Custom Strings in Point Files

My coworker, Murph, and I have been working on a bit of a joint project lately that will illustrate some very good links with Civil tasks and Geospatial tasks. This has done two things for me – it’s giving me a bit more information regarding GIS (which truly is a horse of a different color…) as well as making me realize that there’s a long way to go before Map 3D and Civil 3D are TRULY compatible. Part of our project revolves around collecting data in the field and the things that we can do with that data. For example, many GIS grade GPS receivers have the capability to not only collect the point number, northing, easting, elevation, and description of a point, but also custom fields that can be defined by the user. Our example for today has a water department using a data collector to locate fire hydrants. The two custom fields that we have in our data collector is hydrant flow rate and inspection date. But how do I get those custom fields into a point label? Well, Murph to the rescue, because he hit this one pretty hard yesterday, and figured it out! Click more to find out how he did it!

Note 1: The following was sent to me by Murph allowing me to put it up here on So even though he has his very own VERY nice blog about Map3D, tonight he’s a guest contributor to

Note 2: This couldn’t have come at a better time. I received a new Carlson Explorer 600+ data collector today loaded with Carlson SurvCE – it’s got the extra roads module, GPS module, and robotics module on it….stay tuned for a comprehensive review of it. You know the coolest thing about it, other than WiFi and Bluetooth? It’s orange and blue, just like my beloved Auburn Tigers

Have you ever needed to display a custom property or field value on a point? In this example I have a standard comma delimited text file that was exported from a gps collector of an inspection of fire hydrants with the flow rate and an inspection date field.

It’s the standard PEND format with the two extra fields before the RA Description field.

Now the first thing we need to do is create a User-defined Property Classification.

From the toolspace settings tab expand the point tree and right click on User-defined Property Classifications, select new and give it a name. (Hydrant_Info) Then right click on your newly created property classification and create a new property. I will name it GPM and set it as a double for the property field type. This will be for the flow rate field.

The GPM User-Defined Property

Create another user-defined property for the inspection date and set the property field type to string for the inspection date.

The InspDate User-Defined Property

Now that we have the two new properties defined we can use those to set up our point import file to create points. Create a new format to import the point file set the columuns as need for the point number, easting, northing, elevation then notice we have the two new properties in our list to choose from for the flow rate and inspection date.

Our New Point File Format

Now when you set up your point label style for the hydrants, add a new text component for the flow rate. You should have the property available in the list to choose from.

The User-Defined Property in the Text Component Editor

Now you can set the rest of the style as you wish and include the inspection date the same way. Note that for the GPM value I set the property type to “DOUBLE” when you add it to the layout make sure you set the precision to 1 other wise you will have all those .000 in the label. Now the reason for using “Double” instead of “String” for the property type is say later on you need to do a little calculation on those figures, you can use an expression with them where as the “String” type you can not.

Now Import the point file using the text format we created, assign them to their point group as needed, set the point style to you choosing, and set the label style to the newly created style.

Our Hydrant Label with Flow Rate

And Inspection Dates


  1. Matthew R says:

    So if I’m using .fbk’s to bring in my linework, I’d have to “not” bring in the points via the fbk, but instead bring them in seperately via my user defined point file format to get all the attributed data to appear. Is that correct?

  2. arnolds says:

    Cool. Now it would be great if you could come up with something that would allow me to take that user defined field and include it when I build a topology in Map so that my hydrant nodes have the flow rate attached.

  3. seant says:

    Very impressive post.
    I just got a client to use it for boreholes and it worked perfectly. He now wants to export to a SHP file though.
    I’m trying to use the 2008 convert to blocks option but would love to hear a better idea?

  4. Daniel Fenton says:

    In attempting to save a 2008 drawing to 2009 I’m experiencing a problem, while inserting points (*particular to our “Tree Drawing”) I use our ‘Point Description Format’ in conjunction with ‘Point Groups’ to display our trees with automated blocks and tree diameter numbering. This was set up in 2008 and worked beautifully. Now while saving up to 2009 from 2008, the information (numbers) within my ‘Desc’ column are dropped. – I have recreated this standard in a fresh drawing saved out from Autodesk’s 2009 Templates to no avail. – I have reinserted my points from the csv. and works (displays) fine and then once saved and reopened the information is again dropped. – I have manually inserted the information for each tree, then locked the points and saved, closed out, reopened just to find the information dropped once more. I’m running out of ways to trouble shoot this issue. If you look on autodesk website and reference my name (dfentono) you can find my message there with the a JPEG. image to demonstrate what I’m visually loosing. The blocks placed are working fine, based off the point’s ‘Point Group’ which references the appropriate ‘Raw Description’. Take a look at my Point information on the right, its odd that I can open a 08 file up in 2009 and once saved and reopened I’m getting this drop of information. – If anyone can let me know if they have experienced the same problem, or if you handle the automated blocks in a different manner please elaborate. I find this manner of handling trees excellent, it also works for double, triple, quad trees which have their own additional blocks and places the ‘Diameter Numbers’ in appropriate areas within those blocks cleanly. ANY HELP IS WELCOMED!!! – Daniel Fenton (dfentono)