XML Files: They Have a Variety of Uses!

The XML file. That text-based file that can contain the project data from not just LDT and Civil 3D, but from other software including non-Autodesk software as well. Users love the fact that an XML file can bring in this data without having to get a drawing file. This can be a key element in helping to avoid bringing in corruption from files such as dgn files because the XML files stores data, not linework. So right there is a use that you may not have thought of; a data import filter! I use XML files for that on occasion and they work great. XML files are straight forward and easy to use. Let’s talk about some of the other ways I have used XML files.

As a Technical Consultant focused primarily on Civil 3D, over the years I have implemented and worked with firms regarding Civil 3D. It’s common knowledge that in order to get the most out of Civil 3D, it is imperative that a good template with all of the company styles and settings be created and used. The issue with the templates is that it costs a company money to set it up;either using internal personnel or paying a consultant to set it up. Regardless of who set it up, a company does not want  to pay that money just to turn around and “hand deliver” their templates to another firm. This has been a concern for managers when they have to collaborate with another firm on a project using Civil 3D. If they send a drawing, it will have all the styles and settings. My recommendation has been this; use the “export to AutoCad” function to get the drawing out to the desired file version which will also explode the Civil objects. The drawing will look the same, but the Civil objects will be exploded. And best of all, all styles and settings are gone! “But they need Civil objects for this project!?” If that is the case, send them an XML file to go along with the dwg file! Then, they can use whatever styles they want to use.

Another use that I found to be effective for an XML file is using it to transfer data from a file that has become corrupted or unstable. I have worked on projects where a tin surface would start to do weird things and eventually become unstable. My solution was to block out the non-Civil items, export the Civil items to XML, and then bring all of it into a clean new drawing session. It is not 100% full-proof, but it works the majority of the time.

The last use I’ll discuss is very elementary, but, it is worth thinking about; archiving. An XML file can be created as an archive file for project data. One file containing all of the Civil project data! Obviously, it will not contain all of the drawing elements, but as a backup file for a project, you at least would not have to start all over again from nothing if a project got lost, corrupted, etc.

Civil Infrastructure software is my main professional interest. Civil 3D, Infraworks, and Recap are what I work with mostly. I have been with CADsoft Consulting for over 10 years now. I got my start using Softdesk and AutoCAD R12 in DOS. My wife and I have four children and I am a die hard Red Sox fan.