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Site Model Base Files

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Hey everyone, I'm curious what your workflow looks like for generating a base file from civil data. I've tried creating site models with some .dwg's that I've got, but the contours have no Z value and it's a PITA manually assigning Z values and manually closing so many contour lines. 


I'm wondering what the fastest and most efficient workflow is that you guys have developed and if it differs based on how big the site is (seeing that maybe it would slow down my computer).


Often the majority of the grading for a project site is already done by a civil in a program like Civil 3D and there is a lot of data/metadata in those civil files. Instead of dumbing it down to .dwg, do any of you ask to recieve survey data as a .txt file? It seems that civil flies might be able to be exported as point files and it looks a lot easier to create a large site model using a survey .txt file. Would you have to have a separate survey .txt file for existing and proposed grading and then create two site models? Is there another file type that you prefer or anything that allows you to easily update or recreate site models as the grading changes throughout the project?



Edited by jg@swcm
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Do the countours have either attribute data or extended entitiy data (EED) holding the elevation value? If yes then you could use a GIS program (e.g. free QGIS) to import the DWG file and use the elevation value to put it at Z-height and then re-export it as shapefiles for importing into VW.


Sometimes the information does show up as records in VW (i.e. when they are attached as attributes instead of EED) and then you could use a custom selection to select all isolines of a z-level and assign the z-value to them. This could even be scripted to do this recursively if you have regular  intervals. For intermediate z-values you may still need to search and custom select them manually.


Another option could be to ask for the elevations to be exported in separate files by elevation (some DWG software can use add-ons to do this) and then you could import the files and assign the elevation right after import.


For the record, Autodesk Civil 3D is DWG file format, so no dumbing down to DWG there, but it depends on how information has been attached to the objects whether VW can use it or not.

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Ok, I'm really new to a lot of the terminology that you just used. What is your typical workflow for bringing in survey info and using it for a site model? Are site models part of your typical workflow when you get grading info?


Thanks for taking the time to reply!!

Edited by jg@swcm

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For me there is not really a typical workflow as it all depends in what format the information is available. It could be point data files, DWG files or Shape (e.g. ArcGIS) files or whatever else there is that I can use either directly through Vectorworks or through using other (GIS) software to convert it into something that Vectorworks can use.


Regarding the DWG files, the contours could be 2D but with data attached. This data can could be attribute data (similar to records in VW) and that should show up in the data panel of the OIP (Object Info Palette) after importing in VW. If there are attributes attached to the contour lines you may find a record listed in the data panel of the OIP having a field containing the elevation of the contour (e.g labeled "elevation" or "z" or whatever). You could then use custom selection on that field to select all contour lines at a specific elevation and then assign a z-value (after conversion to 3D polylines).

This may be an option if you have uninterrupted contour lines (i.e. no breaks for the elevation texts in the contour lines).

The other possibility is that the (elevation) data is attached as so called Extended Entity Data (EED), which AutoCAD etc. and some GIS software/add-ons can read/generate but if I recall correctly Vectorworks cannot use, but I would have to test this in VW2019 to be 100% sure about it being able to use EED or not.


If you would be able to use GIS software you could import the dwg in there and then export the contour lines to shape files by elevation value (i.e. one shape file per elevation level) and then import the shape files into Vectorworks. That is often less tedious than the above if you have lots of contours. Or generate a site model in the GIS software and then export it as a point data file if it can do that (depends on the GIS software), but you will then be working with interpolated data that may not have the required accuracy if the number of points per area is relatively low.


Given that you seem to be unfamiliar with either option above then the best way for you might be to request the point/survey data file and generate the site model from that. This assuming that the providing party has not already made changes to the site model in their software that are not reflected in the point/survey data file that they might be providing to you.

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