Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Case for Custom Subassemblies

Just an Autodesk University class proposal for future reference. Just a few more days

Class Description:

Corridors, assemblies and subassemblies provide a straight forward way to design roadways and other linearly designed projects. Often times when utilizing the out of the box subassemblies the number of regions and targets gets confusing. In this class I’ll provide the case of the use of custom subassemblies to clear the clutter and confusion. The class will also discuss when to start to look at creating custom subassemblies and past projects where custom subassemblies where used to simplify the design process. Finally the steps in creating a custom subassembly will be covered, including how to share them.

Target Audience:

Anyone who has thought there could be a better subassembly for what they are designing.

Key Learning Objective 1: How to create custom subassemblies.

Key Learning Objective 2: How to determine when a custom subassembly would be useful.

Key Learning Objective 3: How to share custom subassemblies.

Key Learning Objective 4: How to get the feature lines to cross the centerline.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Surface From Shape File (Subscription Advantage Pack–2010)

For the past 3 or 4 years Autodesk has been kind enough to let us blogger’s help get the word out on the new features included in the Subscription Advantage Packs. Sometimes you come across another’s blog posts that covers how to do something using the old methods instead of the new tools available in a imageSubscription Advantage Pack (and then later incorporated into the product).

One feature that came about in the 2010 Subscription Advantage Pack was the ability to import shape files directly into Civil 3D to create a surface. No need to use Map. If using Civil 3D 2010 download the SAP and access the command from the Toolbox.

If using a newer version you will find the option under Surfaces, Create Surface from GIS Data.

The one difficult part of the process was knowing to select the Login button to go to the next screen.


In the last screen make sure to set the correct GIS Field to the correct Civil 3D Property. In this case Elevation to Elevation.


I found the other steps fairly self explanatory.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Answers to Some Questions I was Asked This Week

If you want to type in Station and Elevation in a profile view, use the transparent commands. They may be found on the transparent command toolbar or many of them have the command line access.


To run them at the command line, type the command you want to use. During the command when you want an exact station and elevation type ‘PSE. You will then select the profile view and then the station and then the elevation. Explore the other options on the toolbar, there are some useful commands there.

Sometimes in a section view you may want to show a dimension type label for a corridor link. It’s possible to do by linking vertical lines to the top of the section view and then building the rest of the label from those starting lines. It works out really well. You can even create a link for right of way and then add a label that way.


Monday, April 11, 2011

Update Table Cell Border Color

So I was attempting to change the cell color for a table style. I’d go in set the color to what I wanted, SNAGHTML2258ba5dpress OK, then leave the dialog box. Nothing changed, the cell border color wouldn’t update. The table with the appropriate style had the same freaking cell border color other than what I wanted. So I went back in and did it again. Same results. So I went back in and did it again. Same results. So I went back in and did it again. Same results. So I went back in and did it again. Same results.

So I finally thought I’ve done this enough times, I must be doing something wrong. Well I was, I wasn’t pressing the borders that I wanted the color to be applied to. I guess it’s a bit like the little arrow you have to press when modifying Civil 3D labels, you just have to push the button for the updates to take place.

Friday, April 08, 2011

The Big Picture

First off I’d like to thank Autodesk for inviting me to Autodesk Media Day over the last two days. David Mills and Bruce Finch were especially instrumental in getting me to and from Waltham for the event. Rob Todd and and Sarah Cunningham were nice enough to come down from the Autodesk Manchester offices (where Civil 3D is primarily developed) and let us peak a little bit into some NDA topics for Civil 3D, which was really awesome of them.

If you are a long time reader of this blog you could probably pick up on what future of Civil 3D that I think the product should go. For instance I put a lot of my thoughts down in this post. Now a whole bunch of my thoughts on where Civil 3D should go is influenced by exposure to other products in the Autodesk portfolio such as Revit, Revit MEP, Revit Structure and Plant 3D. My  thoughts on how I viewed Civil 3D over media day was definitely influenced by what I saw and heard about in the other products.

I could definitely see my enthusiasm for the new release Civil 3D wane as I saw more of the other ACA_Corner_Window2products demoed. For instance I saw the new Revit feature to put a window in the corner of a building.  This is cool, you place the window in the model and the surrounding walls update to accommodate the placed window. I guess this is really frustrating because I recently had a customer who wanted cross sections at driveways. Well there just isn’t an easy way to model a driveway. There is a whole lot of work involved just to model a common real world roadway occurrence of driveway. And if the model changed? Well I’ve got update the corridor, update my base linework representing the driveway and move all of the labels. The architect has less work to do if they want to shift the window over, they grip move it, check the dimensions and then move on to the next task.

SNAGHTML222bacb6 Now don’t think of the driveway example as a feature but as a big picture item that’s missing from 000_0001[1]Civil 3D; the ability to model real world civil objects in an efficient and cost effective manner. Looking out my window into the hotel’s parking there’s a whole sea of items that I can’t model efficiently in Civil 3D. I see curb and gutter, retaining walls, slight mounds in the landscaping area, inlets in the corner of a parking stall, inlet on a curve  of curb and gutter, handicap ramps and lighting. Now I have the ability to model all of these items in Civil 3D using feature lines, corridors, blocks and pipe networks. But I think is a great stretch to call it efficient. Is it better than previous civil software products, yes. Is it better at modeling than other non-civil software products, a resounding no.

That doesn’t even include the items I can’t see. Such as the thickness of the pavement section and the underlying earth. All of which are important aspect of a project in terms of both cost and design. I feel as an industry we need to step back and think are feature lines and grading objects the best way to model the real world. Sure it worked when our primary tools was the pencil and slide rule, but today we have greater computing power available. Why not design with a plane with thickness to represent a pavement surface, or an actual curb and gutter object with volume. Taking a look at the driveway image above we can see we have psudo volume in how we model. Sure I can shade the top of the surface, but I’m just hiding the inadequacies of the model.

Now I don’t bring this up to bash Autodesk, and this post is in no way intended to come off that way. It’s more to get you, the users of Civil 3D, to ask for this functionality and big picture workflow. For whoever is squeakier is more likely to get the features into the program that they want. If you aren’t asking for it (and asking for it repeatedly) it probably won’t make it into the product. So unfortunately for the people at Autodesk who represent the Civil development team they will be faced with me being a broken record. Asking for the ability to model real world objects with real world realism.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Civil 3D New Features and 3DConnexion

Wow, there was lots of responses to what you liked in the new features of Civil 3D. Unfortunately I can only give away one 3DConnexion mouse. Kati, a blogger at, picked a name out of a cup (I forgot to bring a hat). The name she picked was Sean’s who’s looking forward for the new GIS interaction.

“We have a project that could really use the GIS interaction. It will be interesting to see how this feature works, and if the flow of information goes both ways.”

If you are Sean send me your address via Email and I’ll make sure you get your new Space Pilot Pro 3D mouse.

BIM for Infrastructure


Help work with construction of a project in addition to the delivery of a project. BIM in action videos regarding BIM in infrastructure.

Infrastructure Suite

  • Standard – Planning
  • Premium – Planning, Design and Visualization
  • Ultimate – Construction Simulation

Infrastructure planning based around Map 3D.

Industry Models – To connect different models together (Where, What). With integration of Topobase then we get the How and When added to Map 3D. Topobase doesn’t need Oracle anymore, can use other database engines to use with it to bring it to the desktop level. Provides rules and management to Map 3D.

Roadway modeling, visualization & analysis and collaboration. Civil 3D allows for better corridor modeling allowing different alternatives during a project. SSA is now integrated within Civil 3D to drive analysis without having to send it to another product.

Where we are headed

Electricity Utility Design – Rules oriented design. So everything knows where it should go and how it interacts with everything else. To come out later this year.

Project Galileo – Conceptual look of a project in relation to what is already there using GIS or lidar to model the city in a short amount of time. Took 40 minutes to create a rough model of the city of Boston. Information flow for planning and design.

Infrastructure Planning

Process that precedes the design of a project. Collecting data and come up with alternatives.

Data Access, Industry Models, Analysis.

Can apply styles in an advanced model in Map 3D 2012. Can bring in AutoCAD data into the model and query it or bring it in via a query, but you already knew that right? Right? Makes it easier to bring data together and present it in a pleasing manner to convey information.

Oracle database is now not a requirement, but still may be used. Can now open a DWG with the information a planner would need.

Demo of the software and case where it would be useful. Flow arrows shown for sewer line, can show profile of the pipe in map which shows the information of the pipes and structures. Provides when in the form of when it was installed and when it was last inspected. Can also attach videos of the pipe run. Can show where the sewer overflow happened out of a structure, to help find the cause what happened and what may be causing the overflow. Can visualize the material type, to determine old clay pipes which may be the cause of infiltration causing the overflow.

Better planning with analysis with Storm & Sanitary Analysis with Map 3D. Able to take the GIS data and planned flow from a development to see early in the process if the existing system can handle the new project or know that you have to mitigate flows to not need to upgrade the existing system.

Infrastructure Design

Roadway Modeling – Provide roadway access to the sample project mall. Start with existing data, such as laser scanning. Large surfaces took a long time previously, now with level of detail it is much quicker to select and view.

Creating Alignments from a polyline now improved with the ability to to change the constraints to get stuff to be tangent to each other or not. Alignment entities in Panorama now has tangency constraints column to change. Also has a highlight of entity in model space to let you know where you are.

Superelevation improved to provide different superelevation change points other than the centerline and change the location on the fly without reentering data (in case you made a mistake).

Easier to create and modify the corridor with the three different views when you go into corridor section editor. Now able to set the targets via tooltips within the cross section editor. Multiple baseline information.


Can use Vault Collaboration to share information between groups. Can provide notification when things change or need approval. Integration with Buzzsaw, the files can be sent to other stakeholders. Doesn’t need to manually move them over. When something changes it will sync with Buzzsaw.

Styles management lets you import styles, overwrite or view what isn’t standard in a file. Can use as a quality control method. Can also do a find and replace for styles.

Visualization and Analysis

Available in the Infrastructure Design Suite, everything you need for BIM. BIM for Infrastructure In a Box. Imported files retain their link from Civil 3D to 3DS Max, just need to update what has changed. A new dialog box to export to 3DS Max from Civil 3D. Create a visualization fairly easier and more accessible.

New in Navisworks, the ability to modify the Gnatt chart within the Timeliner without having to go back into MS Project to change the schedule of items. A real life fake demo of using WS. Showing using it to show mark ups on plans in real time to communicate from office to field. Makes it easier to communicate what needs to change in the field or what information is needed from the office to better communicate what information is needed.

Autodesk AEC Media Day 2011–Morning

Expanding BIM

Presented by Jay Bhatt

AEC industry is starting to recover, even though there are still additional recovery on the macro100_1332[9] economic level. Autodesk AEC didn’t downside on the computer science and development side during the downturn. This translates into Autodesk being positioned with a wide range of products in the AEC space.

Autodesk feels that 3D models help in coordination, efficiency and accuracy in designs. Revit provides a tool for early design as well as bring it through the design. A focus is on bringing the process of energy analysis to work through the entire process, inferring that the current process waits till the end. Another focus is on expanding the workflow to using laser scanners to bring data into the Revit model to speed the process of bringing in existing data.

The building side (construction) is to remove the waste in construction and bring it into the profit side of the ledger. Look at the design side.

Jay admits he was wrong that Civil side wants BIM. Wow, I really shut off when I see a rendered picture saying it came out of Civil 3D. A ton of objects where are added in 3DS MAX, such as railing, street lights, rock rip slope, water surface, etc.

ADSK 2012 Design Suites

Changes the way customers will interact with Autodesk. The top 3 benefits that users may see:

  1. Reduced cost, to get products.
  2. Improve compatibility between products.
  3. Ability to easily manage product updates.

Creating a compelling offer for AEC Customers through:

  • Flexibility to Innovate
  • Economical & Convenient
  • Comprehensive & Sophisticated.

Three suite editions, Standard, Premium and Ultimate.

  • AutoCAD Based Design (Standard)
  • BIM for Building or Infrastructure (Premium)
  • Simulation (Ultimate)

Collaboration and Data Management

Managing information to get 360 degree of products.

Autodesk BIM 360 for AEC management to manage project information to provide an accurate view.

Three levels of capabilities needed.

  1. Viral Team Collaboration/Communication
  2. Project (On-demand project collaboration)
  3. Enterprise (Scalability for the enterprise)

Vault Collaboration AEC, Buzzsaw, WS, Project Bluestreak, Design Review, Navisworks.

Vault Collaboration

  • Project-Based workflows
  • Design Tool integration
  • Scalability
  • Cloud and Mobile

Help with bringing the product up to speed quickly instead of waiting months to get previous systems up to speed. Complimentary to the suites.

Friday, April 01, 2011

I’m Done!

That’s it I’m throwing in the towel on this blog. It’s done. This will be the last post of this blog. It ends with this 598th post. I’m not going to let the blog die a slow and painful death of neglect. I’m going to kill the blog quick and decisively, and today! As of 12pm tonight (Pacific Time) this blog will be removed from the internet. So if you want any of the knowledge contained within it you better make a mad dash through the posts before it’s too late.

Want a reminder how to bring text to front? Better check out the reminder today, because it won’t be there tomorrow.

Want a reminder on how to make your own pipe rule? Do it quick before I flush it down the drain.

Need to have your slope arrow point in the correct direction? All signs point to checking it out out today before it’s too late.

Why quit? Well the rewards haven’t even come close to match the costs of running and posting on the blog. I don’t even make enough to buy a cup of tea to go along with my time writing posts. So I’m calling it a day and pulling the plug. Maybe I’ll see you around at AU or maybe not.

I just might decide to quit the industry completely and become a bread making monk. Or maybe live my life long winning dream of becoming Charlie Sheen’s intern. Who knows, but what I do know is that this blog won’t be around any more. You can forget anything about Reminders, because it will be no more.

“Quoth the raven, ‘Nevermore.’” – Egar Allen Poe, The Raven


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