Monday, April 18, 2016

What’s New in Civil 3D 2017?

It’s that time again! Tis the season for new releases of the Autodesk products. Where we all rush to install the moment it hit’s our account……..or do we? Are you one that waits until the inevitable SP1 to come out? Maybe you skip all the odd numbered years? Or maybe you are still in LDT (or others) world and contemplating Civil 3D?

Either way, I truly believe that Civil 3D 2017 is by far the best and most productive release so far and you may just want to get to it no matter what your past preferences may be.

This article looks at some of the top new features within AutoCAD Civil 3D 2017 and may help you make your decision to download and install today.

Feature Line as Corridor Baseline

I thought about saving the best for last, but I feel the first feature I am going to highlight is something I have been asked since the very beginning of Civil 3D and should just get right to the point!  If you have ever ran a corridor, or designed a parking lot using feature lines, I’m sure you have asked yourself……Can I use an assembly on a feature line? Should I corridor a parking lot?

Well yesterday the answer was NO! But today is a new day and this feature has finally arrived.

In addition to alignments and profiles, feature lines can now be used as corridor baselines. Feature lines can also be selected when creating the corridor and when adding baselines.

A parking lot is a good example of where to apply this new workflow to.  When I design a parking lot, I typically design the edge of pavement in order to see true slopes of asphalt. I then use the stepped offset command to give me flow line and/or back of curb elevations, and sometimes I may use grading objects to keep some level of dynamics.  But now you can add the feature line to a corridor along with a curb & gutter assembly and have a much more dynamic and accurate surface.

Ability to Data Shortcut (DREF) Corridors

You can now create data shortcuts for corridors so they can be referenced in other drawings. When data shortcuts are created for a corridor, shortcuts are also created for the alignments and profiles that make up the corridor baselines.

This creates the ability to even further streamline workflows.  You can create your sample lines, sections, materials takeoff, etc all in separate drawings.  This will help during the design process and allow the corridor to continue to be designed/edited while others work on sections, surfaces, quantities, etc.  This may also help in the breakup of large corridor models into smaller sections.

Extract Corridor Feature Lines Workflow

**This was in 2016 Productivity Pack #2**

The functionality of extracting feature lines, and keeping them dynamic, has been in Civil 3D for as long as I can remember.  However, this functionality has now been enhanced with many new options.  The options for selecting which feature lines to extract include:

·         Extract all feature lines at once
·         Select them one by one
·         Define Station Range
·         Select a subset based on a corridor region or a simple polyline.

By selecting a polyline, you will then be given the option on which feature lines to include/exclude for the extraction procedure.  Select the settings option to choose whether or not to dynamically link them to the corridor.  You can choose to add them to a site, or now use the “Siteless” feature line options.

Data Shortcut (DREF) Management

Subfolders for References – You can now create subfolders to help organize model data.  This is similar to the way Alignments work with the subfolders for different alignment types.

Simply right-click an object collection or a data shortcut collection and click Create Folder. Existing objects can be dragged-and-dropped into the new folders and folders can be nested inside other folders.

Streamlined Creation of References -
You can now create multiple data shortcut references at once, by either right-clicking the data shortcuts and selecting the Create Reference command, or by selecting them and dragging them into the drawing. I will repeat the last sentence….DRAG AND DROP YOUR DREF’s ONTO YOUR SCREEN!

Cache DREF Surfaces - Cache terrain surfaces improve ability to share Civil 3D drawings more broadly.
Now you can save the geometry of a reference surface in the drawing that contains the data shortcut reference. This increases the performance of the drawing.

Pressure Pipe Content

Ever since the pressure pipe tools were introduced they lacked one important thing….OUT OF THE BOX CONTENT.  People wanted more content, relevant content and accurate content.  I think this is one of the reasons the adoption of the pressure pipe tools hasn’t been very high.

But in Civil 3D 2017 the content has been greatly increased. No there is no one size fits all, and pressure pipe workflows and construction materials vary across the nation.  But take a look at the content catalog in 2017 and you will be thoroughly impressed.

2017 will include Pressure Pipe Content for HDPE, PVC and Steel Pipes. Additional Fittings and Valves have been included also for Flanged Fittings and Mechanical Fittings.

Advanced Roundabout Design

Roundabout-related features from Autodesk Vehicle Tracking have been integrated into AutoCAD Civil 3D enabling the creation of a new type of roundabout object in AutoCAD Civil 3D.

In addition, Roundabout designs from Autodesk InfraWorks 360 can now be brought into AutoCAD Civil 3D drawings.

Misc. Features

Most, if not all, of the Productivity Pack enhancements have been rolled into the software, along with other subscription perks throughout the 2016 release.  See the April 2016 article on the Productivity Packs for more information.

Here are a few additional enhancements to note:
·         Corridor Solids Display and Extractions:
·         Siteless option for feature lines:
o    Feature lines that are created outside of a site do not interact with each other, so you do not need to specify the style priority for them like you do with feature lines that exist in the same site.
·         Corridor Model Accuracy:
o    Where corridor tangents intersect at a corner, and where the corridor is created at a fixed width, the inner and outer corners of corridors are cleaned up automatically to improve modeling efficiency and accuracy.
§  Bowties Fixes (Interior Corners)
§  Deflection behavior at corners
·         BIM Information Association:
·         Reference Styles Utility:
o    Styles in a drawing can now be synchronized with the styles in external reference templates. Reference templates simplify the management of drawing styles and keep them up to date.

AutoCAD 2017

As usual, Civil 3D will include all the base product enhancements of AutoCAD 2017.  See the article for What’s New in AutoCAD 2017 for detailed info, but I did want to mention the following enhancement that I think may be a great addition to your workflow.

Create Geometry from PDF

You can now import geometry from a PDF file or underlay into the current drawing as AutoCAD objects! You can import all geometry or specify an area on screen.  I think this is a fantastic addition and something that I’m sure will be widely used.

From your PDF, you can specify:
  • The type of data imported from the PDF (geometry, solid fills, text, and raster objects)
  • How layers are assigned to imported objects
  • Different post-processing options for imported geometry


As I mentioned in the opening, I truly believe that AutoCAD Civil 3D 2017 is by far the best release.  There may not seem like a ton of new features, but the new features and enhanced features will help in your everyday workflows.

I would love to hear from you regarding the new features and features you would like to see added or enhanced, so feel free to call or email me anytime.

Now let the Wish List for 2018 begin!

Thank you!

Shawn Herring