Civil 3D 2010: Quick Review

Just like last year, I’m going to run through my thoughts on the highs, the lows, and the WTF of Autodesk’s latest release. There are a number of serious improvements in the box this year. Some you’ve heard them talk all about, some are much more subtle, but are real winners in my book. This next week, the full EE team will be hitting on their favorites in more detail, but we wanted to give you the main talking points from our point of view. Make the jump to get quickfix review of AutoCAD Civil 3D 2010.

Intersections: An absolute showstopper. They’re dynamic, they’re damned fast, image and they work. Pick an alignment, find an intersecting alignment, and let C3D do the work for you. Check out the video from a few days back to compare if you really need to understand the difference in speed brought about by the Intersection wizard. They’re not perfect though. You won’t be able to handle a roundabout, knuckle, or cul-de-sac easily. Curb returns are straight-line connections between the return profile points. They only handle T- and Four-way intersections. But come on, even if you have to tweak the result, the major work is done, including the creation of profiles, regions and targets. To get the intersection at right: Pick the alignment to activate the tab; pick the Intersection button; pick the intersection point; pick the Create Intersection button in the Wizard; clean up labeling (cause I didn’t have any commands set.) Yes, it’s that simple. In my opinion, this is worth upgrading for!

Alignments: Bringing in the demand for alignments that understand their image relationships, we now have categories of alignments. Offset alignments can be created from any alignment, and can be used to create things like widenings with reverse curves. These offsets are dynamically related to the parent alignment, and can include transition properties like Reverse Curve, Curve-Curve, Curve-Line-Curve, allowing you to solve most geometry problems in a straight-forward manner. These are real alignments, and can be used to target corridor data, sample profiles, or generate sections. And you can mask them too to hide the dirty bits you don’t want to share with the world.

The Ribbon: Seriously, it’s good. One week in, I hated going back to 2009’s collection of menus and fly outs. Pick an object, do what you want, move along. I seriously love the work that the UI team did on this, and while some pieces make you search a bit until you understand the logic, overall it’s a good deal.

Labeling: I won’t get into all of the nifty updates to the labeling, but take a second look at that first intersection picture. See the zig-zag on the Intersection label? That’s STILL a dynamic C3D label. It’s still intelligent. And it can still be tweaked further. Want a spline version? Easy. Want ten zigs? Knock yourself out. And you can change where the label attaches to the leader in a dragged state. And there’s label staggering on profiles and sections too. image

Projections: You can now project points, blocks, feature  lines, etc into a profile or section view, and use a style to determine how that object looks in section. In the image at right, the FH blocks have a elevation style assigned in the Profile View, while the MVBlock of the car is just showing it’s normal model projection. Way cool for all the pieces and parts you’ve wanted to add over the years. This works for all sorts of solids as well, so get after it!

Of course, there are still some things missing, but they tend to fall into big wish instead of need: pipe flowlines in a band label, project templates that let you assign a dwt, better partbuilder (Or just a complete ditch and rewrite, but alas, that’s a pipedream. I crack me up…) are some of my big misses. I’m sure there are others, but really, we’re getting down to cracks in the feature set instead of full gaps.

These are just some of my big ticket faves with this new release. We’ll be covering some of the other cool stuff, (and more about these items!) in much more detail throughout the week, so stick around. And don’t forget, you can get the latest C3D related bits from the entire EE team by following us on Twitter. Go to to get started.


  1. Scott Lawson says:

    Great news thanks for sharing. Does the 2010 release code seem to be more stable than the 2009? We have had a lot of problems with the 2009 CAD in general at my office. he program seems significantly slower all around compared to 2008 for instance.

  2. J. Wedding says:

    Every version is harder on the machine than the last. I think that given the simple expanding nature of the program with no change in hardware, it’s bound to feel a bit slower. I refuse to use my own machine as a benchmark though, as I run all of my Autodesk products in VMWare, so I’m really sort of pushing the limits of acceptable. Hopefully someone will chime in that’s been running 2010 on full blown hardware.

  3. Kevin Spear says:

    Dreams might as well start in pipes!

  4. Although I have not ran C3d 2010, I did beta test Autocad 2010, and, from my experience as well as everyone else in our discussion groups, seems the 2010 product is more stable than 2009. Again, that was plain Autocad, but maybe it’s a sign.


  5. I have to say, I have accepted the ribbon as a new improvement, but only in the contextual sense. It is nice that the ribbon will display most of the editing tools for a specific object that you select, but that’s the only positive thing I can say about it. It’s very “clunky” to me and there seems to be so much hesitation when switching tabs. If you compare the number of mouse clicks you use without the ribbon vs. w/the ribbon, most tasks will now require more clicks. And if you’re typing out the steps, for someone else that you’re giving instruction to, you’ll find yourself typing almost paragraph for each command. (OK, that’s exaggerated a little, but just a little.)

    This feels like taking a Ferrari and putting big mud tires on it. You might be able to get more places, but you just took away most of the performance.

    I know we’re all forced into adapting to change for the better, but this one I’m really having trouble with. I guess my advice is to grab hold of the new features (ie. Intersections, Projections, etc…) to mentally get through the struggle of dealing with the other changes that are made for the sake of change.

  6. Josh Petersen says:

    What about pipe networks? This really needs some work, and it needs an easier to use interface.

  7. Juan Soto says:

    Yeah! What about pipe networks? How about null structures? Did anything happen there? Did they add the ability to swap back to a null structure, in the swap parts list? How about curve pipe? anything? Yes I’m from TX

  8. It’s hard to say about the performance increase because I am bite the bullet and upping to a 64bit version – but that said, I enjoyed running it on my M4300 laptop with 4 GB Ram. Let’s just say 64bit 2010 runs faster than the 32bit 2009.

    As for pipe networks – the Storm Sewer analysis is a simpler step that involves exporting to a STM file. Civil 3d can now import from an STM file and it has mapping for structures and pipes. HGL is available…more to come later.

  9. Just had have a day with my reseller yesterday looking at the beta as I was not given access to the beta testing program. Took half a dozen grading crashes I had collect over the last couple of months. All of them managed to crash the 2010 beta 3.

    Looked in to pipes especially inverts at structure walls that we and others have been asking for 3 years still nothing. Looked for expression access in pipe bands so we could calc it ourselves nothing.

    Help me out guys and get over to the AUGI wishlist and vote for the pipe improves listed on their wishlist.

    I still love civil3d given the crashes and all the things it does not have for us that we have managed to work around. Personally intersections look great, staggering of text in the databands so text does not overlay and the ability to drag and edit and databand text are also excellent additional. Ribbon I may use we will see, sucks they reworked all the icons again what a waste of money and time I would prefer added functions.

    Re storm sewer still no good for us in the metric world, could not see if you could add smaller pipes to the default pipe design library and did not look like you could change storm frequency labelling that we also require as we model different return storm events.

    Justin Ralston

  10. David Voith says:

    So no more xml files for pipe networks for import into hyrdraflow?

  11. David

    It has a ribbon button for import/export and on pressing it you are asked for a location to save a .stm file did not check if you could change the file save type to .xml

  12. David Voith says:

    I only ask because using an xml you lose all of the flow data when you import into Civil 3D and try to reimport into hydraflow. But if it uses the .stm file then most likely it retains the flow data when importing or exporting. That would definitely be a good thing.

  13. Shane DeLong says:

    Thanks for the update. It sounds like they have added some great tools. However, like my compatriots above, I’m dying to see a functional in-program hydraulics design tool. Eagle Pointe solved this problem 10 years ago with their Storm Sewer module. I don’t know why Autodesk seems unable to create functional software that a third party developer created years ago.

  14. david,
    check out this lets you keep all your data and do a whole lot more