Note from Brian: Something new in the 2015 release. The images plot. HERE

So AutoCAD 2014 has this cool new feature called Live Maps and Geographic Location (basically, AutoCAD now owns the coordinate systems for Civil 3D and Map 3D). When a coordinate system is assigned to the drawing, you get a new tab on the ribbon allowing you to display an aerial map, a road map, and do some cool stuff.

The problem is, this isn’t in Civil 3D 2014 at all. Here are the steps to add this ribbon tab to Civil 3D 2014.

HERE is a video showing the steps

  1. Open AutoCAD 2014. This can either be AutoCAD 2014 or Civil 3D 2014 as AutoCAD 2014.
  2. Go into the CUI (Customize User Interface) dialog box (type CUI at the command line).
  3. In the CUI, go to the Transfers tab and create a new CUI file.
    CUI Transfer Tab

    CUI Transfer Tab 


  4. Drag the Geolocation ribbon tab from the ACAD.CUIX file to your new CUI file (just drag and drop)
    Drag and Drop

    Drag and Drop


  5. Save the CUI file and close AutoCAD.
  6. Open Civil 3D 2014 and type CUI just like in AutoCAD (don’t go to the Transfer tab, stay on the Customize tab).
  7. Load in the CUI file you saved in AutoCAD
    Open Partial CUI File

    Open Partial CUI File


  8. In the just loaded CUI file, drag the Geolocation ribbon tab to the Geo Coordinate System Assigned Contextual Tab State.
    Contextual State

    Contextual State


  9. Save and your off and running.

Now, when you assign a coordinate system to your drawing, you can also display aerial maps or road maps in the drawing as well.

Map Display Options

Map Display Options

With the new release, some tools are added, some are updated, and some tools are replaced. Here’s an example of tools that have been replaced, sort of.

Civil 3D 2012 Subscription Extension introduced us to the Volumes Dashboard Extension (you can read about it HERE if you aren’t familiar with it). It has a lot of the same functionality, plus a LOT more, as the old volumes tools from the Analysis tab of the ribbon. Now, I love the new Volumes Dashboard but the problem is, in order to calculate volumes with it, you need to create a volume surface. Sometimes it’s nice to do a quick volume without having to create the volume surface.

Well, fear not my friends! The old tool remains in Civil 3D 2013, it just isn’t exposed on the ribbon anywhere, you need to type the command. The command is ReportSurfaceVolume. If you want the old bounded volumes tool (don’t see ANY advantage using this tool over the Volumes Dashboard) you can use the command ReportSurfBoundedVolume.

Type the Commands

Classic Volume Tool in 2013

Please, whatever you do, don’t discard the Volumes Dashboard because it really does rock!

So, Civil 3D 2013 is just around the corner and I wanted to let you all know a few of my favorite things in this release.


Well, I can’t really comment on the performance yet as I haven’t had much chance to push the software around but, if you listen to those in the know, they’ve made some serious improvements to the performance.


There are some major improvements to the survey tools in this release. In fact, there is an entire new tab on the ribbon for your survey tools. What’s the big thing? Querying your survey database. One of the things I’ve always found awkward about the survey database is the disconnect between it and the drawing. With this release you can query your survey database and add the results of the query directly to a surface. If you add additional data to the survey database that matches the query, when you rebuild your surface, it will update (in my testing, the surfaces wasn’t marked as out of data if the survey database changed).

Survey Query

Survey Query Ribbon Tab

Now that’s pretty cool and really useful for surveyors but, there is also the ability to create a line label, WITHOUT A LINE! How many times have I been asked if you can do this? I’ve lost count and now I’ll be able to say, YES!

Line Between Two Points Label

Basically this tool creates a phantom line that is labeled. Grab the label and you can adjust the points it’s labeling between.


I’m an engineer. Why did I get into engineering? I wanted to drive trains. Three years into college and I realize that I won’t be driving any trains (I was wondering what statics had to do with trains) but now with Civil 3D 2013, I can design rail lines. There are new alignment types and settings (I’ve seen many times on the discussion groups people asking about Degree of Curvature and now we have it). Honestly, I’ve not done much with the rail tools in 2013 so I’ll leave that for someone else to write up (at least for now).

Rail Cant

The corridor creation has a new dialog box that makes it a bit easier. It’s a small improvement but hey, I’ll take anything they’ll give me. The assemblies have had some very nice improvements. When you add a subassembly to another subassembly, it will detect the correct side that it’s on for you so you don’t have to constantly change the sides as you are creating the assembly. Additionally, you can replace an existing subassembly in an assembly as well as insert a subassembly between two subassemblies.

Insert Subassemblies


The Volume Dashboard Extension is now a part of the program. If you have checked out this great tool, check out the write up I did on it earlier HERE.

One thing that I always struggled with is when you need to cut out one surface at the limit of another surface. Not a difficult task but if you change these surfaces, the process for adding the boundary again is very manual in nature. Now you can simply add one surface as a hide boundary to another surface (be careful not to get into a circular reference issue).

Surface as Hide Boundary

Pressure Networks

Yup, you heard me. You can now model pressure networks in Civil 3D 2013. There is a brand new type of object, a Pressure Network. It has it’s own parts lists and everything. Bends, tees, crosses, valves, etc are all available for you to add to your network. This is a pretty big addition to Civil 3D and I haven’t had a lot of time to get down and dirty with this yet so stay tuned for more posts on this topic as I learn the ins and outs of this.

Hopefully you’ve seen something here that makes you go, “Oooh! I can use that!”

I’m not exactly sure why anyone would need to do this but I’ve seen it asked a couple of times in the last few weeks so I figured I would address it.  Perhaps some other pieces of software can only accept point files.  Whatever the reason, how do you extract the points from a surface to a point file?  Well, it turns out that it’s a four step process.  Display the points, extract the points, convert the points, export the points.

First, the surface needs to display points.  A c0ouple options, create a new style that displays the points or edit the style the surface is using to display the points then, when you are done, change it back.  In this example, I’m going to edit the style the surface is currently using.  Select the surface, on the ribbon, expand out the surface properties pulldown, and choose Edit Surface Style.  On the display tab of the surface style, toggle on the display of the points.  It doesn’t really matter how they are displayed, just as long as they are displayed.

Next step is to extract the points from the surface.  Again, use the ribbon.  Select the surface and then on the ribbon, choose Extract Objects.  Uncheck everything except the points and hit ok.  This will create an AutoCAD point at every surface point.  After you do this, you can change the style back to not displaying points if you want.

Now that there are AutoCAD points in the drawing, it’s time to convert them to Civil 3D points.  Before you do this, make sure you point settings are set appropriately so you don’t have to hit enter for a description or name after each point is created.  To speed things up, make sure your settings are as follows:  Point Names – None, Point Description – Automatic or Automatic Object, Elevation – Automatic.  On the Home tab, choose the points pulldown and then Convert AutoCAD Points.  You now have Civil 3D Points in your drawing.

The final step is to export the points out to a file.  If these are the only points in your file, you can export the All Points point group.  If you have other points in the drawing, create a point group for just these points.  Right click on the point group in the prospector and choose Export Points.  In the export points dialog box, choose the point format and the file name and you’re done.

Hopefully someone will find this helpful.

Welcome to my new blog.  Hopefully this will be a great resource for those of you wishing to take Civil 3D to the next level.

Recently, I’ve talked with several people that haven’t been using the new user interface (i.e. ribbon) to it’s full capabilities.  I put together a quick little video showing a few modifications that I like to make that hopefully you’ll be able to use as well.  The first thing about the new interface is that the quick properties is an excellent (vital?) tool to use with Civil 3D.  In 2009, the quick properties often caused the program to crash but, in 2010, I’ve yet to have that happen.  You can quickly rename objects and change their styles using the quick properties.  There are also additional properties that you can add to the quick properties depending on what kind of projects you work on.  All this is nice and good but, man it sure is annoying when you select something and that quick pr0perties shows up right on top of what you are trying to see.  Even if you move it out of the way, it will still pop up where it’s least wanted.  Well, you can change the properties so that it always pops up in the same place.

When I first started using the ribbon, the thing I disliked most is that the layer pulldown is on the home tab.  If I switch to any other tab, the layers aren’t readily visible.  Well, if you right click on any tool on the ribbon, you get the option to add it to the quick access toolbar.  Now, no matter what I’m doing, I always have access to my layers pulldown.  Another command I like to add to the quick access toolbar is the add labels command.

I look forward to writing more posts.  If anyone has anything they would like me to post on, feel free to leave a comment.

For future posts, I’m planning on embedding any videos I create directly into the blog so, sorry about the link for now.