Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Getting EXTENTsive Performance Improvements from AIM

Sorry about the title, I can't resist a corny play on words.  Years of submitting AU classes with catchy titles has ruined me.

Anyway, as my journey through the world of Autodesk Infrastructure Modeler continues, I learned another lesson that I thought would be important to share.  I was compiling data from various sources (shp, dwg, sid, xml) and I found myself really grumbling about the software performance, specifically when I had to regenerate the model.  Regen times were becoming unbearable (3-5 minutes) and I began to think that this product just wasn't usable with real data.
Then I remembered that there was some kind of Model Extents thingy that might be important so I went digging for it. I found it by clicking the File menu, then Model Properties.  In the Model Properties dialog box I found the Extent setting shown below:
After several minutes of looking around for a pick button, I gave in to the notion that I was going to have to manually type these coordinates in...what!?  Yep, unless I'm missing something, I had to go back to the model, position my cursor at the lower left corner of the area covered by my terrain, and write down (yes you read it right, write....down....) the coordinates.  Not sure what the Load Extent From File button does...it was looking for a file format that I wasn't familiar with.

Anyway, after the grueling exercise of writing down the coordinates and typing them back into the software (I was tempted to borrow an iPhone and have Siri do it for me) I found that regen times were significantly reduced.  Setting the Model Extent was worth it!
To prove it, I regenerated the model with and without model extents for the data I was working with.

Without model extents, the regen took 4:56.  With model extents it took 1:39.  What I'm guessing is that AIM uses model extents a lot like Civil 3D uses a data clip boundary.  Data on the outside is ignored completely, greatly speeding up processing time.  Hope that saves you some time someday!

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