Good point, we are 200-250 employees so I would say "mid-size" and our projects are pretty large but nothing like I read from folks out west. We still talk about project size in acres and not square miles. If 100-300 acres is small than our projects are small. Now, I'm not going to try to sell you that all our 110+ projects are 100-300 acres but I would say on average they are 25-50 acres due to the economy at this point.
Did you try surface pasting? Making a bunch of small surfaces and past them together through the "Edits" definition under the surface and set that larger surface to "_No Display". Just a thought and you probably have already tried that already...
...Large projects are what makes me reconsider the c3d monster and try to run in a simpler fasion. K.I.S.S.
I was working on a 750 unit portion of a 2,500 unit 2000 a.c. development when It broke me...I just do not see how FULLY employing c3d into such a monster is productive untill more advancements are made. If you are working on a small commercial site what is the point of modeling? I love using c3d, and blazing the trail is nessecary...but what is the best way to use it today. mpatz seems experienced...look forward to hear his 2 cents again.
Man some of you guys work on HUGE sites; 2,000 acres...that's nutz. For such a large project all I can say is break-it-up, brake-it-up and brake-it-up. If your project is in LDT already DO NOT SWITCH IT OVER. Only start new in Civil 3D. Also, to tackle a 2,000 acre site you should also have 100 projects at your firm in C3D and been using it for a 1-year+ to make sure your template is together and you have "run the gambit" if experience needed to run that monster. For such a large project the way you set it up and how you separate files will be critical. Read the Autodesk whitepaper on setup and follow it to a "T". No labeling in the base files and keep profiles in their own base.
Our largest project isn't near that size and folks require the 3GB switch to be able to view the plan sheets that display the overall site so I can see how anything larger just won't work without the prefect setup. I would think your surfaces are the big issue but maybe you can build smaller surfaces, past them together to build a large surface and extract the contours as Plines (at least for EG). Once you have Plines that represent the EG set the big surface to "_No Display" and just use it for data purposes. Just a though...
Also, are you using Vault? I would recommend for such a company that does large projects. A lot of folks have troubles with pulling the trigger and moving to Vault and we did too, but from the other side it is VITAL to our C3D success. If you are having issues and don't use Vault you may want to talk to someone about that and re-consider. On that end I'm a big advocate that check'out should be to your C:\ drive as Autodesk intended. "...wait, did I say big advocate; I meant HUGE advocate"
Another point: Have you reached out to your regional Autodesk rep. on this one? I know we have a guy that is interested in our success and maybe you can find the same. The question is how do you find that person. Maybe I can ask my guy if I knew were you were located. In our situation he found us...
My 2 cents on modeling: All sites should be modeled; we do. It is faster (once you are experienced) it reduces the chance of errors through connected models between different groups at your company, provides a better designed \ final product, and grading with Featurelines \ Corridors doesn't allow you to cheat those contours. Besides, 1' contours don't cut it if you want to set Network Structures and spot from your surface. For anyone that grades by-hand (and if you need to convince someone at your company) just ask them to pull their LDT or C3D surface at 0.2' contours. The mess they will get needs to be clean to really leverage the model.
My rant: "Crap in = crap out", in my experience a lot of folks in Civil Engineering have trouble with that concept. They want to put "crap in" by CAD techs (not designers) but want gold out. Why is that? Well because we are not use to modeling yet like the Mechanical and Industrial industries are, but we will be soon (at least the firms remaining). Often I get "it takes too much time"! My response is "I do it all the time and am faster" (them in agreement) so what is the difference? THE USER....
If you say it "takes too much time" you should revise to state it takes "YOU" too much time. That said, YOU simply need to keep working at it. It is a skill like anything else...
The reason Civil companies have a hard time moving into the modeling world is because of staff experience. I hate to say it but everyone needs to be DESIGNERS. Engineers need to break down and use CAD as a design tool (not a toy) and drafters need to get on the stick and learn how to grade and use the advanced tools. If both do they get my respect and are now "designers"; what most Engineering firms need; goodness knows we don't need more PMs \ chiefs, we need the indians. Don't believe me, ask your boss and see if he\she agrees...
Too many times I see management pushing folks to do things in computers that they don't understand; engineers and CAD operators. Don't be pushed and blame the software. Be honest...it is you and maybe management should not be pushing with out some over-the-should. "Over-the-should, what is that? Oh wait, I forget we don't have time for that anymore either.""Sorry, I always forget we don't have time to do our jobs anymore ... no-one every has time until they are reading the newspaper in the morning." Don't let them push you around...
All of the above is why I think (again, just my 2 cents) why Civil 3D get a bad wrap sometimes. Inexperienced (bad) setup, use, and skills of staff is a big part of the issue. How can I be so harsh and say such a thing? I truly believe other experienced firms and if Autodesk were running these projects (even "mega projects") they could make it sing. I do think however with the releases thus far they would need to concentrate on setup of the projects and think out-of-the-box a little but it is production ready! It is not a question, it is a fact! My firm and thousands of others are doing it RIGHT NOW! In fact I'm off to work to live that reality right now...
I was one that disagreed at first, with getting rid of my beloved LDT. As a Vet of 20 years in this industry, I am hear to say the quicker you stop looking for the negative in the program the quicker you will see that C3D is the best option out there today.
We have been using C3D in production for the last 2 years, myself for the last 3 years. I have trained over 150 people in my company to use it and I proud to say that we are exclusivly C3D with no complaints. Tech calls have gone to virtually nill. For the first 5 or 6 months yes there where many tech calls, but there was steadily a decline from there.
I see no need for a cut and paste for C3D objects, data refrence (DREF) through Vault work just fine for me. I love the work flow it provides and the abilities it offers that LDT did not. We actually are thinking of doing away with layers and totally using styles to control all on the C3D objects.
I have also begun teaching a full semister for C3D at the University of Montana Colloege of Technology for pre engineer students. This is the first semister, I am using Mastering Civil 3D 2009 for the text. It is a hands on lab, 2 days a week, for a total of 4 hours. I have had a total of 10 classes so far with 2 crashes including the students. Currently there is only 4 students but from the requests to get into the class in the lst week we expect 10 to 15 next go.
We all forget the jumps from DCA to Softdesk to LDT and C3D. They all had similar response, they all had there short comings. We need to continue to evolve and grow other was life become boring. It is just human nature.
I might also add it has been 3 weeks since my last crash in production. That is a total of 160 hours plus or minus. I currently working on site grading that is moving a little over 1.5 million yards of material. with 15 roads totaling 3 miles. The existing ground surface covers 2 full section and was built from and aerial.
I'd have to disagree with you on this one. PE's are in short supply and should not be wasting time behind a computer doing CADD. They simply don't have the time and it's not cost effective for them to learn. Why pay an engineer to do a CADD drawing when a tech or designer can do it for a 1/4 of the cost? For the most part the designer is given parameters to design by the engineer and away they go.
You also talk about the 3 Gig switch being some kind of Civil 3D messiah or something. I have tried it an found it only improves processing large images, that's it.
Your rant still does not explain why grading is still broken, and hydraflow is still not integrated into Civil 3D. There are still underlying issues with the program and crashes that have nothing to do with the user whatsoever. Yes I will always blame the software for crashing. You would have to write an Encyclopedia Britannica sized book to explain all of the work around's needed to use Civil 3D effectively. Yes I've been using Civil 3D for 2 years and the learning curve is extremely steep but am now able to use the software effectively. Now if only Autodesk stopped releasing buggy programs every year (that required learning new work arounds), than maybe they'd be getting somewhere.
Wow! I have to disagree with you. I think PE's *should* use Civil 3D. After all, more than 80% of what C3D has to offer is for engineering! What a better way to hone up your technology skill than to have an engineer use CAD. And it looks good on the resume too
It's like giving HEC-RAS to a student right out of Tech school who had no formal training in the Hydro and beyond and then having them design a best case option for a stream culvert.
IMO - there are some things in C3D that a drafter should NOT touch without close supervision. If Engineers would do CAD, then they could do all the sketchy stuff with their calcs and then turn it over to the drafter/designer.
Unfortunately, we are way behind the time here in our little world (my office). Our workflow has been and will continue to be the following:
1. Engineer sketches contours the way they want them to look on a piece of bumwad taped over the drawing.
2. Drafter takes that bumwadded sketch and scans it so they can bring it into CAD via TIF image.
3. Drafter traces over then scan and turns the polylines into a surface
In this little example, there is duplication of work happening which is unnecessary. If the engineer drew the contours in CAD (even in polylines), this would avoid this unecessary step. I've talked and pleaded till I'm blue in the face about the virutues of CAD and engineers, but it comes back to them being just like the old curmudgeon who said the following 20 years ago: "Computer drafting? It will never work! Give me my drafting board. I'll NEVER touch a computer". I still have engineers and bosses living this dream.
With the economy the way it is,many engineering firms are looking for ways to streamline their processes and I think that having engineers utilizing the tools that C3D has to offer is a win-win situation.
Rick (stepping of soapbox)
Thanks, Rick coauthor Mastering Civil 3D 2012 I blog at http://simplycivil3d.wordpress.com
Yeah, people have different experiences with C3D. It gets easier if you basically do the same stuff day after day, and perform the same basic tasks over and over. Then it's easy to figure out what causes crashes, and how to avoid them.
It's tougher if you happen to work on a large variety of tasks, which means it might be months since you last performed a particular task. In that case, it's a lot harder to remember the workflow that lets you tip-toe through the crashes. It's also a lot tougher when you must regularly work with drawings sent to you "from others", created in who-knows-what software by people with wildly-varying CAD skills. Civil 3D is rather touchy about "strange" linework, and can crash for the slightest reason.
A good sign of the immaturity of C3D is the fact that it is so easy to crash it by inputting improper values. A robust program would detect error conditions and warn the user, rather than crash and leave the user to sort through the pieces in search of the cause.
But if you can sort through all that, and get used to the convoluted interface, it's pretty powerful software. I doubt it's worth all the training time for some people, when compared to some of the alternative software, but others will undoubtedly find that C3D is the best choice. That's something that has no single answer for everyone. It really depends on what you do.
Staying on Land Desktop - now that's the thing that really makes no sense. (Oh wait, am I mixing up threads?)
One huge problem I have encountered is revisions.
Change is the nature of civil design. Rarely does a complex design pass the municipality without some major revision. Revisions in c3d are fickle at best. as soon as you start deleting things c3d protests. Also..it is rare the client knows what they want till they start scrutinizing the plan set. By this time you are thoroughly invested into the model. c3d and redesign....hmmmm
I feel..with most civil design, scrapping the wrong design and starting over is more efficient than edits.
(Does anyone site plan with feature lines/parcels? Doesn't everyone draw site plans with polylines and convert them to feature lines?)
There are definitely times that's the case. In the worst case, trying to edit a design can get you into that realm of drawing instability, where it seems no matter what you do, you can't get rid of the constant crashing.
As I've gotten more-experienced with C3D, I can successfully manage more-extensive edits without running into problems. But occasionally, everything seems to go wrong for a particular drawing, and nothing can get it back to "normal", and I end up starting over as the fastest way through the problem.