Edit Data Shortcuts on the Fly

This is my first post here and I feel excited to be able to post to Civil3D.com! As some of you may know, I am a strong proponent of Data Shortcuts. Of course, currently Vault has its place, especially in larger engineering firms. Civil3D 2009 has changed the way to work with Data Shortcuts that has really made it a competitor in the data management arena.

What to learn more?


With Civil3D 2009 comes a cool new tool. It is called Data Shortcuts Editor.
The Data Shortcuts Editor lets you select a folder that has all your shortcuts and let’s you edit these shortcut files. You don’t have to learn XML at all.

As you can see from the image the name of the object, path, and source file is available to edit. The path is a bit of a pain since you can’t browse. However notice also at the end is the option to choose what to use to find the object – whether it is handle, name or either. What this allows you to do is select how the object is recognized. Say you get into the drawing and for some reason delete the Centerline(1) alignment and create another alignment and name it Centerline(1). C3D08 would always see these as two different alignments and rightly so. However, now you have the ability to tell C3D09 to recognize the new alignment as a replacement to the old alignment. Thus all your labels and linked drawings will update correctly even if the first alignment was completely erased. The either option is a great feature and gives you the most flexibility.

Data Shortcuts have also been added to the Prospector and how to work with these has improved. I will talk about these improvements in an upcoming post.


  1. Dustin Manning says:

    I just realized that data shortcuts did not like the renaming of objects. I’m glad to see that this is no longer the case. I am just finishing my first submittal using Civil3D and I am ready for drink. I am geeking out on the new release. Thanks for the post Joshua.

    D Manning

  2. John Lowe says:

    We are a relatively small firm, but we do use Vault. It does a good job keeping things neat and also our network files needed some restructuring and reworking things for Vault gave us that opportunity. I do like what they’ve done in 2009.

  3. Thanks for the input John. Sorry if it seemed like I was bashing Vault.

    I am just very glad to see that Autodesk is providing flexibility with regard to managing C3D Data. I personally don’t care for Vault and see it only as a necessary evil thus I am happy when Autodesk revamped the Data Shortcuts (files) to work similar to C3D06 but with a better interface and, of course, without all the problems of C3D06.

    Now if Data Shortcuts only worked more like Xrefs…

  4. John Davis says:

    Thanks for the good info Joshua. Insight from you and yours at Civil3d.com sure beats trying to figure all this stuff out by trail and error. Looking forward to more about Data Shortcuts… cheers!

  5. Gerrit Alderliesten says:

    Thanks for the post Joshua. I have a question. Is there only one folder for all data shortcuts or can you put them anywhere and therefore have a separate data shortcuts folder for each project?

  6. Michael Putnam says:

    does anyone know if Vault 2008 is compatible with C3D 2009?

  7. Gerrit,

    There will be another post forthcoming talking about this. Great question by the way

    When you create a Data Shortcut folder it allows you to establish your folder structure by using a project template.

    More on this to come…

  8. Joshua,

    I’m going to have to second the quote “Now if Data Shortcuts only worked more like Xrefs…”

    That’s exactly what I’m wondering about??? Why can’t they act just like xrefs? I mean… you can label objects through xrefs now, right???????

    My biggest thing currently with the Data Shortcuts in 2009, is that you don’t know where your data references are coming from. Let’s just say you don’t have the Data Shortcut Working Folder set to the correct path. They’ll still work, but where are they coming from. Now obviously someone familiar with a companies file structure will know right away, but bring someone on board and ask them to add some data references to the correct project.
    It takes more thought and more paying attention to detail.

    If the data shortcuts can’t work like xrefs, I still like associating drawings to a particular project like the data references of Civil3D 2006. Somtimes I here Paula Abdul in my head singing “Take one step forward, now take two steps back”

  9. dave breu says:

    Transfer Drefs from 2008 to 2009

    There seems to be only one glitch when transferring an existing project from C3D 2008 to C3D 2009. For some reason profiles don’t show up in the toolspace. Surfaces transfer, alignements transfer, and pipe networks transfer.

    Below are the general steps or themes. You will also have use your user guide a bit.

    Step 1 use data shortcuts editor to convert your orignal 2008 drefs to 2009. I haven’t tried deleting the original shortcuts yet and probably won’t. I doesn’t seem to hurt anything having both.

    Step 2 set your working folder

    Step 3 create a data shortcuts folder

    Step 4 Copy the converted data shortcuts and placing them in the appropriate folders of the data shortcuts folder that has been created.

    Step 5 set your working folder again so the drefs show in the toolspace (Steps 1-5 should only take 5 minutes max even for a large project)

    Step 6 you won’t see the profiles in the toolspace, but when you try to create data shortcuts c3d 2009 it says they are there.

    Step 7 Work around. Delete the profiles xml files from the data shortcut folder and right click on each alignment dfref in the toolspace open the source drawing and create the profile shortcut. (I did this for a project with ~80 alignments and ~50 profiles and it took about an hour to develop the profile references in this method.

    And your done converting a project from 2008 to 2009 and all the drawings still work and you don’t have to recreate every reference. Hopefully, the profile thing is just a glitch with my install of the software. Again, I have not tried deleting the orginal drefs and probably won’t.

  10. Rahul Jairath says:

    Dave Breu, your post was the most useful post to me and i have been looking for it for almost an entire day.

    i am going to link this information in my original thread so others may find it useful