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Feature Objects: Why are you so linear my little monkey?

Feature Objects: Why are you so linear my little monkey?

The reason why we buy software like Civil 3D is to take the "monkey" out of the workflow.  What is the "monkey"?  It is that part of any workflow that involves frequent and needless repetition of the same command and/or string of commands.  In AutoCAD, there is an object type called a "block".  That block object is like stamping another instance of a re-usable object.  Why are blocks used still today?  Because they reduce and/or eliminate "monkeys" from the workflow.


Feature lines and the tools associated with grading a feature line(s) are awesome product feature(s).  However, they are limited due to their object type being only linear.  Not all grading "features" are simple lines.  Grading a building pad out with individual feature lines while powerful, still requires excessive amounts of repetitive user input.  So, the question that arises is ... "How can we take the 'monkey' out of feature data input and grading design".

This summer, in an attempt to eliminate this "monkey", I spent and paid for two days of hands-on assistance with my reseller attempting to create dynamic blocks that contain feature lines for pad grading.  Why did I want to do this?  Because when pads are being created for land development projects, I want to use a parametric block that allows for control of the feature lines, break points along those lines, pad shape/size/type, foundation shape, etc.  Now, before I committed the time and money to the project, I asked the reseller if this was even possible.  They said it was.  Unfortunately, that was not the case.  Feature lines cannot be used in dynamic blocks, stamped around the project and adjusted like you would if the feature line(s) were live in the drawing.  Although these blocks could be XREF'd into the drawing and function, having hundreds of XREF's is not practical nor feasible.



The PARCEL object is a wonderful example of an object type that holds data related to planning but not grading design.  You can access the data/parameters of and manipulate each lot line.  It contains area information which is useful for reporting.  You can commandeer and repurpose the parcel object class and store hydrology data in it.  Since the parcel object can hold all of the data related to a lot, why not create a similar object for lots?  Perhaps the parcel object becomes a "subclass" of a LOT CLASS or vice-versa (so duplicate data is not maintained).


I believe Civil3D really needs to implement a new LOT OBJECT CLASS specifically designed for lot/pad grading or create a special member of the grading object class of the type LOT.  This class would extend the functionality of the feature line so shapes could be created that are dynamic, parametric and highly re-usable.  Every building that sits on a lot has similar parameters.


Garage side (L/R)

Garage floor elev at door

Garage floor rear wall

Break from garage to basement floor

Lot type (flat/lookout/walkout/side reveal, etc.)

Particular locations along pad outer boundary where grade(s) break.

Pads must have positive drainage away from the foundation wall or slab.



Lot line elevations for front yard are usually set by a corridor.  Side and rear lot lines would be a member of the LOT CLASS.  Elevation data could be controlled similarly to parcel objects through a hierarchy system.  Lots on the low side of the street control so they have positive drainage and so on.


Having an object class or some kind of ability to create a PARAMETRIC LOT GRADING OBJECT would take the "monkey" out of grading.

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