Civil 3D QTO File Creation from Agency Data, Part 2 - Categorization Files

December 14, 2020 Kevin Stacy

The creation of the Civil 3D Quantity Takeoff (QTO) files to support projects permitted by major review organizations, such as municipalities, environmental agencies, and state departments of transportation, might initially appear to be a formidable task.  However, this effort can frequently be mitigated by making good use of an agencies available data.  Many agencies post construction and material pay item information on web pages like the one in the image, below:

This information can be used to create a Civil 3D QTO pay item file, as described in the first part of this blog series “Civil 3D QTO File Creation from Agency Data, Part 1 - CSV Files”.  However, it can be difficult and time consuming to navigate through large pay item files.  To assist in this effort, Civil 3D categorization files can be created from readily available agency data, as well.  Many agencies publish or post construction materials specification documents and updates regularly.  These can usually be obtained through online links, as displayed on the web page in the image below:

Downloadable, portable document format (PDF) versions of these manuals are becoming more commonly available.  However, published “hard copy” manuals can be used, as well.  These documents are generally organized into sections of related construction materials.  These sections can be used to develop Civil 3D categorization files.  Several examples of these manuals and a typical table of contents displaying category information are shown in the image, below:

Civil 3D categorization files are Extensible Markup Language (XML) files.  This relatively simple file format is intended to be easily read and understood.  However, the format’s precise composition and the use of multiple schemas can make the creation of these files from scratch seem a bit complex.  Fortunately, creating this file from scratch is not usually necessary.  Several helpful examples of categorization files are provided with the software in folders at the following location:

“C:\ProgramData\Autodesk\C3D 2021\enu\Data\Pay Item Data”

The examples available within the United States folder, AASHTO GSH-9 Categories.xml and FHA_FLH_EE_Categories.xml, are organized similarly to the construction and material specifications documentation of many agencies (see image below).  One of these is usually the best starting point for most agency’s QTO categorization files.

Comparing the Civil 3D QTO comma-separated value (CSV) file with available XML example files will help you decide which can be most readily modified to fit your needs (see image below).

There are many XML editors available for viewing and editing these files.  Many free options are suitable for performing the edits required.

Once you select an XML example to modify, the agency’s construction materials specification documentation can be used to edit the categories in the XML file to fit QTO CSV file.  It is usually only necessary to provide categories corresponding to sections that include pay items.  Therefore, both the QTO CSV file and agency’s construction materials specification documentation are needed to perform these edits.  It is also sometimes necessary to add categories that do not appear in the construction materials specification documentation for items in the QTO CSV file (see image below).  This can be due to provisional items or updates introduced between published versions of these manuals.

Remaining categories can be edited in an XML file editor, as required (see image below).

Categories can be duplicated and edited into additional categories, if needed (see image below).

Categories can also be deleted as required (see image below).

Most XML editors provide a view for editing and an output view, which is like viewing the file in a regular text editor (see images below).

Once the XML file is edited, it can be saved to an accessible location for use in Civil 3D.  This file can be selected in Civil 3D from within the QTO Manager available on the Analyze tab, as shown in the following images.



Once selected, the QTO item data in the edited CSV file is available for use in Civil 3D.  The items provided by the QTO CSV file are now separated into the categories created in the XML file, as shown.

If you choose to include categories that do not currently contain items, they appear without a “+” sign in front of them in the QTO Manager (see image below).  The “+” sign is used to expand the category to view items.  When items in these categories are included, for example in updates, the category will display with a “+” sign.

Items that do not fall within the categories created in the XML file are placed in the “Uncategorized” folder (see image below).  This provides a good way to check for categories that may have been overlooked or for items that do not fall within established categories.  The XML categorization file can be edited to provide any additional categories required.


About the Author

Kevin Stacy

Civil Solutions Team Manager<br><br>Kevin is responsible for managing a team of Technical Engineers who educate and support Autodesk products for all AEC Engineering Services. He has 40 years of industry experience specializing in public sector surveying and right-of-way needs for infrastructure improvement projects and Global Positioning System (GPS) surveying services. Kevin’s 40 years of experience also includes management and field surveying experience on hundreds of transportation, site development, environmental, and construction projects throughout Ohio.

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