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


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