Well, it’s once again that time of year, we get to see what cool new features are available in the new release of Autodesk software. Well, do you want to see what I think the best features are? I’ll list a few of the new features in the order that I think they are the most beneficial. Of course I’ll leave the best for last so, ranked from 5-1, my top five features in Civil 3D 2017!
5 – Object and Data Shortcut Folders
On large projects, managing all your data can be cumbersome at best. Having several different surfaces that end up getting combined into a single surface, multiple alignments for use in an interstate interchange, and the examples keep coming.
In Civil 3D 2017, we can now organize our object data and data shortcuts in folders, simply right click on the object collection and choose the Create Folder option. You can create as many folders as you like and can create sub-folders as well.
Not only is this option available for the objects, they are available for data shortcuts too. In fact, if you create a data shortcut for an object in a sub-folder, the data shortcut will be placed in an identical sub-folder in the project folder.
On a related note, you can also create multiple data references at once. Just select all the data shortcuts you want to reference and drag them into your drawing (or right click and choose “Create Reference”). You won’t get the options you get when creating a single data reference but you could always go edit the ones you wanted to change from the default.
4 – Style Management
There are a lot of situations where the current method of managing the styles within a drawing leave a lot to desire. Many companies have very strict CAD standards but how do you know if someone has changed a style? Other times, you may work with organizations that have different standards and you may work on these different projects daily. How do you keep track of which drawings need which styles?
Well, 2017 will greatly help you here, that’s for sure! You can now attach a drawing or drawing template to a drawing as a “Referenced Template”. If styles in the template are changed, deleted, or added, the styles will be changed, deleted (if they aren’t being used), or added to the attached drawing. In fact, multiple Reference Templates can be added to a drawing (you can even create a template specific for a project and attach it to the project drawings only). The new command can be found on the Manage Tab of the Ribbon.
3 – Pressure Network Content
This one is pretty huge and I almost placed it further down in the list but, it’s just content and not functionality. I often get asked if CAD-1 is going to create pressure network content for the Civil 3D Pressure Networks like we have for the Pipe Networks and I was always hesitant to do it because I figured Autodesk would create the content the release after I created ours. Looks like it worked out for me because that’s exactly what Autodesk did (without the me doing it first part).
In Civil 3D 2017, there has been a ton of added Pressure Network content! In fact, there are now 6 catalogs that are installed by default.
- Push On
Just to give you an idea of some of the added content, the following image shows some of the appurtenances available in the PVC catalog and, yes, that’s a hydrant!
2 – Featurelines as Corridor Baselines
This is one I’ve been anticipating for a long time! Yes, alignments and profiles are powerful and have a place for roadway design but sometimes you just need to push an assembly along a feature, well now you can. Featurelines can now be used as a baseline in a corridor!
Now, honestly, I probably wouldn’t use them much to replace the traditional alignment/profile workflow for roadway design but what about those offset targets? They can be used for assembly offsets too! And don’t forget curb and gutter in a parking lot!
1 – Corridor Corner Cleanup
And finally, you’ve made it all the way to number one! What do I think is the best feature out of everything that’s available in Civil 3D 2017? Well, that would have to be the Corridor Corner Cleanup! You have an angle point in your corridor baseline? (I almost typed alignment but a baseline can be a featureline now…) Does that angle point cause your corridor to do odd things such as crossing sections on the inside of the bend or short cutting on the outside?
With the new feature, this is no longer an issue! As long as the subassemblies used in that region of the corridor have a constant width (in other words daylight subassemblies don’t work yet), they will clean up to each other! Now, add this with the option to use a featureline as a baseline and you have amazing new tools for modeling a parking lot!
Ok, so this last one I’m not quite sure about yet. It’s a great tool, I’m just not sure how it would be used, it’s something I’m going to have to play around with for a bit and see how useful it is. What’s the feature? Well, Corridors can now be data referenced! It’s great that we can do it, I’m just not quite sure where it will fit into the workflow just yet. If you can think of how you would use it, just leave a comment and let us all know.
So, what do you think about these features? Would you have ordered them differently or added some of the others and removed some of these from the list?
All in all, I’m very excited about this release of the software! There’s a ton of new stuff in here but, it does come with a cost. Although AutoCAD 2017 still uses the 2013 .dwg format and is backwards compatible, Civil 3D 2017 is not backwards compatible. If you open a Civil 3D drawing in 2017 and save it, you won’t be able to use it in 2016 or earlier any longer so be cautious as you explore the new features, use copies of your drawings until you are ready to make the leap to the new version.
Now get out there and see what amazing out of the box ideas you can come up with now that we have these new capabilities!