Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Autodesk University App

This year, like last year, Autodesk University has an App. The application is available for iOS or Android operating systems. In addition there is an HTML 5 version available on pretty much any other operating system, such as Windows or Blackberry, with a modern browser.

Last year Autodesk gave out a pass for this year’s event based on the overall total points at the end of the conference. After building a huge lead starting out during Thanksgiving I was overtaken by @The_Mini_Guy barely at the end (here are the current results: I suspect since we took such a commanding lead over the rest of the field, this year it’s a bit different. Rather then taking the top leader at the end a pass will be given out for each day. Now the top point leader won’t be selected, rather the top 25 at the end of the day will be put into a hat and one will be drawn to determine the winner of the prize.

I haven’t been able to find an official scoring guide from the app, but here’s how it works (if I remember correctly). A check in gets you a maximum of 7 points. Points vary based on if you’ve checked in to the location before. If you have you don’t get as many points. Included in the possible 7 points is if you added some text to the check in. If you create a new location that isn’t in the App you get an additional 2 or 3 points. That means you can make your hotel room a check in location and get some additional points. Don’t post too often, because if you post too often then you don’t get points for the post. I found last year the time interval was about every 5 to 10 minutes.

Since this a social app intended to get conversations going you get points for when people comment on your post (2 points) or give it a thumbs up (1 point). So if you have a friend you want to be pushed  to the top of the list, make sure to comment and thumbs up their posts.

Currently the point system is quasi turned off. People are still getting points for the comments and thumbs up, but not for the actual posts. The point scoring should start off when AU starts officially or a few days before, I haven’t heard when exactly it will start. The current leader has lots of activity, I suspect he’ll have trouble keeping up if he’s checked in everywhere before points starts.

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Ascent Webcast Series

Evidently I’m still procrastinating and continuing on a string of posts about products and services. Well not wanting to break the streak here is a press release from Ascent regarding a series of webcasts for users and instructors using their manuals.

FRAMINGHAM, MA — November 6, 2013 — Rand Worldwide (OTCBB: RWWI), a global leader in providing technology solutions to organizations with engineering design and information technology requirements, announced that its courseware division, ASCENT– Center for Technical Knowledge, is introducing a new webcast series designed to provide an interactive experience to help Autodesk software users and instructors, make the most of their Autodesk Official Training Guides.

In each webcast, the authors of ASCENT’s Autodesk Official Training Guides (AOTG) explore a specific chapter from one of their books. Webcast participants are treated to a step-by-step walk through of the chapter as well as an accompanying software demonstration that depicts how the training guide and software go hand in hand. Webcast topics were selected by the authors and address common questions users and instructors had about how to use the software alongside a particular chapter of the training guide.

“As the official developers of Autodesk training guides, we’re always looking at innovative methodologies, processes and technologies that enhance the learning experience as well as increase the retention of the knowledge gained when training with ASCENT’s curriculum,” says Paul Burden, director of product development, ASCENT. “These new webcasts demonstrate how to effectively pair the training guide with the software and are led by our distinguished authors.”

Upcoming Webcasts


All the webcasts are complimentary, however advanced registration is required. Archived webcasts will be available for those who are unable to attend the live sessions.

Recently Archived Webcasts


ASCENT- Center for Technical Knowledge develops professional training courseware and technical documentation for engineering applications including Autodesk, Dassault Systèmes and PTC. ASCENT is an Authorized Author, Publisher and Developer of Autodesk curriculum and the official 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 Rand Worldwide
Rand Worldwide is one of the world’s leading providers of professional services and technology to the engineering community, targeting organizations in the building, infrastructure and manufacturing industries.

Wireless 3D Mouse

I’ve been carrying around a Wireless 3D Mouse from 3DConnexion throughout the State of California for the past month or so, hoping to find time to write a review about it. Well I finally found the time toSpaceMouse_iso-right_Receiver-back_trans_0813 write something about it, well I finally have time to procrastinate doing other work.

For some reason my mind associates wireless with mobile. I guess it’s because I use a laptop with a wireless mouse, wireless headphones, and now a wireless 3D mouse. I’m travelling quite a bit and I carry all of these things with me in my travel bag. Now when I first was told about the wireless 3D mouse my thoughts definitely was thinking light and mobile. My expectations were not met, and I found the 3D wireless mouse quite heavy for it’s small size. Now this isn’t a bad thing, it just frames what the device is for in a different manner. In order to use the six degrees of motion, one of them is pulling up on the device to move up in the 3D world or model one is exploring. In order to counteract the force of the user pulling up another force needs to be applied to keep the device planted on the desk or table, or at least that’s what I learned in college. The weight provides for this counter force. For a mobile specific solution you’ll want to check out the 3DConnexion SpaceNavigator for Notebooks.

Despite it’s wireless moniker it does come with a wire to facilitate charging of the device. The fob provided is of the Space_Mouse_top_USB-Stecker_trans_0813small type, which is nice in the use of a laptop storing in a bag in that I don’t have to worry too much about breaking it off or having to detach it after use to make sure I don’t loose it. The product exhibits a design that is pleasantly appealing and fits well in the hand. I could see using this device in a presentation setting in exploring a 3D model. The listed specifications is the ability to use the device up to 10 meters (3.24077929 × 10-16 Parsecs) from the fob.  It comes with two mouse buttons on the device.

The 3D navigation performs the same as the other 3D mice in the 3DConnexion line of products and doesn’t replace any of the other products.

As with any wireless device battery if is of paramount concern. The specs indicate a charge lasts up to month with regular use and only takes 2 hours to recharge fully. The USB wire utilizes a micro-USB cable. A replacement fob costs $10 which appears to be Logitech’s/3D Connexion’s standard pricing for them. I usually purchase two of them after I loose one of them.

If I was in the market I’d definitely purchase this 3D Mouse due to my not currently having a permanent desk. If I wasn’t clear in the opening paragraph I received this 3D Mouse from 3DConnexion (and all of the other 3D Mice I’ve reviewed) free of charge. If you want to make this more profitable for me, use these links to purchase one from Amazon:

Wireless 3D Mouse
SpaceNavigator for Notebooks
SpacePilot Pro

So far I’ve had total earnings of $0.00 from the Amazon Associates program over about five years.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

HP Grows Designjet T-series

Someone indicated I should post more often. I suspect they where looking for posts less about products and more about Civil 3D. This is a product post. HP recently announced a new product in their large format printers, the HP Designjet T2500. The printer also comes with a fancy term to describe what it does, it is a eMultifunction Printer (eMFP).

HP has produced a slick promotional video showing all of the input they received from users in designing the product.

In addition to getting user input in the design the printer includes a scanner, software to share drawings with others outside the physical location of the printer. I always hated when paper came out in a big mess if the output wasn’t minded periodically. This printer includes an integrated output tray to help collect the results of using the printer.

At $9,895 the printer is targeting the medium to enterprise (fancy word for larger company) companies. That’s way too much machine for me, so don’t expect to see one of these in my office any time soon. You might work for a larger group and might find this product fits your needs.

Monday, September 09, 2013

Dell Precision Workstations

It looks like I’m picking up speed on my blog posts, two in two days!

Dell announced new version of their desktop and laptop workstations. Since my primary machine is a laptop, I’m going to focus on the new laptop features. One new feature available for the new products is an available WiGig wireless docking station. this means you no longer have to have a physical connection to a docking station to connect to a monitor, external hard drive, mouse, and/ or keyboard. The laptop needs to be two to six feet from the docking station and the laptop will automagically connect to the docking station and connecting the associated peripherals. Since I typically work in a non-traditional workspace, this would be great for me.

Another feature is an optional 10-finger Wacom multi-touch on the 17.3 inch display. I have no idea what it does, but it sounds really cool. Unfortunately I slept through my briefing time period due to a late night work session. Since I didn’t start writing this article until yesterday I didn’t get a chance to ask a question on what exactly it does. I did read that Dana Probert uses a Wacom, but I’m not sure what use it has for Civil 3D. Most articles I’ve searched on the topic don’t do a good job explaining what it does. They do make general statements that is available, so I guess I have the same understanding as those authors.

The workstation boast the availability of four hard drives, although only three of them are the standard 2.5” hard drive docs. The fourth is a mini hard drive. Doing Software development I have a large need for hard drive space. The huge install space required for the virtual machines along with the large install space requirements for Civil 3D makes a lot of hard drive space a requirement for any machine I’ll purchase in the future. Although my computer still has a year of warranty left on my Dell Precision workstation.

For more information check out Dell’s Workstation page.

Sunday, September 08, 2013

Section Labels

Often times we need to show section labels on the plans. I recently came across a great idea on how to show them. In the image below you can see Section A-A indicated in plan view. The section line shown below is an alignment with begin and ending station labels as the arrows and A. Adjusting the alignment automatically moves the A callouts as well as updating the profile I’m using to represent the section.


If you wanted the section to be offset from the alignment as simple line label anchored to the start and end of the alignment, with an offset value. The alignment would then need to be set to not plot to complete the look.

I got this great idea from John Mayo, PE. A fellow Autodesk Expert Elite.

This makes a whopping 20 posts for the year, should I post more often?

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

English Text in Reports

I probably should write this in multiple languages, but much like Autodesk screw the rest of the world! You all should be speaking English. England made us do it, well actually we Americans did it ourselves rejecting French, German, numerous native American languages, and other immigrant languages.

You may have noticed that some of the XML reports have english words in them. To get rid of them open this file in your favorite text editor:

C:\ProgramData\Autodesk\C3D 2012\enu\Data\Reports\xsl\header.xsl

Make sure to replace the Civil 3D version year with the one you are using. Then find the words you want to change. This will only change the header files, you would need to go in and modify the other xsl files to change all of them.


Sunday, June 09, 2013

Infrastructure Competition

Autodesk is sponsoring the 2nd annual Excellence in Infrastructure Competition, entries due by June 28.   More than $10,000 in prizes will be awarded. Autodesk indicates the competition is open to everyone planning, designing, building and managing infrastructure projects, 21 years and older, to highlight the best projects done in 2012/2013, although I suspect some countries may be excluded from this competition. One that comes to mind is Cuba.

Autodesk is looking for the best usage of Autodesk technology to plan, design, build or manage Civil Infrastructure projects. Project types may include Transportation (roads and highways, rail, airports, bridges, etc.), Land development (commercial sites, subdivisions, public parks and recreation…), Water (distribution, water resources, dams and levees, wastewater), Energy (electric and gas distribution, electric transmission and substation design) and Urban planning.

Autodesk is also looking for visualization of infrastructure projects.  So even if you only used Autodesk technology for the visualization of the project such as -  design concepts for stakeholder reviews (Autodesk InfraWorks); constructability reviews and scheduling ( Autodesk Navisworks); or creating near photorealistic renderings (Autodesk 3ds Max) – they want those submissions too!

Visit for more information.

(Much of this post is plagiarized from a PR email, with the pronouns changed along with some word changes.)

(Much of this post was written while waiting for glacially slow Civil 3D to open a large project drawing. So you should have time to enter the competition while waiting for Civil 3D to open your submitted projects.)

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Importing Shape Files

For some reason I’m supposed to be really happy about Civil 3D. I don’t quite get it since even doing simple tasks is a pain. Take for instance Importing Shape Files.


Do you see the option in the Insert Shape Files in the  ribbon above? I don’t. You will find the option to import the information from the Planning and Analysis Workspace. But I just want to import a Shape file.


Guess where I need to go? I see three places where it’s possible from the Planning and Analysis Workspace. Well I don’t know it from looking at the ribbon options under data. You’ll need a PhD in Ribbonology to figure out which button you’ll want to use. Thankfully Autodesk has made this really hard in finding how to import a ShapeFile. You’ll notice the file type isn’t listed in the Import From Files. If you look under the Connect you will see the option for a SHP file, but good luck trying to figure out how to attach the data from that sparsely confusing user interface. It always takes me a good 2 to 200,000 thousand million tries to get it to work.

So if you want to import a SHP file. Type MapImport at the command line. Select the SHP file some misguided GIS technician sent you with the assumption that you’ll know how to deal with it.


Press OK.

So now you are presented with a dialog box. Of course your importing in a shape file, the last thing you’ll want to do is attach object data to it so Autodesk will turn that off by default. Select the Import polygons as closed polylines if you so choose. Don’t forget you’ll need to do a super dupper clean up job on imported parcels, if that’s what you are importing. Autodesk Parcel programmer’s can’t seem to filter duplicate objects out for you. After all you weren’t supposed to find this feature anyways.


Then in this dialog box select Create Object Data, the table you want to use and then any of the data you want to import using the Select Fields button.


Then press Ok, up to three times, to get the shape file to import. That's it.

Saturday, May 18, 2013


It is that time of the year where Dell announces a their new industry leading workstation releases. This years release appears to be a focus on an offering for the low end of the market with the T1700 and the high end Precision T1700 SFF Workstation with Peripheralswith the R7610 rack workstation. 

The T1700 is designed to be priced at about the cost of a desktop machine and provide a smaller footprint compared to Dell’s larger workstations. The workstation comes with support for three monitors, with optional support for four monitors. If you are still living with one monitor it might be time to make the jump to four monitors. this way you can have two instances of Civil 3D running with the palettes residing on the other two monitors. This way while you wait for Civil 3D to complete the tasks you can work in the other session. Eliminate some of the dead time Civil 3D creates by not using the full processing power of a workstation by artificially making the software use multiple processors at the same time.

The workstation also comes with Dell Precision Performance Optimizer. While not supported for Civil 3D currently, it might in the future. This feature helps adjust the workstation for the program’s needs. this is definitely something Civil 3D could use as indicated in these tests by Stanford University. Additionally the workstation comes with the option to have Windows 7 installed. Autodesk seems to have been caught by surprise that Microsoft was releasing Windows 8 and doesn’t appear to have done any preplanning before the new OS was released.

The Precision R7610 Rack WorkstationDell Precision R7610 Rack mounted workstation is the product I’m most intrigued by. I travel quite a bit and work where ever I am. It might be advantageous to be able to connect to a workstation at the office and use my workstation where ever I happen to be. The workstation may contain up to 256 GB of memory as well as multiple professional video cards. I wish my clients that I work Wyse P25 Zero Client with Peripheralswith remotely had this capability. This way I could work on their network directly without having to transfer files back and forth. Plus this workstation can be used by multiple people. The connection when you are in the office is a small Dell Wyse P25 Zero Client leaving more monitors and plan space.

Learn more at

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Creating Alignments With the .NET API

This post is about creating alignments with the API. I’ve decided I suck at getting code to show up correctly in Blogger, so I’m going to use pictures from now on for the code.

The first example creates an alignment from a polyline.


The code gets the default settings and then creates an alignment from the polyline. It also checks to see if the alignment name already exists. If it does exist then it appends a number behind it, just like Civil 3D does.


I’m going to call my AlignmentNameExists my secret sauce, so I’m not going to share it. It should be easy to figure out, just go through all of the alignments in the drawing and see if it exists. If you are for sure the name doesn’t already exist you can skip the code.

I was going to go through some of the other options, but noticed I don’t have any code handy for the other methods. They should be fairly easy to figure out since they follow the same pattern as the code above.

Sunday, April 21, 2013


It looks like Transoft has released an update to their software for AutoCAD 2014 products. Their press release is below:

Transoft Solutions, developers of productivity enhancing software for the transportation engineering community, has just released version 8.2 for AutoTURN and AutoTURN Pro 3D, the world’s leading vehicle swept path software.

The newest version of AutoTURN includes compatibility with Autodesk® AutoCAD® 2014, Microsoft® Windows® 8 and Server 2012 along with an impressive list of updates to the vehicle libraries. Along with updates to design vehicles in AASHTO 2013, Caltrans 2012, Florida PPM 2013 and Wisconsin DOT, Transoft engineers added functionality for our overseas clients as well. The Israel Department of Transportation contacted Transoft regarding several of their unique vehicle needs. The engineers extracted the key specifications for the Israeli vehicles and they are now part of the AutoTURN 8.2 software package.

In direct response to customer requests, AutoTURN 8.2 also features the capability to automatically share standardized load and sight line specifications between different workstations in a network installation. Christian Milne, Software Development Manager for Transoft Solutions says, “We strive to take our clients’ requests and put them into action. The vehicle libraries within AutoTURN have always reflected the needs of the transportation and engineering industry and the latest version of the software continues that tradition.”

To get more information on AutoTURN 8.2 or to sign up for a free demo please visit:


I’ve spent the past two days dealing with Autodesk’s bloat. Well actually it’s been the past six years since I’ve been using Civil 3D. With a new release the bloat doesn’t appear to be a topic Autodesk feels it’s worth dealing with. I guess for 2014 it continues with the monstrous 12 GB download for the Infrastructure Design Suite which turns into a rather large expanded file size, of which I haven’t figured out how big it is. For I’m still waiting for the install file to download after 8 plus hours. I’ve heard rumors just to install the package it tops out at over 45 GB of hard drive space required. Only want to install Civil 3D and another item and not the rest of the package? Well you’re out of luck since you have to endure downloading, unzipping everything, and then choosing what you want to install. I’m fairly certain I’ll never have a need to install plane Jane AutoCAD when I have Civil 3D and Map 3D installed.

I recently was programming the creation of an AutoCAD table and adding blocks to the table in a drawing. In order to separate my software development from my drafting work I utilize Virtual Machines with a reduced amount of RAM available. Still a healthy 3 GB, but not necessarily enough for Visual Studio and AutoCAD Civil 3D to coexist on such a machine. I run out of memory when modifying the cell height of the table, which promptly crashes AutoCAD Civil 3D.

Now you might think it’s a huge file that I’m using that causes the program to crash. Well it’s not. It’s an empty out of the box Civil 3D Imperial template with nothing else in the drawing until I create the table. Not quite sure what’s using up all of the memory. Now I thought it might be my program, except before loading it AutoCAD Civil 3D is already using 200 MB from opening the program.

Bad things start to happen when a computer starts to run out of RAM. I know I’ve lived the past six years of living through it.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Civil 3D 2014 – Maintenance Mode

Autodesk has announced the release of Civil 3D 2014. From the looks of it Civil 3D 2014 is in maintenance mode. The existing pressure pipes have been improved with new features and some other minor fixes, but no additional BIM objects in the product. It will be interesting to see if Autodesk poured resources into improving the speed and stability of this new release.

If we don’t see any improvements in speed or bug fixes would it be safe to assume Autodesk has put Civil 3D out to pasture like they did with Land Desktop? Is InfraWorks the new replacement? Only time will tell once users start using Civil 3D 2014 in production.

Am I totally wrong and Civil 3D 2015 will be busting out of the seams with new BIM objects?

What do you think?

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Modifying Profile View Bands

Here’s how to update a band’s profile and pipe network through code. Well the part I was having trouble with. You need to Get the ProfileViewBandItems and the Set the ProfileViewBandItems. If you don’t set it, then it won’t work.

ProfileViewBandItemCollection bottomBandItems = profileView.Bands.GetBottomBandItems(); 
ProfileViewBandItemCollection topBandItems = profileView.Bands.GetTopBandItems();
bottomBandItems = profileView.Bands.GetBottomBandItems(); 
topBandItems = profileView.Bands.GetTopBandItems();

UpdateBandProfileAndDataSource(PipeNetworkObjId, prof, bottomBandItems); 
UpdateBandProfileAndDataSource(PipeNetworkObjId, prof, topBandItems);


Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Computer Specs

The Kung Fu drafter sent out a request through Twitter for the latest computer specs. Unfortunately I’m of an opinion the question has become irrelevant. It’s not irrelevant in the sense that computers aren’t getting better, but the AutoCAD, and by extension Civil 3D, aren’t developing with the hardware available. AutoCAD hasn’t joined the multithreaded software revolution. It probably never will, or at least for the product you purchase today. It appears that Autodesk has decided to skip multithreaded applications in favor of developing a replacement product on the cloud.

For instance when I went to a Dell event releasing the latest Dell Precision Workstation products; Intel presented where a small change in the code brought the time to do a complex tasks from hours to minutes using their newest processors. A truly astounding reduction in time to process. In the past year I’ve programmed some complex tools. One in particular was processing thousands of points and converting them into alignments, profiles, and labels for use in floodplain studies. The code was slow. It was largely slow because I was only able to use one of the eight cores on my computer, instead of all 8. If I was able to use all eight cores I could have done the tasks in about 1/7 of the time. The weakest link in the process was my needing to interact with AutoCAD. Since AutoCAD generally requires a single threaded interaction, my program was slower then it needed to be. All of the computations where simple math, they where just numerous.

I currently do all of my design work in Virtual Machines. Partly to be able to program Civil 3D applications in a 32-bit environment, to debug with Visual Studio, and because I’ve found Civil 3D to be unusable with Windows 8. I haven’t seen any degradation of performance from going from 8 cores to 4 cores. So my 2 year old Dell Precision laptop is handling Civil 3D just fine. I can’t see any advantage to upgrading my computer the latest hardware, because it would probably be a waste of money.

I occasionally do work for a large AEC firm doing levee modeling at one of their workstations. The levees are contained within drawings that go for a mile or two. I spend most of my time waiting for Civil 3D to build the corridor. It’s quite disappointing to have the time to look at the processor utilization and find that only one of the four cores is maxed out. The workstation is over three years old, I couldn’t honestly say it needs to be replaced.

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Getting Civil 3D Objects From XREFs

While not advised, it is possible to get Civil 3D objects from an XREF. I’m not sure of the ramifications of modifying object after getting them in this manner, but one is able to read the Civil 3D object’s information. The code below goes and gets a variety of objects from an XREF and returns their ObjectIds. I even limit the returned values based on the layer they are on.

   1:          private static void FindObjectsInXREF(GraphNode root, string layerName, string xrefName, out List<ObjectId> polyObjIds)

   2:          {

   3:              polyObjIds = new List<ObjectId>();

   4:              for (int o = 0; o < root.NumOut; o++)

   5:              {

   6:                  XrefGraphNode child = root.Out(o) as XrefGraphNode;

   7:                  if (child.XrefStatus == XrefStatus.Resolved && child.Name == xrefName)

   8:                  {

   9:                      BlockTableRecord bl = child.BlockTableRecordId.GetObject(OpenMode.ForRead) as BlockTableRecord;

  10:                      foreach (ObjectId objId in bl)

  11:                      {

  12:                          Autodesk.AutoCAD.DatabaseServices.Entity ent = objId.GetObject(OpenMode.ForRead) as Autodesk.AutoCAD.DatabaseServices.Entity;

  13:                          Type entType = ent.GetType();

  14:                          if (ent.Layer == xrefName + "|" + layerName && (entType == typeof(Polyline) || 

  15:                                                                          entType == typeof(Polyline) || 

  16:                                                                          entType == typeof(Alignment) || 

  17:                                                                          entType == typeof(Polyline3d) || 

  18:                                                                          entType == typeof(Polyline2d)))

  19:                          {

  20:                              polyObjIds.Add(objId);

  21:                          }

  22:                      }

  23:                  }

  24:              }

  25:          }


Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Select Viewport

Here’s some code to select a viewport. I’ve made an extension to the Editor class. this way I can easily call it from other code. Most of the rest of the code was taken from an internet search when I was coding for viewport selection. I’m unsure of the original source, although a search of words finds it in numerous locations.

        public static ObjectId SelectViewport(this Editor ed, string promptString)
ObjectId viewportObjId = ObjectId.Null;
PromptEntityOptions opt = new PromptEntityOptions("\n" + promptString);
opt.SetRejectMessage("\nObject must be a viewport.\n");
opt.AddAllowedClass(typeof(Viewport), true);
//next lines are to allow for non-rectangular viewport selection
opt.AddAllowedClass(typeof(Circle), true);
opt.AddAllowedClass(typeof(Polyline), true);
opt.AddAllowedClass(typeof(Polyline2d), true);
opt.AddAllowedClass(typeof(Polyline3d), true);
opt.AddAllowedClass(typeof(Ellipse), true);
opt.AddAllowedClass(typeof(Autodesk.AutoCAD.DatabaseServices.Region), true);
opt.AddAllowedClass(typeof(Spline), true);
opt.AddAllowedClass(typeof(Face), true);
PromptEntityResult viewportResult = ed.GetEntity(opt);

if (viewportResult.Status == PromptStatus.OK)
Entity ent = viewportResult.ObjectId.GetObject(OpenMode.ForRead) as Entity;
// It is a rectangular viewport.
if (ent.GetType() == typeof(Viewport))
viewportObjId = viewportResult.ObjectId;
else if (true)
//Viewport is non-rectangular, attempt to get it from the selected clip entity
ObjectId vpId = LayoutManager.Current.GetNonRectangularViewportIdFromClipId(viewportResult.ObjectId);
if (vpId != ObjectId.Null)
viewportObjId = vpId;
return viewportObjId;

It also provides a nice example to limit different types of objects during selection. Just remove the opt.AddAllowedClass(typeof(Spline), true);  you don’t need and add the classes you want the user to select. It makes it easy so you have to worry less about the user selecting the wrong type of object. Just make sure to provide the error warning message first.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Three Ring Circus

Some exhibitors at Autodesk University are similar to small elementary school fairs, such as Quux Software. Other exhibitors have a three ring circus such as Hewlett Packard, also known as HP.  It’s not surprising that HP would have a large presence at Autodesk University with the wide range of products they provide. They sell printers, plotters, laptops, and workstations! Oh my!

Being a super small business, I found the HP Designjet T120 intriguing. A small footprint to not clutter up a small office too much with the ability to print out full size plans. While I’m not a fan of full size plans, I have printed out quite a number of sheets this year at the local blue print location. There is also the T520 ePrinter series. There’s lots of great features in these printers. Click the links to find out more.

I was also interested in the HP Z1 Workstation. If I had a small office I’d probably look into the Z1 workstation. It’s got a small footprint since the computer is included in the monitor. So it would remove some of the cables. It would also make moving the computer easier. Plus opening it up shows that most of the innards are easy to access.

I’m too lazy this evening to add pictures to this post. Feel free to mosey on over the HP’s website to get some fancy pictures of the products.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

App Store Structure Report

There’s a new App in the Autodesk App Store for Civil 3D 2013. This gem of a program creates a visual representation of structures and I’ve dubbed it Create Structure Report. I know you are all jealous of my creative skills as demonstrated by this glorious name. It’s also a steal at $25 for the download.

The sample output of the report may be found at this link. The user selects the structures they wish to have a report created for. The incoming and outgoing pipes are then shown in the report. You can tell the direction of the pipe by the words IN and OUT as well as the fancy colored arrows. The width of the pipe is also shown so you can visually see how far apart the pipes are going to be. The enormous white space at the top gives you plenty of room to draw doodles, or if you are more practical have your companies logo. There’s even a place to put some job information on the form. If you have numerous structures the report sheets may be put into an open Sheet Set. Plus if you ask really nicely you can get the source code of the project. This app is open source project, so feel free to contribute any bug fixes or additional features.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Put a Wrapper on It!

I’ve been using Google Docs for the past 10 months and with cloud services becoming a major focus, all I can ask of software developers is to put a Wrapper on the dang browser. The UI elements of a browser really suck for word processing, spreadsheets, and CAD programs. The ease of use just isn’t there like there is in a Windows or Mac based program. I quick and snappy right click menus. I miss the ability to use keyboard shortcuts to add and remove rows in a spreadsheet. If I wanted to back in time, in a UI perspective, I’d buy a 386 and get a version of CADKEY to put on it.

Maybe it’s time for the browser to be acknowledge as a poor delivery of a UI interface for programs and have UI wrapper put on top of it to provide a 21st Century experience. I’m all for change, but I prefer change for the better, not going back in time to a 1.0 version of Excel. A UI wrapper for a web delivered program would go a long way in upgrading the cloud experience. That’s just my 2 cents.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Civil 3D Implementation

In my last post I was a bit negative about Civil 3D. How about an upbeat marketing type post? Well if you are looking for a feel good story then this post is for you.

As many of you know, Implementing and Using AutoCAD Civil 3D is difficult, even almost impossible for some. Everyone that moves to the Civil 3D platform, needs a full time CAD Manager and Trainer on staff! Now this is not only an expensive need, depending on the number of staff, it can be simply out of the question! So what does a company do? They need to stay up to date with the leading design software for the Civil and Civil related industries, including the Survey side of the designs and construction. The software is not cheap. All users need hours and hours of training, they really need a 2 year program in order to truly use this software. Users also need, someone to help them on the spot when C3D is just not acting as expected. It can be overwhelming, but I have found an amazing service to help all of the Civil 3D users and companies that have or will be purchasing Civil 3D.

It is this, TSC365, a service that provides all of the Training, Support and Consulting a AutoCAD, Map 3D and Civil 3D user needs to be, not only successful, and productive much sooner, but it should ease the entire process of implementing and using Civil 3D. This service available through a leading Civil 3D Implementation, Training & Support Consulting firm CADTECHS, that is growing at an amazing rate. They must be onto something! They have very recently partnered with another very successful and well known Civil Implementation, Training & Support Consulting firm APW-CTS. APW-CTS is very well known for their Civil 3D training videos, rGuides. The rGuides or a online recorded training program that is very similar to the standard 3 Day class most users attend when they first start “trying” to use C3D. Plus they have many more titles, beyond the standard classes. It is obvious that both firms focus on the services side of Autodesk software, as my own Company does.

The rGuide training comes from another partnership with Retrieve Technology. They not only have over 200 Autodesk product titles available, but other software. Microsoft Office & Windows, Adobe, Microstation, Siteops, Engineering practices, and lots of titles that are not related to CAD at all. The ability to attend training anytime and anywhere, including from smart-phones, is a great concept. Knowing that at the moment I need to create and alignment for the first time, is just a login away is nice. Being able to watch it more than once, is great. The videos are keyword searchable, this is amazing! You can run a search for “how to import points”  and get a list of where in that video the answer may be found. Add to that the closed caption in multiple languages and even voice overs. Could leave you wondering if what is being said is correct, but opens up the same training to a large portion of the World!

Retrieve Technologies is also behind the technology of TSC365’s communications and training system. What this new technology does is, give users the ability to have video and screen capture communications with support and consulting staff at Cadtechs and APW-CTS. No need to go out and buy Camtasia or other screen and video recording applications, as this are built into the system. Simply start a message and choose what to add to the message, if anything other than text. Upload files, Upload video, Create Webcam and Screen capture videos, Embed other messages and training content, directly into the message.

Here is a short list of some of key points of the TSC365 Program:

  1. Support, including “how-to questions” and available 24/7/365
  2. Training, including for no extra cost is AutoCAD, Map 3D and Civil 3D training. If purchased separately this adds up to $529. Not sure of the total time of training, must be well over 50 hours, and available 24/7/365
  3. Consulting services, content creation and help and available 24/7/365

I know what you're thinking, “this must cost a lot”! Get ready, because you’re about to say “ok, what’s the catch”. It is only $600 a year per user! And right now, until the end of the month, it is only $500!

For full disclosure I have a business relationship with CADTECHS, which may explain the upbeat tone of the article. Hopefully that satisfies the FTC on disclosure rules for bloggers. Now if I can only get Retrieve Technologies to release number of units purchased for the Civil 3D 2009 VBA vBook I wrote.


Thursday, January 10, 2013

A Data Management or Object Management Problem

I have been using Civil 3D for the past 6 years. At first it was a great, although buggy, improvement over Land Desktop, unfortunately the product has stopped evolving. The program has seen improvements in speed, but it still dreadfully slow at regenerating viewports. The hype over BIM started three or four years ago, unfortunately all it has been is sizzle and with no meat.

Some have blamed Civil 3D’s slowness on it being built on top of AutoCAD. Unfortunately I don’t think this is the case. The issue is the Civil 3D framework itself. Civil 3D Objects go through numerous checks to make sure it’s up to date when an object is asked to present it’s information. For instance clicking on a pipe object causes it to be opened and closed programmatically up to seven times. Now think about what happens when you print with a viewport with a drawing containing pipe networks. Each pipe object is opened and closed numerous times, even if it isn’t located within the viewport. Each and every object that is visible in model space is accessed. You’d think by now the programmers of Civil 3D would recognize this slowness and fixed it. 

I was working on a programming project that created viewports for corresponding profile views. There were 30 profile views in the drawing. Attempting to create layouts and viewports for the profile views took up to 45 minutes, if it even got there before causing Civil 3D to crash. The horrendous performance of Civil 3D was evident in this project when the all of the layers where turned off and the layout and viewport creation took about 45 seconds. Any time savings Civil 3D provides in labeling is quickly consumed by plotting out a set. Heaven forbid a last minute sheet gets added to a project after you plot the set. Do we really deserve to take an hour or two to plot out a large set of drawings?

Now it looks like Autodesk is going to release and/or market to us about point cloud features in Civil 3D, or at least I’m guessing due to some Twitter activity. So Autodesk has spent the last three or four years marketing to us about BIM, failing to deliver any new complete features to make it a reality. Evidently they have been working on point cloud features instead of BIM features. I don’t quite get this push into point clouds. What’s the point if we only get a surface object? A surface object, if history is any indication, where we’ll have to winnow out a majority of the point cloud points to get a workable surface. If we can’t turn the point clouds into pavement, curbs, gutters, trees, retaining walls, pipes, signs, striping, curb ramps, sidewalks, and all of the other objects we design what’s the point?

I personally don’t see myself interacting with point clouds, and I suspect a vast majority of engineers are in the same boat. I do know a majority of engineers design pavement, curbs, gutters, trees, retaining walls, pipes, signs, striping, curb ramps, sidewalks, spillways, detention basins, and all of the other objects. I think I’m at the point where I don’t renew my subscription in a few months when it comes due. Maybe it’s time I’m as tight with my software budget as Autodesk is for BIM features in Civil 3D. I guess you could say I’m a disgruntled customer.

Some might indicate my rants are ill advised. But really this blog isn’t about pleasing Autodesk, or any other vendors. This blog is about reminders to myself. This one just memorializes my feelings on the state of the Civil 3D product and possibly a reminder on why I ended my Civil 3D subscription. Ultimately I’m just a consumer of a product and get to choose whether or not I purchase a product or not. The blog doesn’t make massive amounts of money for myself, and due to the small potential audience I doubt it ever will. Unless of course someone offers to to pay pre dot com crash money for the blog.

Tuesday, January 08, 2013


MVC Web API is used by some companies to provide APIs to let users access data. Most APIs are generally a REST type which have calls with names of GET (gets information), POST (sends data), PUT (update data), and Delete (removes data).

It sometimes can be difficult to figure out to create the calls if you are doing it for the first time. For instance passing complex objects for the GET and POST calls can be confusing. To pass complex objects you use an identifier for the object being passed. For example for a GET call the method would look like this:

public Product GetCrappyCivilBIMProduct([FromUri]Manufacturer autodesk)

The [FromUri] indicates MVC should look for the manufacturer object from the Uri.

For POST calls you would send the data within the request rather from the Uri. To do so you’d use something similar to this:

public Product PostCivilBIMProduct([FromBody]Manufacturer)

MVC will then look for the object within the request. If you try to use the [FromBody] for a GET it won’t work. If it you don’t set up the identifiers correctly the data will tend to not come through and show up as NULL.

I thought this post needed a picture.


Thursday, January 03, 2013

Epson Printers

For some reason writing over 725 blog posts and getting a mild following of readership lets you get invited to personalized marketing sessions with exhibitors at Autodesk University. Now I’m not quite sure how many people actually read this blog, or if it all comes from random Google searches. Regardless I feel compelled to continue on this grand life experience of mine that has gone on for the last seven years. In order to do so coming up with blog posts and inspiration sometimes becomes  hard. Luckily for me Epson has given me a blog post topic. 

The topic is Epson’s new line of printers. With the economy starting to pick up it might be time to upgrade your plotter. Now you might be thinking that you don’t need a new plotter, your older one still prints out the plots. But are you missing out on the new technological advances available in today’s printers? For one there are cost savings in the amount of ink a plotter uses. I have no idea if the ink costs less, but as we’ve seen with the so called renewable energy price is no object when it comes to using less resources. Even if we have to throw out our currently working equipment. Plus the line of plotters are Energy STAR Compliant, so you’ll save energy when plotting. Epson printers also plots up to 110 plots per hour. Unfortunately if you use Civil 3D that feature won’t be much use for you, since Civil 3D only plots out at horrendously slowly due to poor object management during viewport regeneration. Do we really need every single Civil 3D object regenerated when we are plotting a viewport?

Since you’ll have some time on your hands while you wait for civil 3D plots to finish, you can always choose to use the smallest ink refill sizes for the three options of ink cartridges Epson offers. This will provide you something to do while you wait for Civil 3D to finish plotting. If you take the time to explode the Civil 3D objects, making sure the rotation is correct in all viewports, then you might want to utilize the larger 700 ml cartridge. Don’t worry about choosing the size when you purchase the plotter, because Epson has made the cartridges interchangeable, so you can use any size cartridge that is offered.

The plotters print both in black and white and color. I’m not one to get overly excited about print quality, but the prints at Autodesk University Epson had on hand were quite nice.

The whole line of plotters may be found here: Click on the link, because I think it was the main point of the article, except for my going off the rails for a small portion of the blog post.



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