Shared Tool Palette

February 11, 2022 Bryant Quinney


To maintain design document consistency and conceptual designs, the use of standardized blocks, hatches, and even basic AutoCAD geometry-to-proper-layer methods are paramount in achieving a consistent output. Some processes involved include manually inserting blocks, while referring to printed or electronic documentation for company standards, and even copying existing geometry into a current design. This remains a time-consuming and inefficient method of working through CADD modeling.

First, to reduce or eliminate redoing the entire catalog later, it would be beneficial if a structure is determined for multiple palettes (tabs) and sections. This document illustrates a test situation palette known as Proposed, using random blocks from a local DWG containing blocks.

This will also, for illustrative purposes, show the catalog being published to a locally mapped drive which serves to mimic a network server location.

Helpful note: Always keep a safe copy of any ‘Images’ directory that may be generated!

Civil 3D comes installed with several tool palettes out-of-the-box. There are several blocks to be found on the various tabs. In a corporate environment, it is common to want a refined listing of blocks available to users to minimize the confusion of what content to use. These blocks may also adhere to corporate layering standards as well. We will access the Autodesk Content Browser, found in:

START menu à Autodesk Civil 3D {version number} à Autodesk Content Browser

Note: This white paper assumes that a basic tool palette has already been created and may be in use by users. This may be in the form of a locally installed tool palette that is deployed among users without the ability to update unless deleted and reimported. It may also be in the form of a static tool palette that has been deployed and can only be updated on the user side by deleting and reimporting the palette. This tool palette calls upon blocks that may reside in a separate DWG file which houses several blocks. For the purposes of this paper, such a tool palette will be referred to as ‘static’.

Creating a Catalog

Click the lower left icon to ‘Create a new catalog’ (this generates a new .atc file in the path location shown). Since it is usually the task of a dedicated team member or CAD Manager to assemble and manage design team content, the catalog can be stored locally. If you want to add to an existing catalog and want to simply manage its existing content, choose the second option, ‘Add an existing catalog or web site’.

Note: It is necessary for the person in charge of the catalog/tool palette to have read/write permissions to the location of the catalog files.

Name the catalog and click Browse to change the location where it is to be stored. The name of your catalog will be the name under which it is stored. Click OK. The new catalog now shows as a new icon tile with a solid color fill in the listing.

Catalog Properties

To access the properties of the new catalog, right-click on the icon and select Properties.

From this dialog box, you can change the image of the tile, for branding purposes or better visual appeal, by clicking on the image to the left. Browse for an image file you want to use and click Open.

You can also change the catalog name, description, and file path. You can also give it a Cover Page which informs the end user of the contents and usage of the catalog, along with any other informative details. The page is in HTML format.

Open the catalog by clicking on the new tile.

In Windows Explorer, browse to the location of the .atc file created and uncheck its read-only status in Properties if it is set.

Adding Catalog Content

Create a new tool palette in the current catalog by clicking on the 3rd icon in the lower left area. This opens a dialog box where you fill in the name, description, keywords, and publisher information.