Friday, January 30, 2009

SQOTD: "My view is whacked"

This SQOTD is inspired by my buddy Rob C. who is a former co-worker and perpetual punk.

Q: All my layers are on, but I can't see all the objects I'm expecting to see in the drawing. It looks like I can only see zero-elevation stuff. What's up?

A: The fix - type PLAN at the command line. Then W for world. (If you are not a key-in person, go to View > 3D views > Plan > World). This will turn your UCS and your view to Top in relation to the world coordinate system.

When you are working in Civil 3D there are quite a few ways a person can accidentally whack out their view. In Civil 3D the most common culprit is jumping into View/Edit Corridor section view and for whatever reason C3D gets stuck in the temporary, unnamed UCS.

Another common culprit is accidentally using Shift-middle mouse wheel. Shift + select adds items to the selection set. Shift+middle mouse wheel gets you into 3D orbit mode. Your view is whacked, even if your coordinate system is still world.

So there you go: PLAN W
Memorize it.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Learning to Love Ribbons

"Lord grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference."

When Saint Francis of Assisi said these words in 1220-something its almost like he saw the coming of Ribbon panels. Saint Isidore of Seville is widely thought of as the patron saint of all things computing, but I'm declaring Francis the patron saint of Ribbons.

I am trying so hard to learn to love ribbons, honestly. Change is good. Technology drives my livelihood. I preach the gospel of embracing new technology everyday. But it's just frustrating to relearn interfaces that use ribbons. My intuition to hit certain menus is totally thrown off. Since graphical user interfaces hit the scene in the 1980's one thing we could always count on were the standard "File" "Edit" "View" "Insert" menus. Mac OS's, Linux and until now, Windows have been fairly standard in the location and functionality of menus and toolbars.

The biggest problem I have with Ribbon interfaces is the lack of consistency between applications. Word 2007, Snagit 9 and of course AutoCAD 2009 are all ribbon based - these are just the ones I use on a day-to-day basis. Some have a full menu browser (like AutoCAD) and some just have what you'd expect to find in the File menu (like Snagit and Word). All of the Ribboned applications have a Quick Access Toolbar (which I lovingly call the "quat"). Most quats are customizable, but vary in the behavior of the default commands.

The way I see the future going, there is no escaping ribbons. We need to get used to them, pronto. Our collective productivity may take a hit while we adjust, but ribbons are here to stay.

May Saint Francis grant you the courage to change your CUI as needed.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

For the Love of All that is Holy: Watch this Bridge Webcast!

It will change your fricking life! Or at least that's what about a dozen people said to me when a similar webcast came out for resellers a few weeks back.

Still, it's cool. Need to model a small bridge on a site? Revit Structure is a software package that can do so. Revit cannot do finite element analysis on your members or anything, but it is a heck of a lot easier to model in Revit than using Autocad solid primitives.

Technical Marketing Manager Scott Hammond will be presenting the bridge modeling tools in Revit Structure 2009 on January 27th, 2009 at 10:00 am PST.

Click Here to Register for the Webcast

Be there, or watch your life pass you by.

Friday, January 23, 2009

First Impressions

If you are on subscription for your Autodesk product you can download Impression 2.0 FREE from the subscription center.
The problem is, Impression really isn't built for Civil 3D, yet. If you've played with Impression and tried to import a DWG layout directly, odds are you crashed Impression.
My little white paper should help you work around some of the problems you may encounter with Civil 3D and Impression.
Spoiler alert: The trick is plotting to DWF first!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

SQOTD: Dude, Where's my Corridor?

Q: "I have sample lines and section views in my project. I went to extend my sample line to get more of the existing surface in the view, but then my corridor disappeared from my section view. What happened?"

A. This fellow accidentally skewed one side when he grip-edited the sample line. If you grip edit a sample line and it is no longer perpendicular to the alignment, you will no longer see your corridor in the section view. This happens for a reason: kinky stations don't get included in end-area volume calcs.

To extend the sample line without skewing it, use the triangular grip. The square grip will let you move it wherever you wish - including out of line with the other side of the sample line.

You can fix it by selecting the sample line that is out of whack, right-click and select Make Orthogonal. This forces both sides back to perpendicular to the alignment. Then you're corridor will show up in the section views again.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Are You Ready to be Stimulated?

Unless you've been living under a rock or are part of an oil sheik's entourage, you've heard that the economy has been sluggish for a while. Furthermore, you've heard that the transportation sector is going to be a large focus of the economic stimulus package cooking on Capitol Hill. Figures between $45 and $100 billion have been heard thrown around for dollar amounts promised for roads, rail, bridges and water distribution projects over the next two years. Additional money is being talked about for the energy sector.

AASHTO has a nice breakdown by state for projects that could break ground within the first half of 2009.

But are you ready?

If a glut of work came your way right now, are you and your co-workers equipped to handle it?

More specifically, are you as efficient as you can be with your design software?

In my humble opinion, we are in the calm before the storm. Now is the time to implement software and train people before you are knee-deep in projects. When this work comes you don't want the headache of taking time out to get up to speed on Civil 3D.

Get good at your software now, while the lull still exists.

In all fairness, I realize I am not an impartial voice on this subject. One of the primary parts of my career is teaching and implementing Civil 3D*. However, I feel that the incoming presidential administration will come in with checkbook open. Whose bank account the money ultimately lands in won't depend on which projects are "shovel ready", but which engineering company's systems and personnel are "project ready."

*If you are interested in having me work with your organization to train or assess your needs, please feel free to contact me.