26 CHAPTER 1 GETTING DIRTY: THE BASICS OF CIVIL 3D
The U nderlying Engine
Civil 3D is part of a larger product family from Autodesk. During its earliest creation, various
features and functions from other products were recognized as important to the civil engineer-
ing community. These included the obvious things such as the entire suite of AutoCAD drafting,
design, modeling, and rendering tools as well as more esoteric options such as Map’s GIS capabil-
ities. An early decision was made to build Civil 3D on top of the AutoCAD Map product, which
in turn is built on top of AutoCAD.
This underlying engine provides a host of options and powerful tools for the Civil 3D user.
AutoCAD and Map add features with every release that change the fundamental makeup of how
Civil 3D works. With the introduction of workspaces in 2006, users can now set up Civil 3D to
display various tools and palettes depending on the task at hand. Creating a workspace is like
having a quick-ﬁx bag of tools ready for the job at hand: preliminary design calls for one set of
tools, and ﬁnal plan production calls for another.
Workspaces are part of a larger feature set called the custom user interface (referred to as CUI in
the help documentation and online). As you grow familiar with Civil 3D and the various tool
palettes, menus, and toolbars, be sure to explore the CUI options that are available from the
The Bottom Line
Find any Civil 3D object with just a few clicks. By using Prospector to view object data
collections, you can minimize the panning and zooming that are part of working in a CAD
program. When common subdivisions can have hundreds of parcels or a complex corridor
can have dozens of alignments, jumping to the desired one nearly instantly shaves time off
Master It Open Sample Site.dwg from the tutorials, and ﬁnd parcel number ﬁve without
using any AutoCAD commands.
Modify the drawing scale and default object layers. Civil 3D understands that the end goal
of most drawings is to create hard-copy construction documents. By setting a drawing scale
and then setting many sizes in terms of plotted inches or millimeters, Civil 3D removes much
of the mental gymnastics that other programs require when you’re sizing text and symbols. By
setting object layers at a drawing scale, Civil 3D makes uniformity of drawing ﬁles easier than
ever to accomplish.
Master It Change Sample Site.dwg from a 200-scale drawing to a 40-scale drawing.
Modify the display of Civil 3D tooltips. The interactive display of object tooltips makes it
easy to keep your focus on the drawing instead of an inquiry or report tools. When too many
objects ﬁll up a drawing, it can be information overload, so Civil 3D gives you granular control
over the heads-up display tooltips.
Master It Within the same Sample Site drawing, turn off the tooltips for the Avery Drive
Add a new tool to the Toolbox. The Toolbox provides a convenient way to access macros
and reports. Many third-party developers exploit this convenient interface as an easier way to
add functionality without disturbing users’ workspaces.
Master It Add the Sample Pipe macro from C:\Program Files\Autocad Civil 3D
2010\Sample\Civil 3D API\COM\Vba\Pipe, and select PipeSample.dvb.
THE BOTTOM LINE 27
Create a basic label style. Label styles determine the appearance of Civil 3D annotation. The
creation of label styles will constitute a major part of the effort in making the transition to Civil
3D as a primary platform for plan production. Your skills will grow with the job requirements
if you start with basic labels and then make more complicated labels as needed.
Master It Create a copy of the Elevation Only Point label style, name it Elevation With
Border, and add a border to the text component.
Create a new object style. Object styles in Civil 3D let you quit managing display through
layer modiﬁcation and move to a more streamlined style-based control. Creating enough object
styles to meet the demands of plan production work will be your other major task in preparing
to move to Civil 3D.
Master It Create a new Surface style named Contours_Grid, and set it to show contours in
plan views but a grid display in any 3D view.
Navigate the Ribbon’s contextual tabs. As with AutoCAD, the Ribbon is the primary inter-
face for accessing Civil 3D commands and features. When you select an AutoCAD Civil 3D
object, the Ribbon displays commands and features related to that object. If several object types
are selected, the Multiple contextual tab is displayed.
Master It Using the Ribbon interface, access the Alignment Style Editor for the Proposed
Alignment style. (Hint: it’s used by the Avery Drive alignment.)
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