Monday, April 23, 2012

Dell Precision Tower

Today Dell announced a new line of Dell Precision Tower Workstations. Dell was nice enough to invited me to San Francisco last week to attend the event. Apple Event 003The new line appears to have some great new features.

Over the years many products have been optimized for maintainability and assembling. This new lines incorporates many of those tried and true features in some of the components that users commonly remove and replace. For this product the main parts are the hard drives and power supply. The hard drives have doors at the front of the unit to provide easy access. Open the door, pull out the hard drive, and then slide it back in. While not a feature I could see used commonly with Civil 3D, I could have used that feature when I traveled between office locations at my last regular office job. The company had mostly standardized the computers, instead of dragging around a computer I could just bring my hard drive and slide it in and start working with the workspace that I’m accustomed to.

If you work in a large office the easy exchange of the power supply might come in handy. Just pull the unit out from the back andApple Event 002 slide a new one it. No extended downtime waiting for the IT person to replace it. Another feature is the ability to store the tower workstation in a rack. This feature could be useful in your office if you start to do renderings in 3ds Max. Create a server farm when people go home, and have a central place to make sure all of the workstations are on. Save some time of not having to wander around the office to make sure the machines are on before you go home for the night.

The price points of the product are fairly reasonable for a workstation.

Pricing and Availability:
The Dell Precision T1650, T3600, T5600 and T7600 workstations will be available for purchase worldwide starting in May. Pricing for the T1650 will be available in May.

  • The Dell Precision T7600 pricing starts at $2,149 USD
  • The Dell Precision T5600 pricing starts at $1,879 USD
  • The Dell Precision T3600 pricing starts at $1,099 USD

One thing of note, besides the product launch was some of the items talked about. With lower prices of computers and devices we can have multiple devices to fit the type of work we are doing. A tower at the office, a tablet in the field, and a smart phone as we travel between meetings. I feel it’s probably a fact that I have been overlooking with the drop in prices of devices.

The Intel representative talked about computing power. He mentioned how we aren’t using all of the power in the devices that we do have. He talked about one case where a relatively small amount of code change, around 15 lines of code, provided a large reduction in the time to process the data. This is definitely true of Civil 3D. I can see many instances where multithreading could improve the performance of Civil 3D. Think how much quicker a drawing could be opened if the graphics card and 8 cores could work together to make sure all of the labels in a drawing are up to date.

Since I purchased a Dell Precision laptop last year, I don’t see a Tower in my future. But I’ve been happy with my existing laptop and would look to purchase Dell products in the future.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Upgrading to Civil 3D 2013 (Programming)

With Civil 3D 2013 comes some changes in the API. Many of the various items have been combined to streamline the API. This also will create some headaches in doing some additional work to upgrade.

The first thing you may want to do (probably have to do) is to upgrade to Visual Studio 2010. You can use the free or pay version.

Next double click properties and open up the Application tab. Change the Target framework to “.NET Framework 4”. It will make you restart the project, so press the yes button.


Next we need to change the references from 2012 to 2013.


You can change the reference in vb.NET from the properties or in c# in the Solution Explorer. For the AeccXLandLib and the AeccXUiLandLib you want to not use them any more. You will want to use the preassembled Civil 3D version which may be found in:

C:\Program Files\Autodesk\AutoCAD Civil 3D 2013

For 2013 you will also need to add accoremgd.dll as a reference.


For 2013 you will need to change PointEntity to CogoPoint.

Next you will need to replace all of the instances of Autodesk.Civil.Land, Autodesk.Civil.Pipe and the similar typed names. Remove the Land and Pipe liked parts and it should work as long as you aren’t using some of the methods that have changed. If there is you will have to figure out how to change them.

Friday, April 06, 2012

Profile View Bands

I’m working on a top secret project. One of the tasks is modifying the profile view band labels to show information from a surveyed point’s description. I was having a bit of trouble finding were to grab the profile view band labels. The bands are a part of the Profile View object in .NET, but that only controls how the band shows the information.

In order to get the Profile Band Label Groups one has to use the GetAvailableLabelGroups static method (for 2012, in 2013 the updated method is called GetAvailableLabelGroupIds .

ProfileView profView = ssResult.ObjectId.GetObject(OpenMode.ForWrite) as ProfileView;

RXClass profDataBandLabelGroupRXClass = SystemObjects.ClassDictionary["AeccDbProfileDataBandLabeling"] as RXClass;
ObjectIdCollection profBandLabelsObjIdColl = ProfileBandLabelGroup.GetAvailableLabelGroups(profDataBandLabelGroupRXClass, profView.ObjectId, false);

Once I have the Label Group I can then use the information to modify the labels. The RXClass information I got from the Swamp.

Sunday, April 01, 2012

Civil 3D 2013–Detail Tools

It’s hard to believe just four years ago I was wishing for Detail Tools to be included in Civil 3D. Well with this release of Civil 3D my wish is finally being granted! Well mine and some other people’s wishes, OK it’s just me voting over and over again for a period of time.

Well my wait is over. There are tools now to create details that are related to Civil design, even in 3D! No more having a drafter fake a detail that doesn’t work, you’ll now get a nice 3D image of the detail to make sure everything works. I know after working in construction, there’s nothing worse then ordering a 10 foot metal fabricated piece and only having to really need 3 feet. It’s kind of hard to fix that issue especially when there is an eight week lead time. Well those times are things of the past.

To create the details there is a tool that has a collection of objects. The standard primitives include Pavement, Curb, Gutters and Plane. You know the things we are designing. The dialog is customizable by allowing you to create your own shapes and add it to the standard list or a custom list of objects. Now while it would have been nice to be able to create details from the model directly, this does bring us one step closer of a fully integrated design product.


Detail tools are pretty useless without a corresponding tool to note where those details are located on the plans. Thankfully this new feature also includes a way to label them in Plan view. For instance I had a detail for the parking lot stripping. I tag the line work in the plan using the QTO tools and link it links it to the detail number. There is now a labeling feature that attaches to the objects. Move the object and the callout goes along for the ride. This removes the need to move the callouts if the design changes. Since it is linked to QTO, if you change the assignment there, the callout automagically changes to the correct detail callout. This eliminates the headache of detail callout hunting when the design changes. I see it as really limiting redline comments of using the wrong callout on an object.


The Tagging tools are located on the ribbon. You can Tag by a variety of options. My favorite is the ability to Tag All. There is even a fantastic method Autodesk has come up with to be smart enough to not label similar objects close together. Like the image above, not every stripe is labeled. Although I didn’t take advantage of it in my example, there is an option to include TYP. for typical in the Tag component.


I’m really excited about this new feature and can’t wait to start using it in production.


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