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Civil 3D Version Notes and Upgrade Tips

Marissa GagnéAugust 31st, 2020

As most people are now aware, Autodesk is moving away from standalone and network license servers to a single, named-user license model.  Autodesk is also going to start being much more restrictive when it comes to providing approvals for the use of unsupported versions. This means that once you move to this model, you will have to be running on the latest version, or one of the three previous versions. As of today (August 2020), the latest version is 2021, and the 3 previous versions are 2020, 2019, and 2018.

If you are running any version of Civil 3D that is 2017 or before, you may be concerned about what an upgrade/migration will entail and what things you should look out for. While this can vary based on the version you are currently using, below are some key points to think about:

Tips and Strategies during Civil 3D Upgrade

  • CADD usually recommends waiting for the first service pack or upgrade to be released before moving to the newest version of the software. AutoCAD 2021.1 and Civil 3D 2021.1 have both been released and are available in the Autodesk Desktop app.
  • As of now (August 2020), all of the supported versions of Civil 3D listed above use the same 2018 DWG format. Once drawings are saved in these newer versions, they cannot be opened in previous versions (2017 or earlier).
  • Any drawings that include AutoCAD objects only will come forward with no issue.
  • Like other DWGs, Civil 3D DWG files are forward compatible and will come forward for the most part.
  • All template files should be migrated and updated prior to the migration of old project files. The recommended steps for this process are:
    • In the new version of Civil 3D, create a new, blank drawing using the out-of-the-box acad.dwt file and save it as a new DWT file.
    • Use the Design Center to or other means to access the older template and bring over basic AutoCAD standards into the new DWT.  These include, but may not be limited to, the following:
      • Layers
      • Linetypes
      • Text Styles
      • Dimension Styles
      • Multileader Styles
      • Table Styles
      • Blocks
    • Once this is complete, use the Import Styles functionality to import the Styles and the Settings from the older template into the new template.
    • If your template has Description Keys, Gravity Parts lists, and/or Pressure Parts lists, these items will need to be dragged-and-dropped from the old template into the new template using the Master view in the Settings tab with both templates open. This link provides more information about other items that may need to be updated manually.
  • Below are some items to keep in mind as you are upgrading older project files.
    • Prior to bringing older files into the new Civil 3D environment and saving them, you should always back them up.
    • Also, clean up the drawings as much as possible using tools like Purge, overkill, and audit before upgrading them.
    • When you bring in a drawing from Civil 3D 2017 or earlier that contains Assemblies and Subassemblies, you may receive a message asking if you want to convert the Subassemblies from VBA to .NET.  CADD recommends that you perform this conversion.  This link below provides information and instructions on how to accomplish this.
      • Depending on your version, we have seen some issues with converting child Styles. We have seen child Styles come in fine, but we have also seen others get corrupted or have certain changes made, and in some cases, they have just disappeared. Be aware of this and review your child styles prior to the conversion. If for some reason the don't come through, you can try using the Style drag-and-drop capability in Civil 3D from the old drawing to the newer version that has been saved in the newer version.
    • You may want to brush up on the new features between the version you are using and the version you are going to move to. Depending on the release you are coming from and the version you are converting to, there may be new object types and/or new label types. Examples may include Catchments, Crossing Pipe Label Styles, more available Pressure parts (hydrants, etc.), and Section Sheet creation.
      • Once you have determined the new features, you will need to spend some time updating and/or creating Styles and Settings for those items.
      • It may also be necessary to teach the users about these new features so that they can begin applying them in projects going forward.
    • If you are going to be migrating a full project, it is recommended that you begin the migration with any drawings that are referenced by others. This includes files that are XREFed as well as files that contain objects used as Data Shortcuts in other drawings. If the newer versions of these drawings are stored in a new location, it will be necessary to update their paths once the remaining drawings are also upgraded.
      • Civil 3D Corridors and Pressure Networks can now be shared using Data Shortcuts. You should consider this when you are rebuilding the project in the new versions.
    • If your drawing was created and saved in Civil 3D 2017 or before, and it contains Sections, you will need to examine them to make sure they look right. Sometimes sections and/or their annotation (especially if any was added using basic text instead of intelligent labels) may shift a bit due to a new option for a "Drafting Buffer" that appeared in the Group Plot Style as of Civil 3D 2018.
    • Because many new part types have been added to the Gravity and Pressure catalogs over the years, you should review these new pieces. If your current part catalog is very old, it may be a good idea to create new parts lists that point to the new out-of-the-box catalogs or new versions of these catalogs that have been customized for use in your projects.
As always, CADD Microsystems is available and happy to help you during your transition to a newer version of AutoCAD, Civil 3D, Map 3D, and other Autodesk products. If you have any questions or would like to find out more about how you can receive our assistance, contact us here.

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