So the day you anticipated is finally here. Your new software arrives and it’s installed. You open it and see new menus and so many button choices, and on top of that, buttons that give you more menu choices. Where does one begin when implementing the new Stringer Topo V23?
Stringer Topo is a software solution created by Civil Survey Solutions, a software company based out of Australia. The software was inspired to make ease out of creating linework and point data from the field and utilizing tools for quick manipulation when necessary. It will install on AutoCAD Civil 3D and make use of certain AutoCAD Civil 3D functionality, but it also installs on plain AutoCAD and BricsCAD.
In this post, we begin by using Stringer V23 (United States Imperial) installation. The Stringer Topo interface in AutoCAD, BricsCAD, or AutoCAD Civil 3D is the same. For Stringer V23 release notes, click here.
After Stringer Topo is installed, there will be no specialized shortcut created to launch BricsCAD, AutoCAD, or Civil 3D with Stringer Topo. Just use the original application’s shortcut to get started.
In the applications, note that the ribbon will have 3 additional tabs: Survey, Site, and General. The Stringer Survey tab will in no way conflict with the AutoCAD Civil 3D Survey tab. If during installation the Stringer Topo Legacy option was enabled, there will be another ribbon tab called Stringer Topo for tools that will interact with legacy versions of Stringer.
So where do we begin?
There are two ways to get started. You can jump in and import data and configure later, or configure settings then import. There are some default setups built into Stringer Topo, but even though there was some effort to “Imperialize” the interface and settings such as layers, I find that people do have unique preferences that they want to keep, minimizing change management and the rippling effect it would have on a productive organization that spans field and office. Therefore, this post will take the proactive approach of prioritizing proper setup before actual use.
Assuming we all have our own customized DWT files with our organization’s standard, layers, linetypes, blocks, and styles already configured, we will start by creating a new drawing with our standard template.
Before beginning the configuration, know that there are two folders in Stringer Topo responsible for storing the application’s settings:
- Global Settings – C:\ProgramData\CSS\ARD\Common\common-10
- Local Settings – ..\project path\drawing folder\drawing-data
Global Settings Folder
This folder contains the default settings that each project starts with. The contents of this folder serve as the seeds for the Local Settings folder. The contents of this folder can be customized so once customization is complete, it makes sense to place this folder in a shared location for your organization and point all users with Stringer Topo to this folder. This can be done using the Set Settings Path tool on the General ribbon tab.
In BricsCAD 22, this will affect a file called ARDNETInitialize.INI located here:
In Autodesk AutoCAD or Civil 3D, this will affect a file called AEDNETInitialize.INI located here:
Local Settings Folder
Copied from local settings, this folder contains settings for the drawing it is named after. For example, Site Topo.dwg would reside in a folder that also contains a subfolder named Site Topo-data. The data folder is created when the first Stringer Topo command is initiated. Not only will settings from the global folder reside here, but any design data created in the dwg will also be stored here in external files, i.e. points or surfaces. In case the drawing file is separated from its data folder, opening the DWG file in an application with Stringer Topo will extract any data contents found in the drawing, recreating the data folder repopulating it with Stringer Topo global settings.
It is important to know the difference between the two folders because as we begin to customize, we will see options to save to Global and/or Local along the way.
Point Code List
In Stringer Topo V23, field code settings can be found in a number of interfaces but the place to start would be the point code list. The point code list can be created within the Code Sets dialog. Open the Code Set dialog by accessing the Survey tab on the ribbon, Settings panel.
If accessed for the first time since opening the drawing, you will be prompted to load the layers specified in the stock code list (USA Alpha Codes). Click No to continue.
The code list is actually a text file located in global settings that gets transferred to your drawing data folder. When the Code Sets dialog is opened, this is what you will see.
To start your own code list manually, click Add Table. In the Name field, give it a name. The code list is created and ready to receive input.
Click Add Code under Details to create your first code and type your code into the modelViewSuite dialog. Click OK and the code is added to the list.
If you would like to override the current layer, check the Override Layer box, then set the layer for the point with that description in the Layer column. Since you created the drawing from your template, your layer should be there. The point style is basically a label with a marker and is a block within global/local settings. These can be customized. The Description Format allows you to choose an alternate description for your point. Currently, we will not be customizing point styles or alternate description formats. The format Description (Code1 Code2) is empty by default.
There is an area in the lower portion of the dialog labeled Default. Set the default for all new codes in this area prior to adding additional codes.
We would continue until all of our point codes are added.
If you have codes set up in AutoCAD Civil 3D, you can bring those in to get your point code list started with the button labeled Past From Civil3D (DKS).
- Open your Civil 3D template containing your description keys.
- Locate the Description Key Set (DKS) on the Civil 3D Toolspace Settings tab > Points branch >Description Keys collection.
- Highlight the DKS, right-click and select Edit Keys. The DKS will open in the Panorama.
- Click anywhere in the DKS grid, hold down the CTRL key and press A.
- Then while holding down the CTRL key, right-click and select Copy to Clipboard.
- Open the Point Code Set dialog and with your new Point Code List current, click Paste From Civil3D (DKS). All codes from the Civil 3D DKS will paste into the Point Code List. Note that Override Layer will automatically be checked, and the layers configured from the DKS will be placed in the layer column. This will only get you started with the values for Code, Override Layer, and Layer column. Point Styles, Label Styles, or Format (full descriptions) will not transfer over.
The Add From Stringer (SDB) option will import Stringer Topo settings from a legacy file format.
Notice the button at the bottom left of the dialog called Set as Global? This button will send your table back to the Global Settings so it can be reused in other drawings.
There are many settings to address when configuring Stringer Topo for use with your company standards. Knowing where those settings are and how to configure them is a big step. There are additional settings for configuring linework based on point codes, which we will cover in future posts. Stay tuned!
– Cyndy Davenport