Reference Blocks into Civil 3D Points, or should I say “A usable Point ascii file" even better!


I found it odd that with all the tools available in Civil 3D 2011, there is no tool offered to convert reference blocks containing point number, elevation, and description as attributed text into a Civil 3D Point object. I could explode these blocks to get an AutoCAD Point then convert that into a Civil 3D Point but then I will lose the attribute values that are already associated to the reference blocks.

Side Note: When determining a workflow, I had to recreate the attributed blocks. Not a big deal but it was a necessary “first” step. I will explain below!

Goal: How do we get Reference Blocks that contain attributes definitions such as Point Number, Elevation, and Point Description into a Civil 3D Point while maintaining the point information? Remember, I CAN’T EXPLODE because all attributes will be lost! Hmmm, did I say this already…

Workflow: MAPEXPORT reference blocks as a Shape File. You heard me right! Open the DBF file in Microsoft Excel and rearrange the columns to read PNEZD. If you are like me, I had to freshen up on my MS Excel skills. Once that’s done you can Import points from file.

Let’s began:

1. Open the file containing reference blocks. Verify that the blocks contain attributes. Do this by simply double clicking on the object and awaiting the Enhanced Attribute Editor dialog.

2. Utilize Map 3D command, MAPEXPORT and select a shape file location and file name.

    • In the Selection tab choose Point as the Object type.
    • Select objects to export either by choosing Select all or Select manually.
    • In the Data tab select the Select Attributes… button and check box Block Attributes expression and under the Properties expression check box X1 and Y1. (If you don’t have a Block Attribute expression then you will need to create a new block attribute and use the BLOCKREPLACE command from your Express Tools Ribbon tab.)
    • You can rename the Output Field to identify Point number, Northing, Easting, Elevation and Description to be read as P,N,E,Z,D. See example below!

image 3. Navigate to your shape file data and open the <file name>.DBF in MS Excel. This is where you can organize your columns to match the point file format you wish to use and resort by point number. You will need to delete the first row showing column headers P,N,E,Z,D.

Now you have created a new point file that can be used to generate Civil 3D Points but most important, that you maintained Point number, Elevation and Description parameters. We can thank AutoCAD Map 3D functionality for a means to develop an point file.

I hope this will help take you further in skill development…

Total CAD Systems Inc.


7 Responses to “Reference Blocks into Civil 3D Points, or should I say “A usable Point ascii file" even better!”

  1. Kind Says:

    You have to be more detailed because after I finish with file saving and try to open the DBF with excel it says Windows 32 invalid file.

    • RCaudell Says:

      Can you provide me more information of your computer specs. Windows version? Excel version? I will reproduce these steps again to verify the proper procedure in the case something is missing… Anyone else with the same error?

      • Kind Says:

        Ok. I had Windows 7 x86 with office 2010 >upgraded to win7 64
        3Gb of ram >upgraded to 5gb
        ati radeon hd 3600
        athlon x62 dual core 4400+ 2.30mhz

        Anyway the real problem i do not think was about my specs but because that block points have no Z coordinate, only X,Y and attributes. In attributes it has Elevation, Z cote(z coord.) and CODE(i think the point number). What can I do because I’m not an US user, I live in Europe and I use British version.

  2. kind Says:

    I have sent you the plan one day ago.

  3. Jeremy Says:

    I have a question for you regarding attributes. I am trying to get points with more attributes than just P,N,E,Z,D. I need autocad to bring in and recognize additional feature code attributes in some way. I need it to display these additional attributes, and if possible these additional attributes will dictate the layer the point is on and the point symbol. I know how to do all this with just P,N,E,Z,D but not with additional attributes. So autocad will read D but then it will go on and read the additional attributes as well.

  4. Todd Rogers Says:

    Jeremy, there is an option in the import points dialog to create a new file format to import. Click on the icon to the right (looks like a Cogo symbol with a pencil), then select new in the dialog box.

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