(661) 323-4600

Styles… styles… styles… Civil 3D 2015 for the Land Surveyor

by | Aug 28, 2014 | Blog, Land Surveying |

Here we are speeding toward the year 2015, and I find myself wondering what in the world happened to the last 26 years since I began my career in land surveying. Long gone are the days of sitting on the hood of the truck with a set of plans and your HP41 calculating radial stakeout data. Through the years, there has been a gradual migration of the land surveyor to working in the AutoCad environment to perform his daily staking calculations and most every other function necessary to perform his duties.

As all computer software has done since the beginning, AutoDesk has been making almost yearly updates and changes to the AutoCad environment, some really good and… well… if you have been using AutoCad for a few years, you are well aware that some of these changes have not been so good, or at least they have been very challenging for some.

Over the years it has been sometimes amusing to listen to and even participate in the upheaval anytime a new version of AutoCad was released. I think back to when AutoDesk made the transition from the digitizer tablet or DOS based command driven environment into the “Windows” or icon based environment… I remember being on the leading edge of the rampage against AutoDesk for doing such a thing, and virtually destroying my way of life as I knew it when it came to operating AutoCad in my day to day work duties… How in the world could I ever make this adjustment and be anywhere close to as efficient and productive as I had previously been in the older environment… I thought there was no hope!

Fast forward 10 or 15 years… I can hardly remember what it was like to work on that digitizer board or not have all of my toolbars placed so perfectly around my screen… the amazing new tools that AutoDesk has been incorporating have been incredible. I believe we are far more productive, efficient, and are able to do things inside AutoCad that we only used to dream about doing. Things are just cooking along great with respect to our understanding of the AutoDesk Land Development Desktop product we have been using now for several years; we have a great product that does everything we need it to do to get our job done! We are happy… we are content… life is good!

And then… AutoDesk releases this monster called Civil 3D. What in the world just happened? Style this, style that, styles… styles… styles… whose idea was THIS??? When Civil 3D first came about, everyone I talked to were scared stiff to even click the icon and try to get anything done; it’s like we thought it was going to suck all of our CAD knowledge right from our brain through the keyboard or something. I have to admit I was in the same place… the first several times I thought to myself, ok… come on… I am a professional… I have been using AutoCad since version 8… I can handle this, all I need to do is just open up this drawing and set a few points for one of my survey crews… just how hard can it be?? Right?

What a humbling experience that was… several times. As I tried my best to dig into it on my own, using what previously good, solid working knowledge of AutoCad I had been compiling over the last 20 years, I felt like I was on a different planet. I kept trying to do things the way I have always “known” them to be done and well, that just is not the way it’s done anymore! So, what does one do when he finds himself in this situation? For a while he mostly sits around and complains about how stupid the software is and how ridiculous it was for them to make this change and that change or complain about trying to figure out what the heck a “style” even is. I admit I was there as well, and with respect to certain things, maybe I still am a little confused as to why some changes were implemented from previous methods.

So, what now? Thanks to a client and a large project, we found ourselves thrust into Civil 3D head first with no looking back whether we liked it or not! This was the ONLY acceptable method of working on their project… take it or leave it! I have to say that in some ways, that may be a great method of transition. That may have been the greatest thing for the overall good of our department that could have ever happened… sink or swim! After a few months of this, we still seemed to find ourselves trying to “figure out” how to do several things, so, thanks to the great management philosophy and willingness to invest in the greater good of the company here at DeWalt Corporation, a plan was devised.

After 24 classroom hours and the review of 952 pages of training material and example exercises… we now know and understand how to do a few simple things like set points, make point groups, even create and edit surfaces, and we are discovering new and more efficient ways to perform our duties every day. There are still some frustrations, more learning and growing that needs to take place, but overall I think there is a bright future ahead of us as we grow and learn more about the intricacies of what Civil 3D has to offer our industry. Now, instead of being afraid to click the icon and dive into the abyss of Civil 3D,  I find myself using it every single day and eager to learn more about what used to seem like such a big scary monster!

As I tried my best to dig into it on my own, using what previously good, solid working knowledge of AutoCad I had been compiling over the last 20 years, I felt like I was on a different planet.

I kept trying to do things the way I have always “known” them to be done and well, that just is not the way it’s done anymore!