2009 XRef Labels

This is one of my favorite parts of the 2009 release. 2009 allows labeling of objects that are in external reference drawings. The ability to label both parcel segments and parcel area labels is sweet. It takes a little getting use too…

…but its worth it. [Investigate Locked Layer fading to “help”]

We reference our subdivision parcel drawings in our engineering plans. To get both the subdivision plat and the engineering drawings to use the same parcel labels at the same size was a bit of an argument.

The use of the new label ability allows parcel segments to be labeled in your current drawing with your X-Ref’s label layer to be frozen. Might this assist in removing the performance problem that Dana discusses in her REGEN Rules posts? The Annotation process is the same, Single Segment or Multiple Segments and select the Segment or Parcel Area Label that is visible in your X-ref.

Parcel Area labels are a little different since there isn’t a “segment” that is the parcel. It’s the area label. I spent way too much time over-thinking how to label parcel areas and create parcel tables during my first look at 2009.


Hint: Parcel Area Tables need the Parcel Area Label to be in the current drawing. Don’t try to create a parcel Area Table across the X-ref.



  1. Tracey McAuley says:

    About time they add this in!

  2. Warning!!!!!!!
    Just don’t “DETACH” any xrefs that were labeled with Civil 3D labels. Somebody might get very upset when they go back into their drawing and see that all that time they spent labling the xrefed parcels will have to be RE-DONE.

    Unloading works fine after you reload. Just don’t detach.

  3. John Davis says:

    Sadly we’ve been convinced that labeling things twice is an improvement. “Style based” and “annotative” are among other half-way product offerings. Come on people wise up! Does the stuff that didn’t work well last release been fixed or did they just distract you with new bells and whistles? Are we going to work or continue to work-around? It’s nice to have a “sunny dispostion” but not at the sacrifice of realism. The disposable multi-thousand dollar (Autodesk doesn’t even list the cost) that is abandoned before you can get comfortable with it is just ridiculous. Pay for you subscription and in 12 months you’ll have another box on the shelf… silly.

  4. John,
    Can you clarify your comment? Labeling things twice? You mean after an xref is inadvertently detached? And the work-around is…what? Unloading instead of detaching?

    Unfortunately, your last sentence is true for too many users. However, leaving it on the shelf is choice made by the organization who buys the product (which is also their choice), not Autodesk.

  5. Let me put it this way – I would rather label twice than re-duplicate the design. We label our subdivision plats, site geometric plans, grading plans, plot plans, and final surveys all differently. It’s still ONE parcel.

  6. John Davis says:

    Just to clarify, the whole point as I took it was that now the parcels within an xref could be labeled again in the target drawing. The problem that caused the “work-around” is that parcels (for instance) aren’t available for dreffing and style abilities are lost on xreffs. Yes, some fix is better than none but the proper fix is to rectify the two issues I just mentioned. The statement about ONE parcel merely argues my point. Furthermore, I didn’t come up with “one object shown many places with differing styles”… it was the ideal touted by Big Brother himself.

    Let me say that I’ve been wrong before, though usually in support of the product. I have been confused by what seems to be partial implementation of strategies that are never completed. I am also a guy who can generally make it work when others swear it doesn’t. You may have noticed my absence from the DG lately. I caught myself spewing bile and this may be more of the same. I don’t like feeling duped or that my significant time and effort learning C3D08 has been wasted. Now I am to start over again? It’s dis-heartening and I wonder if there will ever be a truly productive future for this product line. The Autodesk business model sticks in my craw, though the pain is much lower.

  7. dennis niehaus says:

    John, while I agree with some of what you say in that Autodesk seems to fix things with patches rather than with solutions, I have to somewhat disagree with you contention that the C3D is not productive. Being a relatively new user of C3D (we are upgrading from LDD 2000) I am finding vast improvement in the ability of the software to streamline my design process. Perhaps it is your point of view in the seeming tiny steps taken in subsequent upgrades that make it difficult to see the improvements that are quite obvious to me. Not arguing your premise or even your opinion of Autodesk “upgrades” in general, just respectfully expressing another point of view on the capabilities of C3D.

  8. John Davis says:

    I’d never say C3D is not productive (especially compared to LDT), just the 12 month cycle as being counter-productive. I love the software and feel I’m being asked to abandon it for something new and unimproved… and again in a year? A state of comfort and confidence seems illusive at best (more at impossible).

    I have always said that, if I were a rich man, I’d like to be a life-long student but this is not what I had in mind! Perhaps my best bet is to switch statagies and start working in the training and sales of training materials field. The future is certainly bright there!

    I want everyone to consider that if you continue to feed this monster it may eventually devour you (if it hasn’t already). An option to simply sit still with 08 is available, for now, until the format changes again.

    Having come back to this field just before the 08 release, starting there and being forced BACK to LDT (which I had studied in great depth while waiting for shipment of 08) I feel lucky not to have to “unlearn” as so many LDT users must. However, I regret having scoffed at those “cavemen” as I called them for refusing the new version. I’m getting a taste of what they were thinking and it’s true what they say, “a mind is a terrible thing to taste”.

    It has occured to me since my last post that perhaps parcels ARE now available to dref… not sure, perhaps that could/should have been part of a more complete discussion and/or can be addressed now. I, for one, seek a positive outcome to this exchange rather then only material for my upcoming book “How to make enemies and influence people who merely don’t like you”.

  9. Jason Hickey says:

    I’m really curious as to why you consider this a workaround, John. If I have ten drawings that I need to display parcels in, I’m going to XREF my parcel drawing into each one and label appropriately. *IF* parcels were vaultable (they’re not) then I’d have to reference the parcels into each drawing, and label appropriately. I fail to see how either method would be any better or worse than the other. As a matter of fact, I think I prefer the XREF method myself.

    As far as the yearly upgrade schedule goes, Mark pointed out the stark truth – upgrading your office is the decision of your office, not Autodesk. If you only want to upgrade every third release, that’s your choice. And if upgrades didn’t come, I hate to think that i’d still be on something like R13 with Softdesk. The fact of the matter is, every December/January, I pick up the new version that’s about to be released and can be just as productive as I was in the prior release if needed – the functionality is still there, along with some added features that I can pick up as I go.

  10. John Davis says:

    I’d prefer;
    xref’s to not disable express tools (like layoff, I prefer not to rely on memory and/or affecting layer control another way) and for styles to be applied to them.

    dref’s to act as a total replacement, with no loss of functionality and being consistent with the “pyramid” of data structure and workflow(s) recommended by Autodesk themselves in the help file, tutorials and webcasts (this “suggested” structure SHOULD do away with most of the need to xref).

    You know, I’m beginning to think I’m the only idealist among this group. I didn’t come up with these concepts but I did buy into them and thought/think the afore mentioned structure/process are a proper solution. Have you authors and accepted experts (I admittedly tend to have too much respect for powers that be)taken your eyes off the prize? I am tainted by some Architectural Desktop experience where “style based” seems to be a non-forgiving (and fully embraced/enforced) concept. I understand that we’re not gonna get it all at once and have considered that, perhaps, the pure goal is unobtainable (this should surprise no one in an imperfect world, but I wax philosophical).

    Let’s not forget about “the squeaky wheel”. Let’s never be content with “good enough”. I’m in a position that I can point and cry “The Emperor has no clothes”, I’ve got no affiliations, won’t be invited to star in webcasts and write whitepapers and have nothing to lose by calling them like I see them. I only hope that someone realizes you need people like me if only to use as examples of idealists and extremists.

    How do I see it as a “work around” and a less-than-perfect solution? How do you not? I am not closed minded and am open to correction, sanctification and re-alignment. Make me understand and I’ll be this procedures/releases biggest proponent. However, I am not a sheep and will not mindlessly follow. At best I’m the black sheep who does a lot of “baaa-ing” at the back of the line. Even if I’m sheared and end up as a mutton dinner the old saying, “A silent sheep is no good for the slaughter”. I take that to mean that if you’re going to make an example of someone you don’t randomly pick someone out of the crowd. You use the loud mouth.

    Finally, you’re going to xref and re-label in ten drawings and you okay with that? If they were dref-able (or vault-able) the style capability would come with in for automatic scaling and ease of display control. Isn’t that how it is supposed to work? Was EVERYONE else absent that day? I honestly don’t understand this resistance (though mine appears futile). Again, I’m hoping that some good comes from this discussion and will move mountains to get it (after approved plans go to bid, of course).

  11. I think the only thing missing is the ability to change the style of the parcel. I agree with Jason – xref I think is the better choice. LandXMLing your parcels is a workaround. Annotating differently in different products is okay with me. I do it with my corridor design drawing vs production/construction drawings. (Same with pipes, profiles and surfaces…)

  12. Jason Hickey says:

    You’re not understanding me, John.
    I’m talking about ten sheets with DIFFERENT LABEL STYLES. When I dref (or vault) anything, labels don’t come along with it. I have to add labels. If I XREF something, I *used* to be stuck with the labels that I had in the base drawing. Now, I can have that base xref’d into ten drawings and have different labels in each drawing if I need to.

    You typed quite a bit up there to say that this crew is accepting of the shortcomings of the program, and you’re wrong. We make our wishes heard, and as Autodesk partners, we do it through different channels that you might never see. However, we have to achieve maximum productivity with the program that we’ve been given. To put it in a different way, we have to race with the car that we brought to the track. I also rather resent the insinuation that the group of authors here paint a rosy picture just because of any affiliations that we may have – you read this website from top to bottom and you’ll see that if it smells bad, we’re going to point it out. You have no idea what goes on behind the scenes with our group. The fact of the matter is, labeling through XREFS may not be the ultimate answer, but it’s significantly better than the answer we *had.*

  13. John Davis says:

    Wow, this is probably my last reply since I’m apparently beating my head against a wall. You’re not going to like what I say next.

    You say;
    “…the only thing missing…”, listen to yourself, you’re admitting it’s still broken and is a half-fix. Did you forget what they promised?

    “Annotating differently in different products is okay…”, huh???, that’s what a style should do, not multiple instances of the label. Did you forget what they promised?

    “I do it with my corridor design drawing vs production/construction drawings. (Same with pipes, profiles and surfaces…)” this is a circular argument and just re-states my point… the dog still don’t hunt but he got a new collar. You can do the workaround as many times in as many places as you want… it is still a workaround.

    “I agree with Jason…”, you can’t really bite that hand can you Matt? We’re adults here and ought to be capable of putting this aside (eventually) despite your refusal to see my point and my refusal to take said refusal lying down. If you can’t be objective, you’re not doing anyone any favors by responding with another “yes”, man. So it goes…

    An addition complication (more of the same) is the acceptance of 10 separate drawings for 10 (or so) sheets. The best solution is to dref each dynamic object that you need into each SET of production/construction drawings. You’ve accepted the 1 layout per drawing failure, which forces you to the logical need to accept this most recent fix. Half measures, boys… I’m sorry if you won’t see it and I have only tried to do you a favor by not sparing your feelings in the attempt to explain why multiple labels of xrefs is less than ideal.

    I want the whole product before they re-release with more on-screen bells and whistles that I only shut off anyway. If I need a line, I type “L”… I don’t need a button sitting there all the time! If I’m working with Feature Lines, I start the command and the tools pop up then, when I need them. If I want to view the Prospector or Properties, I hover my mouse over where they’re docked. Screen real estate is mine to work on the drawing objects, not a long-term parking place for point-and-click commands.

    I’m gonna treat Autodesk the way I like to be treated… “Ask for the world, and you might be surprised how much of it you actually get. Ask for a cup of dirt and you might be lucky to get that.”. The effort and time required for those two results is often not that different. This product started with an 05 release. Perhaps it’s time to raise our voices and demand some real results. How long would you employ me to work on plans that never got submitted or approved? How long will you accept the mush on your plate? You can put raisins in it, but it’s still mush.

  14. John Davis says:


    I was writing as you posted. Remember how this thing started… your last paragraph is the most honest and to the point statement I received and would have saved much effort on everybodies part. Read this post from top to bottom and you’ll see how my statements were mis-read and misunderstood from the beginning.

    I never said I knew how your organization worked or made any comment about it. However, your right about my insinuations… I made them and you’ve denied them. I know you’re trying to describe what’s in the new box.

    My last post explains that one acceptance of failure leads to the next. Sorry if you feel I waste words, I’ll admit this whole discussion started with 8 relevant sentences describing something that smells bad to me. I’m weary of the subject and won’t be replying to it again.