More on UCS vs Dview in Civil 3D

As much I try to avoid this subject, I feel that I must explain why I don’t ever change the UCS in any form.

But I have an open mind so feel free to comment. I think it is about time we had a good rousing debate and cleared the air!

And this is just my (Dana) opinion. The other bloggers can lay their reasoning out whenever they feel like it 🙂

In my last post, Take Advantage of Twisting Labels, I said that twisting your view was required to get your labels to automatically flip.

I have other reasons for prefering dview in general.

It comes from my first days as a new EIT at an engineering firm. I was dangerous in CAD…. They’d give me something seemingly simple to do- like change lot numbers on a site plan, and when they went back into the drawing they’d find all of their special attributed blocks exploded down to dtext and that sort of thing.

So I was told never to mess with anything.

As my skills grew, I noticed that if I started my work in a drawing that came from an architect sometimes when I tried to import a surface or something from the project, it would come in all strange. It was explained to me that the architect didn’t care when north was and rotated the UCS for whatever reason.

In the old days, your UCS Y axis was North to softdesk and Land Desktop. (here is an article I found that explains it well from a Softdesk perspective UCS vs Dview Twist )

So if you didn’t remember to change your UCS back to world before importing or exporting points, your surveyors where halfway to Tahiti before they realized their stakeout points were bogus.

Civil 3D apparently takes that off the table. I had a minor brainstorm last night thinking that “Why can’t we just change the UCS for a North rotation?” when Nick shot me down and sent me to search in help.

 Go to your HELP menu and search for these terms and read up….

Autodesk Civil 3D object data AutoCAD World Coordinate System coordinates

I tried it. I labeled bearings, etc. on some parcels and alignments, then I changed the UCS and the labels nor the mapchecks changed.

I also did another experiment. I imported a list of points. Then I changed my UCS so that my Y axis was 45 degrees turned. I reimported the same list of points from ascii. They came in at the exact same spot. So it is truly using the World Coordinate System when dealing with Civil 3D objects.

In some respects, I think I would rather it react to the UCS. I think that an appropriate use of the UCS would be a North rotation.

However, that takes my original fears off the table. UCS changes won’t muck with the Civil 3D data.

But your labels only react to the view change.

Going through it both ways, it appears to me (and correct me if I am wrong PLEASE) that dview leaves you in world, but rotates the view. Like turning a sheet of graph paper on a table.

Changing your UCS would be like erasing the Y axis arrow on my graph paper and redrawing it., then turning the paper until North faces up again.

Interesting enough, it seems that you are actually dview twisting without realizing it in your second scenario because if you actually enter into the dview commmand after doing the UCS view change, you see that a dview twist has actually been applied for you.

In my mind, I’d rather not mess with Y period. There are too many people I share data with that still use Land Desktop and Softdesk. There is too much confusion over North these days and with increased pressure to submit in State Plane Coordinates and be GIS friendly that anything I can do to make sure that stays intact, I will.


  1. The Dinosaur says:

    I am on your side with this one. I have yet to see a compelling reason why changing the ucs would be superior to just twisting the view. Is there any idea regarding what bearings are reported if someone loads up a Civil 3D drawing in vanilla or LT to check a bearing between two points in a view with the ucs rotated?
    The only objections I hear about the dview twist is specifying the angle of rotation. I use 45 degree increments and if necesary I will tweak it another 15. Very rarely, I will fine tune 5 degrees from there but never smaller.

  2. John Mayo says:

    Now I’m not feeling so good. I hope my comments to your previous post didn’t spark the new one. I never meant to throw gas on this age old proverbial fire especially since the choice over UCS & Dview/teist is, IMO a choice w/o any right or wrong if the user knows & understands the results of thier actions (I also think I know who is hiding behind the dinosaur.) 🙂

    I personally (and this is still all my opinion) find it easier to locate the desired plot angles with a UCS & ROW or PL line & if points or breklines come in wrong it’s easy enough for us to see that the objects don’t fall within the parcel. It is also easy to correct if they do.

    I personally have nothing against DView/twist or those that may use it. 🙂 LONG LIVE DVIEW/TWIST!!! (and rock & roll)

    Let me thank-you again for the first post on this topic. It still helped me!!

  3. John M says:

    Sorry Stephen. I have never met you and I was wrong about who was behind the dino. Be well.

  4. I always had issues getting the angle right, too, until i discovered the ALIGNVIEW mentioned in last night’s post. Now it is just as easy as picking something i want lined up with the bottom of the page.

    the other issue is user knowledge. if you know for sure that every user in your office or subcontractor’s office has a really good understanding of UCS and knows how to use it- then sure whatever works.

    but i have yet to run into an office that contained more than 3 people that could claim that.

    the reality of it is that even the UCS changers are REALLY using dview twist. but shhhhh, don’t tell ’em 🙂

  5. The Dinosaur says:

    No harm, no foul Mr. mayo – I have even been referenced to Barney The Purple of PBS over at TheSwamp – it comes with the handle.

  6. John M says:

    Mum’s the word.

  7. John M says:

    Okay so I’m getting ready for tonight’s Manning bowl (I’m gonna have to watch football all day to prepare. Life is tough)& got to thinking that I was a bit foolish to reply yesterday w/o trying Alignspace first.

    I think it was Mr. Twain/Clemmens who said, “you will nevewr grow old if you continue to try new things, continue to learn & never mind being contradicted”. So in an attempt to find the Fountain of Youth I started to play once more.

    I open my dwg and type ALIGNSPACE. Oh no. I’m in MS and I get this lovely dity.

    Command: alignspace
    Command not allowed unless TILEMODE is set to 0.

    Big bummer. I work in MS much more that PS. No biggie yet. Let’s go to PS. Run it again & get my orientation as I need. Great. Let’s save the view. Go back to MS & restore the view. Hmm, no good here since I get thrown back to PS.

    Is there a way to get the view rotation in MS?

    If I can get this I just might convert!! The whole company is dropping Land when we return from AU. This would be the the perfect time to implement a new system.

    I’ll post a sceenshot of how I am use to setting up Civl 3D & Land for design work in the Autodesk Customer Files NG. I posted two. The first is when I am using Civil 3D/Land commands. The second is for when I need to label/annotate the plan. Two toolbar buttons switch me between the two.

    P.S. You need to put a TV tuner w/ a DVR on that PC so you can watch football on the second screen while the Moster Corridors build. 🙂

  8. alignnspace works only in your layout

    take a deep breath, stay in paperspace

    execute command and follow command line directions.

    then, follow my directions to save a named view (be active in floating model space, save the view)

    then go into regular model space and refresh that view

    don’t forget to set your snapang. there is a great free lisp i love that helps with that at

    called “snapline”

  9. John M says:

    Forget the last question. Snapang. Doy.

  10. John M says:

    No scratch the last one. Snapangle doesn’t allow you to have the Mtext from a leader align horizontal. I would have to use Align on the Mxtext, no?