Friday, November 13, 2015

SincPac: Wall Profiles

One thing I hated doing was creating wall profiles for retaining walls. Since Civil 3D requires profile PVIs to have different station values, it becomes tedious to ensure each PVI has a small gap between them. Then there is the other constraint of wanting even steps. If it is a block wall being 8” or for concrete retaining walls 1’ or 2’. Back in the day, around 2008, I wrote a command that did this in VBA, but I promptly lost the code when switching jobs. Recently I was given the task of once again creating wall profiles and found the process not improved by Autodesk. So I decided to write the command once more. Here is a video of the command in action:

The command will be available in a future version of the SincPac.

Want more information and going to Autodesk University? Then stop by the Quux Software at Booth 11. Enter the Exhibit Hall, make a right, grab then food and/or beverage, and then talk to Jeff. Tell him Christopher sent you.


SincPac Sewer Lateral Command

What is BIM? I think it should be something that enables you to do your job better. If it’s something that just sits there until you tell it specifically what to do then it’s crappy BIM. Civil 3D pipes fit exactly in the sweet spot of crappy BIM. I’m all about wanting BIM, wanting software that helps you along towards your goal instead of making you do all of the work. That’s why exactly why I wrote a command that links a lateral to a main line pipe as shown in this video.

Well I didn’t really write the command to fix crappy BIM, since this was before Autodesk told me to expect BIM from Civil 3D. I wrote it because I saw the need for an automated process when doing 200+ lot subdivisions. I also had little programming experience when writing this command. I essentially learned how to program while writing this command. I took the Civil 3D samples found in VBA and modified them. I saw in other programs that you could have it automatically update to changes and so learned how to do that and incorporated it into the command. So I essentially beat Autodesk to writing this desired feature by numerous land development designers.

Want this feature today? Then check out the SincPac. If you wait for Autodesk to provide this basic functionality you might be waiting for an extremely long time.

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Free Certification Training or Free Advertising?

Heading to Autodesk University this year? Well then while you are there you might want to take a Certification Test to show that you have the basic skills necessary to use the software.

Worried about not knowing what you need to know to pass? Then check out the offering from Ascent and CADLearning who are partnering to provide free prep materials. I haven’t checked them out, but you might want to.

More from their press release:

ASCENT- Center for Technical Knowledge Partners with CADLearning to Provide Free Autodesk Certification Preparation Materials

Thirty Days of Free Online Access to ASCENT’s Official Certification Preparation eBooks and CADLearning’s Video Content is the Stress-Free way to Prepare for Autodesk Certification

OWINGS MILLS, MD — November 3, 2015 — Rand Worldwide (OTCBB: RWWI), a global leader in providing technology solutions to organizations with engineering design and information technology requirements, today announced that its courseware division,ASCENT- Center for Technical Knowledge, is partnering with 4D Technologies to provide free access to their Autodesk Certification Preparation content online for a limited time. The new online certification preparation portal includes Official Certification Preparation content by ASCENT and rich CADLearning video courses by 4D. These materials, available for free from November 3 to December 3, will ensure an unrivalled learning experience for those taking certification exams at Autodesk University 2015 in Las Vegas.

“Both ASCENT and 4D have provided free access to their content onsite at Autodesk University for a number of years, but cramming at the last minute while attending an eventful conference is not ideal,” says Paul Burden, director of product development, ASCENT. “We want to give certification candidates the best possible chance of success, so we’re now offering learners the option to study where and when they want for a full month, right up until the end of Autodesk University. Free access to ASCENT’s Official Certification Preparation eBooks and industry-leading CADLearning video courses will help end-users of all learning styles understand the key topics and objectives required to achieve certification.”

ASCENT’s Official Certification Preparation books are specifically designed to help users prepare for Autodesk Certification exams. They contain relevant instructional topics, practices, and review questions that directly address the Certified Professional exam topics and objectives.

To gain access to the ultimate combination of certification preparation materials, register for free at

“We’re combining the best learning materials in one place, online,” says Matt Murphy, director of content management and development, 4D Technologies. “Video lessons, detailed descriptions, and hands-on practices target specific information that end-users need to know for the certification exams. No matter their learning style, this approach ensures they can absorb, and retain the information in the way they learn best.”

ASCENT’s free offering includes six Official Certification Preparation eBooks:

  • AutoCAD 2016: Review for Certification
  • AutoCAD Civil 3D 2016: Review for Certification
  • Autodesk Inventor 2016: Review for Certification
  • Autodesk Revit 2016 Architecture: Review for Certification
  • Autodesk Revit 2016 MEP: Review for Certification
  • Autodesk Revit 2016 Structure: Review for Certification

Those who prefer to review printed materials as they prepare for certification exams can purchase ASCENT’s Official Certification Preparation Books from

CADLearning’s free offering includes 14 exam preparation courses for the following exams and includes over 1,000 videos:

  • AutoCAD Certified Professional
  • AutoCAD Certified User
  • AutoCAD Civil 3D Certified Professional
  • Autodesk 3ds Max Certified Professional
  • Autodesk 3ds Max Certified User
  • Autodesk Inventor Certified Professional
  • Autodesk Inventor Certified User
  • Autodesk Maya Certified Professional
  • Autodesk Maya Certified User
  • Autodesk Revit Architecture Certified Professional
  • Autodesk Revit Architecture Certified User
  • Autodesk Revit for Electrical Certified Professional
  • Autodesk Revit for Mechanical and Plumbing Certified Professional
  • Autodesk Revit Structure Certified Professional


ASCENT- Center for Technical Knowledge develops professional training courseware and technical documentation for engineering applications including those from Autodesk, Dassault Systèmes and PTC. ASCENT is an Authorized Author, Publisher and Developer of Autodesk curriculum and the sole provider of Autodesk Official Training Guides. ASCENT training guides, eBooks and Instructor Tools are available to educational institutions and training centers, individuals and corporations and can be purchased directly from the ASCENT eStore (for volume sales, contact an ASCENT representative). For more information visit the ASCENT website and follow ASCENT on Twitter at @ASCENT_CTK.

About CADLearning
CADLearning’s comprehensive, self-paced professional learning content is designed to maximize performance with Autodesk 2D and 3D design, engineering and entertainment software. Users leverage CADLearning for self-paced learning, as an ongoing resource, and as a help tool. CADLearning is developed by 4D Technologies, LLC. Visit to learn more.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Why Can’t Your Civil 3D Do This?

Sorry no fancy graphics or videos created by me showing Civil 3D in action. Instead I’ve borrowed videos created by the Autodesk Technical Marketing Managers and provided links to them.

  • Can your Civil 3D have pipes that interact with each other? After all don’t we provide crossing pipe labels to ensure we have enough space between pipes? Why doesn’t Civil 3D provide the ability to have your sewer pipes stay at least 18” from the water line? Why does Civil 3D make you look at labels in profile view to verify the spacing?
  • Can your Civil 3D know when it runs into itself? Well unfortunately it doesn’t. Have two crossing baselines? Well Civil 3D will force you to split a corridor region, create an intersection, then delete regions you really don’t need. I know Autodesk knows what to do when walls intersect each other as shown in Revit, so why not have the similar behavior in Civil 3D?
  • Improved survey collection or surveying George Washington would recognize? It’s been around 266 years since a young George Washington was appointed official surveyor of Culpeper County. In the past 266 years we’ve gone from using paper and pencil to connect surveyed points to having a computer connect dots for us. Seems to me if Civil 3D was forward looking those surveyed points would connect and produce a 3d model of curbs, gutters, pavements, and fences. Why can’t Civil 3D create 3D objects from surveyed points? Well the obvious answer is Civil 3D doesn’t have real world objects. (Yes, the topic of the video doesn’t match my comments, but then again the link I used from the Autodesk didn’t match the link either.)
  • Why no mentioning of the best data shortcut feature improvement in Civil 3D 2016? Probably because it was my idea (yes, many other users also had this idea, probably you the reader). I spent numerous hours advocating for the removal of the annoying dialog box that asked you to save the drawing, even though it was previously saved. Did you see John pan in the drawing and then easily create data shortcuts? It made the video a lot nice to watch without him having to stop, explain why he needed to save the drawing, and then move on to the next step. It took way too much effort on my part to get rid of the dialog box. Then why hasn’t your Civil 3D gotten rid of the other annoying places where that save dialog box shows up, even though the drawing already has been saved? Sorry, fellow users I ran out of free time to advocate for the removal of the other dialog boxes. Feel free to hound Autodesk into removing the other instances of the warning save dialog box that isn’t necessary.
  • Why can’t your Civil 3D objects make the round trip directly between Civil 3D and Infraworks? Wow, the same product can open it’s own file. Is that revolutionary? I’ve been doing this for years using Excel, AutoCAD, and Word. It’s almost like Autodesk is marketing to me as this feature is being revolutionary. You know what would really be revolutionary? A world where a company builds a product from scratch and has it consume the input files natively. Like have Infraworks read in a Civil 3D file, modify the Civil 3D file’s alignments, and then when you open the Civil 3D file in Civil 3D have the alignment show the revisions. The current process feels like an afterthought, where whoever designed the product had no idea people would want interoperability that is quick and easy. I guess we are stuck with a convoluted process. In fact I often teach in an environment where two software products are used that require an export to go from one to the other. Guess what the reaction is? If you guessed the number one answer is that sounds stupid, you would be correct. I usually have to explain that they really have the best Civil 3D workflow ever. They export out of Civil 3D into a dumb drawing, add labels, and then print. They get rid of the worst part of Civil 3D in it’s bloated overhead when printing out. After all who wants to wait 4+ hours to print out a 100+ page plan sheet when it can be done at a fraction of the time in the other product. 

Are these ideas revolutionary? Or do they seem like they would be common sense and that a company with a $600 million per year research and development budget should be able to afford to implement in less than a year or two? I know my $20,000 research and development budget isn’t enough for a year or two turn around.

I’ve announced it on twitter, but you can buy this blog and my twitter account for a low price of $600,000. This is from a reduced price of $750,000 from earlier this month!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Corridor Slope Stake Report–Through XREF

Ever want to run a corridor slope stake report through an XREF? Want it as the same format as the current Civil 3D report? Well if the answer is yes to both questions then you will want to use this post from way back in April that I did.

If the answer was yes to the first one and no to the second one then you will want to download the Civil 3D 2016 Transportation Extension from the website and check out that one out. The format of the report may be found below:


I missed the documentation portion of the extension, but there are some hidden gems in it that you can utilize with a little drawing setup. For instance if you want to auto populate the values the report like shown below you can.


The values are pulled from the Drawing Properties, under the Custom Tab. Add the appropriate name and the report will then pull the values from them. To run Drawings Properties type DWGPROPS at the command line. Then add the custom properties. This is what I have used to fill them in:


I did miss one in the above list and that is Author, this will fill in the Author text box.

I personally think these features are genius to have for a report, but that might just because I suggested them and ended up having to write the code for getting the corridor through the XREF for the report. No word on if Autodesk will add the corridor XREF code to the out of the box slope stake report.


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