Project Explorer for Civil 3D - Part 1

March 2, 2021 Brian Johnson

Working in Civil 3D, we spend a good amount of time selecting objects either in the drawing or in the Toolspace, clicking both left and right mouse buttons to select or display commands on the ribbon or an extended menu, unselecting objects, and opening and closing dialogs, just to find much needed information. Have you ever thought how much time would be saved to have immediate access to the information you need? Enter the Autodesk Project Explorer for Civil 3D.

Project Explorer was released as an entitlement to the Autodesk 2021 AEC Collection and runs inside of Civil 3D 2021. Interestingly, if you also have the 2020 AEC Collection and have Civil 3D 2020 installed at the time you install Project Explorer, it will be installed for both versions.

Have not heard of Project Explorer? It provides a single application to manage the content of Civil 3D models as well as a reporting tool to present model information. Simply put, we can edit Civil 3D objects, validate our design, and create reports all within a single user interface.

Once installed, launch Project Explorer by clicking on the Add-ins tab of the Ribbon and selecting the Launch Project Explorer button. Project Explorer will open as a new dialog that can be moved to an additional monitor and left open while working.

Part 1 – User Interface

  1. Object Category tabs – Each tab cycles between the Civil 3D objects available in the drawing. A number next to the object type indicates the number of those objects in the current drawing. Civil 3D objects supported are: Alignments and Profiles, Assemblies, Corridors, Point Groups, Surfaces, Feature Lines, Parcels, Pipe Networks, Sample Line Groups, AutoCAD Blocks, and Object Sets.
  2. The Profile or Section View pane – displays the selected Civil 3D objects in a graphical form. Buttons above and below the graphical display provide features for displaying specific details and in some cases commands to create objects. These views update automatically when values are edited for the displayed content.
  3. The Object List pane – Lists the Civil 3D objects available in the drawing along with the object’s information. Select an object to display it in the profile or section view or expose the object’s entity information in the sub-object panel. Right clicking on an object opens a menu with additional features such as Quick Reports, Zoom to, Set Styles, and more. Text in purple indicates the value is editable by double-clicking on it, red means there is a violation, more on this in Part 2. Warnings or Violations will be displayed here when objects are in an abnormal state or areas of your design do not meet your design goals.
  4. Sub-object List pane – Lists the sub-objects that make up the selected Civil 3D object along with the sub-object’s information. Select the desired object in the Object List pane and the Sub-object list will populate with information such as parcel segments, corridor baselines and regions, alignment entities and more depending on the object selected. Any parameters that have a white background can be edited. Design violations are identified by sub-objects in red text.

The ability to make efficient use of certain commands is provided via right clicking on a highlighted item in Project Viewer or keyboard shortcuts. The first step is to highlight the object or sub-object.

Keyboard shortcuts include:

Z             Zoom to the selected item.

P             Pan to the selected item.

S             Select the selected item in Civil 3D.

C             Clear the current selected item.

A or E    Open the Civil 3D properties dialog for the selected item.

CTRL      Highlights the selected item in Civil 3D to identify its location.

The Project Explorer user interface is simple to navigate yet full of features that provide a single location to find information but also edit existing or add additional Civil 3D objects. Next up we will take a look at how those objects can be managed, in Project Explorer Part 2 Managing Objects.

About the Author

Brian Johnson

Civil Applications Expert<br><br>With extensive experience in both engineering and IT, Brian helps organizations make the most of their design technology. Whether it’s through a custom setup, training, implementation, or creation of organization-specific templates and styles, Brian helps both users and managers understand the best methods and processes to get the most from their chosen solutions.

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Project Explorer for Civil 3D - Part 2 Managing Objects
Project Explorer for Civil 3D - Part 2 Managing Objects

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