Merging Pipe Network Catalogs

August 22, 2022 Bryant Quinney

Typically, Civil 3D users find the need to have custom or expanded pipe content for more accurate project designs. In giving users a starting point, Autodesk includes stock catalogs of parts, but they most always fall just short of certain specifications, details, sizes, and material groups. To be fair, there are many of them so it cannot be assumed that so much content that gets updated should be a huge focus on their part. For the most part, the out-of-the-box, or OOB, catalogs are adequate for most users. However, for many others, the task of building and using custom content as a supplement to the OOB catalogs can involve a deficient workflow.

This write-up will address a process to merge the gravity pipe and structure catalogs. Here, I won’t state that this process is a Best Practice, but it gets the job done. Could you recreate each part manually? Sure, but that will be even more tedious and far less straightforward. The following steps will show the merge of two OOB structure catalogs, but the process is the same for pipes since its structure will have the same file and folder structure with familiar parameters.


File Structure:

First, let’s look at the file structure of both the pipe and structure network folders. The default path is found at ‘C:\ProgramData\Autodesk\C3D 2023\enu\Pipes Catalog’. The catalogs to merge will be the US Imperial Structures catalog (this will be the “base”) and Generic Drainage Catalog – Imperial (this will be the “merging” catalog). In this example, we will save them as Custom Imperial Structures (“build” location). This applies to combining pipe catalogs as well, so there will be no need for separate instruction for that.


Folder organization:

  1. Create a new folder in the file path and name it Custom Imperial Structures.
  2. Copy the entire folder contents of US Imperial Structures and rename both the APC and HTM files inside by that name to ‘Custom Imperial Structures’, leaving the file extensions intact of course.
  3. In the “source” catalog, copy just the Access and Inlet folders into the “build” folder.


File editing

"Custom Imperial Structures”

  1. Open the APC file using a text editor of your choice (I use Notepad++ for easy text identity and great formatting).
    1. Search for and replace ‘US Imperial Structure’ with ‘Custom Imperial Structures’ (without quotes). Line 3 should have an entry that reads (remove any additional letters that may show):

                                             name="Custom Imperial Structures"

    1. Notices that the section of DomainSet is similar between the files, there will be no need to copy contents, namely because anything in the “source” is already listed in the “base” (Type, shape, and connection).


    1. Copy over the contents of the “Source” ParameterSet group to the “base” and separate them with some space or characters for easy identification (you will remove these before we finish). I used an ‘=’ sign so it stands out. 


    1. Now, at this point you need to remove any duplicate lines that occur between the sections. For example, the line <ParameterString>PrtSN</ParameterString> shows in both sections, so I delete the second appearance of it. Continue this for the pasted entries until complete.
    1. Remove whatever characters or line spaces you used to separate the groups of entries. The remaining entries should show as the image here (before line removal).

  1. The groups labeled as “chapters” mimic the folders by which the parts are grouped.
    1. “Base”: Text

Description automatically generated
    2. “Source”: Graphical user interface

Description automatically generated with medium confidence
    3. Copy the chapters (and their respective subentries) from the source to the base file.
    4. Once finished, the grouping should appear like the following image (when collapsed):
  2. Save your file and close it.



  1. Open the “AeccSharedPropertyLists.xml” file in the “base” and the one in the “source” (it helps if they are side-by-side).
  2. Note that most of the contents are identical and that the listing is relatively short, so correlating the missing values is simple. Note the difference in options for the cover and grate listings. Update the values in the ‘base’ file to include the ones from the ‘source’.

  1. Save the file and close it.

Test and implementation

Now that the new custom catalog is built, it is time to test it out! Opening or starting a new drawing file, setting the catalog (structure only, in this case) to our newly built catalog will allow you to test drive the build and check for any issues.

                  Note: A good practice is to build a new Parts List to test out your contents.

Now that I created a new drawing, complete with a new Parts List, I’ll edit it to see what structures can be added to my list. Now, I see that there is a much broader list of available structures to be used. For good measure, I like to add parts from each family group (Inlets-outlets, Access, etc.). Also, note that a couple of these groups can be combined and further organized to truly make it your own custom catalog.



About the Author

Bryant Quinney

Civil Solutions Applications Expert<br><br>Working with clients to implement various technologies and techniques within civil engineering disciplines. With my travels, I teach/train, troubleshoot, solve, configure, and implement solutions based on client needs. Drawing on many years of experience across various types of projects, I continue to enjoy doing this type of work.

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