Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Getting the Look you Want in InfraWorks - Part 1: Using the Style Palette

If you're like me, the out-of-the-box stuff is never quite what you want.  So a good customization system is a must, in my book, for just about any software.  InfraWorks is no different, and almost immediately after I started working with it, I went in search of how to tweak things to get the look I wanted.

Here's a look at doing that for roads.

Awhile ago I posted this and showed how to create a road.  This is a pretty frumpy looking road, so how do we get it looking a little nicer?

To get started, I'll open the Style Palette.  The command to open it is found on the Home tab of the ribbon.

This opens the Style Palette window which has lots of tabs.  By the way, you can double-click the top part of the Style Palette to dock and undock it.

I'll click the Roads tab revealing a bunch of road styles.  Then I just drag and drop a style from the palette to the road.

After doing this, the road is completely transformed.

A beautiful road, but not exactly what I wanted to represent a 2-lane rural road so I'll try a few more choices...



Not quite...Well, next time we'll look at creating custom styles to get closer to the look you're going for.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Getting Started with InfraWorks - Part 5: Sharing with the World

Before reading this post, you should probably check out:

In this final post of the series, I'd like to take a look at how to share your InfraWorks creation with the world - even someone who doesn't have InfraWorks.

I'll start by creating a Scenario.  This begins by clicking the Scenarios button on the Present ribbon tab.

This opens the Scenarios palette where I can click the Green plus sign to create a new scenario - here I give the scenario a name.

Next, I'll choose the area that I want to include in the scenario by using the BBox (bounding box option).

The user interface is similar here to what we saw in Part 3 when setting the model extent.

There are more settings here, but for now, let's just focus on getting something published that can be viewed by the masses.  I'll click OK to finish creating the scenario.

Then I'll pick the scenario and click the Publish to Autodesk Infraworks 360 button.

You need to have an Infraworks 360 account which is available if you are on subscription (I think) or if you have purchased Infrastructure Design Suite Ultimate.  Within this account you create and assign groups. To make your creation visible to everyone, be sure to check the Make Public option. Choose a group and click Publish.

After your scenario is finished publishing, you can go to the Collaborate ribbon tab and click the Online Scenarios button. On this screen you'll find an Open In Web Browser feature.

Anyone can use this URL to view your scenario in a web browser.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Subassembly Lockout

This post has been up for awhile and nobody has given an answer to the riddle, so it's time for me to do it.  Scroll to the bottom to see what's going on.

Here's a Civil 3D riddle for you.  This one fell under the category of things that make me go hmmmmm.  I was trying to add a subassembly and kept getting this error:

Then I was getting a weird ghosted image of a subassembly that was not properly aligned with the assembly base point.

When I tried to erase the subassembly, it wouldn't erase.  It was like it was there - but not there; some kind of subassembly limbo.  However, I could attempt to attach another subassembly to it and Civil 3D would recognize its existence but give me this error:

I eventually discovered the answer, but for fun I want to see if anyone else knows.  Comment if you know what's going on.

Answer: The current layer is locked - there you have it!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Getting Started with InfraWorks - Part 4: Adding a Road

Before reading this post, you should probably check out:

Although the title of this post suggests that we're going to do some design, I'm actually referring to dressing up an existing road a bit to make it look better - and eventually to give us something to tie our new roads into. At this point in the project, we've got a nice terrain and some aerial imagery draped over it.  The imagery looks great from a distance but when you zoom in, it starts to look very grainy.  Not a huge deal for some features, but for others you may want to improve their appearance drastically.  I'm going to accomplish this with the existing road on the switchback area shown below by simply adding a new road in its place.

Here's how:

First I need to bring up the Draw Strip.  This is done by clicking the Create/Edit Features button on the main toolbar.  After the Draw Strip is available, I can click the Create Roads [Roads] tool.

Why does this say "Roads" twice?  Well, if you have the Roads and Highways module installed (available if you have the Infrastructure Design Suite Ultimate), then there will be additional tools such as Create Roads [Freeway], Create Roads [Collector], Create Roads [Arterial], Create Roads [Local], etc.

If this is the first time you click the tool, it will open the Style Palette so that you can choose a style to apply to your road.  For this example I'm going to use the Old Paved Road style.  It's not great looking but it'll get us started - and give us the chance to look at styles in another post :)

Now all I need to do is click points along the existing road.  The number and spacing of points is important.  When I pick one point, InfraWorks will assign an elevation from the terrain.  At the next point, the terrain will be used again and the program will draw a straight line between the two points.  At the next point, the terrain elevation will again be used and InfraWorks will apply a spline to add curvature to the road.  If my points are too far apart, there won't be enough elevation samples for the road to adequately match the existing terrain.  

In the image below, you can see how the road slices through the mountainside because it's making a straight line between two of my picks.

Whereas in this image, I have picked more points so the road follows the existing terrain rather than cutting through it.

Remember to double-click your last point to signal InfraWorks that you're ending the command (this takes some getting used to).  When you're done, grips will show up on your newly drawn road.  The box-shaped ones are like square grips in AutoCAD - they let you move within the XY plane - however, the vertex will update to try to match the terrain in its new location.  The cone-shaped grips move in the Z-axis only.  You can use both of these types of grips to adjust your layout.  You can even right click a spot on the road and add a vertex if you need one.

When you're all done, your road will look more like a road instead of a pixellated gray thing.  Although it'll look even better once you do a little style magic - look for a post on that topic in the future.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Updating the InfraWorks Project Thumbnail

Just a small InfraWorks tidbit.  It was bothering me that my Start Page thumbnail didn't look anything like my project any more because of all the amazing progress that I made.

I tried a few random things like right-clicking the image, etc. but when I didn't have immediate success I did the responsible thing and just ignored it.  Then, later I stumbled upon the answer.

On the Manage tab there is a handy Update Thumbnail command!  Simply navigate your model until you're viewing it from it's best side and then click the command - kind of like taking a snap shot.

Now, on the Start screen, my project thumbnail is much more attractive and much more representative of the project.

Monday, July 1, 2013

AutoCAD Civil 3D 2014 Essentials Has Arrived!

I'm proud to announce another year of AutoCAD Civil 3D Essentials with the recent release of AutoCAD Civil 3D 2014 Essentials

What's different this time around?

  • A full chapter dedicated to pressure pipe system design
  • More 3D!  The majority of the exercise drawings have been updated to include a 3D view - encouraging and training folks to use a 3D view more, at the basic level.
  • Updates for 2014 - all of the content has been updated to ensure that it is consistent with AutoCAD Civil 3D 2014
Please check out the book using the links to the right.  Each year the series becomes more and more popular as an Autodesk Training Center training guide, certification prep resource, self-learning manual, and textbook for college, technical school, and high school students.  I am so proud of how the book series has grown and reaches more and more people every year - including so many places outside the United States.