• Civil 3D Assemblies: Tool Palette or Block Library?

    Civil 3D Assemblies: Tool Palette or Block Library?

    Civil 3D comes shipped with pre-configured assemblies that may or nay not fit your needs.  We created another BLOG post here to show how to create your own and share them with others in your team.  There is another way…read on.

    The Cole’s notes are:

    • Make a new drawing.
    • Create your assembly in this new drawing placed at 0,0.
    • Insert that drawing into your design and explode the resulting block.

    In the linked article above, we suggested creating a tool palette.  This works well for blocks so they may be placed on the correct layers.  For assemblies, since this block will be exploded, this is not a requirement.  Might there be an easier way?  There is.  You see, tool palettes require a little maintenance.  The trick below does not.

    AutoCAD’s Block Library

    In Civil 3D 2022 or later, open the new block palette introduced in version 2020.  The option I’m about to illustrate is not available with 2020 or 2021.  You will see two things: a Library tab (red) and a button to select a folder (blue).  Clicking the folder button will prompt you to select a folder containing drawings.  If each of those drawings is an individual assembly, your job is done.  Drag and drop one of those into your drawing and ensure it is exploded.  You’ve just inserted an assembly.

    No maintenance is required.  Just save a new drawing with a new assembly into that folder and the next time AutoCAD is started, you’ll see the new content.  If you prefer to have all assembly blocks defined in a single drawing, that’s fine too, simply right click the drawing and choose…


    AutoCAD 2023: New Release

    AutoCAD 2023: New Release

    It’s that time of year; Autodesk has just released the 2023 version of their flagship drafting application, AutoCAD.  Read on to discover some of the new features.

    Click to peruse Autodesk documentation.


    Likely one of the most common questions is about compatibility.  AutoCAD 2023 remains in the 2018 format.  There is no need to save files to previous versions unless your recipient is using 2017 or earlier.


    I’m intrigued by this feature more than any other this year. PDF markups are ubiquitous in our industry, but there were few tools to help manage them.

    In AutoCAD 2023, PDF markups can be overlaid and displayed more easily, and they can then be imported as a trace layer and converted to AutoCAD objects. Markup assist will use text recognition to add AutoCAD text, multileaders, and revision clouds from the PDF markup. Image file formats are also supported if the PDF is scanned and marked with coloured pens.


    Machine learning provides tips and tricks when and where you need them.  AutoCAD generates macro insights based on your unique command usage.


    LISP apps can be loaded and run within the AutoCAD web app.


    The command line is visible within each active floating window.

    Count has been updated to enable easier navigation and selection.

    The Sheet Set Manager has been given a performance boost and has a new interface in Autodesk Docs.

    ANNOSCALEZOOM controls mouse zooming in paper space.

    MTEXT objects can be converted to MultiLeaders.

    TRACE is now available on AutoCAD desktop, not just in the web app. You can contribute to other users’ traces.

    2D Graphics performance has been enhanced. Zoom and pan performance has been increased up to 50 times with many true type text objects, long polylines, and solid hatches. 

    The new TRAVERSALTHREAD system variable controls this.

    A new 3D graphics system (GSF) has been introduced and it promised to increase performance.  GSFENABLE is the new variable that controls this. It is ON by default. To experience the benefits of this, use the visual styles named Shaded or Shaded with Edges.  FASTSHADEMODE is a new variable that controls this behaviour.

    CUTBASE is a new command (Cut with base point found in the right-click menu) to allow the selection of a base point when cutting objects from a drawing.

    Add a new vertex to the end of a polyline with the extend vertex option

    Civil 3D: Sharing Assemblies

    Civil 3D: Sharing Assemblies

    So, you’re the technical team lead for your Civil Engineering firm, and you need to share amongst your team some Civil 3D Assemblies.
    You know how to create an AutoCAD tool palette, and you know that this is the best place to share assemblies – but you’ve tried, and it’s not working.

    If you’d like to learn how this is done read on.
    Palettes can be exported and then imported onto users’ machines, but when an assembly is edited, the creator must export again and then all the users must again import. This is not efficient.

    The Hard Way

    The method that Civil 3D uses to store assemblies on a palette works well, but to set it up is a bit of a bear.  Open this document to see the full details.  Here is a summary:

    • When an assembly is dragged to a tool palette a new DWG is created on your system. For my system this is:
      C:\ProgramData\Autodesk\C3D 2022\enu\Assemblies\Metric
    • You can create a tool palette with custom assemblies, sure, but you need to make these drawings available to your users. Usually, this means copying them to a network shared folder.
    • Even when you make them available, the DWG path must be defined in an ATC file that defines the palette, This is XML programming language and it can be difficult to find and disastrous if an error is made.

    The Easy Way

    I won’t say this is “The Best” method, but I believe it to be the easiest, quickest, and most foolproof method; and it’s the one I choose to use at this time.

    I won’t go into detail about how to perform each of these steps; it is assumed you know the technique. The short answer is that each assembly will reside in its own DWG file and that file will be stored in the shared network folder. That file will be a block in the tool palette.

    Open a drawing that conforms to your Civil 3D standards. Possibly one that already contains your desired assembly. 

    1. If the assembly has yet to be created, create it. 
    2. Ensure it is on the desired layer. Assign the desired code set style to it. Move it from its insertion point to 0,0. If this last step is skipped, the assembly will not be inserted properly later.


    3. Save the drawing to your shared network folder.


    4. WBLOCK and select the assembly and subassemblies together.  Ensure the insertion coordinates are 0,0,0 and provide the file name.  Click OK to create the drawing.




    5. Create a new tool palette or set current the destination palette for your new assemblies.  Drag the newly created drawing into the palette.

    6. To use the new assembly, drag it from the palette into a new drawing.  This will be a block, however.  It will need to be exploded once.

    7. You may suggest turning on the Explode option in the tool to avoid the explode step.  Indeed, I thought of that as well.  Problem is, this is what you get!



    That’s it.  Once the assemblies have been created, it takes about 45 seconds per assembly to add to the palette.  If edits are required, simply open the appropriate DWG, make the edits, and save.




    Civil 3D Assembly Sets

    Have you ever saved and used Assembly Sets within the Intersection Wizard for saving your custom assemblies for future use?  Have you ever had issues with them not appearing to work properly every time you use them?  Have you ever wanted to share them with other team members?

    This document will shed some light on why; and what you need to do to make them work every time.


    Civil 3D intersections are complex corridors containing many assemblies, regions, and baselines.  Creating and editing them without the Intersection Wizard takes skill, time, and patience.  There are up to 8 assemblies required for a typical intersection and creating them is also time-consuming and prone to errors.  The image below shows a corridor which contains just one intersection, complete with all of the baselines, regions, and assemblies applied.

    Assembly Set Basics

    If you’re not familiar with them, Assembly Sets can be accessed and saved from within the Intersection Wizard when creating a new intersection or when Rebuilding Corridor Regions for an existing intersection.  You simply create new assemblies or edit the ones that Civil 3D creates for you, and then export the set for use on future intersections, so you don’t have to recreate the assemblies every time.

    The Assembly Set is saved as an XML file initially stored in its default folder…
    C:\ProgramData\Autodesk\C3D 2020\enu\Assemblies\Metric

    The Problem

    There are technical support cases where the user has indeed exported an Assembly Set, but the proper assemblies do not appear after the set has been selected.  In the image below, the custom set was selected where all the assemblies were renamed to MPK…  As you can see, it appears as if an out of the box set was selected; no MPK assemblies are listed.

    The Solution

    There are 4 different scenarios where Assembly Sets are used.  One for each of the two corridor types, selected within the intersection wizard…

    One for a T intersection…

    And one for a cross intersection.

    If you open the Assembly Set XML file with your internet browser, you will see the 4 scenarios listed and the assemblies applied to each scenario.  In the second image below, note the AssemblyName is set to MPK Primary…


    When you save the Assembly Set, only the current corridor type is exported, only 1 of the 4 scenarios.  The next time you use the Assembly Set, if that corridor is of a different type, your custom assemblies will not be applied since that corridor type has not been exported.

    To ensure your custom assemblies are used in all 4 scenarios, you must go through the intersection wizard 4 times, one for each scenario and export the Assembly Set for each of them.

    • Create a cross intersection and specify All Crowns Maintained.
    • Create a cross intersection and specify Primary Crown Maintained.
    • Create a T intersection and specify All Crowns Maintained.
    • Create a T intersection and specify Primary Crown Maintained.

    Select the same XML file each time, the exported scenario will overwrite only the applicable section of the selected XML file.