What's New in Civil 3D 2020?

What's new in Civil 3D 2020?

Our Consulting and Services Manager, Shawn Herring wrote another article for AUGIWorld on what's new in Civil 3D 2020! Here's what he had to say:

YES! Another release of Civil 3D, just as you probably finished installing the latest 2019 “fix”. That was somewhat sarcastic, but I do some see much needed improvements to AutoCAD 2020 and its vertical products such as Civil 3D. 

This article looks at some of the top new features within AutoCAD Civil 3D 2020 and may help you make your decision to download and install today.

Version Interoperability

Typically, the first question asked is about prior version interoperability.  The AutoCAD format for 2020 is also the 2018 format they previously introduced.  Meaning you should have no problem going back and forth between 2018, 2019 and 2020.  The only exceptions to Civil 3D objects would be the newer Civil 3D object/features will not go backwards, but this shouldn’t be a problem.

Hey Good Lookin’!

New icon!

The last several versions of Civil 3D have used the “A” logo, and different variations of the logo dating back to 2012.  2020 has a new “C” logo, which actually makes sense!

Civil 3D Logos for 2018, 2019, 2020

Dark Color Scheme

One thing I initially thought was WAY over-hyped was the introduction of the dark color scheme.  But after the initial install and working in 2020, I realized it is actually pretty easy on the eyes!

The dark scheme controls the appearance of the ribbons, application window and other elements. It's especially sleek looking when using the contextual ribbon tabs.

You can change this in your options, under the display tab.

Civil 3D 2020 Dark Color Scheme

AutoCAD Platform Items

Here are few new things to look forward to in all AutCAD platform products:

·         Block Palette

o    The new Blocks palette makes it easier to insert blocks with visual galleries and the ability to filter for the exact block you’re looking for. You can simply drag and drop blocks into the drawing from Current Drawing, Recent, or Other Drawing tabs.

·         Purge Redesign

o    The Purge feature has been redesigned for easier drawing cleanup. Remove multiple unneeded objects at once with easy selection and a visual preview area. There is a “Find Non-Purgeable Items” button with a Possible Reasons section, to understand why certain items can’t be purged.

Civil 3D 2020 Purge Redesign

·         DWG Compare

o    This was one of my favorite additions from last year.  The ability to compare 2 drawings and quickly see what has been modified.  Now in 2020, you can now compare two versions of a drawing without leaving your current window and import desired changes into the current drawing in real time. Quickly toggle on and off the comparison with the new DWG Compare toolbar.

AutoCAD Map 3D Platform Items

·         Autodesk Connector for ArcGIS

o    AutoCAD Map 3D 2020 allows you to access your GIS data on ArcGIS Online or Portal for ArcGIS Enterprise and bring them into your drawings. Look for this connection tool in Map 3D, Civil 3D and Infraworks.

Civil 3D 2019.1, .2 (Now in 2020)

Most, if not all, of the 2019 update enhancements have been rolled into the software.  Some of the following items below may be of interest and really help in streamlining workflows and enhancing design.


There have been a bunch of recent updates to the software for rail design.  You’ll see a whole new ribbon for Rail design that contains alignments, platform edges, crossovers/turnouts and additional content such as more subassemblies for rail design.

Pipe Networks

Specify the type of connection points on structures to use when laying out pipe networks.  When you lay out a pipe network, you can select which type of connection point to use:

·         Structure insertion point
·         The default connection point (the first connection point that is defined for a structure)
·         Closest connection point to the cursor.

The following part types have been updated to have new connection points and grips:
·         Rectangular Underground Structures: Pipe connection points have been added at the inside center of each wall.
·         Eccentric Cylindrical Structures: A single pipe connection point has been added to the center of the underground barrel.
·         Rectangular Grates: Move grips have been added to the back left corner, back center, and back right corner of each rectangular grate. Rotation grips have been added to the back center of each rectangular grate.

Collaboration and Data Exchange Updates

·         Publish surfaces to Autodesk BIM 360 Document Management for use in Autodesk Revit
·         Use updated LandXML import and export features when importing or exporting data.
·         Reference sample line groups into drawings using data shortcuts

Transparent Commands

Still something people tend to forget, and usually the first toolbar closed!!  But now the transparent commands are in a ribbon tab and accessible from the right click menu!

Civil 3D 2020 Transparent Command

Production Efficiency Updates

  • Add crossing objects to profile views to show where linear objects cross the profile relative to the parent alignment. You can show alignments, profiles, feature lines, survey figures, and 3D polylines as crossing objects in a profile view.
  • When creating a data shortcut reference to a sample line group, you can now automatically create references to the sampled sources if data shortcuts exist for those sources.

Gravity Network Analysis

Gravity Network Analysis

You can easily use the Analyze gravity Newtork tool to analyze a pipe network directly within Civil 3D and even apply those analysis results to the pipe network.  You have 3 options for analysis

Civil 3D 2020 Gravity Network Analysis

Resize Pipes and Reset Inverts: Analyzes the flow through the pipes, and then resizes the pipes and resets inverts to accommodate the flow. Applying the results of the analysis will update the pipe sizes and invert elevations according to the calculated results, and will apply all of the calculated properties to the pipe network.
·         Compute Energy and Hydraulic Grade Lines: Calculates the energy and hydraulic grade lines, and then reports whether each line in the system is in a normal state, surcharged, or flooded. You have the option to apply these results to the pipe network from the Results page of the dialog box. Applying the results of the analysis will apply the calculated energy and hydraulic grade values to the affected parts in the pipe network.
·         Inlet Analysis: Analyzes the capacity of the inlets and reports the flow, depth, and spread at each inlet on the Results page of the dialog box.


DYNAMO for Civil 3D?!

What is Dynamo for Civil 3D?  Think of this as putting your corridor on steroids!  Dynamo for Civil 3D is a visual programming tool that adds the power of Dynamo scripting and 3D modelling to control and interact with AutoCAD and Civil 3D drawings directly inside the CAD environment.
The good thing with Dynamo is that it is made for designers, drafters, engineers, etc.  So, if you’re like me, and have ZERO programming capabilities, then you will really enjoy this!  To me, this is closer to Subassembly Composer than true programming.

Dynamo for Civil 3D 2020

Visually, nodes appear as blocks. These blocks contain all the design parameters for a particular element of the model you are working on. Nodes are then strung together using a visual editor to form the final script. These scripts can expedite time-consuming or repetitive workflows. You can save these scripts in a library and reuse them as needed.

Currently, most dynamo tools for Civil 3D are going to be transportation related. Slicing corridors to replicate construction, adding linear items such as lights, powerpole, etc are just a couple of the tasks that Dynamo can help streamline.  But look to Dynamo in the future for improving almost any workflow.

Data Shortcuts

            Use a new system variable named SyncDrefPsetToSource to control whether property sets are synchronized when you synchronize data shortcut references. You can use the following settings for SyncDrefPsetToSource:

Data Shortcuts for Civil 3D 2020

Export Civil 3D Drawings

Now this has always been a bit annoying, and only works half the time… and that’s being generous!  However, the Export Civil 3D Drawing command has been updated with the following features:

·         Labels with background masks are no longer exported with bowtie-shaped hatches.
·         Xrefs are exploded appropriately on export.
·         Proxy state messages are no longer displayed on export.
·         The option to convert feature lines, parcel segments, and survey figures to 2D or 3D polylines that was included in the Autodesk Civil 3D 2019.2 Update is included in Autodesk Civil 3D 2020.
Exporting Civil 3D 2020 Drawings

Survey Database Format

            The survey database format has been updated from Microsoft SQL Server Compact (SQL CE) format to SQLite. To use existing survey databases with Autodesk Civil 3D 2020, they must be converted to SQLite.
Use the Autodesk Civil 3D Survey Database Migration Utility to convert survey databases from SQL CE to SQLite.

Survey Database Format in Civil 3D 2020

The Autodesk Civil 3D Survey Database Migration Utility is a separate download available at https://www.autodesk.com/civil3d-survey-database-migration-utility.

*** Migrated databases are not compatible with earlier releases of Autodesk Civil 3D.***

BIM 360 Document Management (BIM Docs)

            Now I know this is supposed to be an AutoCAD / Civil 3D article, but I really think you need to at least take a look at BIM 360 Docs and what it can offer to you and your design workflow.  I’ve been using this for a few months now as simply a PDF review/markup tool and a project coordination tool.  Have “Review Sessions”, create tickets/issues and assign items to team members.  You can also overlay PDF’s and compare version to version to see what may have changed.

BIM 360 Document Management in Civil 3D 2020

BIM 360 Document Management in Civil 3D 2020


I must admit, I thought 2019 was going to be the best release yet, and, boy, was I WRONG!  2019 had a lot of issues.  However, 2020 seems to have fixed a lot of issues that 2019 and previous version introduced and is headed in the right direction.

I may not have covered all the features and 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. sherring@prosoftnet.com