Survey Says…………..FBK Files or Linework Codes?


For those who have not used the Survey tools in Civil 3D, you are missing out on some good functionality. Even if you do not do full-blown Survey work, Survey databases can give you a means of sharing your Survey points, which is something that you cannot get with data shortcuts. If this is all you would use the Survey tools for then the rest of this blog may not interest you, so you can go back to Civil 3D, create your Survey database, bring the points into it, and have a nice day! Ok, just kidding. If you intend to use the Survey tools to their fullest capacity, then please read on as I will discuss the pros and cons of two different means of importing survey data;

1. the use of .fbk files

2. using linework codes

So let’s begin by talking about the  use of .fbk files. These files can be created by using the Survey Data Collection Link software found in Civil 3D. This software can be accessed on the “Create Ground Data” panel on the “Home” tab of the ribbon as seen in the figure below.

Figure 1

Figure 1

Once inside this software you have the means to select various formats for incoming data, and then you can use the conversion tools to translate to another format. This is where we can choose the .fbk file format. Once brought into Civil 3D the .fbk option has some pros and some cons. Let’s first discuss the pros. The major advantages of using an fbk file is that it contains the original survey data, just with linework creation coding added in during the conversion process. As a result, this allows you to run network analysis on the data such as Least Sguares Analysis and adjustment as well as Traverse adjustments. Ok, now for the disadvantages of using the fbk files. One thing is that you cannot control the language for processing linework. It is hard-coded during the fbk conversion process. Another major disadvantage is that fbk does nor support multipoint curves and, if using fbk along curves, all curve points need to be shot consecutively in the field.

Lastly, I will discuss using linework codes, which till now, I really don’t see disavantages of. So, some of the big pros of linework codes are; 1. they are totally customizable. Whatever you want to use to begin a line, for example, can be used and it can be alpha-numeric, which fbk cannot use. 2. you can use multiple standards and just select the one you want to use to be current. 3. obviously, this option requires no conversion and produces linework just like the fbk option will. 4. it supports multi-point curves. 5. points on a curve do NOT have to be collected contiuously.

This has just scratched the surface on the Survey tools within Civil 3D. Down the road, I may write a blog that goes into more detail on Survey in Civil 3D. Stay tuned!

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.

One thought on “Survey Says…………..FBK Files or Linework Codes?

  1. Ron,currently my option in the “linework codes” have been limited to begin curve, end curve, and point on curve,…how do I add multi-point curves and three-point curves? Help please, Thanks!

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