Commandments of Civil 3D

My tweet apparently struck some nerves and 140 characters is just too little for good discussion. Let’s see what happens here. The initial comment was:

  • Thou shall not label in design files for plotted output.

I’m a major advocate of workflows that don’t use the design DWGs as anything more than containers and producers of C3D objects that are then DREFd across. So, disagree with that one? Have more Commandments to share? Let’s see if we can create a true list of agreed commandments. Thread the conversation and bring it on!


  1. Kevin Clark, P.E. says:

    Are you talking about general labels or things like stationing labels on an alignment. I do agree most labeling should be done in version for plotting. It will speed up your design when it’s not having to regen and resize a bunch of labels.

    My favorite commandment is “Thou shall not put corridors on automatic rebuild.”

  2. Rick Graham says:

    My problem is that we have general notes used to annotate things and these notes need to repeat on several sheets. And maybe even a couple of these sheets are at different scales. I have the philosophy of once and done – in this case it means label it once and you’re done. I’m not sure if you mean to repeat labeling on different sheets. There is a tendency to forget that one sheet has been re-labeled one way and the other was not. And this has bit us before – thus my once and done reasoning.

    I have other issues/ideas, but i’ll save them for when they are more relevant.

    • I’m not sure I follow Rick, can you put a picture up somewhere so we can check it out? I think the once and done is fine, but you’re not doing once and done, you’re doing once and done for each scale, with means you’re relabeling in general. If you have a LOT of labels that are repeated on each sheet, such as notes, etc, why not make them an XREF to another dwg, or perhaps just tie to a Word file via OLE?

      It’s hard to say how I’d handle it without seeing it.

  3. Jason Ellis says:

    I believe that *whenever possible* that all labeling should be done in sheet drawings. Usually when a design drawing becomes corrupt, it was used in some other fashion than what it was originally created for; design. So as a matter of philosophy – one drawing, one purpose (design and labeling are two separate things).

    Nothing is more agitating than being in a sheet drawing, realizing that a label or labels, need updating, and then having to go back to that design base and change it, save it, switch back to sheet, sync it, rinse and repeat. It completely defeats the whole purpose of DREFs & C3D’s intented use.

    There are a few labels that pass through to every sheet that I would not want to keep track of – finished floor would be one. Label FF in the site base, and then XREF it throughout the whole set. Update it one place as well.

    So that commandment is alright by me… now if I can just convince the other 50% of our staff….

  4. Sarah’s Seven Strongly Worded Recommendations for Civil 3D*

    Remember that you were a slave in the land of Land Desktop 2i, and Autodesk bought you out from there with a mighty code and webinars of plenty; therefore
    thou shall not take the names “Autodesk” or “Civil 3D” or “Land Desktop” in vain.

    Thou shall worship the AEC Object and keep it pristine, as the Bible (Mastering AutoCAD Civil 3D 2010, IN STORES NOW!) strongly recommends.

    Thou shalt take a deep breath every now and then, and remember: it’s software, not the techincal incarnation of Beezlebub. Or Beetlejuice.

    Honor thy technical support specialists, consultants, and trainers, so that your days may be long, full of productive work, and free from most unhandled exceptions and fatal errors.

    Thou shall not explode a perfectly good TIN. (*Note: This is a commandment in any class I teach, but that’s a special radical sect of Civil 3D-ism that’s not for everyone.)

    Neither shall you commit adultery with polylines and (gasp!) splines masquerading as contours.

    BUT you are welcome to totally and completely covet your neighbor’s code set styles, to desire and even steal your neighbor’s template, profile or profile view styles, pipe span labels, and quantity takeoff criteria. (For the record, it’s still NOT okay to covet your neighbor’s wife, slaves, ox, or donkey.)


    • George Hatch says:

      I completely agree with Sarah & Chuck!

      As to the issue of annotation. When it comes to Alignment and parcel lables, of course it is easier to labe in the design drawing. However, if using D.S.’s then the “Plan Production” person has the ability to change the location of the labels, and content without access to the design drawings. Even with smaller firms, I have found this method to be helpfull.

    • CAD_DAVE says:

      care to elaborate on why to not use polylines as contours? Sometimes a refinement with a polyline is needed.

  5. Brent Daley says:

    “Though shall limit the number of layouts per drawing.”

    I prefer 4 or less layouts. Lots of layouts with lots of labeling can be an all day ordeal just navigating between the tabs.

    I also agree with the no labels in the design unless it is just to visually see data labels when designing.

    We have one base drawing with non-civil 3d info in it…no objects allowed! This is Xref’d into the engineering design drawings where object info is created and then Dref’ed out. It is also usefull if you have other departments that need the linework, but not object data. Our landscape department is one such instance. This definetly cuts down on errors they WON’T have from xrefing in Civil 3D data.

  6. Rick Graham says:

    How about ‘Thou shalt not label in paperspace’?

  7. Rick Graham says:

    I really didn’t intend to bring this up, but it is somewhat related.

    If you have labels that you need to move around for clarity, you drag the label to where you want it and the arrow shows. No problem so far.

    So now you need to show the view twisted and at a different scale. Let’s say your base plan is 1:100, but your enlarged detail is at 1:20 and is also rotated in order to show the area clearer.

    The leader is now out of proportion. It seems the base point scales with the new scale. I can show pictures if anyone needs to see it – or I can can blog about it if anyone wants to take this further on a separate thread.

    How would you handle this situation with the above labeling? And then there is the discussion on general labels – especially if you xref a drawing with general labels. But that is definitely for another thread.

    • That almost sounds like a defect more than a usage issue. I’m sure it would register as designed, but I’d be curious to see what Support said if you filed it as a request.

  8. What sort of a Commandment list would we have, if there weren’t 15 *crash* er, um..10! Yes! 10 Commandments!

    1) Thou shall not use non-dynamic objects when a dynamic object is available.
    Why else would you be using Civil 3d instead of LDD?

    2) Thou shall use a template…always, always, always.

    3) Thou shall not explode dynamic objects.
    This one has an exception or two, otherwise it would be #1. Gradings, I’m talking about you, sir!

    4) Thou shall use dual monitors, plenty of memory and a proper video card.
    If you don’t have these, you’re not going to be happy with the results.

    5) Thou shall close the layer dialog box when you’re done with it.
    …Or thou shall be stricken with a slow PC.

    6) Thou shall love thy Ribbon.
    Even if you didn’t like it before, you’re going to be much better off learning to love it.

    7) Thou shall save and save often.
    Jesus saves, why don’t you?

    8) Thou shall not save changes upon crashing.
    In direct contradiction to #7, don’t save something that’s already screwed up. If you follow #7, #8 won’t hurt so bad.

    9) Thou shall not use autosave.
    No easy way around #7.

    10) Thou shall not use Vault.
    This one is punishable by an eternity in the fiery perdition that is vault.

    …and there should be an Golden Rule, as keeping with the faith:

    Thou shall SHARE THE LOVE.

    Without the great help of dozens of you faithful bloggers, MBers and user group members, I wouldn’t know 1/10th of what I know.

    Now go out and testify!

  9. Tom Snyder says:

    I like Chuck’s list with a lot of truisms, especial about knowing 1/10th without you guys and gals.

    Brent brings up a fact with layouts and Rick Graham brings up a very good scenario, so how can we limit this to just ten!

    Question though…what about data connects? Sharing the LOVE should be a commandment, don’t you think Chuck?

  10. Laura Ford says:

    In refering to the first comment
    “Thou shall not put surfaces on automatic rebuild.” – EVER

  11. Craig Dieziger says:

    I will agree with James on this.

    When we first rolled out Civil 3D everyone continued to Xref in the Alignments, Profiles and etc. as we had done in the past with that old program (I think it was called LDT). I made this suggestion after finding station and elevation notes on my plotted drawing that shouldn’t be there.

    Since people where finding it so easy to place a note that was dynamic that allowed them to see information for the design but should not be included as part of the plan set, (these are the notes to self that are usually written on paper copies). Why not make the design drawing a WORKSHEET. This allows you work 1 to 1 or at what ever scale your eyes are use to seeing. It allows you to place notes to self with out a concern of what you are effecting. It saves a tree or 2 and saves some time, because you no longer are writing them on a piece of paper and looking for it later, now those notes are in the drawing worksheet. We have found also that if your Label Sets are set up there is very little changes or new notes to be added once you DREF your information in.

    Since we have started this it has also allowed us to parse down our templates to just have the styles needed for the design of a alignment and profile for example. Which makes the drawings a little easier to manage and control.

    Now I one last note, we still XREF our surfaces in most cases because the display doesn’t change often and this allows us to label it prior. Then if we need a display change we DREF it and display it differently.

    This to me is Commandment number 2.

    Commandment 1 is always start from your Standard Template.

  12. Just one- thou shall recieve the proper training and implentation before using Civil 3d in a production environment. After that, use the software how you want.

    • Tom Snyder says:

      In my case…that wasn’t an option. Learn as you go was a harsh pill to swallow. I’m sure that I’m not the first or will be the last, but if you have the privilege, then by all means take it! You’ll use fewer ALEVE. LOL

  13. Bryan Thomasy says:

    Just to heap on coal.
    LDT, yes we were slaves, and I cannot tell you how many times double labeling got us into hot water. Civil 3D 2007 helped some, but now that I can label through the Xref, I am in heaven. It was such a pain to Xref in a drawing with labels, only to have their placement be incorrect and overwriting something in my sheet, so now I have to open another drawing to fix the issue. Never again. There are only a handful of situations you would want to label within a design drawing, the rest should be in sheet. OH, and just for you geeks out there, I have a drawing with 100+ layouts in it….!!!!! I ran across it and am saving it for posterity. By the way, anyone know the limit of layouts you can have per drawing? I asked Autodesk and have yet to get an answer. OK, almost off my soap box. I was a huge proprietor of multiple layout usage, but as of late, I cannot protect CAD from the incompetent. I have had to mandate a ‘One layout per drawing’ policy. I was almost lynched once, and have had several death threats…. LOL. But in all, it has made us more productive in the ability to share work. That’s my 2 cents..

  14. J. Stevens says:

    The labeling through an xref would be nice, but has anyone had issues with the fact that if you detach the xref you lose the labels?

  15. David Blanchard says:

    Ok, what happened to my post?