If you are using Pressure Networks within Civil 3D, do yourself a favor and install the new service pack for Civil 3D 2016 (SP3) and Civil 3D 2017 (SP1.1). These fix several pressure networks issues which I’ll talk about here.

A little bit of background, a few weeks ago (not sure of the exact date) the Civil 3D product team released service pack 1 (SP1) for Civil 3D 2017. There were some issues with it so they pulled it down and then just last week they re-released it as service pack 1.1 (SP1.1). As of this writing, it’s not available on the Civil 3D support website HERE but I was able to download it via the Autodesk Desktop App. It should show up eventually. The Civil 3D 2016 SP3 is available at that link.

Autodesk_Desktop_App

Service Pack in the Autodesk Desktop App

So what are the issues that are fixed and why are they important? You can read up on the changes included in the service packs here: 2016 SP3 and 2017 SP1.1. The two issues I’ll be referring to in this post are:

  1. An issue that caused unexpected behavior when using grips to edit pressure network pipes in profile view has been resolved.
  2. An issue has been resolved where edits to the level of a pressure network were not retained when the pressure network was data-referenced

Reference Issue

Let’s talk about number 2 first as, in my opinion, that’s the big one. When you create a pressure network and edit the elevations of the pipe by either putting in a vertical curve or have it follow the surface, when you data reference that pipe into another drawing, the pipe comes in straight.

Reference Issue

Reference Issue

As you can see in the previous image, on the left is the source drawing containing two pressure pipes. One of the pipes has been vertically curved and the other has been set to follow the surface. When referenced into another drawing, they come in straight as can be seen on the right.

After installing the service pack, simply open the same drawings and synchronize the references. You’ll see that the referenced pipes are the same as the source pipes.

Reference Resolved

Reference Issue Resolved

Grip Issue

The second item I will be discussing here is the issue with grip editing. This isn’t always an issue but can be in certain cases. First off, what is the issue? Well, if you set a pressure pipe to follow a surface and then use grips to edit the elevations of the different parts, sometimes the grip will be applied to the adjacent grip instead of the selected grip.

Grip Edit Issue

Grip Edit Issue

After installing the service packs, this is no longer an issue.

Grips Resolved

Grips Working Correctly

So, what causes this issue in the first place? This only seems to be an issue if the alignment and the pressure pipe are going in opposite directions. When you create the alignment from pressure network, make sure the pipes and the alignments are going the same way. Even with the latest service packs, if they are going opposite directions, you’ll still see a small issue, the last grip on the pressure pipe won’t display.

Missing_Grip

Missing Grip

As far as I know, there’s no way to edit that grip in this view, you’ll need to create a different alignment going the opposite direction to be able to edit it. In other words, it’s still a good idea to have your pressure pipes still go the same direction as the alignment but it’s not quite as important.

AutoCAD 2016 saw the introduction of the Geometric Center object snap. If you aren’t familiar with this snap, it basically will snap to the “geometric center” of an object, such as a polyline. What’s the geometric center? Well, it’s the centroid or center of mass. The problem is, this snap is not available in the Snap Override menu within Civil 3D 2016 or 2017.

<note>It was pointed out to me that this doesn’t work in 2016. The shortcut menu in the ACAD.CUI that is installed with Civil 3D 2016 is incomplete as well. If you are using 2016, you’ll need to copy the menu from the ACAD.CUI that gets installed with AutoCAD, not the one installed with Civil 3D. Open the ACAD.CUI in the transfers tab and copy it over that way. </note>

AutoCAD vs. Civil 3D.png

AutoCAD vs. Civil 3D

You’ll also notice that in AutoCAD, you get the icons showing what the different snaps do whereas in Civil 3D, you don’t. If you want to enable this, you’ll need to replace the Civil 3D Snap Override menu with the AutoCAD version. To do this, go into your CUI editor (type CUI at the command line if you haven’t been there before).

Copy_Menu.png

Copy AutoCAD Menu

In the CUI, scroll towards the bottom (I hid the Command List to make it easier to see), expand out Partial Customization Files, ACAD, and Shortcut Menus. Under the Shortcut Menus, right click on “Object Snap Cursor Menu” and choose “Copy”. Now that the AutoCAD version is copied, we’ll go replace the Civil 3D version with the AutoCAD version. Collapse up the Partial Customization Files and expand out Shortcut Menus (directly under CIVIL), right click on Object Snap Cursor Menu and choose Delete.

Paste_Here.png

Replace the Civil 3D menu with the AutoCAD menu

Once the old menu has been deleted, right click on the Shortcut Menus and choose Paste. This will paste the AutoCAD version of the menu that we copied into the Civil CUI file. Now, simply close the CUI editor and return to Civil 3D and be happy with your new snap overrides menu.

Snap_Menu_in_Civil_3D.png

Civil 3D with the new snap menu

 

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.

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.

It’s an exciting time of year for all of us Civil Software Geeks, new software is coming out and we get to see the new and exciting things in the latest release. If you haven’t seen it yet, check out my recap of What’s New in InfraWorks 2016.1. I just downloaded the latest release of Civil 3D 2016 and there are several things that are new. Here are the things in this release and the bold ones are the ones I’ll be discussing:

  • Manage data shortcuts to repair broken shortcuts and replace DWG objects
  • Display vault project objects that exist in subfolders within object type
  • Create data references to objects that exist in different vault projects
  • Import and export IFC (Industry Foundation Class) files
  • Select alignments by layer to be used as width and targets
  • Control the direction of sections in section views
  • Subbassembly Composer loop geometry support
  • Create exclusionary catchments
  • Crossing pipe and pressure pipe profile view labels
  • Pressure pipe labels in section views
  • Import Bridges from InfraWorks into Civil 3D

Just because I’m not discussing them here doesn’t mean they aren’t great improvements, it’s just that I haven’t installed Vault 2016 yet and I haven’t had a chance to learn what an IFC file is yet.

Oh, one more thing before I get started, NO DRAWING FORMAT CHANGE! That’s right, 2016 has the same drawing format as 2013. They’ve broken the 3 year cycle on changing the drawing format.

Manage Data Shortcuts

This one is sweet! Ever have a drawing move or have IT move data to a different drive? I know what you’re thinking, “Brian! They would never do that!” Yeah right. Anyways, this command allows you to repath your data references to a new drawing or to the original drawing if it moved on you. Not only that, you can replace an object in your drawing with a data reference and all the references to that original drawing are maintained!

Manage Data References

Manage Data References

Another fantastic thing that isn’t advertised in the “What’s New”, YOU DON’T HAVE TO SAVE PRIOR TO CREATING DATA SHORTCUTS!!!!!!

Data Shortcuts Without Saving

Data Shortcuts Without Saving

Alignment Targets By Layer

If you have several alignments that a corridor region needs to target, you can now choose the targets by layer.

Alignment Targets By Layer

Alignment Targets By Layer

Section View Display Direction

Section Views have finally caught up to Profile Views, they can be drawing “Right to Left” or “Left to Right”. This should make all those hydraulic modelers happy!

Section View Direction

Section View Direction

Subassembly Composer Loop

Have you needed to put benches in your daylight or a series of walls or something else repetitive in your subassembly? New in 2016, you can now add a loop component that will continue until either a criteria is met or a maximum number of iterations has been done (this keeps it from blowing up on you).

Subassembly Loop

Subassembly Loop

Exclusionary Catchments.

I’ve always liked the idea of creating catchments (or drainage areas or drainage basins or whatever term they use in your area) in Civil 3D from a surface but the problem has always been, but what if I need to subdivide this large basin into smaller ones? For example, I have a road with inlets at a low point and so I create a catchment to that inlet but, the flow in the street is too big. What do you do? You add an inlet upstream and then define a catchment to it. Now in 2016, this new catchment area will be removed from the original catchment so you won’t have duplicate areas!

First Catchment Added

First Catchment Added

Additional Catchment Added

Additional Catchment Added

Crossing Pipe Labels

We’ve been asking for this one for a LONG time and it’s finally here! We can label the a pipe where it crosses in a profile view!

Crossing Pipe Label

Crossing Pipe Label

In the image you can also see the different crossing properties that you can place in your label.

Pressure Pipe Labels in Section Views

In addition to being able to label pressure pipes crossing in a profile view, you can also label them crossing in a section view as well.

Pressure Pipe Crossing Section

Pressure Pipe Crossing Section

Import Bridges from InfraWorks

So, you have InfraWorks 360 with the Roads and Highways and the Bridge tools and you’ve created a nice bridge in InfraWorks. When you import that model into Civil 3D 2016, the bridge comes along as well now!

Bridge from InfraWorks into Civil 3D

Bridge from InfraWorks into Civil 3D

So, what do you think of Civil 3D 2016?