AutoCAD Civil 3D General Discussion

Posts: 11
Registered: ‎12-21-2011
Message 1 of 40 (1,135 Views)

Civil3D not for the occasional user....

1135 Views, 39 Replies
02-16-2012 08:43 AM

We are a consulting engineering firm that uses AutoCAD and Civil3D.  However, it is necessary for us to use Civil3D only about 5% of the time in our drafting and design work.  This fact has made it an absolute nightmare implementing Civil3D into our work.  Civil3D is an endless labyrinth of windows, drop down menus, pull down menus, dialogue boxes.  And to add to the confusion, they give you half a dozen ways to access anything.  There are countless settings for everything.  And likewise countless locations for these settings.  Autodesk has taken the manipulation of data and settings to an absurd level.  At best, our experience using Civil3D has been excruciating.  In summary, Civil3D was written for users who use all of it's features on a daily basis.  Since we do not use it's features on a daily basis, we really struggle.   Anybody else having a similar experience?

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Message 2 of 40 (1,123 Views)

Re: Civil3D not for the occasional user....

02-16-2012 09:09 AM in reply to: paulhoman

you are right, but the answer is one word ...TEMPLATE.



Thank you

Joseph D. Bouza, P.E. (one of 'THOSE' People) Civil 3D 2012 & 2013
HP Z210 Workstation
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Note: Its all Resistentialism, so keep calm and carry on

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Posts: 141
Registered: ‎08-06-2010
Message 3 of 40 (1,118 Views)

Re: Civil3D not for the occasional user....

02-16-2012 09:14 AM in reply to: Joe-Bouza

As a surveyor using it-I agree.  It has never been great for surveyors anyway.  But I have to agree with Joe.  I complained enought that we brought in an expert for 2 days-not cheap.  He set-up my styles for me and created a template and went over all of my questions about the things I use-which isn't much.  Has made a big difference for me. 



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Posts: 87
Registered: ‎01-12-2010
Message 4 of 40 (1,117 Views)

Re: Civil3D not for the occasional user....

02-16-2012 09:18 AM in reply to: paulhoman

You are going through this like everyone else has but you are not seeing the forest for the trees.  The more you use anything the better you get.  Practice makes perfect.  You must either use it or not.  Don't pick and choose.  You need to figure out ways to incorporate the tools into your work flow. All of the standard AutoCAD tools are built into Civil 3D.  It is, after all, a "vertical".


You will find once you are comfortable with the tools that you will have users tell you "I will never do it the 'old' way again."  You must remember it is completely different software with a completely different workflow and conceptual base.  You are not drafting with Civil 3D, you are modeling.  Big difference.


We forget that AutoCAD itself has a million different ways to get to every command but you are comfortable enough with it to know your own way and you don't think about it anymore.  For example to draw a line: ribbon, type LINE, type L, click the icon, use the drop down....but you aren't complaining about that. 


When you get frustrated with the software and say "it doesn't work"...remember, no offense, but it does work just fine for a good many of us.  It takes time.  There is a learning curve, but it does work.  Yes there are glitches, but find me software that doesn't have any with the more advanced tools.


The key to a good functioning work environment is to have solid templates set up.  This eliminates the need for users to go into the "endless labrynth" to set up styles.  But you will find with time and practice that all those windows are almost exactly the same each time and make sense.


You must embrace the change and make it work for your company just like at one point you did for AutoCAD.  You have a huge resource in these forums, as well as the Civil 3D help and your reseller.  You can make the software work in time.


Personal experience, I can literally do things in minutes that used to take hours or days.  But it took time.  I did not learn to model overnight.  To a point, you are correct that it is not for the occasional user.  But why should it be?  It is multi-thousand dollar software for professionals who need these tools everyday.

Posts: 11
Registered: ‎12-21-2011
Message 5 of 40 (1,101 Views)

Re: Civil3D not for the occasional user....

02-16-2012 09:35 AM in reply to: TonyLeggieri3279

I appreciate your input.  I wrote my first post out of frustration but i should have given more information.  I have been using AutoCAD since 1985 and Land Desktop since about 1998 so i understand everything you're saying.  Contrary to what you may think i am not afraid to learn new things.  We did have some training in Civil3D which did help.  And i also got help creating the styles i use the most.  And i have experienced the savings in time with a lot of tasks in Civil3D.  Again, i guess i was just speaking out of frustration of the immense learning curve.  We are committed to using Civil3D and i know in the long term it will be immensely better for us. 

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Posts: 87
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Message 6 of 40 (1,083 Views)

Re: Civil3D not for the occasional user....

02-16-2012 10:02 AM in reply to: paulhoman

I hope you did not take offense at anything I said because it was not a personal attack. My rant was out of frustration as well as I deal with users getting annoyed everyday.  I wish Autodesk marketed Civil 3D a little differently and not as a progression from LDD. It is brand new software that functions completely different.  The concepts however are the same and a lot of the routines are infinitely better than it was in LDD (pipe networks and grading objects for instance).


 I do agree with your Post title that it is not for the occasional user.  It can't be. Whenever this topic comes up in our office, my arguement to management is always that someone will do a task in Civil 3D for the first time and then not do it again for 8 months simply because they don't need to.  A road corridor will get designed and then not need to be tweaked or modified for months because of the review process.  Than a year later, the user starts a new job.  That doesn't exactly breed efficiency.


All I know is that, at least for me, Civil 3D works as demonstrated.  But I have been fiddling around with Civil 3D since the beta in 2004.  Thank goodness it has improved over that piece of crap!


Our company went through training and had IMAGINiT (then Avatech) setup our styles for us.  They have routines that can do it quickly for them, which always makes me wonder then why it costs so much but still well worth it.


The other thing with Civil 3D, besides templates is KEEP IT SIMPLE!  Don't overload the model with too much data or you go nuts.  It is designed to be built off your surface, so you may spend more time there but it will save you time in other places.  You will find the balance eventually.  Try and focus on the positive and the time savings and the pain of the learning curve will eventually go away.  And we all know unfortunately that the answer of "it just takes time" will never fly with management who expect immediate results.


Again, use this forum for help.  Use other resources.  There are plenty out there.  Get your users to try and only use 1 method of getting around until they are comfortable (all settings changed from the Toolspace, for example.)  Each user will develop their own style eventually.


And of course, we all feel your pain when the time comes that you have mastered it and love it and Autodesk completely changes it again.


The only constant is change.  It is inevitable.

Posts: 11
Registered: ‎12-21-2011
Message 7 of 40 (1,077 Views)

Re: Civil3D not for the occasional user....

02-16-2012 10:08 AM in reply to: TonyLeggieri3279

I did not take offense at anything you said.  And i hope you didn't misunderstand the tone of my response.  I was not trying to be saracastic or portray bitterness.  (Tone can often be misunderstood in here.)  I appreciate you taking the time to write and i will take your advice.  Thanks.

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Registered: ‎09-04-2006
Message 8 of 40 (1,069 Views)

Re: Civil3D not for the occasional user....

02-16-2012 10:20 AM in reply to: TonyLeggieri3279

In my current position with a small civil engineering consultant firm I've run into strong resistance to embracing new technology. Prior to my coming onboard they were using Land Desktop for their design needs. As they never invested time and resources into learning how to use it they never realized or utilized it's capabilities. Instead they used it to do some basic tasks such as generating EG countours, alignments and profiles and from there they did everything manually, including tweaking the profile and contour graphics without modifying the underlaying databases. As a consequence the models and databases no longer represented the design and thus all the design tools that depend on the models and databases were useless.


Civil design software is model driven. What that means is rather than drawing countours and calculating spot elevations you build models of the terrain and infrastructure and those models drive the graphics and annotation. This model based approach to design can be very efficient since changes to the models are dynamically propogated to the documentation, thus reducing or eliminating hours of tedious manual drafting as well as errors in the documents.


While this model driven paradigm is very powerful it also requires special skills on the part of the design team to use the software to interact with and manipulate the models. Formerly simple tasks such as changing a spot elevation or a slope label now require editing the underlying models. This is a big problem for companies that are unwilling or unable to invest in the technology skills needed to use the software. I liken it to a construction comany that buys GPS guided machinery with automated grading controls but they don't invest in hiring or training operators to use it's capabilities. If they don't know how to use the equipment how can they benefit from it's capabilities? They might find that they can't run it the way they are accustomed to and the owners might conclude that the equipment was a waste of money because they aren't any more efficient than with the old equipment. The fault is not the equipment but their not utilizing it's capabilties.


I am not trying to imply that all companies are guilty of improper implementations. Commiting to the model driven paradigm presents many problems. There is a large investment of time in setting up and building the initial models and the users are constrained by limitations and deficiencies in the functionality of the software for example.


Perhaps an ideal solution would be some sort of hybrid paradigm where graphics can both drive and respond to the models.

Neil Wilson (a.k.a. neilw)
Infrastructure Suite/C3D 2013, LDT 2004, Power Civil v8i SS1
WIN 7 64 PRO
HP Pavillion h8xt, i7 2600, 12 GB
RADEON 6450, 1 GB
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Registered: ‎11-18-2006
Message 9 of 40 (962 Views)

Re: Civil3D not for the occasional user....

02-19-2012 03:21 PM in reply to: paulhoman

As I've said often before, I agree...  C3D's UI is unnecessarily complicated, and very confusing.  My personal opinion is that anyone who has a strong understanding of Civil Engineering and/or Surveying should be able to use this software with a minimal amount of training.  If that's not true, then that's a problem with the UI design of the software.


I understand that SOME training is necessary...  Getting used to model-based design is a paradigm shift for many users, and there's a cost involved in that.  But if you understand Civil Engineering, and can get used to the idea of model-based design, it should be EASY to adopt the software.  But given all that, there are many instances where C3D's UI is very non-intuitive, and even antagonistic for the user.  Those things really need to be corrected.  (And yes, I'm about to start on my Project Rant again, so I'll stop before I get into that...)


All things considered, though, I tend to be roughly 5x as productive now with C3D (as a Land Surveyor, also using my custom software that I've since offered for sale as the Sincpac-C3D add-on), compared to our previous heavily-customized Land Desktop system.  That's based on long-term staffing requirements, of office staff vs. field staff over a period of years.  It is NOT some estimate based on some biased "shoot-out", or anything like that.  Net result, based on the number of people we need to hire over the long term, we find C3D to be a huge improvement over LDD.  It still leaves a lot to be desired, but as with most things, C3D is a "work in progress"...  It's not mature yet, but it's still really powerful.

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Registered: ‎05-09-2000
Message 10 of 40 (945 Views)

Re: Civil3D not for the occasional user....

02-19-2012 06:12 PM in reply to: paulhoman

I'm still not a fan of the ribbon but perhaps the microsoft world drove that shift...  i fear the day they remove the ability to load the menu...  +1 on the productivity but the learning curve is too steep and the options are overkill.  interesting recently, we worked on a design build proposal and i was told to keep my effort simple but the software is geared towards the model...  hard to build a 35% model.  i just said "let me design the whole thing - making the sheet set will only take a few days after that as we have our styles in place...  big difference from the land desktop days...

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