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, 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.


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.

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.


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

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 – 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

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:

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 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.


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.


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!

Have you ever had two surfaces that you needed to combine together but the problem is, at the boundary of the inner surface, its elevations don’t match the elevations of the outer surface. In cases like this, if you paste them together you can get some really odd things going on where they are supposed to meet.

An example of this might be that you have one surface that was created from USGS data and another surface that was surveyed. They should be close to the same elevations but they won’t be exact. I often have people ask me if there’s a way to combine them but use a buffer between. Using a buffer you won’t get those almost vertical triangles or triangles that go out for quite a while until they connect into the other surface.


Pasting Surfaces Issue

In the above image, I have two surfaces, one with green triangles and a yellow border and one with grey contours. I need to paste them together to create a combined surface. Any surface points that are under the border of the inner surface when it’s pasted in will be removed and that white, thick line represents the triangles from the outer surface that are unchanged. As you can see, there are some odd things going on.

Since there’s no way to add a buffer when pasting surfaces, what do you do? Well, here’s how you do it in five simple steps:

  1. Extract the border of the inner surface.
  2. Offset this extracted border the buffer distance.
  3. Assign the elevations from the outer surface to this new object.
  4. Create a surface from this offset.
  5. Paste all three surfaces together.

1. Extract the border of the inner surface.

You probably already know how to do this but, in case you don’t, it’s pretty simple. Just follow these steps:

  • Make sure the surface you want to extract the border from is using a style that actually displays the border (you can’t extract something if the surface isn’t dislaying it).
  • Select the surface and on the ribbon expand out “Extract from Surface” and choose “Extract Objects”.


    Extract Objects

  • Select “Border” from the options in the next dialog box (deselect anything else you don’t want to extract from your surface) and click OK.


    Select the Border to Extract

You now have a 3D polyline in your drawing where the border of the surface is.

2. Offset this extracted border the buffer distance

Again, pretty simple but I’ll explain the steps here. On the Modify tab of the ribbon, on Edit Geometry panel, there’s a command called, “Stepped Offset”.


Stepped Offset

Follow the command line prompts and offset it the distance you need. When it comes to setting the elevation, it really doesn’t matter what you choose as we’ll set the elevation of this new polyline in the next step. The AutoCAD Offset command most likely will not work as this is likely to be a 3D Polyline and the Offset command only works on 2D objects.


Offset Polyline


3. Assign the elevations from the outer surface to this new object

This new polyline needs the elevations of the outer surface. Still on the Modify tab of the Ribbon, on the Edit Elevations panel, there is a command called, “Elevations from Surface”.


Elevations from Surface

Run this command and select the polyline. Next you’ll see a new dialog box asking you which surface to use. Select the outer surface (in this example it’s called “Pre-EG”) and make sure you toggle ON the option for, “Insert intermediate grade break points”.


Elevations from Surface Options

Your new 3D polyline now follows the outer surface exactly and we’re ready for the next step.

4. Create a surface from this object.

Again, pretty simple but here are the steps.

  1. On the Home tab of the ribbon, on the Create Ground Data panel, expand out Surfaces, and select the first option, “Create Surface”.
  2. Name it appropriately (I would call it something like “<inner surface name> Pasting Buffer”. Set any other settings you want (the style really doesn’t matter – I would probably choose something like, “No Display” if it’s an option).
  3. On the prospector, expand out the new surface, expand out the definition, right click on Breaklines and chose, “Add”. Select the offset 3d polyline and apply the breakline settings as desired.

And that’s it. You’re done.

5. Paste all three surfaces together.

Now, that you have done all that, we are ready to paste them all together. You can past them into the original outside surface but I’m not a fan of that. I would much rather have the outside surface remain intact in case I need to use it for something else. I typically will create a new surface (see step four for the steps to create a new surface).

On the Prospector tab, expand out the new surface, expand out definitions, and choose “Paste”. Select the surfaces you want to paste in. The order you paste them in is very important as whatever is within the border of the incoming surface will completely overwrite everything inside it. The order we will use here is 1) Outside surface 2) Buffer surface 3) Inner surface.


Paste Order

The following sequence of images show the progression of the new surface as the other three surfaces are pasted in. I left in the thick white line from earlier as a reference.


Outer Surface Pasted In


Buffer Surface Pasted In


Inner Surface Pasted In

As you can see, that buffer works very nicely. You can compare this to a surface that only has the outer and inner surfaces pasted in.


Same surface without the buffer surface

What do you think? Is this something you might use? Leave a comment if you do this a different way. I always love to hear about different ways of accomplishing things!

The data set I used is from the training manual “A Practical Guide to Civil 3D 2017” by Rick Elis. You can order a copy from his company CADapult if you would like one. This is the book I use in my classes.

If you’ve downloaded the Civil 3D 2017 v1 Enhancements and tried using the Swap Pressure Network Parts command, you might have seen some odd things happening…


Shifting Parts When Swapping Parts (picture from Autodesk)

Autodesk has released a hotfix for this. It’s a simple fix, just download a file and swap out the one on your system with the new file. The hotfix can be found HERE.

One of the things I’ve struggled with in the past is some of the reports don’t work well with Internet Explorer 10. I wrote up a blog post on how to adjust the settings within Internet Explorer to emulate IE9 but it’s not fun to do. A reader of my blog mentioned an add-on for Google Chrome that allows it to emulate Internet Explorer, it’s called IE Tab.


This is really simple, set Chrome as your default browser, run the report, click on the button on the toolbar, allow the content, and you’re golden!

IE Tab.gif

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.


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

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.