Automatically Scaling Point Symbols in Civil 3D

Lets look at scaling points based on data in a point file. You may have scaled points in LDT but how is it accomplished in Civil 3D 2007? First though lets clarify what I mean by scaling points. What I mean when refereeing to scaling points is having a value in the point file that I can use to scale a block symbol for that point during the process of importing my point file.

So now I hope we are on the same page regarding scaling points. For our example we will use a single block object representing a tree. The point file will contain the raw description and the diameter of the trees drip line i.e. (DT 18) for deciduous tree with an 18 foot diameter drip line. When we import the point file it will apply the tree block to the point and scale the block according to our diameter value. What follows is how you set up the points to scale during import in Civil 3D. Also note I’m using Civil 3D 2007.

Point File

The first thing we’ll look at is the point file. Below you can see the DT points with their drip line value. This value after the Raw Code is called Parameter 1 in the Civil 3D Description Key file as we will see in a moment. So now that you know what the input information is we will move into the setup of the description key file.


Description Key File

There are several places to go in Civil 3D in order to set Civil 3D up so it will automatically bring in the points, apply the tree symbol, and scale it using the value from the point file. We are going to begin with the setup of the description key file.

I’m going to edit an existing Description Key file with the necessary settings to scale the points. To create or edit a Description Key file go to the Settings Tab of the Toolspace and expand the Points Node. Then either Create a Description Key File or Edit an existing one.

To create a Description Key file Right Click on the Description Key Sets node and select New. Then create the setting for each Code you need to create.

If you are editing a Description Key file then you locate the Description Key Sets node and expand the node to locate any existing Description Key files in your drawing. Once located Right Click on the name and select Edit Keys.

Right Clicking on my Description Key file and selecting Edit Keys brings up the DescKey Editor Panorama (as seen below) where we can make our adjustments to the settings or create a file with the settings.


The changes that need to be made are applied to the DT* Code as shown above. Setting the Format value to “$1′ Tree” converts the Raw DT & size value to “15′ Tree” for example. Then scrolling to the right we need to turn on the Apply to X-Y option as shown below. Be sure the Scale Parameter is set to reflect the correct Parameter position following the Raw Code. We are using only one Parameter so we will be using Parameter 1.


Point Style

Now we create or edit a Point Style. I am editing a Point Style and you will see in the following screen shot what options you can select to import scaled points. I’m accessing my Point Style in the Settings tab of Toolspace under the Point node.


In the Point Style dialog box select the Marker tab. I have selected a block to use as the point symbol to scale. The block I’m using is built so it’s one unit across. Here we need to set the units to “Use size in absolute units” and I have set the units to 1.000. So a 30 foot diameter value in the point file will create a 30 foot diameter tree symbol. These are the changes that need to be set in the Point Style for this to work. Now lets look at the Point Label Style.

Point Label Style

Now it isn’t essential to make specific changes to a Point Label Style in order to scale the points but you will likely want to label the point with the information necessary for you design. Below is a screen shot of the simple Point Label Style I’m using for this example.


In this Label Style I am only using a Point Number Component and a Point Description Component. I anchored the Description to the Feature and then anchored the Point Number to the Description. The Point Description component has an X Offset of .3, I chose to use an offset because I like the way the symbol looked with extra space. However you do not have to provide and offset as the description will adjust automatically with the point symbol unlike LDT.

Point Group

At this point we have everything ready to import the points except the Point Group. By selecting the Prospector tab of the Toolspace and Right Clicking on Point Groups I choose New to create a Point Group called Tree. Below is a screen shot of the Point Group where I’ve selected the Point Style and the Point Label Style setup in the previous steps. Now let me say that you could also apply the Point Style and Point Label Style in the Description Key file. I have chosen to use this method because it provides more flexibility.


We will also need to select the Raw Code in the Raw Desc Matching tab where we select the code DT* – see the screen shot below.


Import Points

It’s time to import the points. We will use the Create Points command from the Points Pull Down then select the Import Points button. Pick, the highlighted button below.


This opens the Import Points dialog box.


After selecting the point file and clicking OK the points are brought into the drawing. Once the points are in the drawing you will need to Right Click on the Point Groups node in the Prospector and select Update from the shortcut menu, this updates the Point Groups that have been setup and populates them with the points we imported. Now in my drawing the settings in my Point Group control the display of the tree points as seen below.


So there you have the process for importing points and having them scale based on a value from the point file. You can utilize the process outlined above to automatically scale a point symbol while importing your point files.

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