Friday, December 31, 2010

Watermain Coverage Solu-Around

This solu-around provides a very efficient solution for checking the minimum coverage along the entire length of watermain . This could also provide an easy way to design watermain if utilized correctly.
The overall goal is simple. Copy the existing ground profile to a minimum depth.  
A few simple steps are provided.
1.Create a profile over alignment (pipe run). 2. Select existing ground surface in profile view and use the AutoCAD copy command to duplicate it. 3. Select new existing ground profile, select profile propertie and name it Watermain minimum coverage and set a unique profile style.
4. Select new profile, right click and select profile properties. Navigate to the Profile Data tab, and move the scroll bar until update is located. Change the watermain coverage profile to static.

5.Select the profile and notice all of the grips that are highlighted. The profile is no longer dynamic to the surface. Now we are able to move the profile down to check for minimum coverage.
6.With the profile selected pick geometry editor. Locate the raise lower PVI icon and select it. Set this to the depth required for minimum coverage. Make sure you specify a negative number.

 Two profiles should be showing.

Adjust the pipe to make sure it is below the new surface.


This concludes a simple watermain solu-around.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Corridor Driveways, Sidewalks and ADA Ramps - Autodesk University 2010 ONLINE

Autodesk University was great. Had a lot of fun in VEGAS, it’s like a play ground for grownups. If you were unable to make the conference this year check it out online. All classes are available for FREE if your company is on subscription. Autodesk University Website

Please check out my class this year and classes I did previously.

Endless Corridors with AutoCAD® Civil 3D_ CV422-2 -2010
Diversify Visually with Autodesk Civil 3D_DV322-1 - 2009
Don't be left out in the CODE_CV9314-1 - 2009

The most prolific topic that I discussed was utilizing Conditional Subassemblies, ConditionalHorizontalTargets to complete driveways, sidewalks and ADA ramps. Below is an example of how this works.

Plan view results applying one assembly. Notice the curb is removed from the drive ways, and the sidewalk continues through the walk, but is removed from the road. This is accomplished by simply placing polylines at critical locations. The conditional subassemblies have an option to look for the nearest or the farthest target and associating the correct subassembly. The red polylines placed on the driveway applies the gutter subassembly and the green polyline marks the target for where a region should be placed so no subassembly is applied. More elaborate subassemblies can be developed to utilize conditional subassemblies after each individual subassembly. Have fun and remember to place and test the targets are working, before applying the no target subassembly.
Review the class for further details on this concept and unique way to handle intersections

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Compose subassemblies visually for FREE

Check out the latest in Autodesk Labs and the best part, the software is FREE. This tool was deleloped to modify or build custom subassemblies without .NET knowledge.


The technology preview release provides a strong set of subassembly functionality for corridor modeling:
■ Define points and position them based on several positioning methods.

■ Define links between points.

■ Assign codes.

■ Define targets and input parameters.

■ Specify conditions for daylight and simple expressions.

Video link is provided for quick overview;

Login to Autodesk Labs;

Link to subassebly creater;

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


This solu-around rotates point styles (symbols) without rotating point label styles (text). Notice below the default behavior. Select the circular grip and the symbol and text is rotated.

At this time Civil 3D 2011 the effective solu-around is to change the point label style behavior setting for orientation reference from object to view. If the reference is set to object the text rotates with the object, but if this is changed to view the text is oriented with the view. See image below to set the point label style to view.

Now as the symbol/point is rotated the text remains oriented to the view.

To obtain desired results, create a new label style for symbols that may require rotation or create a point group with a point style override and only include the points that are rotated.

An alternative solution is to create a dragstate and set the point label style to stacked text. With this method only one color can be selected for the text. Drag the point to the right, and rotate the symbol using the circular grip. The text remains in the dragstate without rotating the text. Below are the settings for the dragstate and expected results.

New point style for the symbols that require rotation. Set the rotation custom to the style.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Points Display Solution

To review points that are too close together simple change the drawing scale located in the bottom right. Points are automatically resized. See preview below where the scale was 50 and adjusted to 10.
Sometimes the simple approach is the ideal solution.

Monday, October 11, 2010

FLICKERING SCREEN after installing the Civil 3D 2011 update

A client brought this to my attention after installing the Civil 3D 2011 update on a 64 bit machine.

We found a fix online.  Type 3DConfig in the command line.  Click on Manual Tune.  Uncheck, then recheck “Enable Hardware Acceleration”.

Thanks for pointing this out Eric

Thursday, September 2, 2010

iPhone APP for AutoCAD

When I grew up there was no such thing as AutoCAD. I can't even  begin to imagine editing design documents on my phone. Coming this fall; AutoCAD will be available on the iPhone. Yes there is an App for that and it's free. Here is an example of a phone conversation with me at AU this year.

Hang on a minute, I just recieved a text, sorry about that, had to update a drawing for the client.
Detailed information about AutoCAD on a MAC and the iPhone App

Like I said, I will be reviewing drawings at AU.
Download the APP today at AutoCAD APP

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Profile creation from a Feature Line

Select a feature line, right click and create a quick profile. A quick profile can be saved by exporting an xml file before saving the drawing. Importing the xml file will create an alignment. Use the create profile command to re-display the quick profile. Below are a few examples where this could be used.

Create a profile from a single row of points.
Draw a feature line using the transparent command point objects (‘PO). Connect the row of points. Select the feature line, right click and create a quick profile. Export and then import the xml file. Using the profile pulldown select create profile view.

Design a parking lot with feature lines - Daylighting
Design a parking lot with feature lines. Select the feature line, right click and create a quick profile. Export and then import the xml file. Create a profile view, now you can use an assembly to daylight the parking lot.
Drainage review – Parking Lot, Drains, ETC
This could also be used to analyze edge of pavement or curb lines for drainage. Create a quick profile from any feature line. Choose different styles to display existing ground and the feature line as the finished ground. Under the home tab locate Profile View, select the last option, Project Objects To Profile View. (This requires style to display labels and symbols.)

*NOTE: The profile is only temporary unless it is exported as xml and re-imported. (See steps above)

I pulled this Solu-Around from the bottom of my Civil 3D TIP JAR. If you have been utilizing this feature and understand its potential like I have, check out the upgraded version at Sincpac-C3D.

It has been brought to my attention, that the alignment is not created after importing the XML in Civil 3D 2011. Like I said this tip was pulled from the tip jar. The Solu-Around (solution) is to click pick from drawing and select the profile to export. Now when you import the XML the alignment will be there.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Does the BIGGEST mean the BEST?

Two of the largest Autodesk resellers become one!

This will form the larget Autodesk global VAR

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Essential grade label for Site Design

Arrows reflect grade; elevation and grades update as modified.

Styles are imperative to Civil 3D and I haven’t even mentioned my favorites in this blog yet. The first one I would like to introduce is an oldie, but it always slips under the radar. I’m sure by now everyone is familiar with direction arrows for line labels, but did you know that out of the box Civil 3D provides a direction label style for grades? Apply this to any feature line and it places an arrow pointing in the downhill direction. To try this open the NSC template and click on the Annotate tab, click add labels and select Grade only for the label styles.

The secret is an expression that was created to allow the direction arrow to rotate.

The default label style should look like this after placing labels on a feature line with elevations.
Detailed information from Autodesk

Now that we have found the default style let’s elaborate by adding elevations.Copy the current style and rename it ELEV & Grades. Add a text component.

Configure Anchor Point to the Start of each feature line, add the elevation to the start segment, rotate it 90 and set an offset.

The new style should include elevations. Make sure you repeat for curve labels.

Now it’s time to have some fun with this style by adding markers and moving the arrows to the lines.

Modify the design and watch the elevations, grades and slope arrows automatically update. Add Sincpac (3rd party software and link the points to the feature lines.)Please look for future post as we discuss this style, and other solu-arounds for site grading.

Shoot me an email and I will send the completed style to you. Should be posted on ADSK Solutions website soon.

Monday, July 26, 2010

AutoCAD Civil 3D 2010 Update 3 available

Please read AutoCAD® Civil 3D® 2010 Update 3 Readme file before installing. This update resolves Ciivl 3D, Map 3D and AutoCAD issues.

Download update

Friday, July 2, 2010

Point Table with Station Offset Data

In Civil 3D 2011 it is not possible to create a dynamic point table with station and offset data. However it is possible with 3rd party software.

If purchasing 3rd party is out of the question the tip below will provide a point table with station data that is not dynamic. This is possible by exporting an XML report to word and importing it to Civil 3D. Exporting to various formats provides efficient workflows for import back to Civil 3D.

Note: NET reports can be saved in several formats, including HTML, Adobe® PDF, Microsoft® Word Document, Microsoft® Excel Workbook, and Text Document. If Microsoft® Office is not installed, than the options for Word Document, Excel Workbook, and Text Document are not available

First let locate the toolbox icon.

Select the toolbox icon on the left to customize reports.

Locate the Toolbox tab and right click Station Offset to Points

Unfortunately this command will include every point in the drawing. If the point numbers are known you could select each one or remove the unwanted points. An easier workflow is erase points from the current drawing (to be safe do a save as before removing points). Erase the points that are not to be included. I wanted to include all points 100’ from the alignment so I offset the alignment 50’. Connected these lines to form a polyline and then offset the polyline another 50’.

Once the area is established the points were selected and erased. Below is what the drawing looked like before creating the report.

The secret to creating the report is exporting it word format.  

This is the report created in word. Notice it is customized to ADSK Solutions. This was accomplished with the red toolbox icon earlier.
Simply select report, copy it and select paste special in Civil 3D.
Once the table is in Civil 3D select the report and change the text to any font style using properties. The table isn’t dynamic, but it is relatively easy to create and desired results are obtainable.

Data Shortcut Workflow Solu-around

Create a layer filter in the Civil 3D template to automatically turns off all xrefed objects that are duplicated once data shortcuts (references) are established. This is accomplished by customizing the properties of the layer filter to match objects layers that are set in the drawing settings and object styles. The secret is to include this symbol in the filter property and include only the object layers that are available through data shortcuts.

I have enclosed my layer filter properties below and the objects drawing settings for you to reference.

If this tip is accomplished correctly it establishes an efficient workflow, easier for new users to adopt and users do not have to remember all of the layer names. The properties of this filter must be customized to match custom settings and layers for the template.

Below describes data shortcuts in more detail and how the above tip is helpful.

Data Shortcuts are imperative to Civil 3D and provide a solution for sharing data. They are called DATA Shortcuts because they allow users to share data like Surfaces, alignments, profiles, pipe networks, and view frame groups from one drawing to another. As Civil 3D has evolved so have data shortcuts. They are essential on any project that requires multiple drawings. Like AutoCAD, Civil 3D stores information inside the drawing. Information for an object can only be obtained in the drawing that the object was created in, unless a data shortcut or vault is used. (Vault is a document manager tool and is an alternative to data shortcuts.)
As users become familiar with Data Shortcuts new workflows for Civil 3D are introduced. In general, engineering companies will create a base or overall drawing with existing topo and create a surface from existing features. This base drawing is than copied or xrefed into a new drawing for engineering to begin design. For this example we are going to do a save as. Now we have an engineering overall drawing with the existing surface in it. Alignments, profiles, and a corridor are created in the engineering base drawing. To get multiple members of the project team involved a new drawing is created for utility design. Before you create the new drawing create data shortcuts of the surface, alignments, and profiles.

To design utilities in ‘plan’ view we need the topo plan. The engineering base drawing will be xreferenced to ensure changes are updated. Notice when this occurs the existing surface, alignments, profiles and corridor show in the current drawing. These objects are showing, but do not provide data. To place the utilities in profile view the data for the surface, alignment, and profiles will be required. To obtain this data create a reference. I wish these were called data reference to avoid the confusion with xreferences. Once the references are created the new objects are in the drawing with the exception of profiles. Create profile view command to obtain the profile objects in the drawing. Now all objects are duplicated and the xrefed objects can be turned off. A simple solution for accomplishing this is to create a layer filter in the Civil 3D template that reflects layer names in the drawing settings or object style layers and include the xrefed symbol for those layers. This provides an easy solution for new users to understand and this workflow is more efficient.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Data Shortcut 2011 new feature and 2010 undocumented synchronizing

As Civil 3D has evolved so have data shortcuts. The new 2011 version finally supports synchronizing drawings to projects (shortcut folders). Please see below for 2010 data shortcut synchronization (unsupported) solu-around.

2010 users can also apply synchronization, but it is not supported.



If these commands don’t work enter ShortcutAssociateEnable at the command line.

This command is stored in the registry and can be applied to multiple computers at once by locating ShortcutAssociateEnable and setting it to 1.


Data Shortcut Practical Joke

Make sure you are familiar with this before it gets you.

It has been awhile since I have played a practical joke on anyone. You remember what Ctrl+0 does? I hope so because it removes everything on your screen except your pull-down menus and command line. What about Ctrl+9? Yep that removes the command line. I have really had some great ones over the years. I don’t remember how it was done, but you could set AutoCAD back in the DOS days to only draw white lines no matter what the user did and I have always enjoyed setting every layer in the drawing to NO PLOT. Heheheheh!

Now it’s your turn to have fun. Simple type shortcutnode at the command line in Civil 3D 2011. It INSTANTLY removes data shortcuts from the prospector. I guarantee this will invoke a call to support. If I gambled or had a tip jar I would bet support can’t get this one on the first call. To bring data shortcuts back to the prospector simply type shortcutnodes and enter 1. This also works in 2010, with a more dramatic affect; data shortcuts won’t disappear until the user closes the drawing and opens a new drawing.

Have fun, but don’t forget to set this back to 1 for the user before going home.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Undocumented AEC style commands Civil 3D 2011

Everyone is discussing the new undocumented style commands in 2011. They are AECCIMPORTSTYLES and AECCIMPORTSTYLESANDSETTINGS. I have finally sat down to test both of these. I had very high hopes and anticipated these commands would allow users to open any drawing or template and select a group of styles or settings to pull into a master dwg or template. Unfortunately it is meant to import all of your styles from one drawing or template to another. I do encourage the use of AECCIMPORTSTYLES, but be careful. It will override / update any existing style with the same name automatically. It is always cool to find undocumented features, but we have always been able to drag and drop individual and groups of styles from one drawing to another. To import all styles from one drawing or template to another in 2011 or prior versions simple create a new point style. Select the marker tab, check Use AutoCAD BLOCK symbol for marker, right click in block area and select browse. Set dwt or dwg at the bottom and select source. Click ok and all styles are imported to the drawing. The only difference is this does not override existing styles that already exist in the drawing. Yes AECCIMPORTSTYLES is quicker, but it will override existing styles and it only works in 2011.

AECCIMPORTSTYLESANDSETTINGS I thought was going to be the command of the year. Finally I bring all of my default settings from one drawing to another. NOT SO FAST! I set my pipe network feature settings to label my pipes in profile to the top of the structure; I set label defaults and my object layers. Type AECCIMPORTSTYLESANDSETTINGS and nothing updated. This command only brings over a select few of command settings attached to styles. That is it. The name can fool you and now I see why it is undocumented.


The drawing or template extension must be typed at the command line along with the name.
The drawing that is being imported must be closed.
Styles with the same name are overridden.
Steps above allow all styles to be imported for prior versions.
There are 3rd party solutions available to pull individual groups over one at a time.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Cursor pauses are annoying

Shortly after opening a client drawing my mouse continuously paused every time I moved the mouse over points. I thought this was due to QP being on at the bottom, but it continued after I turned it off. I also noticed a couple of hundred point styles and about that many labels styles. I blamed that until I opened a new drawing with NSC template and imported all of these styles. I soon realized it was because of the points in the drawing. To remove annoying pauses from points type CUI at the command line. Locate rollover tips, and unselect display elements for cogo points. To turn all rollover tips off at once type it at the command line and enter 0.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Civil 3D 2011 VBA conversion dialog

Shortly after opening Civil 3D 2011 you will open your existing 2010 files and the dialog box below is displayed.

Below is an explanation of each option, the short version is to convert to .NET if you started using Civil 3D in 2009 or 2010. I have downloaded the VBA module to remove the error every time I open a drawing in a previous version and I convert VBA-based subassemblies to .NET to achieve optimal performance when generating corridor models.

The 1st option – recommended for 2009 and 2010 users

Convert the VBA content to .NET, this will enhance performance (corridor design). It is not recommended to convert the data if the pipe rule set was modified in Civil 3D 2008, or earlier versions of Civil 3D because you will lose any VBA changes you made to C3DPipeNetworkRules.dvb.

The 2nd option – recommended to remove error message and for 2008 or later dwgs.

I would only suggest downloading VBA for anyone using VBA, tired of receiving the message or are working with modified rule files from 2008 versions. If you have downloaded VBA Modules you can still convert to .NET by simply typing _AeccConvertVBARulesToDotNet at the command line for pipe rules and _AeccConvertVBASAsToDotNET for Assemblies and subassemblies.

The 3rd option – not recommended

The only reason I can think of, would be if you can’t download the VBA data or not going to save the drawing in 2011. I was hoping this option would allow opening drawings in 2011 and still sharing my drawings with 2010 users, but it didn’t prevail. Like prior versions once the object data is saved in 2011 it shows as proxy objects in prior versions.

*Civil 3D Object data must be exported as XML and imported for previous versions to recognize them for editing.

*Not sure what version the pipe rules were created in? Download VBA, the error message will not be displayed and the only thing you may notice would be some performance when applying rules. Besides a single network can have a mix of parts that point to VBA-based and .NET-based part rules.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The Ribbon, and the Quick Access Toolbar

The first time I opened Civil 3D 2010 and saw the RIBBON my head spun around like the girl in the Exorcist. Remember that movie? I will spare you the pictures of it, but I’m not kidding; everything I learned up to that point in Civil 3D had been moved or modified. I couldn’t believe it, and I didn’t see any advantage at the time. After taking a deep breath and spinning my head back to the forward direction I have become a custom to it. Pick any Civil 3D object and the ribbon automatically arranges commands to help you find the correct tools.
Now, I was taught back in the DOS days that the fewest amount of clicks made users more efficient. So using the ribbon choose the modify tab, actually pick any tab except for Home. Notice the layer option is gone. It will take one click to select home and another to get back to layers. An easy way to set the most common commands is to modify each ribbon or easily assign them to the access toolbar.

Default Quick Access Toolbar


Simply right click on any command and add it to the quick access toolbar.

Modified Quick Access Toolbar

Friday, April 30, 2010

Instantly apply description key file to update points

I recently taught a class, and it reminded me of all the little commands that I have taken for granted or practically forgot about until prompted to remember. I  plan to post at least one per day and eventually post them on my website into categories to share with you and to help me remember all of the little commands that save us time.

The pictures speak for themselves, edit point description, right click; apply description keys and the point styles are updated instantly.


Thursday, April 22, 2010

Maximize Corridor performance

Rebuilding large corridors is very time consuming due to the amount of data that is calculated. A straightforward and essential way to improve corridor performance is to concentrate on individual regions at a time. This is accomplished by using the Isolate Region command. Corridor rebuilds only calculate the isolated portion.

The Isolate region command is available from the right click menu after selecting the corridor. The selected region will be isolated.

The Modify Ribbon is another simple way to isolate a region. The steps below are for the 2011 release, and are in 2010. Use Show all regions to display the entire corridor.

This is one solution to assist in corridor performance, review the assembly frequency rate, section swath
width, and code set styles to achieve optimal results.

Below is a custom command for working with multiple corridors. It offers rebuilding all of them or only the out of date corridors. (corridors not regions)