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!


Autodesk AutoCAD 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.


Create sub-folders for objects and data shortcuts

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.


Adding Multiple References at Once

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.


Referenced Templates

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.

  • Flanged
  • HDPE
  • Mechanical
  • Push On
  • PVC
  • Steel

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!


PVC Catalog Appurtenances

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!


Featureline as Corridor Baseline

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!


Corridor Corner Cleanup

Bonus Feature

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.


Data Reference Corridors

Final Thoughts

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!


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?

I love data shortcuts but one thing that’s always annoyed me is that in order for them to work well, you need to have all your projects in the same directory.  Many of the people I work with group their projects by client.  For example, their server might be something along the lines of p:/client number/project number.  Data shortcuts in this environment don’t work all that well because in order to work on a different project, I have to change the working folder (client number) and the data shortcut folder (project number).  Read on to find out how Civil 3D 2011 handles this. (more…)