June 2010

Sometimes I love tech support. This came into our office today. Want a quick response to a technical support issue? Ask it like this! A tip for you non-Revit folks, a family in Revit is similar to a block in AutoCAD.

Oh, great master of all things Revit…

I hath attempted to sway the favor of thine Revit Gods, only to find myself cast into the valley of consternation.  Oh, great master, I beseech thee to gaze upon the sordid details of mine dysfunctional family…

Mine family hath made offerings to false idols who demand satisfaction.  Yet, mine family of Fire Extinguisher Cabinets hath not made themselves as flexible and useful as both thine Revit Gods and the false idols demand…

The false idol, Fire Marshal, demands that mine family bear witness to maximum travel distance by radius, for all who shalt make a spectacle of the Code Plan.  Yet, the false idol, Project Manager demands that mine family disguise such radius, and shalt not bear witness to those who make a spectacle of the Overall Floor Plan and the Enlarged Floor Plans.

I hath made offerings of Instance visibility to thine Revit Gods, yet they demand I shalt display mine radius in all views or none.

Oh, great master, I beg thee, guide mine family to the light, so that they shalt appease thine Revit Gods and all false idols, in turn.

Oh, great master, I make offering of mine family thine grace, so that thou shalt enlighten mine family in the ways of thine Revit Gods.

I pray thou shalt find favor upon me and mine family in this time of darkness.

Your most humble servant,

And certified lunatic,


edit – the response of our Revit guru (the other Brian, not me) and then John’s final response

Oh thy humble servant,

Why do you exhaust time pondering the solution of thoughts already known?  This light hath been observed in the past by oneself many times.  Thy answer is simple, “Subcategory”.  Thy radius can be delegated to a code subcategory (matching the steps created in the footprint family done in the past) so that thy subcategory can be turned off in the false god views thus pleasing all involved.

Your Great Master


Oh, great master of all things Revit,

Thine humble servant is most grateful for thine tidings of benevolent enlightenment.

As thou hast exercised mine memory of thine previous enlightenment, thine humble servant shalt now return to mine task master, and shalt submit mine self for a most thorough flogging.  I am most grieved for the imposition upon thine grace for such a trivial matter.  I most fervently beg your mercy and shalt most hastily retreat from your presence.

I make offerings of gratitude, many thousands of times over, and pray most solemnly for the blessings of thine Revit Gods upon you.

Your most humble servant.

(many genuflections)


There are a lot of different ways to add data to a surface. If someone gives you data that represents the triangles of a surface created in a different program (such as Eagle Point or one of the Bentley programs), it can be a bit difficult, if you don’t know how. If you’ve ever done this, you may have noticed that the surface you created from this data doesn’t match the original data. Find out how to make your new surface and the data match up!

So, what kind of data am I referring to? Well, if you ever get drawing data that represent the triangles of a surface, they probably come in one of two forms, 3D faces or simple lines. You can add either of these to a surface. You can’t add them as breaklines, contours, points, or any of the other methods, you need to add them as drawing objects.

Adding 3D Faces to a surface

In this example I’m adding 3D Faces because that’s what I got when I extracted the triangles from the C3D surface. Let me go ahead and show you the surface I end up with after doing this. The green triangles in the following image are the 3D Faces I’ve added to the surface and the gray triangles are the new surface.

Wrong Triangulation

If the new surface exactly mimics the old surface, then I wouldn’t be able to see any of the green triangles. I suppose an explanation of why this happens is in order. When you add drawing data to the surface (lines, 3D faces, or polyface), the ends of the lines or vertices of the faces are added to the surface as point data. The surface then goes through the Delaunay triangulation process and creates the triangles.

Obviously, this is not what I wanted so what do I do to correct it? Well, when you add the drawing data to the surface, there is a little check box, “Maintain edges from objects”. If you toggle this on, the surface will add the lines or edges of the face as breaklines. According to the help file:

Maintain Edges From Objects

Specifies whether to define the AutoCAD Civil 3D triangle edges based on the edges defined in the original AutoCAD object. If selected, AutoCAD Civil 3D maintains the edges and does not attempt to optimize the edges. Available when importing points from lines, 3D faces, and polyfaces.

In my example, the area of the surface that doesn’t match the triangles is in an area that breaklines where added to the surface. If I redo the process and this time toggle the “Maintain edges from objects” option, you’ll see I get much better results.

Correct Triangulation

Note, the green triangles are still turned on and visible in this image, they are all simply behind the gray triangles created from the surface.

e the AutoCAD Civil 3D triangle edges based on the edges defined in the original AutoCAD object. If selected, AutoCAD Civil 3D maintains the edges and does not attempt to optimize the edges. Available when importing points from lines, 3D faces, and polyfaces.

That’s right, come work in the office right next to me! CAD-1 in Denver is looking to hire someone to help out the technical department with tech support. You would be helping our customers achieve success with their software over the phone and through e-mail. You have to have a strong background with Autodesk software in the AEC realm such as AutoCAD, Civil 3D, ACAD/Revit Architecture, ACAD/Revit MEP, Map, as well as others. Obviously, you aren’t expected to know each and everyone of these but you will be helping out with them all (I mean an install question for one of them is pretty much an install question for them all). You also must have EXTREMELY good oral and written communication skills as you’ll be talking and writing to people all day long. A passion for the software and the patience of a saint will also be required.

So, if you’re interested in working for the best company I’ve ever worked for (and I’m not just saying that because my boss might read this), send me your resume – c3dplus at gmail dot com and I’ll make sure it gets to the right people.

So, you’ve got Civil 3D 2011 and a screaming 64-bit system. How much RAM can you throw at that thing? Well, it depends on a couple things, first of all, what operating system are you running? If you’re running a 32-bit OS, then 4 gigs is your limit. There are numerous posts and discussions on the subject, just do a Google search and you’ll see.

Now, if you have a 64-bit operating system, that’s a completely different story. As I was doing a bit of research for this, I learned quite a few new things. The reason a 32-bit operating system is limited to 4 gigs of ram, is due to it’s architecture. A 32-bit system can only process 2^32 bytes of information, hence the 4-gig limit. Now, a 64-bit system can process 2^64 bytes of information. How much is that, well it’s 16 to 18 Exabytes (depending on your definition of an Exabyte). Great, but what is an Exabyte? Well, one Exabyte is a thousand petabytes, one million terabytes, or one billion gigabytes. Can you imagine having a computer with 16,000,000,000 gigabytes of RAM? We as humans really can’t comprehend large numbers (if they are over 1,000 they tend to get fuzzy for me). To put this in perspective, I read an estimate that if  all the telecommunication data in the United States was stored digitally for one year, it would take about 9.25 Exabytes of data.1

Anyways, now that I’m done geeking out, let’s get back to the situation at hand. Since this theoretically limit will never be achieved (at least by anyone that is reading this blog for practical purposes), what is the limiting factor? Well, your Operating System can be the limit. In this modern day and age, if you are running Civil 3D and aren’t running Windows 7, you should be shot. I can already hear you, “But IT won’t support Windows 7!” Well, THEY should be shot then. So, what version of Windows 7 are you running? THIS web page lists the different versions of Windows and the different amounts of RAM they will support. It’s put together nicely and is easy to follow. The Home versions of Windows 7 64-bit are limited to 2, 8, or 16 gigs of RAM whereas the professional and greater versions allow 192 gigs.

Now, don’t go out and buy 100 gigs of RAM just yet as there are other limits to the amount of RAM you can use. Currently (if you aren’t using a Home version), what limits your RAM is your hardware, aka motherboard. Most modern motherboards can’t handle that much RAM. I did a quick search of TigerDirect and NewEgg and found that most of the high end motherboards will support up to 24 gigs of RAM.

I’m sure there will come a day and age when we look back and think to ourselves, “Remember when we use to buy RAM in Gigabytes?” and then chuckle a little bit. Ah, can’t wait to not be in the good old days anymore!


If you’re using the out of the box styles, you may have noticed that the spanning labels don’t always act the way you think they would. The value of the label changes depending on which side of the line the label is on but the crows feet don’t react the same. Read on to see how to fix this. (more…)