GIS Pipe Data Import In 2012


I know I blogged previously on new features in Civil 3D 2012, but I just had to talk in a little more detail about  this one. While there are several new features in Civil 3D 2012 that I like, one of my favorites is the ability to import GIS data and have Civil 3D automatically create pipe networks from that data. This new wizard will have you connect to a SHP source file, ask you to map a few of the data field attributes, and then before you know it, Civil 3D pipe networks are created! Figure 1 shows the import wizard.

Figure 1

Figure 1

Once you connect to the SHP file, you will be on the “Object Options” page, where you will name the network, choose a parts list, choose labeling settings, etc. When you get to the “Data Mapping” page, you will then map the Civil 3D pipe properties to the appropriate data field properties contained in the SHP file. Figure 2 shows this page.

Figure 2

Figure 2

At this page, you can go through all of the properties one by one, or, if you have or will work with additional SHP files that have their data fields set up with the same properties, you can go through and map all of  the properties and then click the “save data mapping” button to save the mapping to an external file for importing later. This can be a real time saver during the import process.

Over on the “Query Options” page, you can do queries based on location and/or any of the attributes in the data fields such as pipe type, size, etc. Figure 3 shows that for my example I am using a polygon location and I am going to select the rectangle that I have in my drawing as the boundary for the data. This is an important step in the process, as I found out early when 2012 was first released. If your SHP file has a ton of data in it (like an entire city’s pipe system!) then you will want to filter out some info as it will bog down and even crash if there is too much data for it. Remember what it is actually doing; importing data that it is reading from the SHP file, then converting it into Civil 3D pipe networks which is 3d elements. When I first tried this with that large SHP file, Civil 3D kept chugging along, but at one point it got to over 200,000 pipe objects imported and then things went downhill!

Figure 3

Figure 3

At this point, I can either go to the “clean up options” page, or click finish to begin the import process. Once the import begins, a box with a progress meter opens and tells you the number of objects being imported. A small portion of the newly created pipe network can be seen in figure 4 below.

Figure 4

Figure 4

This new import process can be a tremendous time saver over how this would have had to have been done prior to this new import process. Try it out, but remember, don’t try to import over 200,000 pipe objects at once!

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.