Civil 3D 2019- Is It Backwards Compatible? 

Civil 3D 2019 is here and they’ve added some great new features. As with every new version, before jumping into these great new additions to the newest version of Civil 3D, we need to pay close attention to the file format and compatibility so we don’t accidentally make the file unusable for ourselves, consultants, or clients we’re working with. Let’s take a look at how compatible Civil 3D 2019 is with previous versions

Is 2019 Backwards Compatible?

YES, YES, and NO. YES, Vanilla AutoCAD 2019 CAN be saved backwards. YES, Civil 3D 2019 CAN be saved backwards. Yeah! NO, Civil 3D 2019 CANNOT be saved backwards to Civil 3D 2017 or earlier.

What Does 2019 Mean for Vanilla AutoCAD Users?

YES, Vanilla AutoCAD 2019 CAN be saved backwards. Traditionally, since AutoCAD version 2000, Autodesk changes its DWG file format after three versions. However, from 2013, Autodesk decided to keep the same DWG format (AC1027) for 5 versions, until they finally decided to give AutoCAD 2018 a new DWG format (AC1032). AutoCAD 2019 shares this AC1032 format. The chart below shows the various DWG formats throughout the years… Essentially, this means if you save a drawing file in 2019 or 2018, it will be a different drawing format than anything saved with 2017 or earlier products. However, you CAN use the “SAVEAS” command to save to a previous format – which WILL make the drawing file backwards compatible.   Just keep in mind this is only for vanilla AutoCAD (opening a drawing file in AutoCAD or Civil 3D as AutoCAD 2019) – see below for Civil 3D backwards compatibility…

What Does This Mean for Civil 3D Users?

YES, Civil 3D CAN be saved backwards, but only to Civil 3D 2018, with exception to the following; • Fixed vertical curves created with the Fixed Vertical Curve (Parabolic, High/Low Point, Parameter, Length) and Fixed Vertical Curve (Circular, High/Low Point, Parameter, Length) commands are NOT backward compatible with AutoCAD Civil 3D 2018.

Example: Let’s say you have a Civil 3D 2019 drawing file. You can open that file in either Civil 3D 2018 or 2019 and save it there. As expected, you will be able to see, create and modify Civil 3D objects as normal. However, once you try and open that same drawing in Civil 3D 2017 or earlier, you get an error message similar to this:


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.

How Does This Affect Me?

If you are already working in Civil 3D 2018, enjoy the backwards capability – we’ve missed it. However, if you are working on a project in Civil 3D 2017, 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 2019 format; plan on keeping it there.

-Written by Rob Bigelow, ATG Technical Specialist   Applied Technology Group is a Platinum Autodesk Business Partner. Founded in North Little Rock, Ark., in 1992 as a local computer services company, ATG has grown to become a leading design technology partner with the purpose of assisting customers in maximizing the value and adoption of advanced technologies so they can perform competitively in the AEC sector. ATG collaborates with customers across the Gulf South, Midwest and Southwest through partnerships with 3DR, Autodesk, Leica, Microsoft and Panzura. Learn more about our company at www.atgusa.com. Autodesk and the Autodesk logo are registered trademarks or trademarks of Autodesk, Inc., and/or its subsidiaries and/or affiliates in the USA and/or other countries.

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