Spring is sprung! The grass is riz! I wonder where the software is!
Our apologies to Jimmy Durante, but it is Spring again, when in no time at all, Autodesk’s 2011 software releases will be upon us. So, here’s a quick look at what you can expect from AutoCAD Civil 3D 2011 when it hits the shelves.
Perhaps the most awaited news is that this year we will be getting a 64 bit version. More power, larger models, and more speed! Time to take a serious look at hardware and operating systems; Windows 7 will be the OS of choice for this one. The 64 bit environment removes the 4 gigabyte memory limitation found in 32-bit applications, enhancing the software’s capability to handle larger projects. Civil 3D 2011 has been optimized for faster startup times and faster response times within drawing sessions. New AutoCAD® platform capabilities provide for faster display of large objects, such as point clouds and surfaces, and faster switching between viewports.
You remember the Subscription Advantage Pack that came out last October for the 2010 release? All of that functionality is now in the core 2011 release. The Point Cloud object with its display stylization is a major component.
It’s been enhanced to allow you to create a Civil 3D surface, something the 2010 add-on lacked. The Add Points To Surface command lets you extract points from a point cloud to add to a new or existing surface. You can use the entire point cloud or you can select some of the points. We’ll have more on this in later posts. Speaking of surfaces, though, the ability to crop surfaces, resolve breaklines and create a surface from GIS data are all in the 2011 release.
There’s a lot happening for road design in AutoCAD Civil 3D 2011.
Starting with alignments. . .
You can create either an alignment or a design profile from a series of points or AutoCAD elements in the drawing file. This functionality improves upon the existing best-fit entity options you can use when laying out alignments and profiles, and provides a method that is more familiar to surveyors. You can widen roadways in curved sections based on local rules. This new feature adds offset alignments in these locations to indicate the widening. You can then use the offset alignments in the corridor to help make a more accurate model of the road surface. Finally, you have more flexibility to address offset transitions in curve conditions. Linear and s-shaped transitions to the offsets are OK and will work on any alignment sub entity. Here’s another gem that first appeared in the 2010 Subscription Advantage Pack: the ability to create a point of vertical intersection at the intersecting grade line of two profile tangents. This provides a more accurate means of establishing a design profile.
The roundabout layout tool has been incorporated and includes commands that enable you to create, edit, and delete roundabouts easily. As in all other parts of the roadway design, you can use design standards files to test the roundabout geometry against geographic requirements or organization standards. You also can include details for road markings and signs located in the roundabout. There is a difference, however, between an intersection, which is an object, and a roundabout created with the roundabout wizard. A roundabout created using the Create Roundabout command is only a 2D representation of a roundabout.
There is, at this point, no roundabout object; but the roundabout components, including the central island, slip lanes, and approach roads, remain dynamic to the base alignment and move if the base alignment changes. The roundabout layout tool is valuable, though, in that it does help you perform a quick roundabout feasibility analysis at intersection locations.
Superelevation is linked dynamically to the alignment in Civil 3D 2011. There is a new Superelevation Editor command which replaces the Superelevation tab in the Alignment Properties dialog. This command launches a combined wizard and editor. The wizard takes you through the calculation of the superelevation and provides some new options, like the ability to resolve overlap conditions. Now, that’s a good thing! A new superelevation tabular editor gives you the ability to edit the superelevation data after it’s created. Superelevation data also can be imported from either a CSV file or an XML file, offering even more flexibility.
There is a new Superelevation View command that creates (you guessed it), superelevation views. These superelevation views contain grips that you can use to edit graphically the superelevation transition locations and rates.
This is an easy to use alternative to editing in the tabular editor. Superelevation views are collections in the Toolspace, making them easy to manage.
A new corridor frequency setting provides the automatic addition of all geometry points of offset target objects and offset baseline alignments into the corridor definition. This handy setting minimizes the need for manual operations.
It helps create automated machine-guidance-ready surfaces by adding more controlled density to the model.
The visualization features you first saw in the Subscription Advantage Pack for AutoCAD Civil 3D 2010 have been integrated into Civil 3D 2011. With these features you can simulate driving through a 3D model using the Drive command, and inspect the design visually. You can set various perspectives to help identify potential design considerations.
The Line of Sight tools provide the ability to perform sight distance checks for analysis in high-risk areas. The Sight Distance Along Corridor command lets you check minimum passing and stopping sight distance requirements. This command takes both the vertical and horizontal information into consideration. Finally, the Zone of Visual Influence command provides you the ability to perform line-of-sight analysis 360 degrees around a single point. Just the thing for seeing how that ugly tower looks as you pass by it.
We’ve had the plan and profile sheet creation tools for a couple of releases, now. In the 2011 release, we have a new Create Section Sheets command. This is a wizard-driven routine that automates the generation of layouts for plotting cross sections. Enhanced sheet styles and labels provide additional control over the appearance of the cross section sheet layout. There are settings for spacing between cross sections, so you can generate section sheets to adhere to published standards.
With the new functionality in Civil 3D 2011 you can project linear objects and blocks to multiple cross sections in a single operation.
Now, that’s going to save some time!
AutoCAD Civil 3D 2011 has several new features that provide flexibility in handling the way data is collected in the field. Editing options enable you to delete points from figures that were coded incorrectly initially, add points to figures, and change the order of the vertices.
Breaklines, always important in surveys, can be checked for crossing and edited.
Finally, DGN interoperability has been improved further in Civil 3D 2011. The ability to copy selected entities in a DGN underlay into the host drawing is included in the 2011 release. This feature includes copying any layers, linetypes, and other attributes of the selected items, if they do not already exist in the host drawing.
This is just a quick overview of what’s new. Look for more details in future posts!