How do YOU code?

No, I’m not talking about any type of programming – that’s way above my head.   I know I’ve been absent for the last few weeks, but I’ve had a bad case of writer’s block.   But today, I’ve had a chance to work on something that I want to document, more for me than anyone else, but I’m in the giving mood so I’ll document here.

After Mark posted our Trimble Dimensions paper, I received a few emails about it, and I’m really happy to see people actually trying to make use of the Survey Database.   Well, in writing that, I think I left something a bit vague, and I’ve since come up with a better way to do things.   Let’s talk about coding features for automated linework – and see how you code.    Follow the link to see what I’m babbling about.

In the paper, the example that I gave had the user including the linework command in the descriptor line, after the description.   The example would be entering the code for the beginning of Line1 in the description area as LINE1 BEG.   This works to a point, but not very well.    The problem is that Civil 3D really wants the command to be BEFORE the code.    But, the problem is that it also wants the code to be before the command to sort the codes.    What a dilemma we now find ourselves in, or so we would think.

To get around this issue, I’ve gone into what I consider to be the 3 most popular data collectors and performed some testing this afternoon.   I used Carlson SurvCE 2.0, Trimble/TDS Survey Pro, and Trimble TCS v12.20 for testing, and will show each here.   Leica folks, I’ll get to that one at a later date – I installed each emulator except the TPS/GPS emulators (honestly, I need just a little more practice with the Leica format…)  What I did was create a pretty simple dataset in Civil 3D and manually wrote down the angles/distances, then input them into the respective data collectors for testing.    I then imported a FBK from the dataset from each data collector until I got it right.   I did this using the NOTE function in each data collector instead of putting the command in with the code in the description line.  This does require going away from the Traverse/Sideshot screens in all three collectors, but it should be noted that all three collectors have a “hotkey” for entering a note quickly, making this process much more palatable.  The only difference between data collectors that I’ve noticed is that I have to issue the END command after the last shot in TDS, and before the last shot in Carlson.   I don’t think I ended the line in Trimble, so I’ll have to go back and look at that one.

The dataset is below.   As you can see, I have created a “horseshoe” type layout that includes two curves and three tangents.


The sequence for coding is as follows: (notes are preceded by a – and bold)











-END LINE1 (in TDS, this would be after the next line)

10 LINE1

The notes are pretty easy to enter – I’ll show you the location for entering and the note editor for each data collector below:



The shortcut menu and note editor for Carlson SurvCE 2.0



The location of the shortcut menu and note editor in TDS Survey Pro – the shortcut menu was too long to show in the screen capture. 



The location of the shortcut menu and note editor in Trimble TCS v12.20.

I hope this clears up some confusion and helps you establish a good workflow for your crews to follow when collecting data.   If you have a better way of entering the commands, please let me know – but for right now, I think the note is the way to go with it if you’re going to use it in Civil 3D.

Happy New Year!


  1. There is some benefit to possibly using the SDR (Sokkia) method and using Stringer Connect to convert your TDS files to FBK. This allows BEG LINE1 (or B LINE1) as the code. Stringer Connect will convert it properly, converting the B to BEG LINE1 figure command.

    By the way – Happy New Year!

  2. As I have also forgotten, The TDS Survey Link can also work to translate SDR fieldbook coding as well.

  3. aziz karavdic says:

    My question is: How Civil 3d will recognize ready points and surfaces made by program “groma 6”

  4. Jason Hickey says:

    Aziz – this makes the first time I’ve ever even seen the words “Groma 6” typed. I have no idea what it is or what it does, therefore, do know know how Civil 3D will interact with it.

  5. grandjenet erwin says:

    is it possible to show me the good code for the trimble s6 ?

  6. Paul Coutu says:

    I just wrote under another discussion:

    “Attn: Surveyors
    Im not exactly sure on auto linework.
    I have description codes setup.
    Auto Line Work Descriptions are also set up.
    For Example:
    Description Code, ep = EP (Edge Pave)
    Line Work Description, ep1… ep2… etc.
    Using TDS Ranger I begin collection my ep side shots.
    My description is EP.
    Where do I enter the Auto linework Commands (b=Begin. E= End)???
    In my side shot description, meaning when i shoot my 1st ep shot, the description should be entered as b EP1.
    Im confused in this area.
    Thanks in advanced.”

    I was in the field today and noticed my “add note” hot key. And got to thinking, maybe im missing something.
    This post really help clear somethings up.
    Now im just wondering what to name autoline work descriptions…
    (Just ep, or will i need multiple ep descpiptions if im shooting both sides of the street? ep, ep1, ep2, etc.)
    Also, i was wondering if anyone outh there would like to share their Description Code .txt files
    I know that i have about 3 pages so far and was hoping to share ideas. I know how extensive our descriptions can get.
    Thanks again.

  7. christof lambrecht says:

    is there a list off available control codes, we’re used to “heavy” F2F coding. What about coding for measuring parallell lines, construction of offsets with taped distances, constructions of squares with 2 or 3 measured points, construction of a square angle…

    BTW. For trimble TSCe Tap CTRL-N to switch to note-input.
    Lookking forward for any response,