Confused Point Disorder in Civil 3D (Solutions from Synergis Tutorial)

31 Aug, 2007 By: Bill Frederick

Why do your points act the way they do and where did they go? Don't suffer through Confused Point Disorder when you don't have to.

Confused Point Disorder has been an interesting topic surrounding Civil 3D. In past releases (before 2008), points and point groups behaved much differently. This month, we'll explore the basics of points and some of the differences between software releases.

Point Basics
Let's start off with the basics of points. Points are Civil 3D objects that contain several types of data. All points have an x, y, z designation that describes its known location in space. But to display this information on a plan, a point needs to be assigned a point style and point-label style. You can add points to point groups for organization. You also can manipulate points using description keys when inserted.

The point style and label style define the display properties of each point in the drawing. A point style designates how the point object (node) is displayed. A point-label style is the annotation associated with the point data. The combination of these styles gives you the ability to display information in the drawing in a desired format.

Point style and point-label style.

Point Style
The point style is the simpler of the two. A point style can be made from three main sources: an AutoCAD point, a Civil 3D Object, or an AutoCAD block. If using a block, be certain of the scale and size of the block before adding any scale factors to it within Civil 3D. If you don't, you could have some undesirable results.

Point-Label Style
The point-label style can be a bit more complex. The label itself comprises components, such as text and a line. The text components are extracted from the point-object data. You can add data such as northing, easting, point number, elevation, description, and the like to the label styles. The ability to have several different label styles available facilitates the labeling process and organization within your drawings.

To apply styles to a point, you can configure description keys. Description keys can automatically assign the appropriate styles based on a raw description assigned in the field, compiled into an ASCII-based file, and imported into a drawing. Each code is assigned a point style by selecting the check box and appropriate style. The same holds true for the point-label style. The format or full description can translate a simple code into meaningful information. The format column can be configured to use parameters, a string of text, or both to create the label information. Parameters are used to control scale or rotation of the point.

Description key editor.

For example a simplified field code of DT 24 MAPLE, can be translated to read 24" MAPLE TREE on a plan without any manual text manipulation. The point can be scaled to give a better representation on plan, smaller trees vs. larger trees.

A layer designation also can be applied to a particular point. By applying a layer to a point, you can have control over the point using the layer manager in AutoCAD. The layer currently selected is used to place the point, while other layers can be designated for the point label within the label style. It's much easier to apply layers when importing the points rather than to change them after insertion.

Point Groups
Point groups are another way to manipulate points. Point groups let you organize point data and apply style changes on a global scale. By creating a group of points, you can apply a default point style and point-label style for a group.

Point group properties.

Be careful when applying default styles to a point group as it could override the original, inserted style. On the Overrides tab in the Point Group Properties dialog box, you can force the style changes by selecting the check boxes for point style and point-label style and by choosing the desired style to apply.

Point Group Override tab.

In pre-2008 releases of Civil 3D, point groups could apply a layer to the group. This feature often caused points to be confused as to their proper layer. Points were listed on one layer but actually resided on another. This particular option has been removed from the dialog box and no longer functions as it did in the past.

An advantage of point groups is the ability to set their display order. The display order is accessed through the properties of the point group collection on the Toolspace. If a point should belong to several groups, a hierarchy then takes precedence within the drawing for its display characteristics. This is a quick and easy way to set your display of points when working with drawings. Point groups can be configured and stored in your drawings. After points are inserted, you can update the group either individually or globally.

Point group display order.

Daunting, but Worth It
The sheer number and complexity of the aforementioned styles can be a daunting task to complete, but once they are configured, you can store them in your drawing templates and use them for all future projects. Set your styles, point groups, and description keys correctly, and your points will never again encounter Confused Point Disorder.

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