Thursday, December 22, 2011

River Analysis Labs Project Extended

According to the Labs blog, the River Analysis Extension project has been extended to 12/31/2012.  Should we assume that to mean it won't be included in the next release of Civil 3D, either baked in or as a Subscription add-on?  Maybe so, but at least we'll get another year to mess around with it and provide feedback.
In addition to the new end date, a few other items were addressed as well:
  • The issue where 64-bit Civil 3D 2012/Map 3D 2012 users receive a “RAS error message: Error starting process: Steady File not found.” error has been resolved.
  • The issue where River Analysis icons are not placed on the desktop on non-US English language versions was fixed by an installer correction
Be advised that if you want to apply the new end date, you must uninstall the current version and install the new one.

Have you spent any time with this extension?  If so, share your thoughts.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A Hidden Treasure Trove - Civil 3D Support Page

Thanks to @Indydrafter I was shown the way to a treasure trove of add-ons and extensions for Civil 3D.  Where is this magical place, you ask?  Right on the Autodesk support page for Civil 3D.

Now I may be exposing myself to a total "Duh!" moment, but I spend just about every day immersed in Civil 3D and today was the first time I went to this place for anything.  So, if it happened to me, chances are it has happened to someone else...hence this Blog post.

What I was looking for was the Borehole Importer extension, which I found.  But what really got my attention were the features built within the Transportation Extension, many of which were useful on all types of projects, not just transportation.

Below is a list of what's there for Civil 3D 2012.  Maybe there is something in here that you will find useful?

Also, @C3DPlus posted this review of the Transportation Extension back when this extension was released for 2011.  It contains tons of detailed info about this extension.
  • AutoCAD Civil 3D 2012 DACH Extension
  • AutoCAD Plant 3D 2012 Object Enablers
  • CAiCE Translator Extension for AutoCAD Civil 3D 2012
  • AutoCAD Civil 3D 2012 Spanish Import Export Tools
  • Autodesk Subassembly Composer Support Pack for AutoCAD Civil 3D 2011 & 2012
  • AutoCAD Civil 3D 2012 Cartogramma Extension
  • AutoCAD Civil 3D 2012 Borehole 64bit
  • AutoCAD Civil 3D 2012 PISTE Extension
  • Open Light 2012 Object Enabler (32-bit and 64-bit)
  • AutoCAD Civil 3D 2012 Transportation Extension
    • Check alignment geometry – enables users to check alignment geometry for tangency conditions, and automatically fix inconsistencies.'
    • Show / Hide Labels – enables users to show and hide all Civil 3D labels.
    • Surface high / Low points – enables users to automatically generate Civil 3D points at surface high/low points.
    • Export Civil Data (to survey formats – RD5 and TP5) – enables users to export Civil 3D alignments, profiles, and corridors to a TDS .rd5 roadway file and/or .tp5 template file.
    • Import Raw Data (imports Star*Net data) – enables users to import a Star*Net .dat file.
    • Create surface from photogrammetric data – provides a simple import functionality for surface creation from layer based AutoCAD 3D linework and points (lines, arcs, polylines, and point entities residing on user selected layers). Additionally, the utility allows users to append AutoCAD entities to an existing surface.
    • 11 Reports – globally beneficial
  • AutoCAD Structural Detailing 2012 Object Enablers (32-bit and 64-bit)

Thursday, December 15, 2011

What I Learned About Autodesk Infrastructure Modeler Today

I wanted to do a quick demo of AIM today so I installed the demo, fired it up, and started importing data.  Here are some things I discovered.

  • You can import a surface into Civil 3D using Google Earth, then export that as XML and import it into AIM.  Great way to make a quick surface if you don't have GIS topo data.
  • F5, F5, F5! (thanks to @C3Dish for enlightening me about this).  F5 is AIM's version of REGEN.  Until I learned about F5, I was importing data and wondering where in the heck it was.
  • Make sure you give your buildings a roof slope that is greater than zero.  Zero roof slope =  no roof.
  • It's not as fast as you may have been led to believe.  Once the data is in there it screams along nicely, but processing data (in my case 2 shape files, a LandXML file, and an image file) can take a long time.  It may have been user error because I was importing a county's worth of data but my terrain was only a square mile or so.  Maybe there's a filter you can apply up front so that it doesn't try to import and process everything.
  • Make sure to use the Drape option, or you're data will be down at sea level
  • AIM is really cool.  The image below is of my office building and surrounding area.  Knowing what I know now, I could probably generate this model in about 15 minutes.  It would have an aerial image draped on the terrain too, but I didn't have a good-quality one handy.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Work Begins On the Next Essentials Book

In case anyone was wondering, the plan is to develop and release an update of Civil 3D Essentials that will correspond with the next release of Civil 3D.  That project is just getting ramped up and I'm excited about making improvements in the next round.  I've got a marked up copy of Civil 3D 2012 Essentials just waiting to be put to use.  I'll keep you all posted as things move along.  Of course, no promises and nothing is certain, but I'm keeping my fingers crossed that there will be a Civil 3D ???? Essentials sometime next year!

Project Silverstar - Profile Optimization

A new Civil 3D Labs project became available recently with the enchanting name of Project Silverstar.  The idea behind this tool is to provide profile optimization via cloud computing.  Reminds me of the concept of SiteOps where you let the cloud do the computational heavy lifting for a complex, multi-iteration solution.

I decided to download it and give it a try and then give you all an account of my experience so you can decide for yourself whether you want to spend the 15 minutes required to test it out on your own computer.  Whatever you think of it, I think this project is significant because its Autodesk's first stab at having Civil 3D go to the cloud to perform an operation.  What's next?  Cloud-based corridor optimization? Parcel layout solutions?  Grading solutions?  Could be exciting!

The Project Silverstar Labs Page gives you a nice overview of the project as well as a link to a rather extensive 31-page Users Manual and some sample drawings.  I just perused it, but the manual seems to have lots of good background theory information that explains the "why" and the "how" of  what's going on.

The download and installation process took less than a minute.  After that, I opened Civil 3D 2012 and Profile Optimization was visible within the Toolbox tab.

To get started I drew an alignment and sampled an existing ground profile.  Then I executed the tool which launched a login dialog where I entered my usual Autodesk credentials that I use for signing into the Subscription center, AU, etc.  What followed was a series of dialog boxes, the first being a General dialog for selecting the alignment, etc.
Next was a Borrow/Waste dialog which I'll research some other day...as for now, I'm not real sure what this is supposed to do.

After that I was given the ability to set some limits for solution.

The final dialog box appears to deal with the accuracy of the solution, another thing I'll read up on a bit more another day.
After about 30 minutes, I received the official e-mail from Autodesk.


I was surprised that it took that long but the results were pretty impressive.  The e-mail came with four attachments: A PDF report (excerpt shown below), a LandXML file and ASCII file of the profile, and a Log file.

I imported the LandXML file into Civil 3D and my cloud-optimized profile appeared!
Try it out for yourself and share some comments about what you find.  And of course, share your thoughts with Autodesk Labs as well.  Labs needs feedback to remain a success.

Happy Profile Optimizing!