Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Removing A Civil 3D Object Without Using the AutoCAD Erase Command

Sometimes using AutoCAD commands on Civil 3D objects is okay and sometimes it causes problems. For example: deleting parcel segments or pipe network objects. According to Autodesk, deleting a pipe using the AutoCAD erase command has been corrected in Civil 3D 2009, but since I know some of you may still be using Civil 3D 2008 or earlier, I'm going to show you the proper way to delete an object in Civil 3D.

Here I have two pipe networks Water (blue) and Wastewater (green). After a round of revisions, the pipe and one of the structures in the red rectangle needs to be removed.

I know it's very tempting to just run the erase command and select the structure and pipe to be deleted, but that's what causes the issue. Here's the proper way to delete the structure and pipe.

From the Pipes menu list, select "Edit Pipe Network...".

The command line prompts you to "Select part from pipe network:". After you select the pipe or structure you are deleting, the Network Layout Tools toolbar will appear. The tool you want is the "Delete Pipe Network Object".

After selecting the "Delete Pipe Network Object" tool, you are prompted to "Select Structure or Pipe". Left click on any structures or pipes that you want deleted from the network.

The reason you should always delete pipe network objects using this tool is because the pipe network part must be disconnected from other parts in the network before they are removed from the drawing.

Something similar happens with parcels so be sure to delete parcel segments using the appropriate tool as well.

[Parcels - Edit Parcel - Edit Parcel Segments]
The tool is labeled "Delete Sub-entity".

Thursday, December 11, 2008

To Link or Not to Link

If you've ever worked with assemblies, you've probably experienced a subassembly not looking the way you initially created it. Now, I don't know what causes it, but I did learn a very simple way to fix it this year at Autodesk University.

Here's the original assembly:
Here's the assembly after a few of the subassemblies took on a mind of their own:
Even though the assembly will work as expected, it still bothers me that it doesn't visually look correct. Here's how to fix the visual misrepresentation that you're seeing:
  1. Select the assembly. The assembly is represented by the green line with a blue circle at it's midpoint in the images shown.
  2. Right click and select Assembly Properties... from the list.
  3. In the Assembly Properties, left click on the Construction tab. You must select this tab or the fix won't work.
  4. Now left click on the OK command button.
There you go, all the subassemblies should now be drawn correctly.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

The Future of Civil 3D...

Well Autodesk University 2008 is finally over and I'm sitting here in the airport waiting for the airplane to arrive that takes me back to Austin. My brain is so full of stuff that I want to share with my fellow employees and I can't wait to get back to work and start sharing.

I would like to thank Dana Probert for spending some time with T. J. and me visiting about Civil 3D. Dana is such a great person and is always excited to share her knowledge and ideas with everyone she meets. Here's one of the things she shared with us.

Autodesk is always looking for people like you that want to help influence the future of the software. There are several ways to do this.

  1. One way to influence the future of Autodesk products is to join AUGI at http://www.augi.com and submit requests to the Civil 3D wish list. There is also a discussion forum for the Civil 3D wish list items. Be sure to read the details about submission cycles and check the forums often in case someone has a question about the wish that you submitted or you can ask someone else questions about their wish. Most of the time there are more wishes that I want than the ten for which I cast votes (the limit of votes you get for wish list items). So maybe you can add your agreement to a wish in the discussion forum even if it doesn't make your "top ten" list.
  2. Send an email to ANYONE at Autodesk using the standard Autodesk email format FirstName dot LastName at autodesk dot com. This includes emails to Carl Bass. Now I'm not saying that Carl Bass is the one that's going to read that email, but the email will get forwarded to the proper department if it's appropriate. By an appropriate email, I'm suggesting that you include opinions or suggestions for future releases of the product. Sending an email saying that you hate the product or that it crashes too often will not make the software any better. Saying that you would like to be able to edit parcel line segment lables could help shape the future of the software. (I submitted this wish list item and even though it wasn't in the top ten, this ability became available in Civil 3D 2009.)
  3. Another way that you can get involved with the future of the software is to sign up for beta testing of the product. This can be done by visiting the MyFeedback website at http://myfeedback.autodesk.com and creating a login. You will need to be active in the discussion forums if you want to be selected to test the software. The developers do read these discussions so again, be positive and give suggestions on what you would like to see done with future releases. If you are selected to participate in a beta test of the software, make sure that you give feedback on what you see and how you like it. Also keep in mind that by the time beta testing starts, the current feature set is pretty much locked so don't think that you'll be able to request a new feature at that time and see it in the final deliverable product. The development team definitely reads these forums and responds appropriately. Many of these discussions result in future enhancements of the product. Participating in MyFeedback with Autodesk requires you to digitally sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement so discussions about what you see on the site must remain there. It's very important!
  4. While you are browsing the MyFeedback forums, volunteer to participate in Usability Studies. If you don't see a Usability Study that you want on the MyFeedback site, contact Kate Russell at (yep, you guessed it) Kate dot Russell at autodesk dot com. Kate is a Usability Engineer for Autodesk and if you tell her why you should be selected to participate in future studies, she will add you to the list of potential usability study participants. Be forewarned, if you are chosen, then you'll be required to sign appropriate Non-Disclosure Agreements that bind you and your company to secrecy about . There are several reasons for this and Autodesk if very strict about you abiding by these agreements. DON'T TAKE THEM LIGHTLY!
You can participate in multiple product studies or betas, but don't get involved in so many that you don't give each test the time necessary to truly evaluate it properly.

Well, looks like the plane has arrived, so now that you know how to participate, get out there and get involved so you too can be a "co-designer" of future releases of Civil 3D!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

AU 2008: Class Day 2

Wednesday at AU 2008.

T. J., Margie and I spent some time visiting with Peter Southwood of Autodesk about making AutoCAD Map do some things that ArcView can do. As for me, I learned a lot during that short time and really wanted to stay and talk with him more, but I had a class to attend. As if the information he gave us wasn't enough, he also gave us a cool parting gift (an Eco-friendly Solar Charger). SWEET! Maybe we asked some really good questions.

The action recorder class with Lee Ambrosius was very good and my lab partner was from nearby Temple, Tx. As we were leaving class, I mentioned that I should be seeing her in Temple in February during the Civil 3D User Group meeting. That's when she asked if I had ever been at the college in Temple. I laughed and said yes, that I presented there in February, 2008. She then explained that the whole time we sat by each other, she felt that she recognized me, but couldn't quite place where or when. Now she knows.

The subscription lunch finally had something that was halfway edible for me (I'm such a picky eater) and the topic wasn't bad either. More info on how subscription customers will be getting more for their money. Since there were still a few open chairs in the room, I sent a text message to T. J. to come join Margie and me at the luncheon. He liked the food much more than I did, but that doesn't surprise me.

The afternoon Detention Pond Design class was really good even though I had to leave early to attend James Wedding's AU Unplugged session. I will definitely be watching the video of this session when it gets posted. I learned so much in the first hour of that class that I now feel that using the H&H software might be worth investing some of my time. So if any of you know John Sayre, tell him I said thanks for presenting a great class in a way that us less experienced folks could learn something. John really took the bite out of some of those H&H acronyms. Also, tell him that I'm sorry for bugging out early, but blame James for that one.

James' AU Unplugged session proved to me that many of the problems we face with project setup and directory structure are not unlike those that other companies face. It seems that there are many ways to skin that cat and there's no right or wrong answer in a lot of cases. Is there room for improvement? Always. Some improvements can be achieved by us as users and CAD Managers, and some will require help from Autodesk. We'll see where the future takes us.

I missed the AUGI annual meeting because I was attending Dana Probert's Point Cloud class. Good class and great handout (even if it was put together in the wrong order). I always learn someting in Dana's classes. Even if it's just applying the things that she teaches in a different way. Dana even gave us an incentive to fill out our class surveys. If we filled everything out before 8pm Wed. night, we could enter a drawing for a chance to win a free AU pass for next year. Well, Dana, I pulled out my handy dandy laptop and tried to do that very thing. I logged onto the website and the survey for your class was not available yet. I did confirm, however, that all my other surveys had been entered. Does this mean I'm still in the running for a pass or not?

I finished off the evening with dinner at the exhibit hall and I even played what I think was Guitar Hero on a wii. Some people will do just about anything for a chance to win a Mastering Civil 3D 2009 book. Okay maybe it was the chance to win a wii and the open bar that got people out there making fools of themselves. Lisa Pohlmeyer was kind enough to video the moment for me (I was trying my best to play bass guitar) so I'll get that posted as soon as I can.

As for Tuesday's post, I'm hoping to have it approved by lunch tomorrow. Until then, I hope all the AU attendees have a great evening and don't snore in class tomorrow morning.

AU 2008: Class Day 1

Tuesday, December 2nd, at Autodesk University 2008.

This day was non-stop. Classes all morning and lots of networking throughout the evening. Tuesday's classes were outstanding and I made sure to stop by the registration center and fill out the survey on every class I attended.

For lunch I attended a subscription luncheon and we were treated to a discussion on the future of subscription services. It appears that the Autodesk subscription folks have been listening to "the people" and are trying to provide what we want. Autodesk will be providing product updates on a schedule more in keeping with other product lines such as Adobe. This means that we might be seeing product updates as often as quarterly depending on when the product is truly ready for the public. The subscription customers will be able to download and install these updates and enhancements before they are added to the following year's products that are released to the general public. This methodology has already been put into affect by offering three product enhancements for AutoCAD 2009 (AUGI wish list items, PDF attachment, and 3D printing). Unfortunately, these same enhancements were not offered for vertical products so I haven't been able to enjoy these new features. I have, however, found some enhancements for Civil 3D including the conditional subassembly. If you haven't been to the Autodesk subscription website lately, you really should give it a look. You might find something you like while you're there.

Between afternoon classes, I managed to schedule a Civil 3D Usability Test where I was able to meet Kate Russell with Autodesk and to see another Autodesk employee, Tarang Taunk, that I met during a Civil 3D Usability Test at AU last year. Kate and I have spoken on the phone several times, but we've never met in person. It's great to finally have a face to go with the voice.

During the session, I was given the opportunity to voice my opinions about certain aspects of the current and possible future software. It really made me feel that I had a voice in the future of the software. When I had completed the session, I was given a sticker to put on my badge. It says, "AutoCAD Civil 3D co-designer AEC Usability". There were also other benefits for participating in this study so if you get a chance, stop by the AEC Usability Center is located at Zeno room 4601 in the AEC Campus on the 4th floor. Even if you don't get to test something at AU this year, maybe you will get a call later in the year.

During the day, I posted a few status messages on my twitter account. During a class on conditional subassemblies being instructed by Nick Zeeban, I posted my location. One of the guys following my tweets, Josh Nelson, happened to be in the same room as me. We were able to meet and chat after the class.

Josh joined me at the AU blogger social where we spoke with Shaan Hurley before speeding off to the top secret preview of the "possible" future of Civil 3D. That room was filled with a who's who of Civil 3D. WOW! During the gathering, I was able to see some of the Autodesk employees that do the webcasts such as Dave and Dan. I also met Rob Todd, who is evidently very pleased with some of things I previously shared with him about the product. I can't wait to visit with Rob more in the future.

After all the oohs and aahs were done, I slipped down the hall to attend the DC CADD social. There I visited with many DC CADD employees including Gabe, Matt, Mark, Mike, and Kim.

Next I was off to the opening of the exhibition hall and dinner. What I didn't realize was that there were four different types of dinners being offered. I happened to get in the "Fajita" line. Not sure if that was considered the "American" or "Latin American" food line. Honestly, I'm not used to such "high end" food so it's hard to find anything that I'll eat at any of these meals.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

AU 2008: Day 1

So it's Monday, December 2nd (Day One), at Autodesk University 2008. I arrived at the Venetian (the host hotel) around noon. I could immediately tell that many AUers had already arrived (evidenced by the numerous AU badges that could be seen hanging by a string around the neck).

As I continued my way toward the casino area, I recognized a familiar face. It was Scott McEachron. He gave me a hug and we chatted for a bit. Then I headed down the hall to look for AU registration area.

On the way to the registration area, there were several ladies with AU signs. They were very nice and helped point me in the right direction (since registration was not in the same location as last year).

As I was nearing the entrance to the registration area, I passed by Shaan Hurley. He was in an animated conversation with several other people. I wanted to say hello, but it didn't seem like a good time so hopefully I get another chance to speak with him while I'm here at AU.

I continued to registration and that went very smoothly. There was no line at all to access the registration computers, but if you looked closely, you would notice that there was a line for folks that had used the registration computers and were waiting to pick up their packets. I chose a row that only had one person in the packet pickup line and selected a computer to use.

The gentleman in my line was taking FOREVER asking questions after getting his packet. Finally another lady brought my packet to his left so that I didn't have to continue waiting. Everything I needed was in the packet including my badge, ribbons, and subscription t-shirt and information (though I won't be able to wear the t-shirt in public because it's an XL and I wear a Medium).

Autodesk seems to have really taken this recycle thing to heart because the bag to hold my stuff and the spiral notebook were made from recycled materials. Part of the bag is a different color or colors.

At this point, I took a quick peak at the contents of my packet. I was concerned that I did not receive tickets for subscription meals, so I went to visit with the Subscription Center FAQ folks. They politely explained that all I needed was my badge. COOL.

Next I went straight to the Marin mountain bike that was in the room (since I'm a mountain biker myself). It was at a sustainable design exhibit in the registration area. I completed the survey about sustainable design and gave them my contact info in case I win the bike (crossing fingers). Then I reviewed the sustainable design board and added my own idea for how to help improve sustainable design for the future. For this idea, I received my choice of metallic water bottles. COOL.

Then I made the trek through the buttons. I grabbed any that I thought applied or were funny including "Drafty" and "Got Work". There were so many from which to choose. Then I debated about printing my schedule, but I kept reminding myself that I already had a printout in my suitcase.

As I was about to leave the registration area, I noticed another familiar face. It was Lynn Allen. She was interviewing an AU attendee about his experience at AU so far. Though there was already a crowd gathering around her, and since I'm not real fond of cameras in the first place, I headed in the opposite direction.

Next I went to register at the Venetian. In case you've never been to Las Vegas or AU, there is a TON of walking. I made the trek to the hotel lobby and got in line, only to be sent around the corner and upstairs to a different registration area. I was told that many of the AU rooms had already been assigned and that not many others were ready for occupancy. I was given the choice of a handicap accessible room or a room with a "great view of the strip". The caveat was that the "room with a view" was an extra $25/day. No way, Jose. I declined the "room with the view" and went for the handicap accessible room. Though I would prefer the room be saved for those that need it, the accessible room was a great choice for me. In the elevator on the way up to the room, something occurred to me that proved correct. The accessible room was very close to the elevator. YEAH!

I dropped off my AU stuff then went for a walk down the strip looking for a place to eat. I settled on Outback Steakhouse (at the Coca Cola and M&M store, then I returned several hours later to get ready for the AEC BIM Mixer.

I had already spoken with Lisa Pohlmeyer and she was with some of the current and previous DC CADD employees. They were heading to the Mixer within the hour (though I thought that was a bit early).

I brought my stuff from the car to the room, took a shower, and got ready for the Mixer. I headed directly to the Sands Expo area and found the first AU information lady. She directed me to the fifth floor and up the escalators I headed. As I got off the escaltor, I noticed that a line was already forming. I thought that I had arrived too late and would have to wait for someone to leave before I could enter the room. Actually, I was just too early and ended up being near the front of the line when the room finally opened.

During my wait, I visited with several AU attendees that were near me in line. We even ended up at the same table after getting our meal and drinks. One gentleman was a Department of Defense employee and the other worked in the structural industry. We had a nice visit about our experiences with Autodesk products.

Later during the Mixer, I found Lisa P. and the DC CADD (now and then) crew. I visited with Lisa, Gabe, Mark Martinez, Scott Durham, and Matt Castelli. Before she left the mixer, Lisa introduced me to Angel Espinoza. I was thrilled to meet him and we spoke about what portions of Civil 3D 2009 were giving me the most issues (my response was pipes and feature lines for grading = crash, for ease of use the problem area = pipe labels).

I then left with Lisa, Scott, and Matt to go to the Venetian Food Court. T. J. joined us later from the MGM Grand. We all had quite a discussion on the economy, stocks, and iPhones before retiring to our rooms.

Well, that was Day One. I hope the classes I chose are great ones.