DWG Diagnostics | 6 Questions to Answer Before Collaborating with Civil 3D Files

(Image above: source data courtesy of Crowley Cottrell, LLC)

Landscape and site design professionals constantly collaborate with civil engineers who use Civil 3D. Being able to work with Civil 3D’s DWG files is a necessity, especially so for those who design with Vectorworks Landmark or other products outside of the Autodesk suite. In this article, you’ll discover a checklist of six crucial questions to make sure you’ve addressed for success when collaborating with Civil 3D users.

1. Will you receive the file once, or will it be a continuous back-and-forth process?

This provides a greater understanding of the process at large. If a civil engineer shares a model later in the design process that won’t change, you should directly import the file. If they share an initial model earlier in the design process, you should reference the file so it receives updates as they’re made.

Perhaps you’ll receive PDFs instead of DWGs. In this case, the same rules apply as PDFs can be imported or referenced.

(Image above: source data courtesy of Crowley Cottrell, LLC)

2. What is the purpose of the information you’ll be exchanging?

If you share information in the conceptual phase of a smaller 2D project, it wouldn’t need to be as detailed or graphically rich to serve its purpose for collaboration with a civil engineer. If information is contributing to a collaborative 3D model, it’ll need to be detailed, precise, or even visually appealing. Establishing whether the project will be 2D or 3D is typically decided at project kickoff.

The key here is communication. What is the best method to share design intent so that information can be used effectively by the involved parties?

3. How will the information be used by the party that receives it?

It’s important to know exactly what you or the consultant will be doing with the exchanged information. This allows both parties to better tailor their files through respective export and import settings to the use case on the other end.

4. What are the DWG drawing units?

In cases where the consultant’s file doesn’t indicate drawing units, you can simply ask the file author or identify a reference dimension — something you know the real-world size of, such as a parking space, which is generally 9 feet or 2.74 meters wide.

5. What type of information will you be exchanging? Will it be 2D drawings and/or 3D models?

You want to avoid the case where you or a consultant is blindsided. If a consultant only works in 2D, they likely won’t find your 3D model helpful. Likewise, if you’re receiving terrain information, a flattened 2D topography plan could mean extra work translating it to a 3D terrain model.

6. Is the file georeferenced and, if so, which coordinate reference system is being used?

Georeferencing can place the project in the real world, but a project’s base point is just one attribute of properly maintaining its georeferencing. Building position, orientation, and all coordinate-driven layouts can be affected if the receiver of the georeferenced DWG files cannot properly maintain them.

Fortunately, Vectorworks can read the coordinate system of an imported or referenced DWG file, and likewise can embed this information on export. Vectorworks designers can rest assured that using the same geographical coordinates and angle to true north means this should be handled properly in the file.

Looking for more information? Download the complete guide, “Civil 3D Interoperability with Vectorworks Landmark” today!


Published on October 24, 2022

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