Build Better Infrastructure – The New Features in Civil 3D 2021

Another release of Civil 3D just became available, just as you probably finished installing the latest 2020 “fix.”   That was somewhat sarcastic, but I do some see much needed improvements to Autodesk Civil 3D 2021 and all other 2021 products.  But we can’t just look at what’s new in our hero product, but all other complimentary products as well, so I will briefly mention a few of those.

Civil 3D Version Interoperability

Typically, the first question asked is about prior version interoperability.  The AutoCAD format for 2021 is also the 2018 format they previously introduced.  Meaning you should have no problem going back and forth between 2018, 2019 and 2020.  The only exceptions to Civil 3D objects would be the newer Civil 3D object/features will not go backwards, but this shouldn’t be a problem.

New and Enhanced Pressure Network

One of the bigger changes in Civil 3D 2021 is the introduction of path-based pressure networks, and multiple enhancements to the overall pressure network workflows.  For those that do a lot of subdivision work, or complex pressure systems, you will really like these changes!

  • Pipe Runs – This is a fantastic change to how pressure networks are created and modified.  I wish they would do this for gravity networks now.  Your pressure network can still remain as one entire network, but you can have separate “runs” within the network.  This is great for subdivision development and will make your network much easier to manage.
  • Paths – Fitting can be added and updated automatically when grip edited or moved.  For example, if you have a 45-degree bend, and you grip edit on portion of a pipe, that bend can now change to the proper angled bend. This is a very cool addition.
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  • Pipe Run Profile Settings – If/when you base your network on a cover depth, the pressure network can now remain dynamic to a profile.
  • Profile – Better functionality for pressure networks have been introduced, such as adding vertical deflections just as you would a PVI in a profile.
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AutoCAD Platform Items

Here are few new things to look forward to in all AutCAD platform products:

  • XREF Compare – Similar to the drawing compare feature, you can now compare the changes made to a drawing file attached as an external reference (xref) in the current drawing. Any changes to the referenced drawing or a compared drawing are highlighted using revision clouds. (You can also uncheck this option prior to reloading your XREF, or change the variable to disable it.)
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  • Drawing History Support (Subscription Benefit) – If you save drawing files to a OneDrive, Dropbox, or Box account, additional versions of these drawing files are created as you work, creating a version history. The previous versions will be listed in the new Drawing History palette so you can compare them with the current version of your drawing.
  • Trim and Extend – I must admit, I actually strongly dislike this change. Instead of having you select objects or boundaries for the TRIM or EXTEND command, the new “quick” mode selects all potential options by default.
  • To revert back to the standard way or using the Trim/Extend command, type in one of the commands and from the command line choose MODE, then switch to Standard.
  • Misc Commands
  • BREAKPOINT – Allows you to break an object at a specified point
  • XCOMPARE – Compares an attached xref with the latest state of the referenced drawing file, highlighting the differences with color within revision clouds.
  • REVCLOUD – Some nice enhancements to the REVCLOUD command which allows you to control chord length or modify a cloud.
  • XCOMPAREENABLE – Enables the comparison between an xref and the referenced drawing file.
  • TOUCHSCREEN ENHANCEMENTS – I’m not sure if this has been around a while, or I finally got a laptop cool enough to have touch screen capabilities, but there are a couple enhancements to the Pan and Zoom and selection.

Infraworks Integration

  • Add Bridges to Corridor – The workflow between Infraworks and Civil 3D has been enhanced to add bridges into your corridor design.  If these bridges are modified in Infraworks, you can simply reload them in Civil 3D.
  • Interoperability between Civil 3D and InfraWorks for Corridors – This enhancement has been needed for a while now! You can now create corridor component roads in InfraWorks from Civil 3D corridors. A corridor component road represents the designed corridor in Civil 3D and is read-only in InfraWorks.

When you bring a Civil 3D corridor into InfraWorks as a corridor component road, geometry for the shapes and links is created in the InfraWorks model.

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Most, if not all, of the 2020 update enhancements have been rolled into the software.  Some of the following items below may be of interest and really help in streamlining workflows and enhancing design.

  • Use enhancements to gravity network analysis including the support for multiple catchments per structure.
  • Use the new drainage structure parameter mapping feature to map the parameters of Part Builder parts to parameters that are required for the Analyze Gravity Network command.
  • Enhanced reference template features to manage styles and settings.
  • The Manage Data Shortcuts command has been updated so you can specify a different data shortcut project path when the current path is still valid.
  • Bring ArcGIS data into your Civil 3D drawings and save back, publish, and export data for use in ArcGIS.
  • Export feature lines to LandXML files.  This is a big benefit for survey and machine-controlled models.
  • AASHTO 2018 design standards are included.


DYNAMO for Civil was introduced in the 2020 release of Civil 3D and exploded with popularity! The Dynamo Player has now been incorporated directly into Civil 3D, so no need for a separate install, and has enhanced capabilities for use within the civil space.


BIM 360 Document Management (BIM Docs) & Collaboration for Civil 3D

Now I know this is supposed to be an AutoCAD / Civil 3D article, but I really think you need to at least take a look at BIM 360 Docs and the new version of Collaboration for Civil 3D and what it can offer to you and your design workflow.

Three key features that I see are file locking, file compare and versioning and the utilization of data shortcuts.

Bryson Anderson wrote a great article in the February 2020 AUGIWorld Magazine and explores BIM 360 Collaboration for Civil 3D in great detail.

I may not have covered all the features and there may not seem like a ton of new features, but the new features and enhanced features will help in your everyday workflows.

I would love to hear from you regarding the new features and features you would like to see added or enhanced, so feel free to call or email me anytime.


Article originally posted to GovDesignHub here.