Carlson Civil Suite Part 3 – Creating a New Drawing and Importing Points

Well, folks, I promised a comprehensive review and comparison of Carlson Civil Suite 2007, and I still intend on honoring that promise.   Things have been a bit hectic lately, and I happen to have a few short hours before I take off for my next adventure (Hattiesburg, Mississippi for the rest of the week, if anyone is keeping score…)    Today, I’m going to go over the process of creating a new drawing in Carlson and importing points into that drawing.   As with the rest of this discussion, there are things that I like and things that I dislike.    So, with that being said, on with the show!

When Carlson Civil Suite first opens, it comes up with a Startup Wizard, much like Land Desktop used to.   The difference is that this one isn’t so much project based, but we can get into that later.    Here’s what the initial window will look like:


One good thing about this box is the option to check that allows us to skip the startup wizard next time.    Since I’m not as comfortable with the software as I am with Civil 3D, I’m going to leave any helpful features turned on, so I’ll leave that box unchecked.    Since I want to start with a new drawing, I’m going to click on New, which brings up the new drawing dialog box:


Few things to look at here – first of all, we’ve got some pretty good options here. Clicking the SET button allows me to name and locate my drawing.   I’ve created a new drawing named TEST11132006.DWG (the number sequence is today’s date, a naming convention from a former job – old habits are hard to break.)   I can also select whether my drawing will be in Imperial (English) or Metric units, and set my horizontal scale, survey point symbol plot size, and text plot size.   The program does the math for me and sets the appropriate text and symbol plot size from those numbers.   For example, a Text Plot Size of 0.08 returns a drawing units text size of 4.0.   I like this.  I’m going to keep everything set as it is, and go to the next window, which allows me to set the data files for this project, as shown below:


This is where we get into the whole “project” concept a bit with Carlson.   I have a Data Path that I can set, as well as the CRD file (this seems to be the Carlson version of the points database.)   I can choose to use an existing coordinate file or create a new one, and I also select where I want to bring those points in from.    I’m going to create a new one and import my points from a text file.   One thing that seems to be different here is that a point file is standard fare for this program – it doesn’t seem that you can do much without one, and even forces you to select/create one.   Interesting…

This is pretty straightforward – I see that I can bring in points from MANY different source files (even some formats that I’ve considered extinct for quite a while.)   I leave everything set to P,Y,X,Z,D format since that’s the standard format that my point files are in.   Once I select the Select Text/ASCII Files button, I can go in and pick my point file.   The good thing about that is the fact that I select a folder and the software lists any and all files that can be imported as point files.    There are quite a few formats here, so there seems to be good control over your point files.


I also notice that I can choose to protect these points.   That’s a good thing.    I can also choose to insert these points into the drawing, or not.   There are also features for doing automated linework, or Field To Finish.    Once I read in all those points, I have to choose how I want to draw the points.   I’m just going to insert the points as they are in the text file.


This brings up an entirely new issue with the next window.   The Draw-Locate Points window is quite complicated.    There’s a LOT of information here to choose from.   This is both good and bad – bad because it overwhelms the user, good because you’ve got a LOT of control (if you can figure it out.)   There are a few very important things here, though.   First, I have to pick the symbol for my points.   This would be the point marker in Civil 3D.  Picking on the Select button allows me to pick from any number of symbols.   I like a small “plus sign” for my points, which is named SPT9 in Carlson, if anyone’s interested.    I can now select the symbol rotation azimuth, and pick whether or not to create a new layer for each description.   It should be noted that as of this writing, I’ve found no way to insert different symbols for different descriptions, as we would in Land Desktop/Civil 3D with descriptor keys.   So far, that’s a negative in my book, but it’s very likely that the functionality is there, I just haven’t found it yet.   In the next area of that dialog box, I can choose what to include in the point – descriptions, elevations, nodes, point numbers, etc.    Also, any notes can be shown here.    I can choose the precision settings for my points, and whether I want to locate them on their real elevations or flatten to 0.   I typically like to flatten my points to a 0 elevation, since this allows me to do linework with minimal fuss.   However, I’m not sure how this will affect my surface creation (to be detailed at a later date), so I’m going to leave them on their real elevations for now.

One feature of this box definitely begs discussion.    There’s a checkbox that says “Fix Overlapping Point Attributes.”   I inadvertently had this checked the first time I did this, and saw what it did, and I must say that I did NOT like it.   This function looks at all the point labels, determines if any of them are overlapping, and moves any overlapping ones so that they are no longer overlapping.   It does draw an arrow back to the point symbol, though.    I don’t like this because a) it takes a while to do this (my point file had 800+ points in it), and b) I’d rather have that control myself – I may not like where the program decides the point label should go.   I suggest turning this OFF.

The last step here is to select which points that we want to draw.   I want to draw all points, and there happens to be a button for that, so I’m going to select it.


Now all my points are in the drawing, and I absolutely hate the format that it puts the points in.    You may like it – this is purely personal preference.   I think that I fixed this at one point, but I’m going to have to find the setting that I used to get my points looking the way I’m used to.  Note:  I found it – under the Points pulldown menu, Point Defaults.    I’ll have to play with this to see what else I can do.   Maybe something to do in the hotel tonight…

A few things to know about these points:

1) They aren’t point objects per se, but they are blocks with attributes.   The marker is on a layer (layer determined by the point description), but the point number, elevation, and description can be turned on or off with the layer controls.    This is something that a lot of people really enjoy, so I can see this as a plus over Civil 3D.

2) These points are blocks with attributes.    There is a special routine inside Carlson Connect for Civil 3D that will convert these point blocks into Civil 3D points.

Next, we’ll try to work with points a bit and then create a surface in Carlson.

Have fun!


  1. rkmcswain says:

    …I’ve found no way to insert different symbols for different descriptions…

    Jason, that’s what “Field to Finish” does.

  2. Jason Hickey says:

    Thanks, RK – that’s one of those things that I still need to learn.