevation from the shapefile.
  5. Create a new surface.
  6. Add a dataclip boundary to the surface.
  7. Add the contours to the surface as contour data (make sure you toggle on all four minimize flat area options).

And that’s it! This will create a much better surface from your data but it definitely takes a lot longer to do.

So, you have an ESRI Shapfile with contour data in it and you want to create a surface from it. How is this done? Well, honestly, it really isn’t too terribly hard. There are, however, some gotchas you have to be aware of when using the easy method. Part 2 in this series will cover a more involved way of accomplishing this but will give you a much better surface.

Creating Surface

First off, displaying the contours in your drawing, this part is super easy. Simply drag your .shp file from Windows Explorer into you drawing area and it will connect to the .shp file and display it’s contents.

Importing a Shapefile

Importing a Shapefile

This part isn’t necessary but it is a nice way to compare the surface you get from the data you have.

Now, let’s actually create the surface. On the home tab of the Civil 3D Workspace on the ribbon, expand out the Surfaces pulldown and choose “Create Surface from GIS Data”.

Create Surface from GIS Data

Create Surface from GIS Data

This will open up another of the famous Civil 3D Wizards. The first tab allows you to set the properties of your new surface, such as the name, description, style, etc. I recommend not using a style that displays a lot of data. Typically, GIS files have a TON of data in them! You don’t want to unnecessarily overtax your system.

Object Options

Object Options

On the next tab, Connect to Data, you’ll choose the type of data you want to connect to and then the actual data source. Depending on the data type, options within the dialog will become available. In this example, I’m connecting to a shapefile so I choose that option and then browse to the file. Don’t forget to click on the Login button at the bottom (not sure why you need to login to a shapefile but you do).

Connect to Data

Connect to Data

the Schema and Coordinates section simply allows you to choose the data you want to bring in and assign it a coordinate system (if it doesn’t already have one). In this case, I simply toggled on the only data that was available. If you are using something other then a shapefile, you might have additional options here.

Schema and Coordinates

Schema and Coordinates

The Geospatial Query section allows you to choose the area of the data source that you want to create the surface from. In most cases, you don’t want to create a surface from the entire shapefile as that is just overkill. Choose the method you want to select the area and then define the area (it’s pretty straight forward). At the bottom of the dialog, you’ll see two options, Inside and Crossing. In most cases, I’ve found the Crossing option to work better. If you choose Inside, it will only select the objects that are completely inside the area of interest and ignore any that extend beyond it. Since most contours are very long, they’ll extend beyond your boundary and they won’t be selected so make sure to choose the Crossing option.

Geospatial Query

Geospatial Query

Finally, the Data Mapping section. This if one of the most important parts of the dialog. A shapefile is 2d file. This means the lines within the shapefile only have X,Y values, no Z values. The elevation of the contours are then assigned to the objects as a data field. You’ll need to tell Civil 3D which field within the shapefile represents the elevations of the contours.

Data Mapping

Data Mapping

Clicking Finish, Civil 3D then creates the surface, adds the data to it, and displays it in your drawing.

Surface Created

Surface Created

Surface Issues

Now that the surface is created, you should be aware of some issues with creating a surface using this method. First thing, not all the points from your contours are used in creating the surface. There is an automatic weeding being applied to the data that you have no ability to control.

Data Points Weeded Out

Data Points Weeded Out

Whenever you have a surface created from contour data, there is the possibility that flat areas can be created. Civil 3D has the ability to minimize these flat areas. When creating a surface from a shapefile, Civil 3D automatically applies the Minimize Flat Areas edit to your surface but, you can change the settings in this command. Add the problem, you can’t go back and change the settings later, remove the edit to add it back in, or do anything with it. You are stuck with it the way it is. See THIS post for information about the flat areas and what you settings you should use. When creating a surface from a shapefile, the “Swap Edges” option is not used and therefore, creates a less then desirable surface.

Missing Contours

Missing Contours

Ok, so the contours aren’t really missing, they should just follow the data better. In other words, there should be contours in the areas that I’ve pointed out in the image.

For an alternative method of creating the surface from a shapefile, stay tuned for Part 2.

Apparently, this won’t come as a surprise to those that know AutoCAD Architecture but, we can add any property we want to any object in our drawing!

Example Properties on a Featureline

Example Properties on a Featureline

Turns out, it’s a lot easier then you would think.

First thing to do is run the command PROPERTYDATA and go into the “Sets” command line option. This will open up the “Style Manager” dialog box (no, not Civil 3D styles…).

Style Manager

Style Manager

Once in here, simply right click on Property Set Definition, choose New, and name the new style (I named mine “Featureline Curbs”). On the “Applies To” tab on the right, simply select the type of object you want to create a custom property for (I chose a featureline for this example).

Object Type to Add Properties To

Object Type to Add Properties To

Finally, go to the Definition tab and add your new properties. Click the top button on the right side to create the new property, and then simply fill in the data. I created a new property for a featureline that represents a curb so I know what type of curb it is (defaults to “vertical”).

Create New Property

Create New Property

Settings for the new property

Settings for the new property

When you select a featureline now and go into the AutoCAD Properties, you’ll be able to see these new properties and edit them independently for each object. There is a trick, however, to be able to see them. On the Extended Data tab of your properties, you’ll need to select the object (or objects) you want these properties to be assigned to and then click on the button at the bottom of the properties, “Add Property Sets”.

Add Property Sets

Add Property Sets

This will then bring up a dialog box that will allow you to choose the property sets for this (these) object(s). In this example, I only have one but you aren’t limited to just one.

Select Property Sets

Select Property Sets

Now, when you select that line again, and go to the extended properties in your AutoCAD properties, you’ll see those properties.

Property Sets Dislayed

Property Sets Dislayed

Now, comes the fun part, figuring out what we can do with this! If you have any ideas, leave a comment below. Keep in mind, I just found out about these and I haven’t really had much time at all to play around with them yet but they’re there so go start using them!

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