Compatibility 101 – part 2

Part 2 of 2.  Compatibility between Civil 3D and other Autodesk software is an oft-asked topic.  “We have Civil 3D users and AutoCAD users in the same office…how can we cope?”.  “I sent my Civil 3D file to an architect and they sent it back saying they can’t see anything.”.  Read on for some suggestions.

When contemplating Civil 3D and how compatible (or not) it is with other versions, you are confronted with several possible scenarios.  Any particular scenario may have multiple options, but generally, each has a best practise.

  • You have some old projects done with Land Desktop 2009.  All new projects are completed using Civil 3D 2011.  A user opened a Land Desktop drawing and saved it with Civil 3D 2011, remembering to select 2007 as the dwg version.  You open that file in Land Desktop and now you can’t run any LDT commands.
    This is an unfortunate circumstance; one that can’t easily be resolved.  My best advice is “DO NOT OPEN LDT FILES USING CIVI L3D AND SAVE THEM”.  If you have already done so, you can Export to AutoCAD.  Unfortunately, this will explode your LDT contours and  points.  Luckily, LDT is database driven and you should easily be able to re-insert them.  Any edits you’ve made to point labels will be lost however.
  • Your office is entirely composed of Civil 3D 2011 users and you all swap files every day.  You never send or receive files from outside the office.
    No compatibility problem here.
  • Your office still does not send or receive files; some users are using Civil 3D 2011 and some are using vanilla AutoCAD 2011.  You open a Civil 3D file in AutoCAD and you can’t see the alignments and you may get a “proxy” warning.
    The best answer here is to install the Civil Object Enabler on all of the AutoCAD computers.  You see, plain old AutoCAD does not speak the “Civil” language and doesn’t know how to display points, alignments, etc.  The Object Enabler is like a Civil >AutoCAD dictionary that tells AutoCAD how to display these objects.  You can actually perform some very basic edits to some objects with this enabler.
    In fact, it doesn’t matter if you’re using 2011, 2010, 2009 etc, as long as you’re all on the same platform (2011, 2010, etc), there is an object enabler that will do the job.
  • Your office still does not send of receive files; some users are using Civil 3D 2011 and others are using AutoCAD 2010 or any other version prior to 2011.  The 2010 users cannot see any of the Civil 3d objects.
    The object enabler will not work in this circumstance because there is no plug-in that enables Civil 3D objects in previous versions.  Open the file using Civil 3D 2011, type PROXYGRAPHICS at the command line and set it to 1 (on) then save the file.  Your objects should be visible to the 2010 users.  PROXYGRAPHHICS sounds like a great idea to use all the time, but it can increase the file size, in some cases very much so.  I like to set PROXYGRAPHICS to 0 unless I have a need to do otherwise.
  • You’ve sent a Civil 3D 2011 file to an architect who is using AutoCAD 2004.  You remembered to SAVEAS and selected 2004 as the version.  The architect calls you and states he can’t see any of your Civil 3D objects.
    SAVEAS only saves the DWG backwards.  The Civil 3D objects remain in 2011 format within the 2004 DWG.  Setting PROXYGRAPHICS to 1 before saving the file back to 2004 should allow them to see your objects, but is this the best method  Probably not.  It’s very likely the architect has no use for your Civil objects except to see them.  Using the Export to AutoCAD tool set to save to 2004 explodes the Civil objects to their AutoCAD primitive objects.  There will be no call from the architect complaining that they can’t open the file or see your objects.
    I would use this solution almost every time I need to send a drawing to an outside source who will not be using the Civil objects.  When would I not use this tool?  If the architect is going to make changes and then send the file back to me for me to make further edits.  If I Export to AutoCAD, I will lose all of my Civil objects.  Obviously, I will need those upon the return of the file.  In that case PROXYGRAPHICS set to 1 is the right option.
  • I’m using Civil 3D 2011 and I receive a file from the architect.  I can see the doors and windows and such, but I’d like to be able to offset lines etc.  I can’t because they are “doors” and “windows” and not lines.
    AutoCAD itself (and any vertical) has a command that few seem to be aware of.  AECTOACAD will create a new DWG with those architectural objects exploded into AutoCAD primitives.  No need for you to call the architect and ask for them to Export to AutoCAD.   In fact, Civil 3D’s Export to AutoCAD is essentially the same as AutoCAD’s AECTOACAD.  I’m unsure at this time if there is a difference.

Well, that’s it for my ramblings.  I hope you and your company can make some use of this information to save you some confusion and possible frustration.


  1. Phil Dewar says:

    Thanks for this – we provide lots of site data to architects, many of whom are using other (non-Autodesk) software. We have been using the aecobjexplode command, but cogo points don’t seem to listen to that command. Exporttoautocad works much better. Great.

  2. Tom Berning says:

    If you are running Civil 3D 2010 and have some users using AutoCAD 2010 or AutoCAD Map 2010 64bit versions then you can’t use the object enabler because they never released a 64bit version of that object enabler.

  3. Shane Matt says:

    We just went through all of this in our office. I am glad to see it summarized all in one location. Thanks for the article.

  4. Tim Wall says:

    Thanks for the article! Lots of great info!

  5. Gerrit Aldlerleisten says:

    Great summary. Thanks Matt!

  6. Mark Jung says:

    Thanks for the information! Time to make sure everyone in the office sees this.

  7. Mark Spatz says:

    Also, I just figured out if you use the “Export to AutoCAD” commands and have issues with Point symbols disappearing, set the “Scale Uniformly” property within the referenced block in the style to “No” and it resolves the issue.

  8. […] veer its ugly head every now-and-then and stumped my company for years.  There is a good post Compatibility 101 – part 2 that was recently published and the message of setting PROXYGRAPHICS to 1 (ON) was well received to […]