What is Subassembly Composer?
For anyone not familiar with the Autodesk Labs preview of the Subassembly Composer (SAC), it is a very intuitive tool used for creating highly customized Civil 3D Corridor Subassembly parts. Each Subassembly created with the SAC had the capabilities of much more than a simple "Subassembly from Polyline." Actually, every aspect a Subassembly created with SAC had the potential for being a dynamic component more intelligent that many of the Subassemblies preinstalled and included with Civil 3D. Most importantly, no programming or coding is necessary to accomplish these things.
For the last several months, Autodesk Labs had released a technology preview for Subassembly Composer. That is, it was available all the way up until the middle of last month. On June 15th, it was no longer available for download, all installed copies were time-bombed, and little information was given to the future of this tool. That's all changed.
The Big News
Autodesk announced on Tuesday the SAC would be made available again, only this time it wouldn't be through an Autodesk Labs technology preview. Now, SAC is being released to anyone on Subscription with Civil 3D, Infrastructure Design Suite Premium, or Infrastructure Design Suite Ultimate. It works with Civil 3D 2011 and 2012. If you don't have SAC, but want to benefit from the superb Subassemblies created by it, you can install a simple support pack. Oh, and it is available for download by those customers from Subscription Center RIGHT NOW. Did I mention it is only a 5.5 MB download for the 32-bit version and 6.2 MB for the 64-bit version? Reading on, you'll start to wonder how that packed so many great features into such a small package.
What Can SAC Do/What's Changed?
All the original components and features are still available within the newly released Subassembly Composer. Drag and drop links and points to a flowchart area to "program" how your part will work. Preview the shape as you develop it. Input parametrics and information about each link and point to up the level of flexibility and detail in each component. But that is just the beginning. Here is a sampling of new features added to the updated release:
- Combination points and links in one element
- Drag your test surface for dynamic preview
- Add daylight rounding to just about any component
- Shape codes are now supported
- Switches to turn on/off different parts within Subassembly throughout corridor
- Subassemblies created with SAC can adapt to superelevation
- Calculate depths perpendicular to the slope is possible instead of just vertical
- Slopes, depths, and much more can change all within 1 assembly to adapt to design choices/environment
- Curves, although tessellated once placed, can be used in your Subassemblies
- Messages can be defined for reporting in the Event Viewer
- No loops in SAC to avoid infinite loops
- A help file and images can be assigned to any Subassembly
- Anything - yes anything - that follows a linear path can be created as a Subassembly with SAC
The possibilities with this tool are nearly endless. We've only touched the tip of the iceberg here and there is a lot more potential to be tapped from this powerful tool. Yet another example of what is possible for adapting to environmental and design conditions is shown below.
One caveat that has been discovered thus far in the development of the Subassembly Composer tool is that it isn't playing friendly quite yet with Vault as the .Net 4.0 framework is required for SAC and that breaks the link between Vault and Civil 3D 2011. Autodesk representatives have stated that work is being done to better integrate these two technologies and develop a more complete solution between them. Something else to consider before installing is ensuring Microsoft SQL Server Compact Edition 3.5 SP2 is installed, since it is required for SAC to work with both Civil 3D 2011 and 2012.
Autodesk is making it easy to discover features and resources for the SAC, though, as they have implemented a Wiki style help website that allows for user input and updates to better the information available to all. You can find that Wiki site here.
As a parting gift, I'd like to also provide 2 videos Dana Probert of Autodesk (and BIM on the Rocks blog fame) has recorded.
Special thanks to several of my Twitter Tweeps for images, links, and additional information in forming this post: @kdinctPE, @C3DReminders, @civil3diva, @civil3D, @JohnEvansDesign, @LouisaHolland, @thecadgeek, @C3DPlus, and any others I may have forgotten. Plus, don't forget to follow the IMAGINiT Technologies Infrastructure Solutions team @IMAGINiT_Civil and me personally @Indydrafter.