A Civil3D forum user recently stated they have “been supplied ~500 .tiff files from a DEM which contain elevation data” and the prospect of repeating the built in Create Surface from DEM tool 500 times did not appeal to them (only to have 500 separate surfaces).  So we set out to create a tool to help.

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Most ESRI Shapefiles of contours are defined as flat polylines (at 0.0 elev) in the SHP file, and the user is expected to elevate the polylines using data defined in the accompanying DBF file.  Here is a complete procedure using MapWorks to import these files with the polylines properly elevated.

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Some dialogs (like the AutoCAD INSERT command) can show a tiny preview image.  These are not always created or updated by the CAD engine.  To create/update these, you need to manually use the BLOCKICON command.   Following the command is a prompt allowing matching names.  If you have a large collection you may want to use this, otherwise simply take the default <*>.

Be very careful when using the ALIGN command if your destination points contain varying elevations (Z values).  The ALIGN command is a 3D command!  If your destination points vary only slightly you won’t see the distortion but when you list your results, it will have a “Extrusion direction relative to UCS:”

You can work around the problem with point filters.  When prompted for destination points, enter .XY, then use your object snap, then CAD will prompt for a Z, enter 0.0.  This way you will get the alignment without the extrusion problem.

Sometimes users want to capture AutoCAD command line output for parsing into a report.  The quick easy way if you don’t have too much content is right clicking the command line area, choosing Copy History and pasting that into an editor to remove the unnecessary parts.  However sometimes your content exceeds the history buffer or you just want more control.

AutoCAD LOG controls allow you capture what you want, here are the details.

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