Thursday, April 01, 2010

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.



Mark Spatz, P.E. said...


Dana said...

Ah, the famous Christopher April Fool's post. Lovely.

Unknown said...

Love the anagrams.

Earl Kubaskie said...

There's a site called College Humor that did an April Fool about In-n-Out Burger opening up on the east coast.

Almost as heartless as this one.

In-n-Out in New York wouldn't affect me anyway, but mathematically accurate modeling of road & earthwork designs is another matter.

Imagine full 3D modeling (complete with curved faces!)of everything from pipes to retaining walls to bridges. Sidewalks, curb & gutter, medians, guardrail, signage - da woiks.

Revit Road! Crevit?

Bob said...

I did about the same thing but with LDD. I sent an email out that look liked it was from Autodesk saying that LDD would no longer work as of April 1st. One of my coworker got really mad at me. :)

Bob said...

I did about the same thing but with LDD. I sent an email out that look liked it was from Autodesk saying that LDD would no longer work as of April 1st. One of my coworker got really mad at me.


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