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Create Shortcuts Automatically

Create Shortcuts Automatically

When I associate a project to a drawing, shortcuts should be automatically created for all possible objects.
If my drawing is already associated to a project, and I create an object that can be shortcut, the shortcut should be automatically created.

(Possibly this should be an optional setting. Have a toggle somewhere: Automatic Data Shortcuts: "Yes/No/Set per object upon creation".)

It sounds like a very small change, but it achieves an important goal: only one step to create a reference to an object, instead of two steps. Any time you want to create a reference to an object, you just click on it in the prospector and get it. No need to first open the drawing and create a data shortcut.

There have been many ideas & suggestions posted on how to improve or even get rid of the current data shortcut workflow. There are some of them that I'd prefer to see implemented over this idea. But this idea is intended to be a simple tweak to the current system and therefore the easiest one to implement.

16 Comments
autoMick
Advisor

@troma yes - I think this would be an improvement. As you per the idea here https://forums.autodesk.com/t5/civil-3d-ideas/do-away-with-data-shortcuts-just-reference-drawing-ele... you know I'm not a fan of having shortcuts at all, but at least with what you have suggested, the current shortcuts system would be more easily accessed. 

The issue I see is that I would normally want to have 'automatic shortcuts' switched to on, so my shortcuts folder is going to get pretty unwieldy (it already is). So in this case it would be nice to have a filterable/searchable 'tree' to find the right drawing/object. Which reminds me of this idea... https://forums.autodesk.com/t5/civil-3d-ideas/civil3d-editable-searchable-database-for-data-referenc....

My issue with working folders/shortcuts is that I'm switching between projects and might be switching around between 5 projects all day - which starts becoming pretty old.

Cheers

Mick

troma
Mentor

@autoMick I keep one "Working Folder" for all projects.

Each project has it's own "Shortcuts Folder" inside the working folder.

This way, I can switch between projects as much as I like, and the shortcuts just work automatically.

autoMick
Advisor

@troma thanks - not a bad approach. In fact I did start organising things like this a few years ago, but for some reason that escapes me now, I reverted to working folders set to each project. I might have to revisit this - unless of course Autodesk beats me to it and implements a really cool alternative solution.

Cheers

Mick

BlackBox_
Advisor

@troma @autoMick - 

 

An interesting idea, but this may be more difficult to accomplish than you might think... Particularly as Autodesk has yet to implement a Data Shortcuts API according to @Civil3DReminders_com's Civil 3D API Wishlist.

 

We could try rolling our own following ObjectAppended (filtering for DREF-allowable AECC Objects), given that it's all (seemingly) created/stored externally (Yay Internal Database?!?) using XML files + GUID (and enough time, of course); the necessary XmlAttributes can be programmatically populated in the dependent XmlDocuments as needed using the ridiculous logic on display (and verbally described) in this old AUGI post (linked below) and then invoke the REFRESHSHORTCUTNODE Command (so they populate in Toolspace):

 

http://forums.augi.com/showthread.php?170393-Lock-Data-Shortcuts&p=1330973&viewfull=1#post1330973

 

Here's the image from that post:

c3d.data.shortcuts.workflow.png

 

 

troma
Mentor

@BlackBox_ I wish I understood what half of that meant.

Basically, I think you mean it's harder than I might think, but could be possible with an add-on?

autoMick
Advisor

@BlackBox_ that's a beautiful diagram. I'm thinking I might have to copy it and use it as a universal template for explaining all manner of things 😛

As far as the technical content - it doesn't surprise me that something as clunky as the shortcuts system does have full support. It's all beyond me unfortunately.

Cheers

Mick

BlackBox_
Advisor

@troma @autoMick

 

No worries; I assume everyone knows more than me and improvise as needed. :beer: Haha 

 

The takeaway is, we won't really know until this it is attempted... Yeah, methinks it possible based on what little I know needs doing, but then there's the stuff I don't know that I don't know that will ultimately determine the result.


Loosely-related example:

 

Took me +2 years of dealing with AutoCAD's poorly implemented Viewport Grip... Before I got fed up and attempted to fix it myself using a custom .NET app (Hooray, Overrules!)... After +/- a year of no .NET development, it only took me 20 mins to disable the thing entirely and another +2 hours to setup a VPGRIPMODE custom sysvar to allow user to disable, enable + fix the whole resizing behavior issue (Yes, I'm also fixing how the VP Grip shows up when display locked too, Grrr), or just enable the OOTB behavior:

 

Here's a quick video demonstration:  https://www.screencast.com/t/x8nbQlhO3NJt

 

Had I known it was that simple, I'd have done it +2 years ago when it came out - I'm just thankful that Autodesk exposed what I needed to do it and now I've got a free Exchange App in the works to help others not deal with this half-baked 'feature' either (Yay Subscription...?).

 

Maybe Autodesk exposed enough of what we need to accomplish this thread's idea too...? 


As for Civil 3D - 

 

Autodesk made a monumental paradigm shift from Land Desktop's external (centralized) database to implement Civil 3D's internal (decentralized) database. That's no easy thing for Autodesk to do and each method has tradeoffs. 

 

I think Autodesk tried very hard to make the internal database successful, but the inherent inefficiencies we're left with just compound the problem, ultimately having a negative impact on plans production (which is what we get paid to use the product for in the real world).

 

Had Autodesk just continued their efforts to make it so Surfaces DREFs (as one example) store the date it was last built/rebuilt, and the sync mechanism was smart enough to first compare that date to the date the DREF was last updated in the sheet drawing we're opening before synchronizing the Surface DREF (and subsequently updating each-and-every-single Surface Label), we could significantly reduce how long it takes to open drawings.

 

Now extrapolate that across all DREF types, how many of them we use in our projects and how often we are slowed down in a time crunch to make that impending project deadline because Civil 3D opens drawing slowly.

 

Dynamic objects are great, but only when they actually account for what's real - constantly synchronizing DREFs that don't need to be synchronized isn't 'intelligence' or 'Civil BIM' - it's also not very efficient or effective for those in C3D plans production.

 

We need a system that accounts for this level of actual intelligence - that opens drawings quickly as if the Surface DREF was a Block (when it doesn't need to be synchronized) - that would be the best of both worlds, IMHO.

 

[Edit] - This thread's idea of 'auotmatic data shortcuts' is just another facet that would lend to our being effective and efficient... For every 20 mins we save per work day, by not doing redundant/useless tasks, there's an extra week (5, 8 Hour days) of billable time per year / per user (assuming 2 weeks vacation)... Now, how many users does your employer have? $$ Real talk. 

 

This is just my $0.02... Please take from it what you like.


How we think determines what we do, and what we do determines what we get.

 

Cheers

AllenJessup
Mentor

I would take this as a option. But I don't always want every possible reference created in every drawing I open in a project. Take it another step further and have a check box where you could check it to bring in all the Surfaces or all the Alignments or one box to check for all.

BlackBox_
Advisor

Great suggestion, @AllenJessup 

 

I agree, I use naming conventions for the DREFs I consistently need across multiple projects and then there are those one-off or ad-hoc Surfaces (as example) where the Engineer wants to know 'what <that> looks like' that I wouldn't want a DREF created.

 

Two facets to this - within the Document and within the Project.

 

Within the Document is pretty self-explanatory, as that's what we have today... Just not the ability to have them created automagically.

 

Within the Project would perhaps operate similarly to my AutoPublish App, where a case-sensitive Profile-saved WCMATCH string is used to determine which folders or files (drawings) are allowed to be Autopublished and those that do not 'match' are Veto()-ed... I want my Exhibit and Sheet drawings Autopublished, but not my Model (DREF/XREF only) drawings, as example.

 

In this method, user could specify a similar WCMATCH string that is used to determine if DREFs should or should not be created automagically.

 

This would-be system could filter for Folder, File Name and/or AEC Object Name (or Type).

troma
Mentor

@AllenJessup I agree. But this was intended to be a "better than it is now" type of idea, not "in a perfect world".  Smiley Tongue

 

I was also thinking of the possibility that this could be an optional setting. How would you like to set your Automatic Data Shortcuts to a setting of "Set per object upon creation"? Then every time you create an alignment, a surface etc., there is a checkbox "create data shortcut for this object". (If the drawing is not associated to a project, the setting is stored and the shortcuts are created as soon as the drawing gets associated to a project.)

AllenJessup
Mentor

@troma I felt I needed to mention the option idea and then just expanded on it. Autodesk has a long history of taking ideas as an either/or. Not as an option. One of the most notable was when they changed the Copy command from single to multiple. Then had to change it to an option a couple of releases later.

BlackBox_
Advisor

@troma agreed; where reasonable, I always prefer to give the user a choice... So anything I do for this will include a system variable to allow it to be disabled.

 

I tend to intentionally start with a grand idea and regress as the reality of what's possible in the API, etc require for feasibility - how would you do this differently in a 'perfect world' (under the pretense we're stuck with Civil 3D's native mechanisms, of course)...?

 

Nothing wrong with having a prompt/dialog option (besides the fact we can't integrate this option into the native creation dialog, of course), but someone's going to get sick of that real quick... I can see having a few different modes for a pseudo-named DREFMODE system variable:

 

0 - Disabled (OOTB functionality)

1 - Enabled, DREFs created automagically with Command Line notification

2 - Enabled, DREFs created when user chooses Yes from Command Line prompt (after Object creation)

3 - Enabled, DREFs created when user chooses Yes from Dialog prompt (after Object creation)

troma
Mentor

@AllenJessup I always agree with giving an option.

 

@BlackBox_ your comment is somewhat opaque until I remember that you're looking at this from the perspective of building an add-on yourself  for this functionality. Most of us are posting here just wishing that Autodesk would do something!

 

In a perfect world, I'd like something like this or this, but with added capability of referencing multiple objects at once (along with their child objects (eg profiles for each alignment)) and automatically using the original style the object has in its original drawing, thus negating the need to set a style upon creating the reference. 

BlackBox_
Advisor

I guess you're right, @troma; I strive to do something now, rather than wishing for Autodesk to do something one-day.

 

I enjoy solving difficult problems.

 

Cheers

 

troma
Mentor

@BlackBox_ I wish you all the best in your endeavour!

 

BlackBox_
Advisor

And to you, @troma - May you be granted the patience I clearly do not have, in wishing for Autodesk to do what's in user's best interest in a timely fashion. :beer:

 

If there's only one product team that has the will & skill to do so, it's this Civil 3D team - they are hands down the single best product team at Autodesk, that I've ever had the chance to interact with. :beer:

 

Cheers

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