Subassembly Composer Series: Part 4: Testing your Subassembly

So you understand the basics of building a flowchart and using sequences (Part 1) and you’ve got a handle on how to make and use variables (Part 2) and you see the power of the conditionals and decisions (Part 3). You’ve created a simple subassembly file and you are wondering… “Now what?” Hopefully this post will tie up a few loose ends on testing and previewing your subassembly. (That isn’t to say that this is the last part in the series. There is a Part 5 that is ready to hit the street Thursday morning!)

Previewing Your Subassembly in Subassembly Composer

One of the best ways to preview your subassembly as you build it is right inside of the Subassembly Composer. Your preview will be automatically generated in the Preview pane which without doing anything is great for subassemblies with no conditionals but if you have any conditionals in your subassembly you are going to want to click on the “Target Parameters” tab. You will probably have defined a target surface here and the preview value is probably still at the default of 0 unless you changed it. The secret to making the most of the preview pane with conditionals is changing this preview value. Go ahead and try switching through a couple of different values and you will quickly see how you can analyze a cut or fill situation or whatever depth you want. (On my wish list to Autodesk is that someday the final version of this program allows for a sloped target surface but right now we have to be happy with the horizontal plane.)

As an example here is a subassembly I am working on with a TargetSurface preview value of 3:


And here is the same subassembly with a TargetSurface preview value of –3:


And here with a preview value of 0.1:



Previewing Your Subassembly in Civil 3D

The other way to preview your subassembly is to jump right into Civil 3D and try it! In order to do this you are going to want to make sure your subassembly has a name defined on the “Packet Settings” tab in the Subassembly Composer. Then save the file and open Civil 3D.

imageOn the Insert ribbon click on the word “Import” to extend the ribbon to show some of the less commonly used commands. Then click the one that says “Import Subassemblies”.

Browse to the location where you saved your subassembly under where it says “Source File”. I’ve made my own tool palette with all of the subassemblies that I have been creating. You may chose to do the same. Once it is brought in to your Tool Palette you can use it just like you do any other subassembly pieces. Go ahead and try your subassemblies on your latest projects and don’t forget that if it doesn’t work like you expect it to, you can always ask for help here at or over at the Autodesk Discussion Group for Subassembly Composer.

I can’t wait to see what subassemblies people come up with! Stay tuned for Part 5, it will be worth the suspense!

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