Civil 3D

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.


A while back, I did a post about bringing DEM data into AutoCAD Civil 3D (you can read it HERE if you are interested). In the comments, people have asked several questions and have had some issues. One of the issues is, you have to know what coordinate system the DEM file is using. Another is that, no matter what coordinate system you are using, the DEM comes in as though the elevations where in meters (and will then convert those meters to feet).

Well, all that’s about to change. If you have the Autodesk Infrastructure Design Suite (Premium or Ultimate) then you also have Autodesk Infrastructure Modeler (AIM). You can use AIM as a DEM to Civil 3D surface converter. Simply import your DEM file into AIM, export to a .imx file, and then import that into Civil 3D.

Open up AIM and create a new project. Give it a name and a place to save it. Keep the coordinate system as LL84 (there’s no need to change it) and leave everything else the way it is.

Create a new project

Once the project is created, import the DEM file into AIM. This is done through the Data Sources panel. Expand out the different data sources and choose “Raster” as the data source. Browse to your DEM file, open it, and then Refresh the data. You will now have a beautiful surface in your model.

Import DEM as Raster

Refresh DEM

Now that the DEM is added to your model, export it out to Civil 3D via the .imx file. In the application menu of AIM (that’s the purple I in the top left corner of the application), choose the Export menu and then “Export to IMX”. In the Export to IMX dialog box, choose to export the entire model, and give it a file name. AIM will choose an appropriate coordinate system so just leave that alone. Depending on the size of the DEM file, this could take a few minutes.

Export to IMX

Once the .imx file is created, open Civil 3D. To import the .imx file, it’s important to remember to assign a coordinate system to your drawing. If you aren’t sure how to do this, click HERE. Once in Civil 3D choose the Import IMX command (it’s on the Import panel of the Home tab of the ribbon or type IMX_IMPORT at the command line). Simply browse to the .imx file and bring it in. Because both the .imx file and your drawing have coordinate systems assigned, the DEM file comes in at the correct location and at the correct elevation. You may want to change the name of the surface as well as the style but, you now have a beautiful DEM file in your drawing and you didn’t ever have to know what coordinate system it was using!

Import the .imx file into Civil 3D

And if anyone is wondering, the DEM file I used while creating this blog post created a surface in Civil 3D with almost 4 million points.

Surface Properties

Note from Brian: I wrote up an article showing an alternative way to bring in free surface and image data (at least for those in the United States) HERE. Go take a look at it and tell me what you think.

More new information: Check out Project Basejump now available from Autodesk Labs. “With Project Basejump, AutoCAD Map 3D and AutoCAD Civil 3D software users can access Microsoft Bing data including aerial imagery, road, traffic, and other information within an AutoCAD environment.”

Even more new information: Project Basejump is no longer available but in AutoCAD 2015, you can bring in the Bing imagery and plot it too. Read about it HERE.

So, there is a lot of talk about the cool new features in Civil 3D 2013 but, there is something I’m very bummed about. Do you like to have access to free data for preliminary design? Do you like to show your client where you project is in relationship to the world? How do you do this? Well, you use Google Earth. Unfortunately, in Civil 3D 2013 there is no longer the option to import from or export to Google Earth.

Here’s an image showing not only the ribbon where the import command should exist but also the surface settings showing where the command settings for these tools would be. As you can see, they are not there:

No Option to Import From Google Earth

On the Output tab, you’ll also so that the commands to export to Google Earth are missing as well:

No Option to Export to Google Earth

Why were these tools removed from Civil 3D? I honestly have no idea why they were removed. Perhaps someone in the know will comment and let us know why. Here’s my guess and yes, this is truly a guess; Autodesk was contacted by the Google legal team and was told not to include the functionality.

Anyways, I hate talking about the bad but if you use Google Earth regularly, you might want to hang onto Civil 3D 2012 a little longer.

:Authors note:
I’m going to close comments on this topic. Also, I’m going to remove all approved comments with the exception of Dave’s. If you would like to discuss it, head over to the discussion forum where there is a thread with this topic. You can find it HERE.


Looks like it’s not limited to just Civil 3D. The Google Earth extension for AutoCAD in labs has “graduated”. Not sure what that means. Thanks to Juan Soto @Civil3d_Jedi for this info.

Google Earth extension “Graduates”

I’ve finally gotten a bit of time to test the performance gains of Civil 3D 2013 over Civil 3D 2012. I spent about 3 weeks testing every possible configuration of every situation of every…

Ok, I lied. I worked on it for about an hour this morning. Here’s what I did.

  1. Restart my computer.
  2. Launch C3D 2012 and time it.
  3. Close C3D.
  4. Relaunch C3D12 and time it.
  5. Open a drawing containing a large corridor and about a dozen datareferenced surfaces and time it.
  6. Rebuild the corridor and time it.
  7. Close the drawing.
  8. Open a drawing containing a large grading object and time it.
  9. Grip edit the featureline creating the grading object and time it.
  10. Repeat the entire process (including restarting my computer) with C3D 2013.

Here are my results:

Initial Launch:

4:46 – 2012
2:43 – 2013


0:24 – 2012
0:16 – 2013

Open Corridor:

0:24 – 2012
0:12 – 2013

Rebuild Corridor:

0:19 – 2012
0:20 – 2013

Open Grading:

0:11 – 2012
0:08 – 2013

Rebuild Grading

0:25 – 2012
0:20 – 2013

This truely was not a very scientific study. My Civil 3D 2012 has a lot of add-ins installed such as the Interactive Terrain Shaping, the Bridge Modeler, Trimble Link, etc. (that’s why I think it took so long to do the initial launch). I also went through and upgraded the files to 2013 prior to running the test on 2013.

Anyways, I hope this helps someone in someway. What do your tests show?

So last night I installed Civil 3D 2013 (you can download it from subscription if you want). I was in a hurry to get to bed and I almost did it. I almost installed Civil 3D without installing all the functionality of it! When you install, make sure you toggle on the option to install Design Review 2013 (it’s one of the two options, the other option being Civil 3D).

Now, expand out the option for Civil 3D and you’ll have two more things you can install, Autodesk Storm and Sanitary Analysis and the Subassembly Composer. You need to make sure you toggle these on if you want to use them. If you installed the software without these, it’s not the end of the world, you can run the install again, expand out Civil 3D, and then toggle them on again.

Install Sub-Components

After you install C3D, a dialog box will pop up showing what was installed. This is a good place to make sure you installed everything you needed.

Install Completed

Now get out there and find out if this is the release to end all releases!

Just today I learned that there is a new tool up on Autodesk Labs called, “Project Silverstar”. The name means nothing to me but what this tool does is it will optimize your profile for you. Basically, you upload your existing ground profile and a series of offset profiles to the Autodesk Cloud, put in a few parameters, it chugs away in the “Cloud” and it returns to you the optimum profile for your alignment.

This is the first tool that I’m aware of that uses cloud computing to assist you in your design specifically for the Civil Engineering market from Autodesk. If you were at AU2011, I’m sure you’ve heard a lot about “The Cloud”, well, Civil 3D now has the power of the Cloud.

As I just heard about this tonight, I haven’t had a chance yet to really try it out. Look for a post next week to see my take on how well this tool works.

So, I’ve decided I’ve had enough apologizing for the deficiencies in the default template that ships with Civil 3D and I’m going to fix it. I figured others might have ideas on what they would like to change as well so I’m sending this out to anyone that would like to add to it.

I’m going to modify the _AutoCAD Civil 3D (Imperial) NCS.dwt template that comes with Civil 3D to fix all the things I’ve been complaining about. If you have used it and found things that you don’t like, let me know and perhaps you’ll see a new template with your changes in it.

There are a couple ways you can help. You can simply send me your suggestions by leaving a comment here, you can hit me up on twitter (@c3dplus) with your suggestions, or you can e-mail me your suggestions. Or, if you really want to get involved, I’ve set up a shared document on If you send me your e-mail address (and I don’t think you’re a spammer) I’ll invite you to the document and you can simply add your thoughts there.

I plan on making this an open source file (I’m not going to sell it) so anyone that contributes will know that I’m not making a buck off your efforts.

As far as my e-mail address goes, I have a gmail account that starts with c3dplus (this is an attempt to thwart spammers).

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