There is little-to-no surprise that your Desktop App will forever have utilities in them for which you may not have need for. However, there are times when, as instructors, we are asked about a way to do one thing or another (the answer sometimes lying in wait in the Desktop App). Though it is a lightweight piece, the Microdrainage Utility for Civil 3D offers a capability that may be worthy of mention for those that use drainage analysis software by others. Though it is simple to operate, this utility, like many others, should have both their capabilities and limitations explained. This is helpful to many, seeing that there is no documentation available, other than a high-level mention of its capabilities and uses.
First, the utility is available for versions 2017-2019 but we may expect to see it show up for Civil 3D 2020 at some point. There are a few improvements done over time in each version so I will just cover v2019 here. Pipe networks can be imported and exported to (and from) MDX, SWS, or FWS formats. These formats are used by the MicroDrainage System 1 software by Innovyze. They offer design and analysis solutions that operate on top of, or independent of, Civil 3D, but this utility is merely used to facilitate the export of pipe network layouts. In addition to that, network parts can be renamed in order to follow a desired naming convention. Once installed, access the utility by going to the Toolbox > Subscription Extension Manager > Autodesk Microdrainage Utility.
When using the Rename Pipes command, you are presented a dialog box from which you pick the network and two points, one near the beginning of the network and one near the end. These options change from red to green (with the same wording) once you have chosen the points, using the pickboxes.
If your network is discontinuous between the chosen points, an error will let you know that there is not route found between them. It’s always best to ensure your pipe network parts are fully connected. Also, if a structure does not exist at both ends of a pipe, it will not be renamed.
Once you click OK to begin the renaming, you are prompted with a starting index number and a starting pipe number (I chose ‘1’ for both). A verification box will then show confirming the old names and the new names, which follow convention. Click OK to proceed or Cancel to discard. A second dialog box shows, confirming the changes took place. The names of structures connecting these pipes remain intact.
Export to File
When exporting pipes and structures, you can choose one network at a time to export to a file. In the dialog box where you can name the file and directory to be placed, a list of what is and is not to be exported.
- Structures at the end of a non-renamed pipe will not be exported
- Structures at the end of a renamed pipe will be exported
- Structures with a standardized renaming will be exported, unless at the end of a non-renamed pipe
- All pipes that have been renamed will be exported
- Pipes that have not been renamed will not be exported
When you are selecting the path and name of the file to save, you can select the file type to save:
You can also choose the country standardization format to save: US, UK, or International. Click OK to save the file.
Import from File
First, it is important to note that you should set the pipe network catalog to the proper settings which have the parts included that you are to use/import. This way, errors during import or part mismatches are eliminated.
When importing, you first select the file that contains the network to import, then the parts list in the drawing from which the file is to read parts. The import process can create a new network in the drawing or add to/update an existing network. You can also rename the network to be imported.
For the visual aspect, you are given the ability to set the nominal style to use for both pipes and structures.
Click OK and your pipe network is imported for use.
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