So, you’ve downloaded Civil 3D 2017 Service Pack 1 to fix those pesky issues. Which issues? These issues. Great, so you close out of Civil 3D, install the service pack, and the next time you’re in your drawing, you notice a whole bunch of warning symbols!

Glyphs

Glyphs Glyphs Everywhere!

What are these things? Well, they are a new feature that was added to Civil 3D 2017 in Service Pack 1. They let you know when a label has a text override. If you hold your mouse over the glyph, it will tell you what it’s there for.

Overriden_Text_Component.png

Tooltip when hovering over glyph

Just like the other warning symbols in Civil 3D, when the drawing is regened (run the REGEN command), the glyphs will always go back to a certain percentage of the screen size (I’m not exactly sure what that is and I don’t have a ruler handy to do the calculations).

I can see these symbols pretty much taking over a drawing so, how do you turn them off? Well, there are two ways:
1) Don’t override the text in your labels. I didn’t say they were both GOOD ways.
2) Turn off all the symbols like this in your drawing. I didn’t say either way were GOOD ways!

Yup, if you want them turned off, you have to disable the display of ALL of these warning symbols (Pressure Network Design Checks, Alignment Tangency Checks, Alignment Design Criteria Violations, Profile Horizontal Changes, etc.). To do this go into your AutoCAD OPTIONS and on the AEC Editor tab you’ll see a section called “Solution Tips” (these symbols are called “Solutions Tips” apparently). The two radio buttons allow you to control if you see the tips when drafting (i.e. in your drawing) and when your plot.

Solutions_Tips.png

Solutions Tips

I suppose the other option is to simply not install Service Pack 1. If you aren’t having any of the issues it says it fixes, and you don’t want these obnoxious symbols all over your drawing, I don’t see any super compelling reason to install it.

What do you think? Do you like the symbols? Do you hate them? Personally, I’ll give them a try. I always recommend to people that when Autodesk does something new to the software, give it a month. If after a month you don’t like it, then go back to the way it was. Now, if I could only figure out how to go back without uninstalling the service pack…

 

<If you don’t like reading, there’s a video at the bottom of the post.>

I’ve been playing around with InfraWorks for a bit now and I’ve always meant to but never got around to figuring out the Style Rules until now. All I’ve seen with regards to the rules is how to randomize your display. Well, I don’t want to randomize it, I want it to be very specific! I want my offroad roads to look like offroad roads, I want my highways to look like highways, and I want my local roads to look like local roads. Well, read on and see how it’s done! It’s actually a lot easier then I expected.

This is what I’m getting, all the roads look the same:

What I Get

What I Get

And this is what I want, the roads stylized based on their classification:

What I Want

What I Want

First of all, you need a data source with information in it that you’ll use to stylize the InfraWorks objects. In the example I’m using, I downloaded the data from the GIS department for Loveland, Colorado. To get a quick idea of the data that’s in the shape file for the roads, I attached it to a Civil 3D drawing (just drag the .shp file into the Civil 3D drawing) and opened the data table. This particular data source has a field called ROAD_CLASS. Some of the values for ROAD_CLASS are: RAMP, LOCAL, HWY, CLCTR-MINOR, etc.

Road Classification Data Field

Road Classification Data Field

This is the data that I want to use to determine the style of the road. I’ve broken the process up into three steps, adding the data to the model, creating the style rule, and applying the style rule.

Adding the Data to the Model

I’m not going to get into how to add the shapefile to the model here, what I’m going to discuss is how to get that particular piece of data from the shapefile and add it to each road in the model. When configuring the data source (this can be done when it’s added or after the fact if needed), you’ll need to tell InfraWorks to include the piece of data you need. In this example, I’m going to add it to the description of the road. On the Common tab of the Data Source Configuration, simply hit the pull down to add the ROAD_CLASS field to the description of the roads.

Adding GIS Data Fields to InfraWorks Objects

Adding GIS Data Fields to InfraWorks Objects

Note: If you want to add the data to a different property, you can do this on the Table tab of the Data source Configuration dialog box.

Close and refresh and now we are ready to create the Style Rules.

Creating the Style Rule

Now, we want the style of these roads to be determined from the description so, let’s create a Style Rule. To open the Style Rules, select the big orange I in the top left of your model (I’m using 2014 R4 for this), select the button just to the right of it, “Create and manage your model”, and then select Style Rules.

Open the Style Rules Panel

Open the Style Rules Panel

In the Styles Rules, select the tab on the left for the feature you want to add the rules to (in this case I’m going to choose Roads) and then add the new rule by selecting the green plus. Give the rule a name (I’m using the roadway classification here) and then click OK.

Add a Rule

Add a Rule

Once the rule is added, double click on it to edit the rule. In the Rule Editor, you can change the name of the rule and add a description to the rule if you would like. The important part here are the “Expression:” and “Styles:” sections.

Rule Editor

Rule Editor

In the “Expressions:” section, select the Edit button to edit the expression (sounds obvious, doesn’t it?). In the Create Filter Expression dialog box, double click the property you want to filter on (in this case expand out Common and choose Description). This will add that property to the expression. Now, I only want this rule to be applied to the roads with a specific description so, type an equals sign “=” in the expression after DESCRIPTION. Finally, add the property to the expression. If you know it, you can just type it. If you want to select one of the properties that is in the data source, on the right hand side, find the property and then double click on the value to add it to the description.

Create the Expression

Create the Expression

After hitting OK, you’ll be back in the Rule Editor. In the “Styles:” section, simply add the styles you want this rule to apply. If you want them all to be the same, simply add the one style you want. If you want them to vary, you can add multiple styles and then adjust the probability to force one style to be added more often then another.

Completed Rule

Completed Rule

Now continue the process until you’ve added a rule for each roadway type you have.

Rules Created

Rules Created

Applying the Style Rule

This is the easiest part, once the Style Rule has been created, all you need to do is click on the Run Rules button at the bottom of the panel.

Run the Rules

Run the Rules

There are also options to export and import the Rule Styles so you don’t have to recreate them every time you need to do this.

Now get out there and have fun playing around with InfraWorks!

I WANT YOU TO MAKE THE SURFACE LOOK PRETTY!!!!!

Yes, we’ve all heard it before, Civil 3D makes contours that sometimes look like the recording of an earthquake on a Seismometer:

Seismometer Recording

Seismometer Recording

Really, it’s not the fault of Civil 3D, it’s the data. Add the same data to any other civil design program and you’ll get the same results. This seems to crop up quite a bit when you have cross grades. In the following image you can see that there are two roads going opposite directions and this is where the jagged contours are coming from:

Jagged Contours

Jagged Contours

No contractor would build it this way so, let’s see what our options are.

Option 1: Smooth the Contours

You can smooth the contours of the surface. In the style the surface is using, you can toggle on the option to smooth the contours. This is a great way to make a drawing “look pretty”. It will take the contours and smooth them out. This is only editing the display of the surface. If you have a profile through this area, smoothing contours does nothing to the profile because we aren’t smoothing the surface, we are smoothing the display of the surface.

To smooth the contours, go into the style the surface is using and, on the contours tab, toggle the option to smooth the contours to True. Once you have this toggled on, you can select the type of smoothing you want to apply to the surface as well as how aggressive you want the contour smoothing to be. Play around with these settings and see what looks best for you. There isn’t a correct setting for this because your goal, when smoothing contours, is to make the contours look pretty.

Contour Smoothing Options

Contour Smoothing Options

And here is the same area of that surface with the contour smoothing option set to True, the Smoothing Type set to “Add Vertices” and the contour smoothing maxed out.

Surface with Smoothed Contours

Surface with Smoothed Contours

There are some things to be concerned with when smoothing contours, you are sacrificing the accuracy of the contours to make them “look pretty”. If you have a spot elevation that happens to fall very close to a contour or perhaps a point that was used in the surface creation that’s really close to the contour elevation, you might see some discrepancies. In the following image, I placed a spot elevation and snapped to the contour and you can see it’s not the exact same elevation as the contour:

Smoothed Contours Labeled

Smoothed Contours Labeled

Another issue with smoothing contours is you might end up with contours that cross each other. You’ll see this sort of thing primarily where you have some really steep areas such as retaining walls.

Crossing Contours

Crossing Contours

Anyone that’s done any amount of surface modeling knows this is not allowed.

The last issue that I’m aware of with smoothing your contours is, it’s all or nothing. You can’t smooth just a portion of the contours of your surface. This is because it’s a part of the style.

Option 2: Smooth the Surface

The other option is to smooth the surface directly. This is an edit that is done to the surface and is found in the same place you can raise/lower the surface or paste in another surface.

Smooth Surface Command

Smooth Surface Command

There are two options when smoothing surfaces, “Natural neighbor interpolation” and “Kriging”. I’m not going to go into detail on how the different methods work or what settings to use. You’ll need to read the HELP FILE and do your own research to find out which method works best for your situation. In this example, I’m going to use the natural neighbor interpolation method.

Smothing Options

Smothing Options

So, how does this differ from smoothing the contours? Well, when you smooth contours, you are smoothing the display of the surface. When you smooth the surface, you are actually editing the surface and not just the display. Here is an image of the surface with the smoothing edit applied to it:

Smoothed Surface

Smoothed Surface

As you can see, the contours look much different then when the contour smoothing was applied. If you take a look at the triangles of the surface, you can get a better idea of what happened here (I did a 5′ grid in this example):

Smoothed Surface Triangles

Smoothed Surface Triangles

A couple things to note here, I didn’t smooth the entire surface, just the  area that needed it. Second, any data that was added to the surface was not modified in any way at all. If there are points, or breaklines, or corridors, or gradings, they are preserved (including the triangulation along the breaklines). This only affects the way the triangulation in the areas between data are calculated. Basically, instead of doing a straight grade between one point and the next, it rounds it out.

Something to be aware of, this can add a LOT of data to your surface and can make it very slow to work with so play around with the settings and get the results you want without adding too many points to the surface.

Hopefully this helps out when someone is complaining about your ugly contours!

This has been a pet peeve of mine for a long time, survey figures don’t honor linetype gen. What does that mean? Basically, it means the linetype will not pass through vertices. If you have a survey figure with a lot of closely spaced vertices, it looks like a continous line even if you have a linetype assigned to it.

Survey Figure with Linetype Issue

That’s not what I want. What I want is something like this:

Text placed on figure to simulate linetype

Unfortunately, what I’m about to show you doesn’t work real well for generic linetypes (dashes, dots, etc.) but it works really well for putting text labels on your survey figure. The trick is to create a marker style that displays a piece of text. The text must be a block (you can enable background mask in the text if you want to, I did) and then assign that block to a new marker style. If you aren’t sure how to create a block in AutoCAD, click HERE.

The marker styles are found in the Settings tab of the Toolspace under General->Multipurpose Styles->Marker Styles. Create the style and use the block with the text in it.

Marker Style

Now that you have the marker style created, assign this to the survey figure style. Survey figure styles allow the use of quite a few markers, you can place them at the end, the beginning, and the vertices, as well as additional markers, and these additional markers is what we will be using to simulate a linetype with text in it. Edit your survey figure style and on the display tab, turn on the display of the Additional Markers.

Survey Figure Style - Displaying Additional Markers

Now that the additional markers are displayed, you need to choose the style and options for those markers and this is found on the Plan and Model tab of the survey figure style. Here you can specify the different marker styles for all the places markers can be used, down near the bottom is the Additional Markers section. Choose an appropriate marker style (most likely the one you just created) and then change the “Additional marker placement method” to At Interval. Choose an appropriate interval and you are done.

Additional Marker Settings

There are a few limitations to this technique

  1. The text can (and most likely will) be displayed upside down. I haven’t found a way yet to resolve this issue. If anyone knows a technique, please let me know. If the survey figure goes left to right, it’s displayed right side up. If it goes right to left, it’s upside down.
  2. The space between the text isn’t controlled by the drawing scale. If you are going to plot this at different scales, you would have to edit the style to get the spacing the same on the plotted page.
  3. It’s a lot of work.

Now, most likely, because I just created this post, the very next version of Civil 3D will have fixed the issue of linetypes for figures and feature lines but until then, hopefully this will help someone out.

Credit for this goes to Kelvin at Lamp, Rynearson & Associates

So, I’ve decided I’ve had enough apologizing for the deficiencies in the default template that ships with Civil 3D and I’m going to fix it. I figured others might have ideas on what they would like to change as well so I’m sending this out to anyone that would like to add to it.

I’m going to modify the _AutoCAD Civil 3D (Imperial) NCS.dwt template that comes with Civil 3D to fix all the things I’ve been complaining about. If you have used it and found things that you don’t like, let me know and perhaps you’ll see a new template with your changes in it.

There are a couple ways you can help. You can simply send me your suggestions by leaving a comment here, you can hit me up on twitter (@c3dplus) with your suggestions, or you can e-mail me your suggestions. Or, if you really want to get involved, I’ve set up a shared document on docs.google.com. If you send me your e-mail address (and I don’t think you’re a spammer) I’ll invite you to the document and you can simply add your thoughts there.

I plan on making this an open source file (I’m not going to sell it) so anyone that contributes will know that I’m not making a buck off your efforts.

As far as my e-mail address goes, I have a gmail account that starts with c3dplus (this is an attempt to thwart spammers).

Recently on one of the discussion groups, someone asked if they could put a box around a structure label in a profile view. The problem with this is that you can’t simply toggle on the display of the border because the label is composed of several components and would look something like this:

Labels with frames turned on

As you can see, it’s not quite what I would like to see. The problem with this is that you can’t create the entire label within one text component. Since the inflow and outflow labels are displayed in a “Text for Each” component. What I would much rather see is something like this:

Labels the way they should be

Now, the primary problem with this is that there’s nothing to simply create a box around. So, what I did was to create the four lines manually. The first line (#1) attaches from the top right of the structure name to the bottom right of the invert out text. Lines #2 and #3 attach to the beginning and end of line #1 respectively and line #4 attach to the ends of lines #2 and #3. The trick here is, how long do lines 2 and 3 need to be? I can’t simply attach them to another point on the labels because the text they attach to are different lengths. Here is what I did, I created a very simple expression the determines the length of the lines. What is in the express? That’s what makes it so simple, it’s just the plotted length of the line. If I need to stretch the frame a bit, I just change the value of the expression and then do a regen.

Here’s the label style showing the lines as well as the expression. Again, to change length of the box around the label, simply change the value in the expression.

Label Style and Expression

One of the limitations of this technique is that all of the boxes in the labels are all the same length. If you need to have the boxes to have different lengths, then you would have to create new expressions and new label styles.

It’s not the best workaround I’ve ever come up with but it does work. Hopefully someone who reads this will offer up a better solution.

So, Friday I was teaching a class on creating styles in Civil 3D. I was showing off how to set up profile vertical curve labels so that when they run off the profile view, they still display correctly. My student asked if it’s possible to have a double arrow when the start or end of the curve is off the profile view. Well, I wasn’t sure how to go about this but, I figured it out. Read on to find out how to do this. (more…)