Importing GIS Data Into Pipe Networks with Civil 3D 2012


There is a new feature with Civil 3D 2012 that allows you to import GIS data into Civil 3D as a pipe network.  However, it can be real touchy.  The basis of this blog is to keep you from getting the same result I kept getting for a week straight.

The problem that I was facing is that when I brought the data in, all the pipe sizes were set at 12”.  I data connected the .shp file, and double checked my mapping to make sure that I was mapping the correct tag to read the pipe diameter.  Sure enough, I was mapping it correctly, but to no avail, it would only give me 12” pipes.

I am going to guide you through the process below so you won’t have to deal with this issue, as I did.

Best practice would be to data connect the .shp file and read the table to know exactly what to map in the GIS data import wizard.

Once you have connected the .shp file, select the .shp file in the Map Workspace and pick the Table button:

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This is where you will make note of what you want to map.  Keep in mind, for the pipe itself, you will need material, pipe inner diameter, upstream elevation and downstream elevation.  For manholes and inlets you will need the material, rim and sump.

Below is what the table looks like and what you will need to look for:

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Notice the “mapping” name.  It’s a good idea to write these down so you can use this in the “mapping” stage of the process.  You will get a better understanding of what this is when we get into the import GIS data wizard.

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As you can see here, the pipe diameter is called SEMIMAJORA.  This is why it’s important to take note of all the “mapping” names prior to executing the import GIS data wizard.

Now we can execute the import GIS data wizard.  On the Insert tab, Import panel, click on Import, then click Import GIS Data as shown:

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This brings up the wizard.  Here you can connect to a file, or a folder, as you do when you data connect in the Map Workspace.

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Here I connected to a folder.  Once you click the Connect button, the Next button becomes available.  Click Next.

This brings you to the Object Options page.  Give the Pipe Network a name.  Select a parts list, a structure label style and a pipe label style.

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Click Next.  This brings you to the Schema and Coordinates page.  Your .shp file should already read the correct coordinate system.  If not, you can select the ellipsis to the right, under the coordinate system column.  If you set the first one, it will populate the rest of them for you as shown:

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Click Next.  This brings you to the Data Mapping page.  Select the desired feature class and click the Add button:

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This will populate the Pipe Attribute Assignment.  This is where we “map” the data fields as shown below:

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Notice the Imported Data Unit column.  This is VERY important.  This is what caused me to have all 12” pipes throughout the pipe network.  If you don’t specify the Imported Data Unit, what happens is that is will read the first pipe size in your parts list and assign it to ALL the pipes.

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Make sure you go through the list and assign all other mapping fields.  Example below:

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Remember when we checked the data table from the map workspace that the pipe diameter was called SEMIMAJORA.  This is why it’s important to write down the fields that are embedded in the .shp file so your operation will perform correctly.  Click Next.

Now you will have add the manholes and inlets in your feature class, and assign their data fields as needed.

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Click Next.  A dialog box appears.  Select the first option as shown:

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Click Next again.  You are now on the Query Options page.  We want to Import All GIS Data and click Next.

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The last and final page, Clean Up.  Here we want to Snap Pipe and Structure Tolerance to 10.  This is because when these are drawn in, they are usually drawn with gaps between the structure and pipe.  This will fix the gap and join the pipe to the structure.

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Click Finish and wait.

Now you should have a pipe network, labeled and ready to go.

This operation was done without a surface or an alignment.  On the first page of the wizard you have an option to select a surface, IF you have one in the current drawing.  Also, the station and offset will have question marks if you did not have an alignment in the drawing prior to running this operation.

Contact us if you have any problems with this feature and we will help you the best that we can.

Have a great week!!


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16 Responses to “Importing GIS Data Into Pipe Networks with Civil 3D 2012”

  1. Duncan Brannan Says:

    Interesting read… I was wondering, if you adopt this workflow could you then add further data to the Pipe Networks once imported into Civil 3D?

    Is the data cut off from Map 3D or is the workflow linked from one product to another?

    I’m presuming the adopted workflow is an overwrite to existing data rather than update?



    • Todd Rogers Says:

      Hey Duncan, good questions. Once the Pipe Network is imported in from GIS, it is an actual Pipe Network, which means, YES! You CAN add to the data. The answer to your other question is NO, the data is still in the drawing as a “.shp” file. However, you CAN get rid of the .shp file if you want because it is not linked to the Civil 3D pipe network because it was imported as GIS data. You can opt to get rid of the .shp file, or just turn it off. I have not tried importing the GIS data again, or more GIS data to “add” to the existing. So, I can’t comfortably answer that last question until I have tried it. Thanks for the comment!

  2. emyr isaac Says:

    I would be interested in and from pipenetwork to GIS that is possible. Can you elaborate on any possibilites?

  3. Todd Rogers Says:

    The whole process in doing this is posted above.

  4. Rui Liu Says:

    Hi, Todd,
    I tried this new feature several times on my laptop and my desktop, but every time after I click “Finish” in Civil 3D “Import GIS data-Pipe network” window, the software shows me “Not responding”, I have been waiting for a very long time (more than one hour), and still nothing happens. Do you have any idea what is the reason for that?

    Thanks very much.

  5. emyr isaac Says:

    is there an export to GIS function too?

  6. Edward Says:

    Thanks or this great post!
    I have though a problem with a Character based field which has a value of i.e. 23,45 for the Rim elevation. The import tool converts this value to 23 while it should have 23.45 as a Real value.
    Is there a way to convert this Character field to a Real field during import?

  7. draftworx Says:

    Hi Todd,

    Do I need to populate the Partlist with all the necessary Pipe diameters first before I use the GIS import tool?


  8. Sarah Says:

    Hi Todd,
    Thanks for the blog it answered a few of my questions on how to do this. I have a pipe shapefile and a structure shapefile with the attribute you mentioned above: Pipe material, pipe diameter, pipe start elevation, pipe stop elevation, structure material, structure rim elevation and structure sump elevation. Is there a certain format these attributes need to be? When I try to import them into C3D 2013 I keep getting an error ” cannot be imported because a matching part family for the source feature was not found”. I don’t use C3D very often and am not very familiar with pipe networks so any help would be greatly appreciated.


    • Todd Rogers Says:

      Sounds like you are getting this error because there isn’t a part (structure) currently loaded in Civil 3D. You need to load a part list into Civil 3D. On the Home tab>Create Design panel, click where it says Create Design (fly-out on the panel) and select Create Full Parts List.

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