Thursday, April 29, 2010

Civil 3D 2011 Toolspace

In Civil 3D 2011 there is more options to control what’s shown in Toolspace. You can turn off any of the available tabs individually. You can turn off/on the Prospector, Settings, Survey or Toolbox tabs. The toggles are available on the Home Ribbon. If you turn them all off the Toolspace will disappear. Occasionally the program will decide to hide one of the tabs, to get it to reappear you have to press the appropriate toggle twice to get it back.


Monday, April 26, 2010

Structure Rim Manipulation

This post shows how you can modify a structure’s rim elevation and how to get an elevation at an X, Y location from a surface object.

Option Explicit

Sub AdjustStructureRim()

Dim vPt As Variant
Dim oAcadObj As AcadObject
On Error Resume Next
ThisDrawing.Utility.GetEntity oAcadObj, vPt, "Select surface: "

If (TypeOf oAcadObj Is AeccSurface) Then
Dim oSurface As AeccSurface
Set oSurface = oAcadObj
ThisDrawing.Utility.Prompt "Select Only Surfaces" & vbCrLf
Exit Sub
End If

Do Until AdjustStructureRimWork(oSurface) = False


End Sub

Function AdjustStructureRimWork(oSurface As AeccSurface) As Boolean

Dim vPt As Variant
Dim oAcadObj As AcadObject
' On Error Resume Next
ThisDrawing.Utility.GetEntity oAcadObj, vPt, "Select structure: "

If (oAcadObj Is Nothing) Then
AdjustStructureRimWork = False
ElseIf (TypeOf oAcadObj Is AeccStructure) Then
Dim oStructure As AeccStructure
Set oStructure = oAcadObj

Dim dElev As Double
dElev = oSurface.FindElevationAtXY(oStructure.Position.X, oStructure.Position.Y)

oStructure.Position.Z = dElev
AdjustStructureRimWork = True

ThisDrawing.Utility.Prompt "Select Only Polylines" & vbCrLf
AdjustStructureRimWork = False
End If

End Function

Monday, April 19, 2010

Civil 3D 2011

When you go to download Civil 3D 2011, which is available today, make sure to download the one that matches your OS type. So if you have a 32-bit operating system download the 32-bit version of Civil 3D and if you have a 64-bit operating system download the 64-bit version of Civil 3D. Nothing worse then spending an hour or two downloading the program only to find out you can only install the one that matches the OS.

I for one wish you could install both versions, mainly so I could Edit and Continue in Visual Studio 2008.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

AutoCAD's Dirty Little Secret

When you starting out programming in AutoCAD occasionally people mention this mysterious object called a Curve, more specifically the AcDbCurve object. The Curve object is the base class that other objects are built on such as AcDb2dPolyline, AcDb3dPolyline, AcDbArc, AcDbCircle, AcDbEllipse, AcDbLeader, AcDbLine, AcDbPolyline, AcDbRay, AcDbSpline, and AcDbXline. Additionally Civil 3D objects are also built on top of the Curve such as Alignments, FeatureLines, Pipes and Profiles.

You can get information from a curve instance of the object instead of the type of object in the drawing. For instance if you want to get information from both a Polyline and a FeatureLine you can get the objects as a Curve instead and not worry about handling both objects separately.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Installing Plant 3D

If you install Plant 3D 64-bit after Civil 3D 2010, Plant 3D may not run properly. How I got it to work correctly was to delete the files in the image below and then reinstall Plant 3D.


It appears that the 32-bit Autodesk.AutoCAD.Interop doesn’t play well with the 64-bit AutoCAD. Since Civil 3D 2011 will come in a 64-bit version I suspect this step won’t be required.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Does anyone understand this stuff?

A high school friend had a scaling question and asked me this question. Heck I don’t even understand everything on this blog. Take for instance error catching. I haven’t spent a whole lot of time exploring it. I’m more interested in solving the civil design portion of the solution than making sure it works for all cases. A user of the Civil 3D Reminders Pack came across this warning message when attempting to utilize the swap parts command.

Unhandled exception has occurred in a component in your application. If you click continue the application will ignore this error and attempt to continue. The error message is popping up because an error was encountered and I didn’t take care of it in the code at the time it happened.

Pressing continue will allow the user to return to Civil 3D, but the message is a bit cryptic, but it’s basically saying the programmer didn’t do proper error catching. .NET is smart enough to recognize something went wrong and to try to continue on. To Catch portion would need to be revised to Catch an error instead of Catch ex as Exception. The error wasn’t an exception so it wasn’t being caught properly. A message probably be added to prompt the user to audit the drawing before trying again.

In this case of this error in the code, the drawing database became broken. An audit of the drawing removed this error from popping up.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Heartless Post

Earl Kubaskie provided a comment, on my 2nd Annual Distract Pat Dearborn from doing actual work post (also known as an April Fool’s post), that got me thinking. Does Autodesk want customers who would react negatively to a new and improved civil design product? Based on Autodesk’s reaction to the post it would seem that they covet those users.

2009 April Fool’s post caused quite a commotion within the users of the program. It was definitely a feature they wanted to stay in the program and the post was forwarded onto others and posted on a discussion group (DG), providing a bump in traffic to the post (the DG thread was removed by Autodesk, so you won’t be able to find it). That year a total of 15 Autodesk visitors visited the site to read the post. This year the post spread within Autodesk for a total of 65 visits from coast to coast, providing the majority of the traffic bump to the site this year. Without the Autodesk bump I’d have to say the traffic to the blog would have been slightly above average instead of the most traffic ever for a Civil 3D related post. Thanks Autodesk for providing the motivation to do another April Fool’s post next year! I’m sure I would have stopped the April Fool’s tomfoolery without a bump in traffic.


Autodesk’s reaction appeared to be one of concern of the post causing fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD). I even heard they were/are contemplating legal action against me (or it could have been their attempt at an April Fool’s joke on me).

Based on the reaction to this year’s post I’d have to say unscientifically the readers of this blog are forward looking and want to use the best technology available and didn’t cause much FUD. Earl called my post heartless because he would really want the features contained in the post in a Civil Design product. I’d have to agree with him. All of the new features in the fictitious product I’d want incorporated within Civil 3D. But what was Autodesk worried about? The people who have moved to Civil 3D want, as a whole, the best technology available. While the people who don’t are still using Land Desktop, or really late adopters of Civil 3D, and tend to be stuck in their ways. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a lot of the late adopters stay on the first version of Civil 3D they learned on. Assuming its Civil 3D 2010 they probably have a fairly stable program that will do the work required for a long time. Personally I think Autodesk shouldn’t worry about the people stuck in their ways, I’d wish they’d worry more about providing a quality feature laden product, with most of my suggestions included of course.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Four Years

As of today it’s been four years since the first post of this blog. I’ve found that most people aren’t interested in the same things that I am, but a couple of people read the blog when I post. The majority of the people come once or twice from Topeka (formerly known as Google).  It’s kind of hard to believe that I started with this post:

Brings all text and dimensions to the front of all the other objects in a drawing.

I’ve definitely gone a ways away from command posts. I’ve also learned how little traffic my site gets from my experience with the affect. Over 2,500 hits from a post that wasn’t even on Digg, but was a comment in a on a popular article on Digg.


It’s also interesting to note that the most popular post is one that only conveys information regarding something that isn’t available (until Civil 3D 2011). If I thought this blog would have lasted this long I probably would have chosen a shorter name.

Well thanks for reading, even if you just come through Google.

What’s Wrong with this Picture?

I didn’t notice it until today, but where is the pipe on the Civil 3D 2008 splash screen supposed to go? It appears that a pipe is already in the trench awaiting backfill. I haven’t done many large diameter steel pipe projects; but usually when I drive by they are welding them together by the trench and then putting them into the same trench. Maybe photoshopping of the photo was done?


Maybe Pat Dearborn can shed some light on this.

The End of AutoCAD Civil 3D

**** This post was an April Fool's Day Post ****
**** I have no real knowledge of Civil 3D going away, its more of a wish list post ****
A few months back we all found out that AutoCAD Civil was going the way of Land Desktop, while the company I work for didn’t utilize the program I do know that some of you were. Recently AutoCAD Civil 3D 2011 was released and lots of good information was released regarding the product such as additional point cloud functionality and the ability to create points with elevation by selecting a point with elevation within the drawing.
However Civil 3D, like most software, has some drawbacks as Michael Farrell points out  “Now we need someone (hopefully more involved than the XDREF folks were) at Autodesk to admit this is a 'problem' and to fix it. I won't be sitting here NOT breathing....until this happens.” Additionally the hardware demands of Civil 3D can require a video card costing as much as your first car, once stated by Pat Dearborn, an Autodesk Technical Evangelist. Also, as I mentioned in my three year anniversary post, grading can be problematic to say the least.
Well it looks like Mr. Farrell could start breathing if he did choose to hold his breath. Recently I came across some information that was inadvertently sent to me by Ken Beezink, an Autodesk QA Support person. In the information it outlined the demise of Civil 3D and its replacement, CIM, an abbreviation of Civil Information Modeling. Yes, you read that correctly Civil 3D will be discontinued in the near term, although the information didn’t provide the last version of Civil 3D, but it did indicate that Civil 3D 2011 may be the last version.
In the information the product managers of the program, Brad Chiplink, Mead Viseone and Ken Petfur, layout the new features of the program. Below is a breakdown of what’s new or different in CIM:


To reduce the graphic demands of the program on hardware CIM will utilize the engine in Navisworks. If you ever utilized Navisworks you would now how much better Navisworks pares down what needs to be shown to provide a better user experience. CIM performance with Point Clouds provides a great improvement over what’s in Civil 3D. Additionally CIM will take advantage of multiple processing cores and be available in 32 bit. Additionally CIM will install in both 32-bit and 64-bit versions on the same computer.


Gone in CIM are projections from feature lines, replaced with planes or planes with thickness. The planes will trim each other when planes of different slopes and grades come together. You can also take a polyline and trim the planes. There are special planes that can take the shape of curbs and valley gutters. The special shapes’ elevations are modified much in the same way as feature line’s quick elevation editor. Based on what is in the information it seems like a cross between grading in Civil 3D and corridor. It looks like the developers took the best of designing parking lots using gradings and corridors and put them together.


This one really surprised me, CIM has the capability to use TINs and AutoCAD surfaces. The TIN functionality is basically the same as any civil software product utilizes, but the AutoCAD surfaces provide the real leap in surface technology. The surfaces are able to have vertical phases or cave shapes. Additionally you can modify the faces that make up the surface by pushing and pulling it. Need a contour representation of the surface modify, just move the surface face to get the look you want.


Parcels in the new product bring together the best of Civil 3D and Map topologies. Parcel segments remain dynamic with addition to centroids. Parcel numbers and user defined data become much more permanent with the use of centroids. Make small change to a parcel that would have caused a loss of data in Civil 3D  and CIM maintains the data as long as the new centroid is within a user defined tolerance value. The modified parcel then takes the data from the old centroid information. If the centroid is outside the limits the user is asked if they want to use the old data or enter in a new parcel number and/or user defined values. Since most parcel changes affect each of the other parcel numbers a new option to automatically update parcel numbers is included.
With the addition of topologies in CIM it is now possible to utilize BLOCK/LOT in an easy workable workflow without any clunky work arounds.


In CIM creating subassemblies become easier. Its possible to utilize generic links to create a new subassembly. The new subassembly now becomes its own custom object and becomes easily shareable between drawings. Additionally corridor objects are easily data referenced into other drawings. You can even trim the corridor to include only the portion you need. CIM includes the ability to modify the  data referenced corridor from any of the drawings it is located  in. Need to add a corridor section, no problem add it and the change updates into the source drawing.


CIM ends Civil 3D’s trend to spread out the information into different dialogs. Superelevation and labels are brought back into the alignment properties dialog along with the edit alignment geometry toolbar. The properties dialog box is able to stay open while you work in the drawing. This makes it easy to move around the drawing and modify an alignment.

Pipe Networks

Long the neglected portion of Civil 3D, CIM makes up for it with major, if not revolutionary, changes in how we design both pressure and gravity pipes. CIM ditches the confusing Part Builder and replaces it with an easy to use Part Creator. Basic building blocks are provided that may be used to make nearly any fitting, structure or pipe.  Water lines are laid out with ease with the ability to quickly create water services or hydrants. The water service lines and hydrants can be assigned water demands. The water system can then be analyzed for various water scenarios.
Sewer networks have the ability to handle sewer laterals. Sewer laterals automatically update to any changes with the main line. Need to determine flow velocities and system capacity. Well the laterals or manholes can be assigned demands which can be used to calculate them. Manholes have the ability to have drops which show up correctly in profile views without resorting to manually placed blocks.
Storm water systems in CIM get a bunch of improvements. No longer are workarounds required for double, triple or more barreled culverts.With Part Creator multiple barreled culverts are now supported. The hydraulic grade lines are supported and calculated directly in the program. If your method doesn’t exist in the product you can use a MathCAD type interface to create your own calculations within the program. The custom calculations are easily shared with others so agencies can provide the standard calculations.

Wrap Up

Overall it looks like CIM will be a great product. I’m not quite sure what I should do with this blog when the day comes. Maybe I’ll look to see if the domain is available.In closing I read a quote from Gunslinger Jade Swigmend who said “CIM is leaps and bounds above Civil 3D and Land Desktop, and can’t wait to use it in production.” Well lets hope he’s right.

UPDATE: I just received additional information regarding the end of Civil 3D. Another name under consideration is iCEMENT, short for Information Civil Environmental Model Electronic New Tool. Andante Storm, consultant to Autodesk, says this name will better reflect the entire range of features Autodesk is trying to cram into the new product.



Blog Widget by LinkWithin