Happy New Year! Over the course of an otherwise challenging 2020, we were pleased to provide Civil 3D customers with tools to make them more efficient. Not only did we release Civil 3D 2021 and provide major functional enhancements via two updates to Civil 3D 2021, we released two updates to Civil 3D 2020 to support key customers who are in the process of adopting 2020. Now I’d like to give you a high-level idea of our vision for the near- and long-term future of Autodesk® Civil 3D® software. We’ll post updated roadmaps as we’re able to share more information.
Before I get into details about what’s on our roadmap, I’d like to set expectations: This roadmap may make statements regarding future events and development efforts for our products and services. These statements reflect our current expectations based on what we know today. Our plans are not intended to be a promise or guarantee of future delivery of products, services or features and purchasing decisions should not be made based upon these statements. We do not assume any responsibility to update this roadmap to reflect events that occur or circumstances that exist after the publish date of this roadmap.
This past August, we had two exciting releases. First was Civil 3D 2021.1, which contained some great enhancements for editing pressure networks and feature lines, as well as new functionality in the Connector for ArcGIS® and Collaboration for Civil 3D® software
Our second August release was Project Explorer for Civil 3D® software. We’re very excited about Project Explorer because it is a whole new way to find, compare, edit, manage, and extract data from objects in a Civil 3D model. Project Explorer not only makes it easier to find your way around a Civil 3D drawing, it addresses many popular customer requests; I’ll expand on some of those later.
In December we released the Civil 3D 2021.2 update, which contained further refinements to the pressure network layout and editing tools, as well as more functional enhancements to the Connector for ArcGIS® and Collaboration for Civil 3D®.
For more information about what’s in Project Explorer and Civil 3D 2021.1 and 2021.2, please check out the New Releases playlist on our Autodesk Infrastructure YouTube channel.
To help explain the roadmap, we’ve grouped our plans by theme:
- Create – The act of model creation
- Efficiently create models that better capture design intent
- Engage in a delightful, intuitive, and contextual experience
- Model to higher degrees of accuracy and detail
- Connect – Integrating teams and products
- Connect project teams with AEC-focused collaboration tools
- Enable multidisciplinary workflows to help deliver projects
- Extend BIM to all phases of the project lifecycle
- Optimize – Better designs and processes
- Analyze, simulate, and iterate to optimize designs
- Work more productively with software that automates tasks
- Have more time to design with more reliable and efficient software
Like the Autodesk® InfraWorks® product roadmap, the Civil 3D roadmap uses the above themes, plus the following colors and icons to identify the roadmap details.
This theme focuses on creating and editing project data at any point of the project lifecycle. As the image above shows, we’ve been very busy in this area. Among other things, Project Explorer addresses the top three items. First, Project Explorer has outstanding tools for generating custom reports and dynamic AutoCAD® tables. In this new environment, you can more easily create tables and reports that show very specific data about a set of Civil 3D objects, or you can simply select an object and quickly generate a default table or report with a click of the mouse.
In addition to tables and reports, Project Explorer has a suite of tools that enable more efficient editing of objects. Pipe networks are a great example of this, in that you can easily edit a pipe run, as well as swap multiple parts at the same time.
In the core Civil 3D 2021.1 Update, we further enhanced the new pressure network layout and editing tools to make it easier to edit pipe runs and make vertical design changes. Now when you need to accommodate an element that conflicts with the pressure network in profile, it is even easier to edit the network to add a lowering.
Other enhancements in Civil 3D 2021.1 include efficiency gains in site modeling, including new tools for editing feature lines and better cleaning up of corridors in site contexts.
In Civil 3D 2021.2 we added the ability to create a parts list from multiple catalogs, which enables you to have a single parts list that consists of parts of varying materials. This and other enhancements make pressure network design more flexible and efficient than ever before.
For what’s ahead, you’ll see a continued focus on utility design and documentation. You’ll also see we’re heavily focused on researching how we might make geometric design more efficient. Our customers use the alignment layout tools in road, rail, site, and countless other types of projects. There are several areas we’re researching to make those tools more powerful. For example, we’re researching improvements to the process of (and the geometry to support) connecting intersecting alignments. The goal of these improvements is to make it easier to create everything from dynamic at-grade intersections complex highway interchanges.
We have plenty of other Civil 3D Ideas to work through. In the coming months, we’ll be working these into our roadmap in a variety of ways.
The Connect theme focuses on making it easier to break down barriers between project team members and the tools they use. We’re working on the Connect theme in several ways.
In Civil 3D 2021, we made big improvements to the way a bridge is designed within the context of an overall roadway project. In the Civil 3D 2021.1 Update, you’ll find we added more granular control over the layers on which generic bridge objects are placed when they are brought in from InfraWorks.
In Civil 3D 2021.2, we expanded the Connector for ArcGIS to enable you to refresh an ArcGIS dataset in your drawing so that it matches the ArcGIS dataset online, and import raster data from ArcGIS into Civil 3D.
On our previous roadmap, you might remember me saying that the Civil 3D team is heavily invested in making sure Civil 3D would continue to be connected to the BIM 360® environment in a more seamless manner. In the near and long term, we’re planning to broaden out the Collaboration for Civil 3D toolset to include capabilities for things like migrating projects; design collaboration support for infrastructure products; and monitoring the overall health of a project by viewing and managing reference dependencies.
We’re planning to continue our momentum with Project Explorer for Civil 3D. We have a lot of plans to better connect Project Explorer to your Civil 3D model data, including adding support for additional Civil 3D objects.
Finally, we have an ongoing research initiative related to a Common Data Environment, or CDE, which is a standard for managing project information when multiple parties are involved. The Common Data Environment was originally defined in BS 1192:2007 and now has its own international standard, ISO 19650. It is built on the principle of the controlled sharing of data once certain validations and criteria have been met. We are striving to enable workflows based on this ISO standard in BIM 360 and implement enforced unique file naming conventions.
Beyond file naming conventions based on this ISO standard, a CDE could enable objects (such as surfaces or alignments) to be stored in a common, cloud environment to which multiple products (such as Civil 3D, InfraWorks, or Revit) could connect. Each of those products could interpret (and potentially edit and analyze) the data in a manner that is appropriate for the context. The goal is to have project data that is a “single source of truth” that can be shared across design teams and disciplines and is always up to date.
The items in the Optimize theme are all about letting software handle repetitive tasks and letting you focus on the design.
For the past year, we’ve been hard at work building out the Civil 3D API. In Civil 3D 2021.1 Update, you’ll see new API support for things such as Data Shortcuts, Pressure Networks, Catchments, and other objects. We’re not done with our work on the API, so stay tuned for more enhancements to make customization easier!
We’re continuing our research into interactive grading tools that will make our land development customers more efficient. This research consists of applying a series of constraints to grading objects and then enabling an optimization algorithm to iterate on possible solutions. Again: letting software handle these sorts of repetitive tasks has the potential to help save you time and money.
This past year, we’ve done a great deal of customer research to determine the areas of Civil 3D with which our customers were most and least satisfied. That research told us the #1 area customers are eager for improvement is in the overall performance and scalability of the product. Customers shared that as drawings get larger and more complex, Civil 3D tends to slow down and inefficiencies with Civil 3D workflows make our customers progressively less productive. With those issues in mind, we’re focusing resources on two areas:
- Product performance and scalability. We’re digging deep into the Civil 3D code to isolate where and when Civil 3D slows down. The areas we’re looking at span core operations like opening drawings to Civil 3D specific operations like rebuilding corridors and surfaces.
- Workflow efficiency. Customers indicated several areas where we could reduce the number of picks-and-clicks needed to complete a task. Our Experience Design team is researching how we might make operations like assigning corridor targets more efficient than they are today.
In the coming year, product performance and workflow efficiency will be key areas of focus for us. I’ll have a lot more to share about our progress in the coming months.
HOW DO I GET INVOLVED?
If you would like to get more detailed information about anything I’ve shared, please feel free to submit a request to join theAutodesk Infrastructure Futures program. If accepted into this program, it is an opportunity for you to gain access to and evaluate pre-release software. This program allows you direct access to the product team, provide feedback on the product roadmap, and test select new functionality and workflows before Autodesk puts them into shipping products.
If you don’t see something listed here, it doesn’t mean it isn’t on our radar. If you have specific suggestions for ways we can make the product better, we encourage you to submit them for our consideration to Civil 3D Ideas.
We will continue to post updates periodically, and your feedback helps! Let us know what you think.
Tim Yarris (on behalf of the Autodesk Civil Infrastructure Product Team)