Friday, September 18, 2015

Are you Frustrated by Using Civil 3D to it’s Fullest?

John Sayre over at BIM on the rocks as a new post asking “Are you Using Civil 3D to its fullest?”

Here are my top five things that suck by using Civil 3D that is costing you money. Evidently Autodesk thinks they should spend resources telling you how awesome there product is instead of fixing it and I’m here to tell you how it sucks when you use Civil 3D to it’s fullest.

1. Stage Storage

Well BIM is in the title of John’s blog, you’d think he’d at least mention the BIMlessness of the Stage Storage tool that is costing you time and money. Let me clue you in if you don’t use Civil 3D to it’s fullest there is NO basin object in the program. What does that mean? Instead of designing a basin that knows it’s dimensions, water capacity, and freeboard we are left with creating a surface or offset polylines. The Stage Storage tool then analyzes the ENTIRE surface or polylines you select. That means Civil 3D is wasting your time having you to either have a separate surface just to do the basin.

Want to do a design change. Yep, if you’ve used Civil 3D to the fullest then you know that you have to run the command again, export out the data from the tool, and then type in those values in a separate  analysis program. For the Stage Storage tool doesn’t actually have the ability to do those calculations. Seems to me a BIM program would have this capability, after all the Mechanical Engineers can analyze air flow in a buildings room in Revit.

2. Style Creation

If you are using Civil 3D to it’s fullest then you have experienced the nightmare of creating and modifying styles that is costing you time and money. Why not have a graphical selection of the various components to labels? Well that would be to easy. Now you get to wade through a possibly long list of items to change and often times change the wrong values.

Use Reference text and want to check what it looks like? Well Civil 3D makes you waste your time by exiting out of the dialog box, see what the change is, and then go back in make any changes. For Civil 3D thinks ??? is an appropriate look for reference text components. I think it’s wasting my time and costing me money.

3. Overly Burdensome Corridor Creation Workflow

Ever use a corridor to it’s fullest in Civil 3D? Well then you’ve probably experienced the random screw ups that the corridor costing you money. That random corridor feature line that decides it doesn’t want to connect to the next section and instead go to some seemingly random location. Or the way you can’t quite get it to go across the centerline for median work. For at sometime someone decided that feature lines shouldn’t cross the baseline which in turns costs you money and time coming up with workarounds to a common design feature in roadways.

4. Select Corridor Targets from an Xref

Sure when it works Select Corridor Targets from an Xref sounds good, but in practice not so much. Get into work and find that since you had to update some linework your targets now have a different handle and bam all of your hard work goes down the drain costing you time and money.

5. Pipe Networks

What a mess here in pipe networks costing you tons and tons of time and money. Want to place a pipe network for a sewer at 0.3% minimum slope and your road slopes at 0.5%. You’d think you would place the pipe network and then Civil 3D would follow the road. But you’d be wrong because someone at Autodesk decided the slopes need to be solved to the 1% place. That means you’ll quickly find your self manually moving pipes and structures to get the slope values you set in the pipe rules because Civil 3D will give you slopes at 0.3%, 1.3%, 2.3%, 3.3%, etc… A ton of time wasting Civil 3D is costing you money.

Want to go up a pipe run at a particular slope, a common task? Well Civil 3D is costing you money since Autodesk has decided you only need to place the pipes and structures once and shouldn’t have tools to easily change the slopes and elevations of the pipe networks. Civil 3D is costing you money.

Want to swap parts in a pipe network? Well Autodesk has decided it should cost you money big time. For you have a large project and need to change 50 pipes from 8” to 10”. Well congratulations you get to run the SwapPart command 50 times for a task that should be done in 10 seconds. Want to swap parts in a pressure network, well if you are using Civil 3D to the fullest you get the privilege of deleting the the parts and recreating them costing you money.

6. Add Feature Line PI

John provided a sixth item, so I will to. Adding PI’s to feature lines is costing you money when Civil 3D decides it cannot. Here are two posts illustrating the issue:

2008: Inserting PI into Feature Line jumps ship
2014: Feature Line - "Error inserting PI"

Yep, the issue has been costing us users who use Civil 3D to it’s fullest since 2008 and it’s still not fixed. I doubt it’s even on the list.

Want more info on how Civil 3D is costing it’s users money see and join the conversation in this forum post.

Many of these time consuming tasks have been automated by third party applications:

Steltman Tools
RedTransit Consultants

Plus you are likely to get bug fixes measured in months instead of years. Where as Autodesk and Civil 3D’s fixes are often measured in years if they are fixed at all despite a multi hundred million research and development budget.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Southern California Edison Layer Template

This link has an AutoCAD 2009 template with the Southern California Edison Layers already created. It also includes a Layer Filter Properties that contains the list of SCE layers. The file is provided as is and may not even be correct. Double check the current SCE layers list, but as long as they don’t change it too much it might be or might not be a good place to start.

If you want to check to make sure you’ve got all of the layers converted to the SCE layers you can right click on a layer in the SCE Layers Filter and choose Invert Layer Filter.


Thursday, September 03, 2015

Civil 3D Development Time Survey

I’m looking for survey responses:

The survey is to figure out how long you think it takes to do these commands. Once the survey is done I’ll post the results as well as how long it actually took me to program it.

Wednesday, September 02, 2015


Sometimes you want to do stuff in Civil 3D that isn’t readily apparent how to accomplish. One case where I’ve seen often is where you know where your daylight line is going to be, but don’t know where your HP should be located at. The image below is one such instance. I know where I want to daylight at, the TOP of Existing Slope Feature Line, and I know I want to have it slope towards my ditch at 2% and then down to the left flow path at 2:1.

In order to get this to work I’ll want to use the LinkSlopeBetweenPoints, a marked point, and a LinkWidthAndSlope.


Make sure to add the MarkedPoint Before the LinkSlopeBetweenPoints.

Here are the values used. Make sure to use the same Marked Point value, in my case BottomLeft.



The set the LinkWidthAndSlope to the top of existing breakline for the elevation and horizontal target. You might need to play with the slopes since I didn’t check it for this post.

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Pipe Network Layer Blues

Why is Civil 3D hard to use? Well I’m guessing it’s because Autodesk user’s identify issues and then see them not resolved. One such issue I came across is data shortcut layers for pipe networks.

So what is wrong with data shortcut layers for pipe networks? Well you only get once chance to get the data shortcutted pipes and structures on the correct layer. For when you import a datashortcut Civil 3D will assign the layer that is in the Object Layers in Drawing Settings. Don’t waste your time hitting the layers button on the pipe network data shortcut dialog box, because while Civil 3D will set the correct value on creation, on a Synchronize magically they will be reset back to the layer in the Object Layers and wipe out all of that hard work you just did. Half way through your project and you realize you didn’t put them on the correct layer? Well your out of luck because in order to get them updated you have to:

  • Delete them,
  • change the Object Layer,
  • import the pipe network as a data shortcut, then
  • add the pipes and structures to the profile views, and then
  • add/update the labels.

Wow, that seems like a ton of unnecessary rework when the steps should be to select the pipe and structures and use the Layer Drop Down in AutoCAD properties or on the ribbon.

Why is Civil 3D hard to use? Because Autodesk doesn’t care about you the user to fix these issues. It has little to do with user interface, but that seems to be where Autodesk focuses their attention on. I think since Civil 3D 2007 the Pipe Network Icon has been changed at least 5 times. How many times has this issue been fixed? None.

The help file doesn’t even let you know of this issue:

If you don’t believe this, here is a video showing the results I’m seeing.

I’m sure we’ll see this fixed between 6 months and never. I’d bet the answer is closer to never since I’m sure the UI will need to be redone first for 2017, 2018, 2019 ….


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