Civil 3D Template Development – Part 1

Successful Civil 3D implementation requires several steps.  We’ve discussed some of these steps at a very high level in Death of the Draftsman and Build on a Strong Foundation.  More specifically, these steps may include

  1. Operational Assessment (inside and outside of CAD)
  2. Hardware and Operating System Assessment
  3. Workflow Development (inside and outside of CAD)
  4. Civil 3D Templates Development
  5. Training Plan and Curriculum Development
  6. Pilot Project Selection and Execution

I would like to discuss the 4th item about developing Civil 3D templates in a series of blog posts.  Following are some of the topics that I will try to touch on:

  • Getting Started
  • CAD Standards
  • Drawing Settings
  • Styles
  • Feature Settings
  • Survey
  • Pipes Catalog

My intent is not necessarily to provide step by step instructions on how to create a Civil 3D template.  Rather, I’m trying to expose topics that are very important to consider as you build your Civil 3D templates, by yourself or with a consultant.  Perhaps I will also expose some tools from our own toolbox to assist you with the process.

Before beginning your template development, you must decide whether you will create multiple templates or a single template.  The advantages and disadvantages of each system are quite clear:

Advantage Disadvantage
Single Template No Duplication of Content High Overhead
Multiple Templates Low Overhead Duplication of Content

A single template requires no duplication of styles.  You only need to edit a style once.  Multiple templates will require duplication of styles.  For example, alignment styles will exist in both the alignment/profile template and the corridor template.  If you need to edit the alignment style, you may need to do this more than once.  Of course you can always copy the style from one drawing to another.

In terms of overhead, The OOTB (out of the box) _AutoCAD Civil 3D (Imperial) NCS.dwt Civil 3D Template contains 172 layers and 52 blocks.  If all you are doing is modeling an existing ground surface, do you want that overhead?  If elect to have a single template, then you will always have that overhead.  With multiple templates, you may not.

What should you choose?  If you are a small firm and focus on very specific types of civil engineering projects, a single template might be just fine.  If you are a large firm and your project types are all over the map, multiple templates might be a better way to go.

Even if you choose the one template approach, and you are a Civil / Survey firm, I still recommend that you at least separate the Civil and Survey templates.  Survey templates may contain many point styles and corresponding blocks that have no business being in a Civil drawing.  Your survey layering standard may be different too.

Another decision you need to make is how you will start.  Will you start your templates from scratch?  Not recommended due to the time investment required.  Will you start with the OOTB template included with Civil 3D?  That’s fine.  Does your reseller or consultant have templates that they have developed?  If so, perhaps you can start with one of those?

I like the last option.  We have developed Civil 3D templates that we can use to help clients kick-off their template development.  Talk to your reseller or consultant.

In the next part of this series, we’ll talk about CAD Standards – that 1000-lb gorilla in any organization that does CAD work.  You can’t ignore that gorilla when talking Civil 3D templates.

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