Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Hey InfraWorks - Where Are My Tooltips?

I had seen the tooltip property for lots of InfraWorks objects but always thought it was just a functionless placeholder that only worked for points of interest.  Thanks to Angel Espinoza, I was taught that all one has to do is exit Edit Mode to see the tooltips in all their glory. I was humbled and felt pretty dumb until Angel shared that he also did not discover this little "trick" for quite some time.

So how do you exit Edit Mode?  Two ways:

First way is to click the Select icon on the Utility Bar (by the way, the black strip across the top of your InfraWorks window is called the Utility Bar).

The second way is to right-click an object and select Exit Edit Mode.

Once I was able to "turn on" the tooltips, I really started looking at how they work - and they're amazing! They are fully customizeable and can display all kinds of useful and interesting data.  I hope to post some details on that sometime soon.

Monday, April 28, 2014

The Incredible InfraWorks Bridge Design Module

Over the past few months I have spent a lot of time learning about the InfraWorks core tools and the Roadway Design tools.  Only recently have I really dove into Bridge Design and I gotta say, this is some impressive software.  If you haven't tested out Bridge Design yet, be sure to download the trial and give it a run.  By the way, the trial version of InfraWorks 360 2015 comes with a 30-day trial of Roadway Design and Bridge Design.

This module makes bridge design almost too easy.  You literally click Add Bridge and pick two points to start and end the bridge - and there it is, in full glory.

And this isn't just a pretty picture, this bridge has actual structural components such as a deck, girders, and piers, right down to the bearings.

It gets better: these components aren't just there, they are sized according to common structural engineering principles and practices.  So what you get isn't some sad attempt at a bridge - it's a darn good approximation of the type, configuration, and component sizes that could work in the scenario you're looking at. Of course it's not a fully designed bridge, but then again, it only took you literally seconds to create.
This is starting to sound like a ShamWow commercial, but wait!...there's more!  The bridge is a parametric model which means you can make changes and the model will update.  For example, if you delete one of the piers, InfraWorks will recalculate the girder sizes and make them bigger if the span requires it.  Are you kidding me?

There is a ton more to talk about but I want you to go and find that out on your own.

Even if you're not a bridge designer, if you have any appreciation whatsoever for amazing technology, you have to try building and tweaking a few bridges with this software.  It's amazing what you can do in such a short time, and again, it's not just for looks, this is a true preliminary engineering design that produces a model with components and values that can actually be useful in detailed design.

If you're still not convinced, watch this video - and if you're not downloading the trial before the video's even over, well - you must already have it installed :)

Friday, April 25, 2014

Zoom to a Data Source in InfraWorks

If you're an old Civil 3D user like me, you may have thought "Hey, where's the Zoom To command?" when you first started working with the InfraWorks.  This would be especially handy when working in the Data Sources panel.  Well, there's no Zoom To command but there is a two-step process that's almost as easy.
First, right-click the item in Data Sources and click Select Features.  Then, click the Zoom to Selected command within the Selection tools on the main User Interface.

Here's a video:

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Civil 3D Pipe Layer Whack-a-Mole

So, you create a reference to a pipe network in another drawing, and then you put the referenced version of the pipes and structures on a different  layer.  Everything's great, you can do whatever it is you wanted to do with that layer. synchronize the reference.  Then, irritatingly, the layers revert back to some other default - and you're probably thinking that it's the same layers that the pipes are on in the source drawing, right? soup for you.
First thing you need to know is that this behavior is fixed in Civil 3D 2015.
For those of you using 2014 and older, it turns out that the source of the switch isn't the layer in the source drawing, it's the default layers you see in the Network Properties command, and they can't be changed if it's a data reference.

So, where do those layers come from? They are "remembered" from the Drawing Settings at the time you make the reference.
So the workaround is to set the layers in Drawing Settings, create the reference, and then change them back. You are forcing the network to capture the layers you want at the time of the reference.  It works...try it!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Does Your InfraWorks have "The Works"?

InfraWorks, R1, R2, Pro, 360, Modules, Previews, what does it all mean? Well, here goes:

When I first started writing this, I started with the most basic version - but then I found myself writing about a whole bunch of stuff that wasn't there.  So, I'm going to flip it and start with "the works".

InfraWorks 360 with Roadway Design and Bridge Design: Not including previews, this is everything that you can currently get at the time of this post.  Please take note of the date because these offerings are subject to rapid change.
Your first clue that you're in InfraWorks 360 - "The Works" is the fully loaded Start Page which includes four sections: Model, Specialize, Preview, and Collaborate.
Within the Specialize section, you can see the license state of the add-on modules.  At the time of this post, the only add-on modules available are Autodesk Roadway Design and Autodesk Bridge Design. Also, again at the time of this post, there is a third preview module named Autodesk Drainage Design. You can think of "Preview" as meaning that it's kind of like a Labs project:  It's for folks to test, it's not for production, and it's free.
When you open a model, you'll see more clues that you're using "The Works".  First are the three icons on the top left for collaborative services: Sign In, Design Feed, and Publish/Synchronize.  Also, you'll see three major color-coded icons: InfraWorks (orange), Roadway Design (tan), and Bridge Design (purple). If you turn on the Autodesk Drainage Design preview (the switch is on the Start Page) you'll also see a light blue icon.
Roadway Design and Bridge Design are entitled based on your login.  So, if you log in to InfraWorks 360 (you do this either on the Start Page or using the Sign In icon on the top left of the InfraWorks UI) and you haven't subscribed to these modules or been given access by your software administrator (maybe yourself, or maybe your CAD Manager), you won't see these icons at all.
With the fully loaded version of InfraWorks you can:

  • Compile lots of different data sources to form a base model as well as sketch in design features like roads, buildings, and water features. 
  • Share your model with others via the cloud using the 360 part.  
  • Perform detailed, engineering-based design of roads and bridges using the add-on modules.  You can do it all!

InfraWorks: AKA, "just plain InfraWorks" or "the suites version" of InfraWorks is basic, but still contains a good bit of the functionality listed above. It contains all of the core features of InfraWorks but has absolutely no cloud functions (you don't even log in to it) and is not capable of plugging in add-on modules .  How do yo you know you have this version?  When you launch the product to the Start Page, you will only see the top section entitled Model.
  • Specialize: That would be add-on modules - nope
  • Preview: More add-on modules - no way
  • Collaborate: That would be cloud services - nyet

When you open a model, you will see the most basic form of the Intelligent Tools (that's what the toolbars and their tools are called) consisting of the InfraWorks toolbar and its associated sub-toolbars, along with the Presentation and Settings & Utilities toolbars.  You might also notice that there are no collaboration icons in the top left corner - those all have to do with cloud services, so they're out.
If you dig a little deeper, you'll notice that the Scenario Browser tool is missing because that's also a cloud function.

So with just plain InfraWorks you can only do one of the three bullets listed for InfraTheWorks.  Sorry, had to.
  • Compile lots of different data sources to form a base model and sketch in design features like roads, buildings, and water features - 
But like I said, that's still a lot!

R1, R2, Pro?: Fahgetaboutem.  There is no R anything any more.  And the Pro has been dropped from the title.  If you're talking about the 2015 line of products you've got:

  • Autodesk InfraWorks
  • Autodesk InfraWorks 360
  • Autodesk Road Design for InfraWorks 360
  • Autodesk Bridge Design for InfraWorks 360
And remember that the add-on modules (last two bullets) are not programs that you download and install. They're in there already and your login turns them on if you're entitled to them.  InfraWorks and InfraWorks 360, however, are actual desktop programs that you physically install.

Happy InfraWorking!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Coming Soon: InfraWorks Essentials

I am pleased to announce that Autodesk InfraWorks and InfraWorks 360 Essentials will be arriving sometime in the next few months.  The book is currently available for pre-order on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and direct from Wiley.  If you like my Civil 3D Essentials book, then you'll like this one too because the style and flow are very much the same.
If you've been wondering what InfraWorks is all about, then this is a great way to get started.  This book will show you how to start with nothing and generate a stunning and realistic 3D conceptual design using InfraWorks' fun and immersive user interface.
The book is based on InfraWorks 2015 and although it is considered "Essentials" material, you'll find that it covers about 95% of the product features in InfraWorks and InfraWorks 360.
This book was an absolute blast to write and I know you'll love working through the material. As hard as it may be to believe that a civil engineering or planning program can be fun, this one absolutely is.  It's like building your own gaming environments, but they're real...and useful...and you can get paid to make them.