Tuesday, October 31, 2006

What Comes First AU or 100,000 Page Views

Lately, this blog has averaged over 6,000 page views a month. With 28 days left until Autodesk University 2006, there have been approximately 93,000 page views to date. With a little math it seems that it is possible the the 100,000th page view may occur while I am at AU.

Seems apropos.

Blackberry Fumblefingers

It is not easy to admit certain things, but this item is not so hard. This past weekend I received a link from someone (I did not even catch the sender's name) to what I would believe to be a helpful webpage or site. Unfortunately, while trying to save the email via my Blackberry I seem to have deleted it. I am not yet incredibly proficient with the Blackberry, but I am not a novice either. I can not understand how this could have happened because the delete procedure requires a confirmation, (two button presses) and I thought I only pressed one button. Poof, it was gone.

Hey, now would be a good time to make the claim that I hear very often from CADD users.

"The software has a bug!"

Yeah, that's it, it was not me. Whew, do I feel better now. It was not my fault.

Anyway, if someone did send me a link to something worthwhile last weekend could I trouble you to send it again. You see, my Blackberry ate it.

Monday, October 30, 2006

3 Line Profiles

One of the most important items in the creation of "Plan and Profile Construction Documents" in Southern California, and other locations, is what we refer to as a three line profile. Although, these are likely different than what others consider three line profiles. Why? Because the right and left profiles are vertically offset from the main profile (typically centerline profile) by some vertical clearance (see image below).

I recently demonstrated to some individuals (including Autodeskers) how I create this type of three line profiles using Autodesk Civil 3D.

The ability is summed up by placing three profile views directly on top of one another (they have the same insertion point and occupy the same exact space). The key is that these three profile views have different datum which will create the required vertical offset that I mentioned.

This technique in conjuction with my last post about design profile views vs. construction document profile views allows me to create a three line profile (So. Cal. style) that very exactly matches the construction document standard requirements.

In the above example the three profile views use datums of 95 (which will generate the lower of the three profiles), 85 (to generate the middle profile placement), and 75 (which will specify the upper profile location).

I have also been known to get slightly creative with the profile view styles so that I can select one profile view quickly out of the three that lie on top of one another. In the above example this was done by placing labels above, left and/or right, and below on the approriate/corresponding profile view. Look closely each profile view only has one set of labels. This can also be done by turning off the axis or the horizontal and vertical grid lines (whatever makes most sense to the group of users).

This is another example of how with a little creativity we can take advantage of the tremendous flexibility of Civil 3D to accomplish what we need.

p.s. I would like to hear from any regions (cities, counties, states, countries) that have similar requirements.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Multiple Contour Labels

We here at KETIV Technologies recently received an inquiry as to whether or not it was possible to label contours lines with many labels at once, similar to how Land Desktop does it. The following information was prepared and contributed by Daniel Granillo, a co-worker here at KETIV.

Create Multiple Contour Labels like in Land Desktop using Civil 3D
1. Click Surfaces menu > Labels > Add Contour Labels
2. On the "Create Contour Labels" toolbar, select "Label Multiple Group Interior"

Note: This will enable the Multiple Group Interior edit box where you enter the desired spacing interval.

3. Enter a desired distance for the spacing interval in the field provided

4. Select a start point and endpoint for the contour label line.
5. Repeat Step 4 as needed
6. Press Enter to end the label creation process.

Tip: After creating your contour labels, you may want to turn-off the label line layer and/or make it non-plot-able (By default the contour label lines are placed on the DEFPOINTS layer).

Thanks Daniel I am sure this will help.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Design Profile View vs Construction Document Profile View

Ghosts of the Past
Somethings that some Autodesk Civil 3D users can not easily get away from are their Land Desktop habits, procedures, and knowledge. When it comes to profiles most former LDt users limit themselves to one profile view for one profile because that is what they were limited to by Land Desktop (it would ask to erase the older info). If they had more than one representation of a profile and one was edited the other would immediately be out of date. So why do it?

The Present
Now with Civil 3D and dynamic updates, I often find it useful to have at least two profile views showing the same geometry (profile) but each view is very different in appearance, and the annotation within them is different.

In the above example I have a view that allows me to see the data that I find useful for designing and the other view is what will be used in the construction document. If either is edited the other will always update, thus remaining current.

The Future?
A similar concept can apply to master design profiles that one person is responsible for and either Vault reference profiles or shortcut reference profiles that are read-only. These second profiles can be the responsibility of drafters to pretty-up (make construction document ready). These second profiles (some are referring to these as DRef's) will update entirely (annotation and all) whenever the master is modified. The first would be the sole reponsibility of the designer or engineer.

These new concepts take full advantage of the software. There are many other examples where we will want to change our old habits or processes to create a more efficient or productive workflow. I often see workflows entrenched in organizations because thats how it was done in Softdesk, or Land Desktop, or (your favorite older application here). Because we need to be more efficient... being open to such changes can be very profitable.

Be Seen at Autodesk University

Dave Simeone, Autodesk Civil 3D Product Manager, posted in his blog that he is looking for some interesting completed project examples that he can show during Autodesk University, (My guess is during the Infrastructure Solution Industry Main Stage, probably several thousand industry attendees).

So, if you would like to get some exposure for your company, or for yourself, you may want to look into this more closely.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Autodesk University 2006 Update - Students Galore

Well as of a few moments ago my three classes at Autodesk University now have over 1000 registered attendees combined.

Here are the three classes I am teaching (The second two are a part of the Powertrack and are being recorded):

CV11-2 Civil 3D® Pipe Networks Made Easy 10:30 am - 12:00 pm Nov. 28
CV23-4 Civil 3D® Corridors: Cul-de-Sacs Are Not a Dead End 1:00 pm - 2:30 pm Nov. 29
CV25-3 Civil 3D® Grading Made Easy 5:00 pm - 6:30 pm Nov. 29

These classes have 275, 287 and 439 in enrollment respectively. That is 1001 students. Amazing.

New Webcasts CD

I happen to hold in my hand a brand new CD which contains webcasts recorded between August 1, 2005 and July 31, 2006. This CD contains 42 recorded webcast sorted in the following groups:

Civil 3D General (19 webcasts)
Compatible Products (3 webcasts)
Customer Success (3 Webcasts)
Pipe Design (1 webcast)
Production Drafting (4 webcasts)
Road and Transportaion Design (8 webcasts)
Site and Subdivision Development (4 webcasts)

Additionally there are...
15 Customer Success Stories
6 White Papers
and information about the "Civil Engineering Community"

This CD replaces a CD that had webcasts from August 1, 2005 and January 31, 2006 (18 webcasts). So that means that this new CD contains an additional six months worth of webcasts(24 additional webcasts).

I have always been a BIG fan of the webcast CDs and DVD because I can view them at any time without internet connection. Click above to request yours.

Oh, and did I mention that it is FREE.

Civil 3D - SP3 Update

Just a reminder that there will be a Service Pack 3 for Civil 3D 2007. It is expected in the next two weeks. We have been told that it will...

Restore non-projects shortcuts (with this some will choose to not implement Vault)
Performance improvements (such as 2X faster corridor processing, 5X faster contour label regen and more).
Includes most recent Service Packs for AutoCAD® 2007, Autodesk Map® 3D 2007, and Autodesk® Vault 5.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

We Wish, Jeff Shares

Jeff Mishler, of Santa Rosa, CA, has created some lisp & VBA routines that he has made available for all to benefit from. The most recent one that I have seen addresses a request that someone had in the Civil 3D discussion group. They asked for a routine, similar to a Land Desktop command, that would "list all available point numbers". Jeff's routine named FreeNums does just that.

Jeff has also created a routine that is currently being shared in the Civil Engineering Community. The lisp routine named "Alignment Tooltips tools.lsp" turns tooltips on/off for all or selected alignments. (You have to be registered with the community in order to download this file.)

Rotate_Markers allows users to to rotate the marker and labels of selected points. (For this one you will have scroll down and find the code in order to copy and paste it and save to a .lsp file)

Lastly, the Rebuild_All_Corridors (copy and paste required here as well) routine rebuilds all selected corridors or if none are selected it rebuilds ALL corridors.

I would personally like that thank Jeff for being generous enough to share these tools, and his talents, with our entire community.

He shared with me the fact that he usually monitors the Civil 3D Wishes Discusion Group, and the fact that he looks for code/solutions/workarounds for just about every wish. So, if you have a wish for a command or capability in Civil 3D do not hesitate to ask for it in the Wishes Discussion Group. Best case someone (ie. Autodesk, Jeff, or someone him) will answer your wish. No need for a genie.

Monday, October 09, 2006

A.C.E.S. Landed

Last Thursday evening (October 5, 2006) the Autodesk Civil Engineering Solutions (A.C.E.S.) User Group of Southern California held their inaugural meeting at the University Marriott in Fullerton, California. There were employees present from over a dozen engineering firms and several municipalities. By all accounts it was a great success. The intended goals of Share, Network, Learn seemed to be well addressed during this first meeting.

The evening began with dinner. Then Pete Kelsey, Autodesk Technical Evangelist, presented an "Industry Overview" (where have we been, where are we, and where are we headed?).

I did a "Technical Presentation" which was titled "Civil 3D on a Dime". Intended for organizations that have not yet cracked open the Civil 3D box. This section covered Civil 3D capabilities that we can use with very little or no training/investment, and take advantage of Autodesk Civil 3D 2007 to support whichever application we may use currently. These capabilities included taking data from Land Desktop into Civil 3D in order to do...

--Earthwork Volume Calculations (2 commands, 10 steps, 45 seconds)
--Translate and Rotate a Surface (4 Commands, 10 steps)
--Parcel(s) Lot Line Adjustment (3 commands, 11 steps)
--Create Geometry for an Alignment (2 commands, 8 steps)
--Renumber Parcels (2 commands 12 steps)

KETIV Technologies gave everyone in attendance a CD with custom styles and expressions to jumpstart the use of these items in Civil 3D. The evening ended with an open forum segment and announcements.

If the first meeting is any indication, there will be lots of benefits to members of this user group. The next meeting is scheduled for Thursday January 11 (location to be determined). Mark the date on your calendar, and invite your co-workers. This is a free and easy way to get information about our industry and the applications that we use.

Civil 3D 2007 SP3 Info

During the webcast on Friday Oct 06, 2006 Dave Simeone, Autodesk Civil 3D Product Manager, gave some glimpses of what may likely be in Civil 3D 2007 Service Pack 3. These items include:

Civil 3D 2007 (SP1a, SP2 and NEW FIXES)
AutoCAD 2007 SP1
Map 3D 2007 SP3
Components of Vault SP1 (he made it clear, DO NOT INSTALL VAULT SP1 YET!)

He mentioned that users will likely see the following improvements:

2X Faster Corridor Processing Speed
50X Performance Jump in Project/Reference Interaction
Improved Surface Memory Usage (surface memory leaks have been an issue for some)
Stability Improvements
and (drum roll, please)
Restoration of Non-Projects Shortcuts

This last item translates to shortcuts that WILL ABSOLUTELY be remembered from session to session. No longer will we have to reload the .xml file from which we load data references. Remember data reference synchronization notifications. He also demonstrated a NEW ability to change the source file of a data reference (see image below).

So when is all this supposed to be available? They are aiming for the end of this month (October).

Friday, October 06, 2006

Autodesk University 2006 Update

I had previously mentioned that I will be teaching three classes at Autodesk University next month. Last year the one Civil 3D® class that I taught had 194 actual attendees out of the over 200 that signed up. I thought that that was a large group. Well as evidence for the increased demand for Civil 3D instruction, my three classes this year, as of this moment, have 249, 255, and 409 people enrolled in them. These numbers are very eye-opening, and there are still 53 days to register. (By the way, today is the last day to register at the reduced rate of $1495).

Here are the three classes I am teaching (The second two are a part of the Powertrack and are being recorded):

CV11-2 Civil 3D® Pipe Networks Made Easy 10:30 am - 12:00 pm Nov. 28
CV23-4 Civil 3D® Corridors: Cul-de-Sacs Are Not a Dead End 1:00 pm - 2:30 pm Nov. 29
CV25-3 Civil 3D® Grading Made Easy 5:00 pm - 6:30 pm Nov. 29

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

A.C.E.S. Landing Tomorrow

The Autodesk Civil Engineering Solutions (ACES) User Group of Southern California will be meeting tomorrow evening. Dinner, Tips, Tricks, Networking, Learning, Sharing will occur. Click title to see more info.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Vault and Shortcuts Future (Interesting Read)

If you have not already read the most recent post in the blog by Dave Simeone, Civil 3D Product Manager, and Dan Philbrick, Civil 3D Development Manager, about Civil 3D 2007, Vault and Data Shortcuts, I STRONGLY ENCOURAGE you to do so. Simply click on the title of this post to see what Dan says about these subjects.

He also mentions that anyone that wished to be a part of the beta program for their plans, they can make it so.

Lastly, Dan states that they will provide more details this Friday during the weekly webcast. Do not forget, to view the weekly webcasts it is necessary to register.

New Service Pack Heads-Up

Anthony Governanti, Autodesk Technical Marketing Manager, recently posted a comment to this blog about holding off installing Vault 5 Service Pack 1 until a new Service Pack is available for Civil 3D. Previously it was also mentioned in the Discussion Groups (and the SP2 Readme) that AutoCAD 2007 Service Pack 1 is not included in any Civil 3D 2007 Service Packs. So what does this all mean? It means that there should be a third service pack for Civil 3D 2007 available in the future.