• Tool Palette: Open File or Web Page

    Tool Palette: Open File or Web Page

    Do you have CAD standards document or web page you’d like to make easily accessible to your AutoCAD users?  Does it make sense to create a Tool Palette button for this?  If so, read on.

    Create a tool palette as usual or edit an existing palette.  Add a new tool to it, such as a line.  It will look like this initially.

    Edit the properties of that tool and change three things. Reveal your inner artist when creating the icon image. Right-click to change that image.

    Change the command string to do what you’d like the tool to do.  The syntax depends on whether you’d like to open a file or a web page.  The startapp function will use the appropriate Windows app for the selected file type.  In the example below, the PDF will open in Bluebeam Revu because that is my computer’s default PDF application.

    You’ll notice I have no path defined for the PDF.  The findfile function looks for the file in the AutoCAD Support File Search Path (AutoCAD Options).  As long as you have the intended path defined here, the file will be found.  The path to the file can most certainly be hard-coded if you prefer.

    To open a file:

    (startapp (strcat “explorer file://” (findfile “The Actual File Name.pdf”)))  If the findfile option is appropriate)

    (startapp “explorer file://c:/temp/The Actual File Name.pdf”)  If the hard-coded path option is appropriate)

    To open a web page:


    My command string looks like this for the PDF option.

    Here are my two buttons.


    Civil 3D: New Geotechnical Modeler

    Civil 3D: New Geotechnical Modeler

    Autodesk has released a new extension for Civil 3D 2022 called the Geotechnical Modeler.  It replaces the former extension named the Geotechnical Module, which was developed by Keynetix and acquired by Bentley.  The last version of the former extension worked with Civil 3D 2021.

    Today, Autodesk delivered a webinar outlining the functionality of this new extension.  If you missed it, you can watch the recording here.  There is also a short video here on YouTube.

    Here is the online help document.


    Once installed, you’ll find sample data in this folder %PROGRAMDATA%\Autodesk\C3D-GeoTechModeler-2022\SampleData.


    Civil 3D: Edit a DREFd Object with No Source

    Civil 3D: Edit a DREFd Object with No Source

    You have a drawing containing an alignment that was data referenced. The source drawing cannot be found, and you need to edit that alignment. How to do this? Read on.
    Here you see the broken reference. The alignment can’t be edited or promoted.

    Follow these steps:

    1. Export the alignment to a LandXML file.
    2. Start a new drawing and import that LandXML file.
    3. Create a Data Shortcut to that alignment in the new drawing.
    4. Open the original file and replace the existing alignment with the new Data shortcut. There is no more broken reference; the alignment source is now the newly saved drawing.

    5. Open the new drawing and make your edits there as you normally would, remembering to synchronize the DREFs.



    Civil 3D Styles: Object Naming Defaults

    Civil 3D Styles: Object Naming Defaults

    So, you’re in charge of your company’s Civil 3D standards and drawing template and you’re annoyed when users don’t use the documented naming convention.  Read on to find out more.

    Users will typically do what’s easiest, especially when the heat is on from an impending deadline.  They don’t always take the time to find the standards manual and read the proper section when they’re not sure if they’re doing the right thing.

    When Civil 3D objects are created, they all need names.  We’ve all seen Alignment(12) and Surface(235).  These are terrible names!  Road A and Existing Ground would be better, respectively.  While it’s great to have a documented standard, why not have something in the users’ faces, Just-In-Time, when they are creating the objects?

    Here is the out of the box naming scheme for surfaces.  Surface<[Next Counter(CP)]>, where Next Counter would be 1, 2, 3, etc.

    The default for this can be changed in the Settings tab.


    Why not set up the default with a hint to the desired name(s)?  in this case, the user would use one of two conventions.

    • EG
    • FG Road A Corridor

    This same technique can be used for every Civil 3D object as they all have settings for default names.  I’ll let you decide on what a good default would be, but it will help your users more easily conform to your standard.  Just sayin’.

    As a bonus tip, consider creating these objects in your template with their names already defined.  When a user starts a new file using that template, the objects will already be there available to be edited and already named with pertinent descriptions.  This technique may not work for everything, but it certainly works for quite a few.