The Levels of Settings

No we are not talking about the European way to describe elevations (I just couldn’t resist) and we are not talking about the Bentley way to describe layers. We are talking about the idea that with Civil3D, getting the settings to work is based upon a hierarchical level. Let’s illustrate this and see if we can better understand Civil3D settings and their relations with each other.

There are three levels of settings – Drawing, Feature, and Command.


To illustrate how these work let’s look at a another type of hierarchy (kind of) we may be more familiar with – the family.

Let’s say that you have three kids, one 15 year old and twins who are 8.

You are the parent and so you set the rules for the kids. However, you leave the house and you put your 15 year old in charge. Of course, you have set the rules but your 15 year old is a teenager after all and knows better. The twins are their own individuals even at 8 and so they know the rules but will still do their own thing every now and again. Really, we are slowly letting our kids have the independence they need to become adults.

So think of the drawing settings as being you, the parent. You set all the rules for the house – you are the adult. The drawing settings set all the general ‘rules’ or settings of the ‘house’ or drawing. Nevertheless, you have ‘children’ of the drawing settings.

First, the feature settings. Feature settings are very independent in the sense of having special settings just for that Civil3D object, or feature. The feature settings are ‘put in charge’ or control specific settings for the command settings – your twin 8 year olds.

Your command setting parameters are not very independent (although a few have specific settings JUST for that command) from the feature settings. Nevertheless, they can have their own settings for their parameters as well and ultimately these are the values you will see when you run that command.


Some parents are more controlling than others. For example, some parents use devices to keep track of their kids whereabouts and know whether or not they are following the house rules. Think of this as the Overrides in the Settings. You can quickly tell when one of your ‘child’ feature or command settings is ‘overriding’ or not following the rules that you see in the current settings dialog.

The cool thing is in Civil3D, not only can the parent see what the child is doing but the child can see if he is breaking the rules (after most kids know if they are breaking the rules or not)! This is because for overrides, there are two colums: Override and child override

The Override columns tells you (the child) if you are going against the parent’s settings.

The Child Override column tells you (the parent) if you have any ‘disobedient kids’.


You also have those parents who not only keep track of their kids but are more proactive in making sure they follow the rules by putting some kind of restrictions on them. Teenagers often consider this ‘house arrest’ 🙂

In Civil3D, you can lock settings so that your children (settings in the lower levels of hierarchy) cannot override your ‘rules’.

I hope that this illustration better helps you track down where settings are located and how to manage your settings.

And no, I don’t have any kids…


  1. John Evans says:

    House Arrest, hahaaha! Good post.
    Interesting, Civil 3D is alot like a teenager’s family. The Teenager is the software, and the parents are the technicians. The teenager’s productivity is only as fluid as the parent’s proactive and consistant nature.
    If you blindly hope the kis will behave, we will find you beating your head against the keyboard screaming “not again”.

  2. Tony Pritchett says:

    Good post. From what you said, people with ideas like yours should be the ones having kids instead of so many that don’t, or won’t set the rules (and follow through). And yes, I do have kids.