Civil3d For Cadastral Drafting
I was wondering if the community could help me. I work for an engineering firm who has decided to branch out into the cadastral world. We have Civil 3d and we plan on using it as our drafting program. I have a good grasp on using C3D for "survey" and civil engineering purposes (ie. cogo point manipulation, styles, surface creation, alignments, profiles, pipe networks, corridors, survey database w/ field to finish, etc.). That being said, I was wondering if the community had some resources for the cadastral side of the drafting/database management. We only use the survey database for linework and surface creation and will be using an exterior adjustment software (ie. Starnet). If addons are highly recommended/almost required, the ones you use would be awesome.
Things I would be interested in are things similar to the following:
-parcels (the Civil3d type -- of any value?)
-handling the grid to ground conversion (do so in C3D or externally?)
-land use schedules
-metes and bounds descriptions
-best practices for labeling (ie. bearings and distances)
I've come up with the following:
I used the parcel wizard (if that's what you're talking about) a little bit when I was in school and it seemed to work pretty slick, but my class projects were also fairly basic. What I'm hearing in the real world is that it's sorta useless; I guess it's not easy to edit things after you use it.
I use legalaid for description writing so that might be an add-on worth looking into.
I used C3D for about two years and hated every time I used it for any survey work. Design, I loved it, but I strongly recommend looking into Carlson Survey. You've got the cad base it will piggy back off of. So your product is the same looking. But for the Surveyor in me, it is way more user friendly. JMO
Overkill for cadastral parcel mapping
I don't do any cadastral work, but I guess my thought would be that this would be more geared toward Map 3D rather than Civil 3D, at least for the database side of it. If that's the case, then I'm sure there are plenty of people here who would recommend Global Mapper as an alternative software I have a little experience with Map 3D, and almost no experience with Global Mapper.
Here's one more link that I know nothing about.
Someone else mentioned Carlson (don't they always in Civil 3D threads?). I've read enough of your posts to be impressed with your knowledge of Civil 3D. I personally think you would be underwhelmed by Carlson. In the year that I used it, I certainly was. There are a lot of fans on this site, so obviously it fulfills the needs of countless surveyors, so YMMV.
Since you are already using C3D, I would say stick with it. You are already using the Survey Database for linework and surfaces, which is what it does best. Don't use it for anything else - run data through the database, QC, create surface, then unlock points and detach the database. It's not good for much else.
I would caution against using C3D for projections and scaling from grid to ground. It can be done, but considering how the bulk of folks sharing drawing files across a project have little to no understanding of coordinate systems, it is usually best to keep everything in the drawing files to simple "no datum, no projection". I am not sure how it works in your neck of the woods but around here no one aside from about 30% of surveyors actually understands how to set up coordinate systems in C3D. Since you are already planning to use an outside adjustment program, the workflow will suit you just fine - IMO it is better to use a surveying-specific program to perform the analysis, adjustment and bring data to ground.
But if you really want to set up projections and the like, it will work. Labels can be set up to use geodetic distances, grid distances, ground distances, forward/reverse geodetic bearings, etc. Once you have your default label styles set up, it is a piece of cake to do the labelling. Point labels will also do geodetic, ground, grid, etc.
(I used to write simple scripts to bring GIS info and orthoimagery from state plane gride to local project coordinates - the engineers and architects were able to use those when needed, and this allowed everyone to be on the same page and avoid any strange scaling or transformation errors when Xrefing or importing other drawings. But this does prevent you from having the geodetic info at your fingertips in the drawing.)
C3D parcels take some getting used to, but once you learn them they can be used with great effect. It is easy to run map-checks and check for gaps/overlaps in basemaps. Not sure if you have used it before, but you can define data tables (ADEDEFDATA command) and add that data to C3D objects (ADEATTACHDATA) for land use schedules. It is a little-known and -used tool, but it is essentially like an attribute table in GIS. You can also export to GIS formats if you desire.
I have used Trimble Business Center's legal description writer, and it works pretty well - better than Civil 3D add-ons. But honestly, that was just because it was already included in the program. When I didn't have that I used Word macros to format the bulk of my legal descriptions (using the parcel map-check text as the basis). You always have to do typing and editing in the end, and the time/money savings are minimal, especially if you are paying money for a program that does what a macro can do for free.
I agree with Bob - I would avoid Carlson if you are already using C3D. The tools are already there in C3D, and you will just be adding another learning curve (and shelling out more money) for a program that is really geared toward surveyors who have always used Carlson and want that feel when working with C3D. It's a great program, just likely unnecessary for someone already working in C3D.
As with any survey related hardware or software, you get out of it what you put into it. Many think Civil3d is overkill, many don’t understand it, many want LDD back, many embrace it and use it to its fullest. I despised the overall workflow and endless style manipulations and had many frustrations with Civil3d when it first came out. It’s complicated, sometimes unnecessarily so, but you can say that with just about any piece of survey software or hardware to some extent.
You appear to have a good understanding of Civil3D as it relates to your current workflow and end products. With that said I would definitely say yes, use it in your Cadastral surveying.
Definitely setup each drawing file in the correct coordinate system within Civil3D. There is really no viable reason not to if your using state plane or ground coordinates. It adds a ton of value to the data. We set all of our jobs up using ground values. Within Civil3d we set our Grid Scale Factor in the Transformation settings and then uncheck the Apply Transform Settings box. Whenever you need to reference in GIS data, aerial imagery, or any of the myriad of data we use these days that is on the State Plane Coordinate System you simply check the Apply Transform Settings box so that your data comes in on grid, import the file(s) and then uncheck the box. It’s really quite easy.
The survey database is great for linework and surface and is also great for interaction between different drawings and end products. You can insert any point at any time into any drawing. We track all of our daily data survey here using a strategically setup file naming convention. We can quickly know which day any point was tied and where it actually came from.
- I would advise against parcel use but it does have some value depending on your end product.
- Grid to Ground: Handle this prior to CAD. Do all your cad work using ground or project values
- You can literally copy and paste excel data straight into cad without many difficulties. There are even ways to link tables.
- Civil3d comes with a legal description writer. Out of the box it works but its not great. With a little online research and setup it works just great. They do not make this part very simple to edit into a format that is functional, but once it’s setup it works fine.
- Civil3d is great at labeling. It just takes some setup and trial and error. But again, once it’s setup you’re good to go.
- I know nothing of parts lists or land use schedules but I am sure it would handle this. This is probably more of a CAD thing then Civil3D.
Cadastral mapping in its simplest form is adding a database to a lot polygon. You do not want to manipulate database entries from within Civil3d or even from base version autocad. As the database size grows, autocad processing speed slows down as it tries to send a query/update to the database. What we did for a past client was to draw the lot polygons either through digitizing basemaps or entering corner coordinates in vanilla autocad. Then we attached a unique lot number to each lot polygon as an attribute data. You could then create a database with the lot number as the database index number and add as much data columns as the client wanted. You then link that database to the autocad drawing using the attribute data of the lot polygon and you could then make a query for the lot information. This process also allowed you to divide the database encoding process among several encoders using Excel then export these into the final database software of the client.
Yes, for database/GIS work Global Mapper is pretty awesome. I have version 11 that I use for DEM and Geotiff creation from public sources. My most used sources are the Southwestern Ontario Orthophotography Project (SWOOP2010) ( https://www.ontario.ca/data/2010-digital-surface-model ) along with local municipality GIS websites. I use it to convert the local municipality GIS exports from Web Mercator to whatever I like. I then use it to create a small DEM from the SWOOP2010 data. Combining the 2 gives the planning department a Q&D GIS grade legal boundary with elevations and an ortho image. Export to DXF and they're off to the races. Great for doing Q&D concepts for clients. I highly recommend it as a "poor man's" alternative to Esri.
Many moons ago I used Microsurvey (circa 2007). I, personally, never found it to be exceptional. I was not a fan of its method of adjusting a traverse and it's drafting was largely similar to AutoCAD. If one set up the control correctly and prechecked the FBK's, I could adjust 20+ topos of the crews to the control network in about 30 minutes of using the old DOS program. Using Microsurvey's traverse adjust took me about 15 mintues per single topo. It was a bitter pill to swallow. I imagine PEBKAC was part of the reason, but once you learned all the shorcuts with the old DOS COGO's they were great for time efficiency. That being said, C3D's adjustment is also garbage.
I have not used the Carlson desktop software. I have become familiar with SurvCE due to it being on a number of pieces of our equipment. From the website, it looks like a great product. It would be a tough sell here due to A). it's different software than what everyone else is running (we have MEP running AutoCAD with packages, structural/architectural running Revit, and the civil side running C3D........we're already shackled to Autodesk for better or worse) and B). I've already invested close to 20 years of using AutoCAD and its descendants. This dog loves learning new tricks, but it comes down to time invested vs. payoff for the "Boss man." He understands Autodesk...........so I have to also.
We're not necessarily looking to have a huge database on the lot fabric. Taking your suggestion as to Map3D, this looks to be the most we would use it:
I can assure you that you need not be impressed with my knowledge of C3D. I put lines and text on a screen--people just happen to pay me for it 😉 I also have noted that you know it's ins and outs and greatly appreciate your comments on it. Cheers!
Fantastic info. Much obliged. I especially appreciate the info on ADEDEFDATA and ADEATTACHDATA. That was exactly what we were looking for. Yes, the next step will be determining what adjustment program we purchase. I feel that will largely dictate how we set up coordinate systems, grid to ground, etc. in C3D.
The extent of the understanding of coordinate systems here for the civil team using C3D is that they know if they choose NAD83, UTM17 (meters) and type GEOMAP they have the option of a Bing ortho underlay. All of our previous legal linework has come from external firms and they typically state which point is held (ie. a SIB at the corner) and then distances are scaled out at ground from there.
I agree on the Carlson. It seems like a great suite, but I don't think I could justify the cost to the penny pinchers. Plus, it seems Dotsoft and others have legal description addons in the $200 range that other useful features.
Extremely useful info on the transformations. I appreciate the first-hand knowledge.
For the transformations, as my skull is unbelievably thick, is this what you're implying?
-GPS data is adjusted outside of C3D. You set your coordinate system (ie. NAD83, UTM17), choose a base point to scale from (here we have ORPs that most scale from), spec your grid scale, and then apply it when you bring it in so that it is scaled to ground? Same goes for TS data (we run with a scale factor so that the guns and the GPS jive).
For an ORP example, there's one on p. 16 if that's a different terminology than what you're used to. We, basically, have to have a minimum of 2 coordinated points to 95% confidence level so that the plan can be easily coordinated. Makes it easier for the Registry Office, municipality GIS databases, etc.
All drafting will definitely be done in ground. The structural/MEP side of the office would have their heads explode if we tried to tell them the world was round.
I'm confused. Does linking to the Excel not bog down CAD as well for you? I, personally, have never had good luck OLE linking Excel data but that was more on account that the formatting always looked like poo. I always just ended up doing things in Excel, printing to PDF/TIFF and xref'ing the results in (ie. storm/san design sheets, crossing tables, etc). I agree that CAD can chug when things get too large. We have a strict CAD structure where certain things go in certain files/folders and you data shortcut in what you need only when you need it. How large were your databases that you noticed CAD slowly down?
We use Excel for encoding because we have more copies of Excel than Autocad Civil or Map or ArcInfo. We do not link the Excel file to Autocad. Once all data needed are encoded in Excel files, we merge these into 1 file & save as dbf or imported into mdb or sql or oracle. This final database then is what is linked to the Autocad map drawing.
I just tried to open an old client's tax map in Microstation 8. The database is an Access file with approximately 300,000 rows x 16 columns. Even using today's i5 pc/16gb unit, the query for a certain lot owner still took several seconds. The bogging down happens when you try to pan the map or do a regen.