Civil3D


The Autodesk River and Flood Analysis Module 2018 (aka River Analysis) has just recently been released and has some major fixes that will be very welcomed by anyone who uses this program. In the past there were a few bugs that were extremely annoying that no longer exist. Keep reading to learn what they were. If you aren’t moving to 2018, but you’re still using the River Analysis tools, make sure to read this so you know what to be aware of!

Deleted Last Entity Created

When the River Analysis tools are initialized in a drawing, the last object in the drawing that was created was deleted. That’s right, whatever that last object was – a line, a circle, a surface, an alignment – whatever it was, it was deleted. This is no longer an issue in 2018!

If you’re using 2017 or earlier, my recommendation is to draw a line in your file immediately prior to issuing any River Analysis tool so you know which object will be deleted.

New Reaches Automatically Created

Once the River Analysis tools were initialized any drawing used in Civil 3D after that moment would have a new reach created in it. The symbol for the reach would be placed near 0,0 so it destroys the ability to zoom extents. Not only that, since River Analysis is now initialized in this drawing, it deletes the last entity created. 2018 has fixed this problem!

If you are using 2017 or earlier, my recommendation is to run Civil 3D only for the River Analysis task you have. Don’t open any other drawings. Once you are done with the River Analysis task, close Civil 3D and reopen it and you should be good to go. If you initialize River Analysis again, you’ll need to close and reopen Civil 3D again to prevent it from creating reaches and deleting objects.

Reach Drop-down Inconsistent

The drop-down to select the reach you want to work on has been inconsistent at best. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t show up at all. I was never able to figure out a decent work around for that one. In 2018, I haven’t seen any issues with the drop-down not behaving the way it should.

Where to get it?

If you haven’t been using River Analysis but want to, you can install it from the Autodesk Desktop Application. If you don’t have access to this, you can also go to manage.autodesk.com, log into your account, and download it (provided you have the permissions to download and install). Otherwise, ask your software manager or IT department for it.

Wrap Up

If you are using the River Analysis tools, you would be doing yourself a favor and doing the work in Civil 3D 2018. Even if the rest of the project is on a prior version, still do your River Analysis work in 2018, export out the HEC-RAS file, and then import it into a prior version if needed.

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This came up in the discussion groups today, a user has a set of points that he needs to create a surface from but the points also have a depth value. He wants to create an additional surface below the original surface but at the depth below as recorded in the point (the depth is not constant, it changes for each point). For example, point 1 is at elevation 100 and has a depth of .55′, point 2 is at elevation 101 and has a depth of .48. The elevations of the first surface would be 100 at point 1 and 101 at point 2. The elevations of the second surface would be 99.45 at point 1 and 100.52 at point 2.

To do this, we’ll need to import the points twice (I would recommend doing this in two separate drawings and then data referencing the surfaces together), once at the original elevation and once at the adjusted elevation. Importing the original points is not a big deal and you can find all sorts of information on how to do this online so I’ll skip it here.

To do the elevation adjustment, we’ll need to know something about the point file. In the example I’m using here, I have a .txt file that is comma delimited and looks like the following:
1,5000, 5000,100,GND,-.55
2,5001,5001,101,GND,-.48

The format of this is very common, PNEZD (Point, Northing, Easting, Elevation, Description) but it has the added value of depth to it. We need to create a new Point File Format to import this data. On the settings tab of the prospector, expand out Points, right click on Point File Formats, and choose New. The format type you want is User Point File.

New_Point_File_Format.png

New Point File Format

After you choose In the new point file format, you’ll need to name the format, set up the columns to match the data that you have, and indicate how the file is delimited (a comma in this example). The PNEZD part is pretty straight forward (if you aren’t sure about it, check out one of the other point file formats that come with Civil 3D) but we need to add a column for the depth. The depth will depend on the how the data was collected. In my example, I have a negative sign indicating that the value is to go down so I’ll use the Z+ value. If the value is listed positive and you want it to go down, you’ll need to choose the Z- value.

 

Point_File_Format_Settings.png

Point File Format Settings

Now that we’ve done this, we can import the points. In order for the point elevations to be adjusted, we need to tell Civil 3D to actually adjust the elevations. On the Import Points dialog box, down towards the bottom in the advanced options section, there is an option to do elevation adjustments if possible. Makes sure this is toggled on and your points will come in at the adjusted elevations.

Import_Point_Settings.png

Import Points Settings

The following image shows the results of bringing in the same point file once using the elevation adjustment (on the right) and a second time bringing it in without the elevation adjustment (on the left):

Imported Points.png

With (right) and Without (left) Elevations Adjustments

Hope this helps out and let me know how you are using this. I would really like to know what you’re doing with it!

Creating custom parts for your storm sewer or sanitary sewer networks in Civil 3D is not fun. If you’ve ever had to go into Part Builder, you know what I’m talking about; secret variables, odd objects (what’s a COL object anyways?), and sometimes things just don’t work (haven’t been able to create a cut plane in Part Builder in almost a decade). Most of the time when people need to create a new part for a network in Civil 3D, they end up saying, “Whatever is already there, is probably close enough and I’ll just use that instead of doing it right.”

I have good news for you. In the latest version of InfraWorks (InfraWorks 2018.1) there is a new tool called the Project Infrastructure Parts Editor.

Infrastructure Parts Editor.png

Infrastructure Parts Editor in InfraWorks 2018.1

The Infrastructure Parts Editor has been around for quite a while in the Autodesk Labs (it was known as Project Kameleon, yes, with a K) but has recently graduated from labs and is now a full blown program. This tool will allow you to create new parts for use with InfraWorks as well as Civil 3D.

To access the new tool, within InfraWorks click on the drainage tools, then click the pencil drawing a line, and then click on the button for the “Parts Editor”.

Tool in InfraWorks.png

Where to find the Infrastructure Parts Editor in InfraWorks 2018.1

This will then open up an external application called, you guessed it, the Infrastructure Parts Editor.

Application Image.png

Infrastructure Parts Editor

How easy is this? Basically, it’s just pick and choose the parts you want to use. When you create a new catalog (or edit an existing one), you’ll see three options, Assembly, Structure, and Culvert. The parts that will be used in Civil 3D or InfraWorks are the Assemblies. Each assembly is made up of the structures or the culverts.
Assembly_Culvert_Structure.png

When you click on Structure, you’ll see the three different components that make up the structures: Surface Structure, Underground Structure, and Grates or Covers. The Infrastructure Parts Editor has some parts already created that you can start with or you can create your own using Inventor or Inventor LT.

Various_Parts_Sample.png

Sample of Surface Structures

As you can see in the previous image, if none of the predefined shapes work for you, you can create a new shape template and import a .ipt or a .iam file from Inventor.

Additionally, when adding sizes to the different structures, there is an option to export to and import from Microsoft Excel. This should make editing the sizes much easier!

Export_to_Excel.png

Export to Excel

Once all the structures have been created, they will then be combined to make the different assemblies. When creating an assembly (depending on the type of assembly being made), you’ll simply select the three different structure components that you want to combine together. There’s also a section to validate the sizes (don’t want to put a 5′ long grate on a 3′ long inlet).

Assembly_Creation.png

Assembly Creation – Drag and Drop

Once all your assemblies are made, you can then publish the catalog out to either InfraWorks or Civil 3D or both at the same time.

Publish_Catalog.png

Publish Catalog

So, what do you think? Are you going to give this a try? Personally, I’m really excited about this tool and it capabilities for creating custom parts in Civil 3D.

 

p.s. It also does pressure network parts:
Pressure_Network_Parts.png

Things are a bit different this year with how classes will be chosen for Autodesk University 2017, you get a say in it! All the proposed classes are up on the Autodesk website for you, yes you, to vote on! Is there a class you really want to see this year? Go find it and vote it up. The voting isn’t the only method that will be used to determine a class, but it will be one factor that is looked at when choosing the classes.

If you would like to see me at AU this coming year, feel free to vote for my classes. Just go to the AU WEBSITE and do a quick search for the following classes:

Civil 3D Plus – Taking Civil 3D to the Next Level
Storm Water Design: What tools to use and when you should use them
Residential Subdivision Grading – Grading Beyond the Roads
Get Your Style On – Stunning Styles in InfraWorks

 

 

It’s that time of year again, it’s getting warmer out, days are getting longer (assuming you’re in the northern hemisphere), and we get new software to play with. Autodesk has just released a whole bunch of new software, including Civil 3D. Want to know what’s new? Well, just keep reading.

If I know of an issue with one of the new features, I’ll put in a GOTCHA so watch out for those.
For each feature, I’ll also include a Workflow Idea. These will give you an idea on how to leverage the new feature in your workflows. If you have other ideas, let us know in the comments.

Splash_Screen.png

Bad News – New File Format

First off, there is some bad news. AutoCAD 2018 introduced a new drawing format which means Civil 3D is not backwards compatible. This honestly comes as a surprise to me, not that they made a new version, but that they kept the prior version for so long. For those of you fairly new to the AutoCAD/Civil 3D world, new drawing versions typically came out every third release or so. The last version of AutoCAD that had a drawing format change was 2013.

Version.png

Civil 3D 2018 is built on the AutoCAD 2018 file format

Civil 3D on the other hand would have a new object format every single version. We never had any options of backwards compatibility. In 2014, that changed. You could save a Civil 3D 2016 version back to 2013, 2014, or 2015. 2017 saw a new object format which made Civil 3D not backwards compatible and 2018 has both a new drawing format and a new object format so it’s double not backwards compatible.

The reason I bring this up, if one person on the project team decides to upgrade to Civil 3D 2018, the entire project team will need to upgrade. Also, if you install 2018 to test out some of the new features, don’t do it on an active project.

Now let’s get into the good stuff. What’s awesome about the 2018 release?

Offset Profiles

We’ve had Offset Alignments for a while now. You know, create an Offset Alignment, adjust the centerline alignment and the Offset Alignments adjust too. You could then create profiles on those Offset Alignments (say for example to have a 2% cross slope) but if you change the offset value, the profile is no longer at 2%. Likewise, if the centerline profile changes, you’ll need to go manually change the profiles to maintain that 2% cross slope. Well, NO MORE! Offset Profiles will do that for you!

When you create the offset alignment, you’ll see an option to also create offset profiles. You simply put in the desired cross slope and when it creates the alignment, the alignment will have a profile that’s dynamic to the parent profile. Change the parent profile, the offset profile changes. If the parent profile has vertical curves, the offset profile will also have vertical curves.

Offset_Profiles.png

Create Offset Profiles when you create Offset Alignments

GOTCHA
I’m not exactly sure how the offset profile vertical curves are calculated but they always seem to be there. A possible issue is if you have a vertical curve that is part way in a horizontal curve. If you offset that profile at a 2% cross slope, the resulting profile should not have a parabolic curve. If it does have a parabolic curve, then it’s not a true 2% cross slope. In other words, verify you get the results you want!

If you want to edit the offset parameters, select the offset alignment and choose, “Offset Profile Parameters” on the ribbon. This will bring up a dialog box that you can go edit those parameters as well as add transitions to the offset profile.

For example, perhaps you need a 2% cross slope for the first 200’ of the alignment and then over the course of 50’ you want to transition to a 4% cross slope and then maintain that to the end. In the Offset Parameters tab of the offset profiles properties, you can simply add in additional cross slope regions.

Edit_Offset_Profiles.png

Edit Offset Profiles

GOTCHA
There seems to be an issue with the slope transitions if the parent profile has a PVI within the transition region. Hopefully this will be fixed soon. I would recommend everyone creating a support request for this so we can get it fixed quickly.

Workflow Ideas
So, how can you use this tool to improve your productivity? Just the other day, I had a client ask me how to apply superelevation to an alignment on a trail so he could control the cross slope of the trail (he didn’t want it to slope into the hill as it switched back and forth down the hillside). Using these tools, you can simply create those offset profiles, add in the cross slope regions, and target your lane to the alignment and profile and you’re done. Need to adjust the cross fall for a specific region? Just adjust the cross slope region on the offset profile!

Connected Alignment

Connected alignments are basically an alignment/profile filet. Have two intersecting alignments that you want to put another alignment curved between them yet always tangent to them? Well, this is the tool you want. Simply select the two alignments, pick in the quadrant you want the connected alignment, specify a few values, and you have the connected alignment. One of the options when creating the connected alignment is to create a connected profile as well. The profile will match the elevations of the parent profiles where the two coincide and then transition to match the other profile at the other end.

Connected_Alignments.png

Choosing the Quadrant for the Connected Alignment

Connected_Alignment_Options.png

Options When Creating Connected Alignments

Connected_Alignment_with_Profile.png

Connected Alignment with Profile

 

GOTCHA
 The two alignments that you want to create a Connected Alignment between must intersect each other. In certain situations, where you might have a non-perpendicular T intersection, the two offset alignments might not intersect each other. In this case, you won’t be able to create a Connected Alignment between them.

Connected_Alignment_Gotcha.png

Unable to Create Connected Alignments Here

Workflow Ideas
A long long time ago, Autodesk introduced the ability to automate intersection design in Civil 3D however, it only worked well for extremely simple intersections. If things get complex, you’ll need to manually create the intersection. In that case, these tools are ideal!

Extracted Featurelines as Baselines

We’ve been able to extract featurelines from a corridor for quite a while now. Last year, you could also use a featureline as a baseline in a corridor but what you couldn’t do is extract a featureline from a corridor and then add it back into the SAME corridor as a baseline.

In 2018, that limitation has been removed. Extract a featureline and simply add it back into the same corridor as a baseline.

Extracted_Featureline_as_Baseline.png

On the left, a single baseline                                                                           On the right, two baselines, one the centerline, one extracted edge of asphalt

Workflow Ideas
One of the issues I’ve seen with corridor modeling is in the area of lane widening. If I have a lane that widens out and has a sidewalk, if I use one assembly, the width of the sidewalk is calculated relative to the baseline, not the edge of the road. In a case like this, you’ll end up with a sidewalk that isn’t as wide (relative to the edge of road) as it should be. So what do you do? Extract the featureline from the edge of the road and add it back as a baseline to the corridor. To that, attach an assembly that contains the curb, walk, and daylight (or whatever subs you are using) and you’re done!

Corridor Bowtie Cleanup Optional

Introduced into Civil 3D 2017, corridors will now cleanup those nasty bowties for you automatically (in certain instances). Now, in 2018, you can choose whether or not Civil 3D will clean those up for you. On the Settings tab of the Toolspace, right click on Corridor and go into the feature settings. In the feature settings you’ll see new options for the bowtie options. You can choose if you want them to clean up the Tangent-Tangent situations or the Tangent-Arc (and Arc-Tangent) situations independently. Oh, and by the way, IT CLEANS UP TANGENT-ARC INTERSECTIONS NOW!!!!!

Bowtie_Cleanup_Options.png

Bowtie Cleanup Option

Workflow Ideas
I’m not exactly sure why you would want to turn this off but apparently there were people asking for it and so Autodesk included it as an option. I’m all down with options so I’m not going to complain, I just can’t think of a situation where I would want to turn this off. If you can think of one, please leave me a comment.

Daylight Bowties

The bowtie cleanup, as introduced in 2017, was a huge step forward but it wasn’t quite complete. It only worked between two tangents (straight lines) and only worked for links that had a constant width. In other words, the daylighting didn’t clean up. In 2018, they have given you a tool that cleans it up for you. You simply select the alignment piece before the cleanup and the alignment piece after the cleanup and then pick the point you want them to cleanup to. There’s also a tool to remove the cleanup if you want to change it up.

Clear_Bowties.png

GOTCHA
If the design changes, you’ll have to remove the cleanup and reapply it. The tool will continue to cleanup to the same location even if, after the design change, it’s no longer needed.

Workflow Ideas
I kind of think this one is a no brainer. We’ve all done designs where the inside corners of our corridors didn’t work and we would have to extract featurelines and use the grading tools or manually grade in that area. No more, just use the bowtie cleanup tool and you’re done!

Featureline Elevations Relative to a Surface

Featurelines – I love featurelines. Their ability to adjust with other featurelines is just amazing! New in 2018, you can set featurelines to be dynamic to a surface. If the surface changes, the featureline changes! When you create a featureline from objects or assign elevations to it (either through the command or the Elevation Editor), you can choose a surface as well as the relative elevation that you want them to be relative too. You can also adjust the relative elevation for each individual vertex of the featureline.

Create_Featurelines_From_Objects.png

Create Featurelines from Objects

Elevation_Editor.png

Elevation Editor

GOTCHA
Not a serious gotcha here but, I think you should be aware, a featureline can only reference one surface. If you need a featureline to be relative to two different surfaces, you’ll need to split it into multiple featurelines.

Workflow Ideas
I’m really excited about this one. The area I see it being used really well is for ADA ramps. You know the front of the ram needs to be 6” below the sidewalk and the back of the ramp needs to be at the top of the sidewalk. Create your featurelines that represent the ramp, set the relative elevations, create a surface from it  (I’m not sure if I would do one surface per ramp or put them all in the same surface with multiple boundaries, I’ll have to do some testing on it), and then past both the original surface and the ramp surface into a new surface. If the design of the sidewalk changes, the ramp immediately updates too (just double check to make sure it still meets the requirements).

Sections

If you’ve ever worked with sections, you know that what Civil 3D produces is typically not enough for constructions. The sections need additional annotation, blocks, and linework. The problem is, if you move the section views, or if the section views get rearranged automatically, the Autocad objects don’t move with the views, until now. Section Views now have a buffer property. Any AutoCAD objects within the buffer will move with the section view.

Section_View_Buffer.png

Section View Buffer

GOTCHA
If you adjust the buffer around a section view to include new objects or exclude existing objects, the objects won’t know the buffer has changed until they (the objects) have been edited. Just do a move from 0,0,0 to 0,0,0 and they will re-identify with being inside or outside the buffer.

You can also add new Section Views to a View Group. In the past, if you needed to add a new sample line in between two sample lines, you would have to either manually update the section views to account for the new view or delete them all and recreate them. In 2018, you can simply create the section view and then add it into an existing view group.

Move_To_Section_View_Group.png

Move to Section View Group

Workflow Ideas
For those of you that do roadway design, this one is huge! It doesn’t really create any new workflows, it just greatly simplifies the ones we already have. Need to add a cross section for a new culvert that wasn’t originally planned? Create the sample line, create the view, and add it to the view group. When the layout of the section views updates, any AutoCAD objects in the views will move with the view.

Plan-Plan and Profile-Profile

The plan production tools have been out for ages now and have been pretty much untouched, until now. In 2018 you can now create Plan-Plan sheets and Profile-Profile sheets. The process is pretty much the same, the only difference is in the template that you use to create the sheets. In the template, create the two (or however many you need)  viewports and in the properties, set them to the correct type (i.e. plan or profile), and then give them the correct order. The viewports have a new property called “Viewport Order”. The viewport you want to use first will have the Viewport Order=1, the second will have the Viewport Order=2, etc.

Plan-Plan.png

Plan-Plan Production showing the properties of the lower viewport

GOTCHA
The viewports need to have the same dimensions (at least as far as the length of the viewport goes). I tried creating a template with one long viewport and then under that a shorter viewport and it failed. The length of the profile views was calculated using the shorter viewport. I haven’t tested it much but it’s something to be aware of.

Workflow Ideas
I haven’t really come up with any new workflow ideas for this one. Like the section view improvements, it just greatly simplifies the ones we have. In the past, I would create a viewport that was twice as long as I needed and then manually copy it and crop it in order to get the Plan-Plan or Profile-Profile. This just makes the process much easier.

Conclusion

So, what do you think? Which of these are you most excited about? Which one do you think will improve your processes the most? Was there something I missed? I would love to hear your thoughts about the new release. Just leave a comment and let the world know!

Here’s an issue I ran into recently. A client of mine was creating profile views for his sheets and noticed that the grade labels where always at the midpoint of the line. The problem with this is if less then half of the line was being displayed in the profile view, there was no label to display! So, after thinking about it for a few moments, I came up with a solution.

The Problem

By default, when a grade label is placed on the tangent line of a profile it is placed at the midpoint of the line. If you are using only one profile view for the entire profile, this is no big deal at all. However, if you have your profile split up into multiple views, the grade label for the line will only show up if the midpoint of the line is within the station range of the profile view.

three-views-one-label

One profile line, three profile views, one label

I don’t want this, I want the grade label to show up in ALL profile views regardless of how long the line is. So, here’s the solution.

 

The Solution

Here’s what I came up with, if I attach the label to the feature, my only options are to attach it at the beginning, middle, or end of the line. Well, I want it to be half way between the start of the line in the view and the end of the line in the view so, create line that goes from those two points.

label_line_setup

Create line within label style

The basics of this line is you want it to anchor the start and end to the feature (in this case, the feature is the line) and you want it to start where the line starts in the profile view (Anchor Tangent Start in View) and end where the line ends in the profile view (Anchor Tangent End in View). I don’t necessarily want to see the line in the profile view so set the visibility to “False”.

 

Now, we have something that will always be drawing in our profile view if there is a line in the view and now I can attach the label to the middle of that line.

add_label_to_line

Attach label to the middle of the line

Once this is done, if the profile view has even the smallest bit of the line being displayed, the line will be labeled.

three_views_-_three_labels

One profile line, three profile views, three labels

Will I provide you with a drawing that contains this label style? Nah. It’s pretty simple. Just go create it yourself!

AU2016 has come and gone and I’m really excited about point clouds right now. I sat in a lab with Ramesh from Autodesk (using point clouds in InfraWorks) and he gave me the data set he was using as a sample. In the class, he imported the data set into ReCap, trimmed out the unneeded bits, and then brought that into InfraWorks which worked just fine.

Point Cloud Comparison.png

Same Clipped Point Cloud in InfraWorks and Civil 3D

The problem is, if you bring that same clipped point cloud into AutoCAD Civil 3D (or any other AutoCAD based program), the point cloud is not clipped. According to the Autodesk Knowledge Network, this is a known problem and they are working on fixing it however, the only solution currently listed there is, “For InfraWorks the point cloud functionality has been corrected with release 2016”. That’s not much of a solution if you ask me but, I did happen to discover one.

after clipping the point cloud in ReCap, export the project out. This will create a new point cloud that can then be inserted just fine. To export the point cloud, mouse over the House icon, the Down Arrow icon, and then click the Up Arrow icon.

Export.png

Export the Clipped Project

ReCap will then ask you if you want to unify the scans. I’m not exactly sure what this does but I think it combines all the scan files into one file. When I did this, I simply used the default settings and clicked the “space ship” icon.

Unified.png

Huh? A space ship? Really?

Once the project has been exported, simply import that into Civil 3D (or any other AutoCAD based program) and the point cloud will be clipped.

Exported_vs._Original.png

Comparison between original file and exported file in Civil 3D

Hopefully this will help someone out that’s struggling with point clouds in AutoCAD. If you have time, I would love to hear how you are using point clouds in either InfraWorks or Civil 3D. Leave a comment and let us all know!

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