from Civil to Inventor

The Autodesk enthusiast exile

Part 1 of the Point Creation Scenario

Importing Points

This discussion regards impoting points into an existing database.  The focus of the discussion surrounds mechanical and visual organization.

We will discuss the following:

  • Importing Points
  • Point Groups and their importance
  • Renumbering Points for the current database
  • Visual sorting
  • Points and Point Label Styles
  • and more….



Check that data first!

On a normal day to day workflow, I start my data import with a thorough review of the data file. Some of my colleagues feel as this is a waste of time, but I tend to disagree. The time used in this review saves me a lot of time figuring out where my data went when the Description Keys sort things out. I usually get my data as ASCII coordinates. I review the file and change any descriptions that might need adjusting, and add any new descriptions to my Description Keys that seem to be good for the future. More on that later. 


I change my current layer to something descriptive. PNT-FIELD. Any data that falls through the DESCRIPTION KEYS will fall to this layer. Don’t use some odd layer name, because if you forget to sort it, no one will realize 5 years from now where the data is. Don’t use a layer where a lot of other data exists. PNT-FIELD says it’s unsorted field data. If you Freeze All, the only thing left on the screen will be Unsorted data. This method needs a little adjusting for Display layers, that will be covered later.

Through the menus, use POINTS->IMPORT POINTS. The import points dialog will appear.
The format used here is PNEZD (Comma Delimited) however other formats may be used, and created. Another bonus of pre reading the data file in an ascii editor, is that you can confirm the format.

Select the source file where the data is located. Click on the plus sigh button and it will ADD data files to the import. The red X will remove them if selected. If the file is corrupted or a bad ascii format, the file will not appear here, and an message with each line error will appear. Many times this is ascii format problem. Many times it may be UTF-8 and needs to be changed to ANSI for Civil to import them. Once the format is corrected, the files show up like the example above.


Below this you will find the Add points to Point Group. This is absolutely important. Unless you are dropping 20 points into a junk drawing for a fast review, then you need to group the data. If it is for nothing else than to see the data separated for 30 minutes only, this option is necessary. I recommend that each time you add points, even if by hand typing, they are grouped. Notice the Naming format used below. DATE CREW DESC of work. Don’t be chinsey with description of work in the name. 5 years from now it will be the deciding factor if you look stupid or not when asked where the field notes are for something Jimmy Joe Bob did back in old days. There is a lot of organization here, and it should be used. Later we will go back and add the field book too the Group’s internal description, as well as to the title we will add the point numbers contained in the group.  Don’t do that now, as the group will tell you exactly what it imported.  

In this example, as the points come in there is a conflict. I always preview the impact range to know what I may be overwriting, and where I want the data to go. In this example I will add 10000 to the numbers. Select the resolution pull down, and pick Add an Offset. Make sure to check Apply to all duplicate point numbers at the bottom. This will ensure that the remainder of the points will be inserted in the same manner.


NOTE: some points may have come in the original range, which was 7000+. This would normally be really bad, as they would be scattered and not retain the identification that we understand.  However, since we grouped the points, they will be mechanically held together for us to fix easily.  

Once the points come in, a new Point Group will appear, having the name we just specified. Right click on the new Point Group and select Properties. In the Include Tab, you will find Point Numbers resource checked at the top, with the numbers that came in included. Select the Point List Tab and you can see that some original point numbers did not get renumbered because there was no conflict at that Point Number range. Again, no problem, as you can see in the following example. They are all held together for us to edit. 

 You cannot edit point data in the List tab, so close the properties box by hitting OK.





Right click again on the Point Group, and select Edit Points. 


You will then be able to select the point or points you wish to renumber. Sort the points by number. Then select the top point, scroll down to the last point to renumber, and hold shift while picking the last point. The list will highlight as shown below. Right click anywhere in the selection highlight, and pick Renumber.


In the Command Line you will find a prompt for the Additive factor. Here we used 10000. 

Immediately, after a nice wait, the numbers will update to the edited values.


Note: If you are editing alot of Points, of are working in a large database, the delay can be a minute or more.  Don’t kill the process yet.  Give it a while.

Close the edit vista, and right click once again on the Point Group. Select Properties and then select the Include tab.

Notice below how the groups are begging to be updated.

Here you will find the ORIGINAL numbers that the group received. The Include resource does not update with any renumbering.  It is a query.  Until we update the group manually, it thinks all the previous members are still there.  It is essentially blind until the Update occurs.

What do you think will happen after we update the groups?

The 7000 series points will drop out of the group (which are now 17000 series), because they were just renumbered in the last step. We need to change the Include query source now.

 Renumber these values to what we entered in the renumber step.

Then add these numbers to the group name. This will be very useful when trying to track down what number was done when.
This is a REALLY GOOD TIME to click the Information Tab, and under Description, add the Field Book, and the fact that you added 10000 to the point numbers. Seriously…do it now!

[*TIP* If you have a point and want to know what group it belongs to, you can right click the point in model space, and select Group Properties. If _All Points Group is at the top, you will have to move it to the bottom. Then repeat the procedure mentioned here, and the Point Group Properties box will appear.]


How does the point get it’s Display Style?
The software goes to each Point Group and processes each point contained therein. If the Point has specific display instructions (Point and Point Label styles) then the point is displayed in that fashion. Otherwise the Point gets the default settings that the Point Group contains. (Point Group Properties->Information Tab)

Each Point ‘falls’ through the groups (from top to bottom) until a query in a group requests that point.  That is the Parent Point Group.  Other Point Groups below can still collect and catalog the Point, but they cannot control how it appears. The Parent Point Group will prevail.

One way to think of Point Display sorting is to consider it like painting portraits over top of landscape backgrounds:

The software goes to the _All Points Point Group and processes each point according to the Group Defaults, then proceeds to each Point in the Point Group for any Point specific instructions. (this would overwrite the Group default). Then the software goes UP the Point Group list, in the same manner, constantly overwriting any of the previous group default settings for any Points it queries. 

Nothing below the _All Points group is considered.

Note: In the event that the Point Group Overrides are activated, then the Point Group defaults are processed, but the software will not “proceed to each Point in the Point Group for specific Point instructions”.

In the following example we have given the group some specific Display styles to set it apart from the other 10000 points. I have pre-manufactured a list of styles that change the display to the 8 primary colors, in small medium and large. The labels have the same coloring and sizing, but have different combination of information depending on what I am doing at that moment.

In the following example you may have guessed that they are BLUE, MED sized, and display DESC and ELEV data.  

Since some of my points may have hard coded styles at the individual point level, they will not react to the Parent Point Group defaults UNLESS the override features are applied. Select the override tab, and check the Point style and Point Label Style override boxes.

The following example shows us what you may see after you hit OK on the properties box. See the blue. There are a lot more not being displayed, as the group needs to be updated.

 Right click the Point Group Collection Parent, and select UPDATE. This will update all the point groups.


After the Update, I have added manually added topographic data points to the Point Group by expanding the Included Point numbers, and then forcing my manual points into that point range.  When displayed, teh result looks like this.


Continue to Part 2 – Point and Label Styles



October 9, 2008 - Posted by | Points | , , , , , , ,

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