“Dumbnifying” Civil 3D


I really can’t take any credit for this one. As a matter-of-fact, I owe this one to the @BeingCivil gang. Read the whole story after the jump

Here is the scenario: You have to send your Civil 3D drawings out to a client. The problem is that this client either is not using Civil 3D or worse yet, not using an AutoCAD product. You have this drawing laden with Civil 3D-rich objects; alignments, surfaces, grading, etc. How do you take care of this? Oh, one more thing. They refuse to even think about Object enablers. This is a true story where I work and something we are faced with regularly.

So here is the way to handle that drawing:

Screen shot 2009-08-31 at 7.41.04 PM











From the File Menu, Select Export.

  • Select AutoCAD DWG
  • Select Export to {whatever your client requirements are, but in general R2000 offers the best bang for the buck}
  • At the Export drawing name dialog, select a name and a location for your converted file. Out of the box, Civil 3D has an ‘ACAD-‘ prefix, so whatever name you call it will have ACAD-in front of the name.I would recommend you keeping this prefix. There is nothing worse than you saving the file name exactly as before and having that sinking feeling that all your hard design work is now gone! Click the OK button to dismiss the dialog.

There are some caveats along with this process:

  • If you have any xref and/or data references files attached to the drawing, you must go into that drawing and export it out. Then you have to re-associate the new xref name(s). The data ref files will be a bit more tricky to convert as you have to redo the entire data reference file process.

But in the end, you have an AutoCAD R2000 drawing that contains NO Civil 3D or NO AEC objects. No alignments, surfaces, grading objects – all gone. A process I affectionately call ‘dumbnifying’.


If you have any other methods that might simplify this process even more, please share!


  1. Kevin Clark, P.E. says:

    I have found this to be limited however. If you have a complex project with shortcuts and xrefs I have found that the machine just can’t handle all the conversion.

  2. eTransmit!!

    One of the neat things is it lets you maintain (or not) visual fidelity of annotative objects.
    The other thing is that you can bind you xrefs to keep it all in one file. OR if you don’t, then it ‘exports’ all of them as the same format and then keeps the paths if you so choose.

    • Rick Graham says:

      Have you tried e-Transmit with a Civil3D-rich drawing? It has never worked for me in the past. I’d still get gripe comments that something could not be found to find that it was a C3D object. If you have any hints, please elaborate.

  3. Rick Graham says:

    I have found that you have to handle each xref just like a separate drawing and convert it. As I mentioned, the data refs are much more trickier. Thanks for your comment

    • Alexis Rodriguez says:

      In AEC Editor Tab of Options dialog box there’s a section called Export to AutoCAD (Top Right). There you can control if you want your Xrefs inserted as Block References and method. Also you can set the prefix and suffix for the file name to export. I’ve try it with 2008, 2009 and it works fine. I have not tested it with shortcuts though.

  4. Clem Kuns says:

    Is it not sad that C3D does not have 1 quick simple easy button to export “dumb” files without jumping through fiery hoops?!

  5. Jon Ridinger says:

    Our template is set so the attached XREFs are bound to the drawing automatically – as blocks. This works well if that meets the needs of the recipient.

    The settings for this are found in OPTIONS>AEC Editor>Export to AutoCAD.

  6. Rick Graham says:

    Will have to try to see if if does infact dumbnify the xrefs too. Thanks all for your posts. Keep going!

  7. Earl Kubaskie says:

    At worst, an object that does not export can be exploded. It’s a bit funny here that explode MAKES a block 😉 but I kind of like that in that all the components of the object stay locked together.

    • Rick Graham says:

      I agree, but the challenge that we face is that we have to go through a checklist of items to make sure that our client can read the drawing. Sometimes I’d like to give them a PDF and say, scan it! 🙂 I’ve even thought of DWF, but again, the resistance to new technologies. Thanks for your comment

  8. Jeff Paulsen says:

    Don’t forget the Batch Converter on the File menu if you want to dumb down multiple drawings. It gives you options for exploding AEC objects and binding xrefs. I could not find it on the Ribbon but the command name is AeccCivilBatchConverter.

    I rarely dumb down my drawings for consultants unless I am trying to prevent them from getting our C3D data. We keep PROXYGRAPHICS set to 1 so anyone using an Autodesk product can view and plot the objects. I realize it makes the drawings larger but it makes life a lot easier when sharing drawings. Plus we have mangers using TrueView so we need it on so they can see the objects.

  9. Steve Boon says:

    One other issue to keep in mind is that the export process won’t work if there are locked objects in the drawing. The program needs to be able to rebuild and update everything before it exports.