January 2010

So, a few days ago on the Autodesk discussion group, someone wanted to be able to have a structure in a pipe network be able to label the station and offset of two different alignments.  How is this done?  Well, add a piece of reference text to the label and away you go! (more…)


One of the advantages to having my own blog is every once in a while I can post something that I feel very strongly about.  My son Andrew has Mosaic Down’s Syndrome which is a partial Down’s Syndrome.  He is intellectually challenged but is a great kid!  I recently came across this website and I would like to challenge every one of you to remove the words “retard” and “retarded” from your vocabulary.  These two words are extremely hurtful to those that are intellectually challenged and those that love them.  I’ve even seen professionals in the Autodesk discussion groups use these words.  The group of people that are hurt by the use of these words are some of the nicest, most loving people on the planet and to hurt them in this fashion is not only inexcusable but cowardly.  If you would like some more information on this cause, I’m including a link to R-word.org in this site and I will keep it there until I’ve gone a year without hearing it.  Thanks for listening and don’t worry, I will get back to posting about Civil 3D shortly.

So far, quite a bit of the inspiration for my posts have come from things I’ve learned recently while teaching.  This is one of those moments.  I was showing someone how cool multileaders are (if you aren’t using them, you should be) and he asked if you could set them up to mask linework under the text.  Well, I know you can set up a dimension style to have a background mask so I was pretty confident the same thing could be done for multileaders.  Well, after spending a considerable amount of time in the multileader style dialog box, I couldn’t find a way to do it.  As you can see in the following image, there isn’t a setting for background mask in any of the tabs of the multileader style dialog box.

I’m still surprised there is no setting there however, you can toggle them on for individual multileaders.  Simply select the multileader you want the background mask turned on for and go into it’s properties.  Under the text section, you’ll see an option to turn on the background mask.

Want to turn it on for all the multileaders in your drawing?  Well, you can use select similar or the qselect command to grab them all and then, in the properties, turn the background mask on for all of them simultaneously.

Do you find yourself turning this on and off for a lot of your multileaders?  Well, you can also add this property to your quick properties.

For more information on the quick properties, you can read this post HERE.

In class I often like to show off how ridiculous the as composed setting is for the dragged state of labels but, I just discovered something pretty cool.  You can drag a point label, have it stay As Composed, and be left or right justified.  More after the jump.


I’ve set up styles for a couple of companies now and the one thing I’ve never liked is that I have to create half a gazilion different label styles for the spot elevation labels for the different rotations that are needed.  Well, I’ve discovered a better way, don’t use spot elevation labels!  You can use line labels.  Create a line label style that places a piece of reference text in the label and have it reference a surface.  Now, when you grip edit the line and change it’s rotation, the label rotates with the line.  One thing to make note of here is that the elevation is coming from the label LOCATION, not the geometry of the line.  If you create your style so the label is displaying at the end of the line, it will still get the elevation from the label location, (the grip location).  To help make sure you aren’t labeling the wrong location, make sure that your text component within the label is attached to the label location and not some point on the line.  You can do the same thing for curves and as you grip edit the label around the curve, the label will rotate along the curve.

In the following image, you can see the lines that are being used for the label all coincide at the same point and the labels are all displayed to that point yet the elevations are all different.  Why is that?

Well, as you can see in the next image, I’ve selected the labels and, according to the grips, they are all in different locations.

A quick edit of the label style so the label is attached to the label location instead of the start of the line and it becomes more apparent in the drawing that you are labeling the wrong location.

Grip edit the labels so they are at the start of each line and you see what you expect.

One drawback to this method is that the line must be on and thawed.  If you turn off the layer that the lines are on, the labels will disappear (or at least they will after a regen).  To combat this issue, there are two options; first you can use a color or plot style for the lines that doesn’t plot or you can simply set the layer the line is on (not the label) to no plot.

Enjoy a completely rotatable spot elevation label!


On the discussion groups, stacy.dunn brought up an excellent alternative.  You can also use a two point slope label that will accomplish the same thing by including in the label the first pick point elevation.  Personally, I like the idea of the slope label better then the line.  It just feels cleaner.  They both accomplish pretty much the same thing though.

I know what you all were thinking, he starts this great new blog and then, nothing!  What happened?  Did he give up on it already?  Fear not, I spent the last week with my family in Disney World.  Chasing three little boys around Florida is a lot of fun.  It’s not very relaxing but it is a lot of fun.

So, anyways, here’s what’s next:  I have a fantastic label that I set up and it has a line that shows the label location.  When I pull it into the dragged state, I want the line to remain so I set the label to As Composed instead of Stacked Text but, I just want an arrow going from the label location to my line and I don’t want that awful little landing!

How do you go about making this change?  Well, if you select the label, and go to your AutoCAD properties, one of the properties listed is Leader Tail Visibility.  There are two options for this, From Label Style and Always Hide.  If you want to see the leader tail, set it to From Label Style.  If you don’t want to see it, set it to Always Hide.

Reading those two options, you would think that you could set this in the label style.  Unfortunately, you can’t.  Here’s why I don’t think you can:  The developers where going to allow you to set this property in the label style but this feature was not quite ready for this release however, the property was created, it’s just not supported at the style level yet.  If you want to change all your labels, select on and then, on the context sensitive ribbon tab, choose Select Similar and then make the change in the properties.

Oh well, perhaps 2011 will have this capability built into the style.

I’m not exactly sure why anyone would need to do this but I’ve seen it asked a couple of times in the last few weeks so I figured I would address it.  Perhaps some other pieces of software can only accept point files.  Whatever the reason, how do you extract the points from a surface to a point file?  Well, it turns out that it’s a four step process.  Display the points, extract the points, convert the points, export the points.

First, the surface needs to display points.  A c0ouple options, create a new style that displays the points or edit the style the surface is using to display the points then, when you are done, change it back.  In this example, I’m going to edit the style the surface is currently using.  Select the surface, on the ribbon, expand out the surface properties pulldown, and choose Edit Surface Style.  On the display tab of the surface style, toggle on the display of the points.  It doesn’t really matter how they are displayed, just as long as they are displayed.

Next step is to extract the points from the surface.  Again, use the ribbon.  Select the surface and then on the ribbon, choose Extract Objects.  Uncheck everything except the points and hit ok.  This will create an AutoCAD point at every surface point.  After you do this, you can change the style back to not displaying points if you want.

Now that there are AutoCAD points in the drawing, it’s time to convert them to Civil 3D points.  Before you do this, make sure you point settings are set appropriately so you don’t have to hit enter for a description or name after each point is created.  To speed things up, make sure your settings are as follows:  Point Names – None, Point Description – Automatic or Automatic Object, Elevation – Automatic.  On the Home tab, choose the points pulldown and then Convert AutoCAD Points.  You now have Civil 3D Points in your drawing.

The final step is to export the points out to a file.  If these are the only points in your file, you can export the All Points point group.  If you have other points in the drawing, create a point group for just these points.  Right click on the point group in the prospector and choose Export Points.  In the export points dialog box, choose the point format and the file name and you’re done.

Hopefully someone will find this helpful.

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