Yep, some things are near certain. It’s February, it’s World Press Day, and it’s release time. Over the next few weeks and months as we get close to the actual release of a Civil 3D 2009 Product, we’ll be bringing you the highs and lows of the 2009 version. We got at least pseudo clearance to WRITE about Civil 3D 2009 today, but I’m still not convinced we’re allowed to TALK about it. Yeah, it’s a confusing mess, but hey, since I have it in writing from someone that should know, we’re rolling with it. Read on past the jump to get the good, the bad, and the ugly highlights of Civil 3D 2009.
Let’s talk about the big ticket items first; the stuff that I think should drive you to move to C3D, even if you’ve been sitting on the sidelines for years.
Improved Data Shortcuts
The interface in 2006 was wicked, then it went to hell in 2007 and 2008. Now it’s back the way it should have been. There’s essentially no difference between the UI on Vault and Data Shortcuts. You get to pick what works for you! You can work in one drawing, all by yourself; you can work in a team, using Data Shortcuts, just sharing objects and bits between drawings; or you can use Vault and ADMS to solve both the project data problem, and a host of other IT issues. There’s a natural progression here, and it makes sense. How unusual.
Easy Point Rotation? Check. Map Checks from Labels? Check. Leading Zeros? Check. Holy cow, what’s left? OK, I’m not a surveyor, but many of the surveyors I’ve talked with regarding the 2009 product really are pleased with the additions. Don’t let your survey department hold you back any more!
Improved Surface Operations
There’s a lot going on here to please the power users. They finally figured out a way to not choke on the large datasets, by pulling some of it back out. There are inherent limits to what a drawing file can store, and what the bloated Acad engine can handle. The gurus in Manchester have tested a few million points in a surface. Once the limit is hit, an external file is creaetd, and C3D only processes what it needs. Additionally, there is a new command, Simply Surfaces. Once you have the data in, you can handle it by using some new functionality to weed out data points and reduce the size. Oh, and you can rearrange the order of build operations. Cool stuff.
Similar to Pipe Rules and the violations, C3D 2009 includes Design Criteria and check set functionality for Alignments and Profiles. With a good set of rules, your screen will tell you when you’ve put too much bend in the local highway. Not critical, but nifty.
Labels and Xrefs
If you can XREF it, you can label it. Think of the options for labeling in sheets, in exhibits, in any number of ways. While this is going to confuse the workflow issue for a while, this is cool and much requested functionality.
I’ve only seen this requested in a few places, cough, C3, here’s your bone, cough, but it’s a vocal group that keeps asking for it. The ability to create stacked profiles with different displays and profiles shown in each is a big requirement for firms in the Southwest and Cali design regions. Should be interesting to see what other folks do with it.
Dynamic Grading Feature Lines
Yes, you read that right. Pull a feature line from a corridor, grade from it, go to town. In 2008, the link was dead. In 2009, it’s consistent and life is good. Ponder that. Start thinking about use cases. In my opinion, this might be the biggest thing in the application this year.
There are a ton of other improvements, I’ll let the marketing PDFs run through the full list. So, what’s the bad? There are still some disappointments, some more major than others.
Bordering on fanatical (and I know fanatics, remember, I run a Mac,) these guys are in for another year of crying and gnashing of teeth. 2009 will install in a 64-Bit OS, but it’s not going anywhere any faster.
Null Nodes in Pipe Networks
Curve and Tangent Pipes are still distinct objects, making it entirely too easy to break them in profile and slope. Null Structures are a poor workaround for what should be a more polished solution.
Getting the pipe flowline in your band still require tracing a pipe. Another soapbox, but a low demand item nationwide, so I’m not losing sleep over it personally. Texas, you’re just out of luck.
Ribbon? What Ribbon?
AutoCAD takes the punishment this year, C3D might get it next. Most of the verticals are letting things shake out before they try to handle the Ribbon. You might be able to CUI it, but there’s nothing in the box. Since we spend most of our time running stock installs, I’m OK with that.
It’s still too shaky. I know, I know, it’s better. But damn, I can still break it with some pretty simple cases. It’s just unreliable, still.
Nothing here gets me going. These are really all a matter of refining what’s in the application.
In my opinion, ugly is being kind. Cali and the Acad team have decided that you don’t know what you want your windows to look like. You don’t pick windows themes and colors because you want to, you just don’t know any better.
Check out the picture above of the full screen. Like the cream background? Me neither, changed in the name of uniformity with Acad. Idiotic, and for the record, this was done against the better judgement of a lot of people in Manchester. Like the grey color? Notice that it doesn’t respect what I selected in my XP display settings? Wait, the dialogs and some toolbars do? WTF? Who comes up with this crap? If you’re going to skin an app, skin it. Skin it right, not this half-ass mix.
Yeah, I’m bitching to bitch, but this is one of my soap boxes, and it’s my post, so…. The point is, you get two options, light and dark, and they’re both UI studies in ignoring user input. Finally, they’re low contrast, so if you’re amped up your display to make life easier, get ready to do it again.
So, there’s the quick version of the good, the bad, and the holy freaking cow ugly. It’s a cliche to say that it’s the best release ever, so I let Lynn do that. 2009 isn’t the revolution, it’s the evolution, and to me that’s a good sign. Now that we’re past new “big” items every year, we’re starting to see the annoyances addressed, and C3D can only get better.