Remote Collaboration Options for Civil 3D Users

For many organizations the recent pandemic has created a range of disruptions with operations as more people are for various reasons staying home.  For a growing number of our Civil 3D customers this has compromised their ability to keep projects on track and to keep people working. 

Under these circumstances, it seems like a good time to review options that may allow users to continue to work, collaborate with others and to keep projects moving forward.

Software & Hardware

The first step to consider is the software itself.  Depending on the version and license type of Autodesk software you’re using, in many cases there is an allowance to use licenses for “Home Use” or to be borrowed from a license server.  (See links below)

In cases where your office workstation is a laptop/notebook, you may have the ability to bring your workstation home with you (with management’s consent of course).  For users who cannot bring their work computer home, there are options available where you can install Autodesk software on your personal computer, and using one of the licensing options noted below, work remotely (assuming said home system meets system requirements).

COVID-19 Autodesk Resource Center

Request a license to use software at home

Autodesk Licensing Options

Other key necessities would be an internet connection sufficient to transfer large files in a reasonable time. 

[FWIW, I have a ~300MB down and 30MB up connection at home and I have absolutely no issues with even very large files.] 

Keeping in mind, your personal internet connection at home is only part of the story when considering file transfer speeds.

Collaboration (file sharing) Options

In the case of working with Civil 3D, this is where things get a bit more complicated.  Most organizations utilize Civil 3D’s ability to share Data References (e.g. Alignments, Surfaces, etc.) as well as Xref and image files, etc.  Accessing these files remotely is possible if your organization can grant remote system access (i.e. Remote Desktop) to your office workstation, or access to your network files share (e.g. VPN access).  In many cases however, this is not an option.

Vault Professional

If your organization utilizes Autodesk Vault Professional your remote (home) workstation may be configured to allow you to access shared files (including references and data references).  If your organization does use Vault Professional, contact your system administrator to find out how you could work remotely.

More information on Vault Professional and Civil 3D

BIM 360 Design for Civil 3D

The latest option for remote collaboration would be the 2020.2 (and newer) versions of Autodesk Civil 3D along with the latest version of BIM 360 Design.  With BIM 360 Design users have the ability to create and work on projects in the BIM 360 environment.  Through this cloud-based system, access to and the ability to share files including drawing files, data reference, Xrefs, images, etc. is possible.

While still somewhat new to Civil 3D, the technology is solid and offers the easiest means to collaborate and share project files remotely with users pretty much anywhere internet access is available.

Important Note: BIM 360 Design technology does necessitate BIM 360 Design licenses and the 2020.2 (or newer) version of Autodesk Civil 3D to function.

BIM 360 Design Information

For organizations implementing BIM 360 Design for Civil 3D, late last year, IMAGINiT developed a quick implementation/training service called the BIM 360 For Civil 3D Jumpstart service which is designed to quickly get organizations up to speed and running with BIM 360 Design for Civil 3D.

Other Options

In addition to the options noted here, IMAGINiT is well versed in the tools and technology related to remote education, consulting services, etc. and have been using these technologies for years.  If you or your organization is considering using this time to get caught up on some needed training, or the development of an optimized and customized Civil 3D environment, let us know.

With the technology advancements over the last several years, working together doesn’t require travel, or even having to be in the same room. 

If you have any questions on anything noted here, please do not hesitate to contact us.

About the Author

Kevin Breslin

Professional Services Director, Civil <br> Kevin began working in the civil engineering and survey industry in 1985 and has continually built on this foundation to become an expert in civil design and infrastructure data management software. He has been involved in every aspect of the industry from field surveying to transportation systems, as well as managing a CAD design group within a civil engineering firm. <br> Kevin's passion for technology combined with his unique insights to the business processes of engineering firms makes him an accomplished leader for the infrastructure solutions team.

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