Project Explorer is an extension to AutoCAD Civil 3D 2023 which is now available to anyone with a Civil 3D license. It is a modeless dialog box which means that, like the Toolspace, it can stay and reside on another monitor while you are operating Civil 3D. It’s divided into separate tabs representing main object tools and includes one devoted to blocks. It brings many of the tasks that we accomplish by clicking on various objects, menu items, or dialog box tabs into one interface. It offers diverse methods of reporting and a means of visualizing items in ways we couldn’t with the traditional interface. It boosts productivity by reducing the number of picks, clicks, and tasks that must happen to reach an end result.
Assembly management has been a tedious undertaking in Civil 3D, particularly if you are using a lot of assemblies. They usually reside in an area far off in space away from your model, and interacting with them involves panning, zooming, and opening various dialogs to edit properties. The Project Explorer has a tab devoted to assemblies in the drawing. At first glance, you can see a lot of data is displayed. The display of this data can be rearranged and customized, but the gift here is the single interface we’ve been provided for assembly management.
At the top, a graphic display the assembly currently selected in the list. It clearly shows the location of the baseline and provides offset and elevation graduations to aid spatial awareness.
Across the bottom of the graphic are options to control the display of certain features and the scale. With the magnifying glass, you can toggle between options for zooming with the scroll button with the option exaggerating the offset axis only or the elevation axis only.
The graphic can be further enhanced or simplified by right-clicking on it to access Preferences. Configurations can be saved outside of Civil 3D to a Preferences Style file for reuse.
Above the graphic, there is a control that will filter the assembly list on this tab based on usage or issues.
Under the graphic is the assembly list. This list provides a summary of each assembly’s usage. Items on the list are color-coded purple for those in use, and red for those unreferenced.
Right-clicking on an assembly will show options for reporting, selection, and display. There is Project Explorer feature called Object Sets that allows you to associate certain objects together for reporting purposes, which can be configured here as well.
When an assembly is selected, its properties (subassemblies) are displayed in the area directly under in the left pane of the Subassemblies tab. The right pane of the Subassemblies tab will contain the properties of the selected subassembly on left.
Next to the Subassemblies tab, there is the Associated Corridor Regions tab which will display each region that the selected assembly belongs to. If there are any property sets created for the assembly, those will appear on the adjacent Assembly Property Sets tab.
The arrangement and inclusion of all of this tabular information is controlled in the Layout Options dialog with checkboxes and display order controls. Configurations can be saved outside of Civil 3D to a Layout Style file for reuse.
The dialogs for both Preferences and Layout Options can be opened from the bottom of the dialog.
In the upper right corner of the dialog, there is a layout control that can be used to rearrange the panes.
A lot of information has been intuitively organized and arranged in the Project Explorer which helps take the tediousness out of assembly management. With this interface, we can very quickly address issues, identify unused assemblies, change subassembly properties, and even customize the interface to our liking. This helps to increase efficiency, work intelligently, and manage design data effectively.
– Cyndy Davenport