Traditionally, points are imported and displayed with a marker and some text showing the point number, elevation, and description. In AutoCAD Civil 3D and Stringer Topo, that does not have to be the case. Points can be imported and look like what they represent, cutting the drafting time down considerably. Even labels can be attached to points that describe the object represented in terms that we like to see in our plans. In this post, we will see how both applications do this.
When points are created or imported in AutoCAD Civil 3D, the description of that point is matched to a code in the description key set. A description key set is a table where you would enter your default codes in one column, then associate styles and parameters for each code using the other columns.
AutoCAD Civil 3D
In the image above, field codes are entered into the Code column. Placing an asterisk behind the code will treat the code as a prefix for the purpose of differentiating figures collected simultaneously (e.g., EP1 and EP2). Once a code of a newly inserted or imported point is matched, the configurations placed in the adjacent columns are applied to the point.
The point style controls what the point marker looks like. A point marker can be configured to look like a traditional AutoCAD point, or it can use a block definition for its appearance. There are also several options for sizing:
- Use drawing scale – sizes the marker based on plotted height.
- Fixed scale – this is especially handy when using blocks. This allows for the entry of X, Y, or Z scaling of the block used in the style.
- Use size in absolute units – this option is used for scaling the marker up to an actual size. For example, if you want your manholes to always be 4’ in diameter on your plans, use this option to configure that height.
- Use size relative to screen – rescales your point marker to be the same size when the zoom magnification changes.
Point Label Style
The point label style is used to apply plan annotation. AutoCAD Civil 3D point properties include the point #, elevation, and description but also possess additional properties such as latitude, longitude, grid northing, and easting to name a few.
The format column is used to configure alternate descriptions. Perhaps the code used in the field for power pole is PP but the actual annotation needed is P/P. Or maybe numeric codes are used in the field, and the descriptions needed in the labels need to be translated into an alpha format. This is what the Format column does. The field code is also referred to as the raw description while the Format code is referred to as the full description when it’s time to configure labels.
When things are inserted, they usually go into the current layer. This column allows for points representing certain codes to be inserted into an appropriate layer for what it represents. If used with point style where the components on the Display tab are set to layer 0, and Bylayer for color and linetype, then the point takes on the properties of the insertion layer.
Options for scaling can be handled by the point style, but there are cases where those options will not work. For example, if you have a block library that was created so that each symbol would need to be scaled up by the annotation scale, there is not an option for that in the point style. By setting the point style to use a fixed scale of 1 and filling the check box in the description keys for Use Drawing Scale, you can achieve that; and the size of the marker will change with the annotation scale. Another useful configuration here is to scale the marker up by parameter. The field crew can enter the code into the data collector, follow it by a space, and enter in a measurement. For example, a 4’ diameter sanitary manhole can be entered as SMH 4. The space indicates a parameter. Additional parameters can be entered in by following with additional spaces, like a 12” pine tree can be entered as TR PINE 12. Pine and 12 (diameter at breast height or DBH) are parameters and they are differentiated in the order they appear. To scale the tree block in the point style by its DBH, fill the check box in the Scale Parameter column and select Parameter 2 in the drop down. Then click the check box in the Apply to X-Y column. Note that in the image below, the DBH parameter is being used in the Format column using a $ prefix to indicate which parameter to place into the full description.
Rotation options work very much like scale options. Rotation can be applied by parameter or as an override to the style.
When points are created or imported in Stringer, the description of that point is matched to a code in the point code set. A point code set, similar to a description key set, is a table where you would enter your default codes in one column, then associate styles and parameters for each code using the other columns.
In a Stringer Point Code Set, there is a Code column where the field description is placed followed by an asterisk which provides the same option of differentiating simultaneous linework that uses the same code (e.g., EP1 and EP2). As does AutoCAD Civil 3D, Stringer Topo matches the code of a new point with a code in this column and applies the adjacent configurations.
Stringer Topo uses point styles like AutoCAD Civil 3D although formatted entirely different. This setting, if checked, will override the layer specified in the point style using the insertion layer specified in the following column.
Like with AutoCAD Civil 3D, here we can specify an insertion layer. Unlike AutoCAD Civil 3D, the layer here will override the layer specified in the style.
The point style can include the annotation. The point style is based on an attributed block stored in Stringer Topo’s global settings folder. Using Stringer Topo’s point style manager, the attributes are mapped to point properties. The point property is defined based on the assigned description format.
The description format is basically a point file format. Point file formats can be developed to include information beyond the traditional PNEZD format. Point file formats can also be configured to recognize parameters in the description field like AutoCAD Civil 3D. These can be mapped to attributes and formatted into an attributed block for custom labeling. You can also use these as scaling parameters.
In both applications, blocks can be used to represent the symbol. However, AutoCAD Civil 3D doesn’t make use of attributed blocks since it uses point labels. AutoCAD Civil 3D ignores dynamic blocks since the block is embedded in the style. Since Stringer Topo inserts blocks for points, dynamic or parametric blocks can be used. Attributes can be moved around in case of text overlap. However, if static text is embedded in a block as in the case of calling out a rim elevation, that type of text cannot be moved.
There are plenty of interesting options in both applications, allowing us to control the display of points through use of description keys in AutoCAD Civil 3D and code sets in Stringer Topo. Both require considerable time to set up, but in the long run, doing so will save a lot of time in the office.