Dynamo to the rescue! This tool is the superman of Civil, and can do nearly anything you need in AutoCAD and Civil 3D – like leaping tall buildings in a single bound, stopping locomotives, you get the idea. In my career in Civil Engineering, I have always searched for different ways to move from point A to point B with as little effort as possible. Not because of laziness, but because repetitive tasks are unnecessary. Eliminating these tasks save a lot of time. A few Civil 3D releases back, Dynamo Studio appeared in the Manage ribbon tab inside Civil 3D. This sparked my curiosity to learn more about the tool, which at the time I knew nothing about.
Lack of Information
Like most early adopters of new technology, I tried to find more information about this new tool. However, even for a few years afterwards, there wasn’t much. This tool isn’t new to Autodesk, but it is new to Civil 3D. This explains the lack of information in the Civil space. However, Revit users utilized Dynamo long before Civil users received access.
Civil users also tend to be too busy to explore new software or ideas. However, for early adopters like myself, any tool like this is can help users become more productive. When I finally dove into Dynamo, I was very impressed. This blog is not intended to be a deep dive into Dynamo, but instead a guide to help determine if the tool is right for your workflows.
How Does Dynamo Work?
Simply put, Dynamo can read most AutoCAD and Civil 3D objects in a drawing. I tested the automation process by trying to place manholes a specified distance apart along a Civil 3D alignment or a certain polyline. Since this is a desired automation, a code can be created to tell Dynamo to do this task at once. Then, save the Dynamo script out and reuse it anywhere.
There are so many possibilities, and after testing I had many application ideas. Tasks such as laying out striping on a site or laying out cleanouts or storm drains can be automated with Dynamo. A code block can be created to inform users of the location and how to run it. This allows users more time to focus on learning something new or working on other parts of the project. Using this method also allows new users to do the same tasks as a more advanced user without making a mistake.
Dynamo’s Potential in the Civil Space
Since exploring Dynamo’s capabilities, I have only tested laying out manholes, which is a known repetitive task. There are certainly more ways to capitalize on Dynamo’s capabilities than just manhole automation. This tool could potentially lay out lot lines, place labels in designated places on sheets and more. Dynamo is a tool that will grow with its applications to the Civil space, which will likely keep many forward-thinking CAD Managers and Senior designers thinking of new ideas.
Dynamo for Civil 3D requires some ingenuity and out of the box thinking, but with its capabilities, it will become an invaluable tool to enhance Civil workflows. Created with a simple drag and drop user friendly interface, you don’t have to be a programmer to use Dynamo. You can easily navigate within the tool and become more familiar with the features. You can code by dragging, dropping and connecting the dots.
Just like our brains think about a task that processes multiple, repetitive sub-tasks, we can write code to do that task in the same manner. The ability to share your code with the community is another feature. As I’m filing through the community’s free code sets, it is great to see many other early adopters like myself.
Dynamo’s future in Civil is bright and it will only help users become more efficient in Civil 3D. Now, if you’ll excuse me – I have some code to write!
This blog is written by Sr. Civil Technical Specialist Felix Cortez. If you have any questions or need help with your Dynamo or Civil needs, please email us at whyATG@atgusa.com.