Civil 3D

Many moons ago in the AutoCAD world, when you received a command prompt instead of an expected dialog box, you could check the system variables FILEDIA and CMDDIA and make sure they were set to 1. Over the years, CMDDIA has all but been phased out in AutoCAD, although FILEDIA (for FILE DIAlogs) does still apply. Here is a related post on this.

In AutoCAD MAP (and for MAP commands in Civil 3D) however, CMDDIA does still have an effect on many commands. If you run a MAP command and do not get an expected dialog box, check to make sure CMDDIA = 1. This includes command such as MAPCSCREATE, ADEDEFDATA, ADEQUERY, etc. Some other MAP commands such as MAPCLEAN, do not honor this variable and will always display the dialog box. Read more about Missing MAP Dialog Boxes in AutoCAD Map or Civil 3D?

A Quick overview of Quick Profile in Civil 3D

Below is a simple animation of creating a quick profile in Civil 3D. No, this is not a new feature, but there are new Civil 3D users every day - and if you have never seen or used this feature - this may help you out.

Read more about Civil 3D Quick Profile

This tip came to me while working with Cogo points in Civil 3D, but it could apply to many things. A while back I had a tip about setting PICKADD to 0. Now generally, this system variable set being to 0 would annoy most people since it only allows you to select one object at a time. But if you are working with Civil 3D Cogo points, say for example dragging labels to create a dragged state, and you are doing this over and over, setting PICKADD to 0 can be a big help. Doing so means you do not have to press Escape to clear the previous selection. As soon as you pick one point, it is selected and all other selections are cleared.

Remember to turn OFF the Properties Palette when working with Cogo points. If the Properties palette is on, Civil 3D has to look up and display the properties each time a new point (or points) is selected and this slows it down tremendously. Try it both ways and see if you see a difference.

Also see this note about PICKADD if you are running version 2011 or later. Read more about Civil 3D, Cogo points, and PICKADD Read more about Point Table with Station Offset

Do you have the need to import GIS data, typically ESRI SHP files*, into Civil 3D? Are you still doing it the old way with map queries? Take a look at this tutorial over at Civil 3D for Beginners titled Quick and Dirty GIS Surface Import.

It explains how to import an ESRI SHP file directly into Civil 3D as a Surface. This will save you a lot of time compared to the old method. Even though the article mentions version 2012, it also works in version 2011.

There are actually quite a few good articles to explore while you are over there. Have fun.

*Otherwise known as shape files, but not to be confused with AutoCAD shape files that are typically used in linetypes. Read more about Import GIS data into Civil 3D

On many civil engineering projects, horizontal control is established by the creation of an alignment, or baseline, and then identifying locations using stations and offsets from this alignment. In some cases however, we are asked to provide only the actual coordinates of the proposed feature. Civil 3D makes this easy using a Note label, configured with a style to match your needs. Below is a sample Note label configured to show the coordinates and elevation.

Read more about Civil 3D Note Label

If you are having issues with your cursor freezing up (±45 seconds) in Civil 3D when you hover over a Cogo Point - then this should fix it. There is some indication that this is only an issue in Civil 3D 2011, but I cannot confirm that.

Please see the link below to a post in the Autodesk forums, so that the author gets proper credit.

Civil and Raster Design cogo point freezes Read more about Civil 3D cursor freeze when hovering over a Cogo Point

Update 2 for Civil 3D 2011 was released on June 30, 2011. You can find the download page here, along with the various language README files, which include a list of items addressed.

I was hoping this update fixed one particular bug, the one that causes the Prospector and Settings tab to go away after you run the ._PREVIEW command - but it does not. This is still an issue even after installing the update.

One thing to note: You must apply Update 1 before you can apply Update 2.

Lastly, to keep things interesting for us, after Update 2 is applied, the software will report that is is currently on "Version 3".

image of the about dialog, showing the version Read more about Civil 3D 2011 Update 2 is out

Once upon a time, it was reported that the Autodesk assistance program which provides free software and training for "veteran or unemployed individual who has...previously worked in the architecture, engineering, design or manufacturing industries" was going to expire in January 2011.

At last check, there does not seem to be an expiration date for this program

The Autodesk Assistance Program provides FREE versions of the latest software, and free Autodesk product training. Click on the link below for important DETAILS.

Autodesk assistance program

Some of the products eligible for a FREE software license include:

  • AutoCAD®
  • AutoCAD® Civil 3D®
  • Autodesk® Revit® MEP Suite
  • AutoCAD® Architecture
  • Autodesk® Alias® Design
  • AutoCAD® Electrical
  • AutoCAD® Mechanical

View the full list at Read more about Free AutoCAD, Inventor, Revit, and other titles still available.

The following is the introduction to a full article from John Evans at Thanks to John for allowing me to reprint this here. I believe this is very useful information for Civil 3D users, described in an easy to understand manner.

One of the things that I manage is the flow of data between engineering projects and the field. Once the overall control points are established, there is not a lot of survey network information coming back in. Construction crew and RTK point data is delivered simply as a delimited ascii file. So what good does the Autodesk Civil 3D Survey Database do for me if all I have is raw coordinates?

Shared, controlled data. You can use it to share that point data with numerous team members, and manage it from one location. It’s like a low rent Data Reference…for points.

Read the rest of this article here.

  Read more about Civil 3D | Sharing Point Data with the Survey Database



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