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Batteries Not Included

AutoCAD Civil 3D® does a great job of modeling infrastructure projects. There isn’t much that cannot be modeled using corridors, grading, etc. It has the best alignment editing tools we’ve seen to date. It has something to cover just about every aspect of an infrastructure project…except when it comes to extracting data from your drawing. This task is arguably every bit as important as correctly modeling your data – if you cannot adequately communicate your design to the project stakeholders, it doesn’t matter how good the design may be.

The offering of reports included in AutoCAD Civil 3D is paltry at best. Out of the box, AutoCAD Civil 3D includes a total of just over 40 reports, with some entities afforded a mere two reports. By comparison, Autodesk’s biggest competitor, Bentley, includes something like 250 reports in their equivalent application. Municipalities and state agencies often require very specific tables, forms, and other documents to be submitted yet also fail to provide any automated means of generating these, once again leaving the end user empty handed. If you need to customize one of the few reports that do come with AutoCAD Civil 3D, you are stuck editing XSLT files (blech!) or altering VB.NET code, neither of which is something the average user can (or should need to) do.

Reporting in AutoCAD Civil 3D is like having a shiny new toy with no batteries, and is every bit as disappointing.


For example, let’s say you wanted to create a quantity takeoff report with a bar chart such as this one:

Corridor volume report with bar chart for mass haul

Or perhaps you would prefer your quantity reports include section views and be in full color such as this:

corridor based quantity takeoff report with section views

In AutoCAD Civil 3D, the best you can do is a rigidly formatted HTML report (with hard-coded typos) such as this:

volume report from AutoCAD Civil 3D

Maybe instead you need to create a parcel area table that contains grouping and summation such as this:

parcel area table with summation and grouping

Can you do it in AutoCAD Civil 3D? Nope. Not out of the box anyway…

What is one to do? Should we settle for this mediocrity? Are we doomed to spend countless hours manually creating and recreating tables in a spreadsheet?

Thankfully there is now a solution to this quandary.

Visual Report Designer for AutoCAD Civil 3D

Visual Report Designer allows you to create reusable, richly formatted report templates for AutoCAD Civil 3D using quick and easy drag-drop operations. Special features are included to automate otherwise complex tasks such as coordinate transformations and projection of one entity onto another. Most forms can be replicated with relative ease, and all reports are reusable between projects. Perform calculations including summation; add charts, graphs, entity images and company logos; sort, group, and order your data. Quantity takeoff reports? No problem. Alignment geometry? Absolutely. Legends and title blocks? Easy. Pipe network part statistics? Trivial. Automated legal descriptions? Cost estimates? You guessed it – Visual Report Designer can handle these too.

Visual Report Designer includes productivity tools which can yield some profound time savings. One such tool allows to ‘batch’ report generation – this allowed one of our German customers to save the equivalent of a full year worth of an Engineer’s salary by reducing the time required to produce point based reports (which they did daily) from hours to mere minutes. For another customer in Canada, plans production depended heavily on the process of creating multiple point based tables in very specific configurations. Visual Report Designer allowed them to insert these tables (based on their custom report templates) into their drawings with ease, reducing what was once an 8-16 hour manual process to about 15 minutes.

For the advanced user, it also is possible to add .NET scripting to reports. Among many other things, this introduces the possibility of interacting with external databases for cost estimation or GIS integration. We participated in a project with another software and services company where we leveraged this feature of Visual Report Designer to query AutoCAD Civil 3D project data, package it into a particular form, and then trigger an upload to an ESRI database. With scripting, there are virtually no limits to what you can accomplish in Visual Report Designer. If you don’t have the expertise to add the necessary scripts on your own, no problem – we can do that for you (we can also customize the core application if needed).

The bottom line is that if you are not using Visual Report Designer with AutoCAD Civil 3D, you’re missing out on productivity. It is like buying a high performance electric sports car and then pushing it down the road because it didn’t include batteries. Instead, let us put you in the driver’s seat where you belong and put the power and efficiency you need to be competitive at your fingertips.

Anything less is simply burning time and money.

Anything less is burning time and money

For more information about Visual Report Designer, to discuss a custom project, or to obtain a trial copy please contact us .


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