What New Changes to Civil 3D Mean for You


It’s a new year, and that means lots of new changes for AutoCAD users. Let’s take a look at how Civil 3D has been tweaked over the last year.

Is Civil 3D 2017 Backwards Compatible?

The quick answer is no, it is not. Vanilla AutoCAD 2017, however, is backwards compatible.

What Does 2017 Mean for Vanilla AutoCAD Users?

Traditionally, AutoCAD changes its DWG file format after three versions. AutoCAD 2017 will be the first version to keep the same DWG format (AC1027) for over four years. This DWG format has been used since the AutoCAD 2013 release.

This means you shouldn’t have any front and backwards compatibility issues in vanilla AutoCAD. Civil 3D users, however, need to pay close attention to this new version.

What Does This Mean for Civil 3D Users?

Let’s say you have a Civil 3D 2016 drawing file. You can open that file in Civil 3D 2017 and save it there.  As expected, you will be able to use all Civil 3D objects as normal; but after that drawing file is saved in Civil 3D 2017 format and you try to open it in Civil 3D 2016 or earlier, you get this message:

AutoCAD Civil 3D 20165 Message

If you click OK, the Civil 3D objects will be transformed into proxy objects, which basically means profiles, alignments, and surfaces will be more like a block. You will lose the ability to edit and update them using Civil 3D tools.

                Why Did This Happen?

Although the DWG format did not change, Autodesk made the decision to update their objects for the 2017 release with custom and AEC objects of vertical and 3rd party products. This will hopefully enable them to implement improvements in the initial release, as well as provide the platform with some new features on the horizon.

How Does This Affect Me?

Since Autodesk subscription allows you to download and install up to 3 previous versions of Civil 3D, this shouldn’t affect you if you use the appropriate software that your projects call for.

If you are working on a project in earlier releases, keep the files with those versions until you are ready to move the entire project in the newest version. Just be prepared for when you save a file in the Civil 3D 2017 format; plan on keeping it there.

Rob is a GIS specialist, civil designer, project manager, and CAD manager. He is uniquely skilled in CAD and GIS products, networking, security, database, cloud services, and computer technical support. Rob is a Certified Geographic Information Systems Professional. He understands a customer’s project from the initial conception to the final stages of approval, consistently meeting their needs, budgets and timelines. As a CAD manager, he helps customers achieve their goals of implementing reasonable solutions, more efficient methods, user-friendly standards and procedures, documentation and libraries, cloud storage solutions, and ways to use database objects to their full potential.