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Alan Sharp

PUG 2020 in April Postponed

Posted by Alan Sharp Mar 19, 2020

Due to the Corona Virus issues sweeping the world right now, and in line with CDC and WHO guidelines to "Flatten the Curve", we are postponing the April PUG event in Colorado until further notice. We have an event provisionally planned for October this year, and all being well if the health and well being issues have passed we will continue to execute that plan. Please watch this space for notifications on future events.


We apologize for the inconvenience that this may cause, we will be organizing On Line training opportunities to replace the face to face opportunity that PUG represents for the near term at least.


Thanks for your continued support and stay healthy


Ed Shapell                                                                            Alan Sharp

Consulting Services Director                                                Partner / Marketing Director

Trimble Inc.                                                                           Rockpile Solutions

Alan Sharp

My New Contact Details

Posted by Alan Sharp Jan 25, 2020

As many of you may be aware, I am leaving Trimble at the end of next week to join Rockpile Solutions. Rockpile Solutions is being hired as an Authorized Trimble Consultant to provide various services including


  1. The continuation of the development of the CEC Community Forum for Trimble Business Center
  2. The Power User Group Training Sessions worldwide
  3. The continued development of the TBC User Community
  4. To assist Trimble to build out the Training Portal for Software Certification
  5. To provide consulting Services with Key Accounts and Major Projects globally


We will also be available to Trimble dealers and customers globally to provide advanced support under a Rockpile Support Services Agreement should you want to tap into our support or training capabilities. 


In addition Rockpile Solutions will be providing TML and TBC Programming Services as an Authorized Trimble Developer. We will also be continuing to develop the TML Macro Programming community with assistance from key Trimble personnel like Gary Lantaff and the Product Management Team. In this role we will be providing tools like TML Status, the eCommerce requirements for licensing and sales of TML Subscriptions as well as providing QA, Testing, Documentation and Marketing Services as well as TML Tools for 3rd Party TML developers.


Rockpile Solutions will also be developing additional software solutions that provide solutions that integrate with and leverage the solutions offered by Trimble.


While our main focus will be in the CEC sector, we are open to providing solutions to Trimble CEC and Geospatial Customers globally, and will be working closely with the Trimble Channel partners.


As of February 1 you can reach me at the following contact locations



Mobile: 720 323 0481 (for those of you that have my 720 347 2850 number it will be changing over this coming week)



It will likely take a few weeks to get all of the systems and people in place for this transition to be completed, and I look forward to continuing to work with you in 2020


Thanks for all the fun times and support that you have given me and Trimble over the years, I really appreciate the connections and contacts that I have made through Trimble and it's global channel partners over the past 32 years and I hope that we can continue to evolve together over the coming years.


Thank you


Alan Sharp

Alan Sharp

Coordinate Systems Use

Posted by Alan Sharp Jan 22, 2020

In this Blog I will capture questions and answers asked about Coordinate Systems in TBC. I hope that you find the information useful. By Coordinate Systems I am referring to functions including


  1. Site Calibration
  2. Coordinate System Manager
  3. Change Coordinate System
  4. Point Clouds and Coordinate Systems


Let me know if you have questions in this area and I will try to answer them for you



Alan Sharp

Earthworks Takeoff

Posted by Alan Sharp Dec 17, 2019

There are always a lot of questions about how to do Takeoffs most effectively in TBC. In this Blog I will try to capture some of the key Takeoff Workflows for you. Please ask Takeoff Questions here and I will try to answer them for you.



I will be posting Links and Content Download for all the TBC Power Hours for Construction on this Blog going forwards. The Power Hour concept was initiated by the Geospatial Team a couple of years ago and has been hugely popular with the Geospatial Survey Community. The 2+ years of one hour a month rapidly build into a hugely valuable resource for our user base and cover a wide variety of subjects. Some of the presentations are made by Trimble Product Specialists and some are made by customers to give Real World experiences and projects to other users to highlight what is truly possible etc.


We hope that you find them useful, please comment on the Power Hour Sessions as you see fit, we love to get your feedback and to hear how they are helping you to "Transform The Way The World Works".


Thanks for your support and interest



In TBC v5.1 and earlier, the way to handle PDF Cross Sections was to use the Digitize Cross Sections workflow. This entails a time consuming process of scaling each section manually and then digitizing the surfaces from the sections that you require i.e. Finished Grade, Subgrade, Existing Terrain etc.


In TBC v5.2 to be released shortly, we showed the PUG attendees in US last week some new tools that we have implemented in TBC to do this work in a faster and more effective way, that is more enjoyable as well.


In this Blog I am going to provide a number of videos that show the steps to


  1. Import the Vector PDF Section Sheets into a Project
  3. Auto Extract the vectors from the PDF File pages
  5. Sort out the data in the sections into separate layers
  7. Prepare the extracted data for 3D Conversion
  9. Convert the Linework into 3D Objects using the Create Stored Cross Sections from CAD (we modified this command to facilitate the creation of Stored Cross Sections or 3D Linework from the PDF data)
  11. Manipulate the 3D Linework to create the linear features for the project
  13. Use the 3D linework to create surface models
  15. Add the Surface Models to a Corridor and assign materials to determine volumes


Along the way you will find many Tips and Tricks to make your process faster. If you have questions on these workflows, please ask them here so we can keep all the related Q&A together in this one Blog Post.





In line with some of the other Blog Posts - I decided that I would start to capture commonly requested information about working with SCS900 and Siteworks products and TBC combined. In this Blog I will post information that you will find helpful if you are looking for answers or tools to solve data type issues when working with SCS900 or Siteworks. If you have questions in this arena, please ask them in this Blog so that we can contain all related information in one place.


Hope that this is helpful



As you dig deeper and deeper into TBC and use it for more and more tasks in your daily workload, you start to ask "how do I do this or that" when the tools that are provided may not do what you specifically want. In this Blog I am going to start to capture Tips and Tricks relating to CAD Drawing and Editing that may be useful for you to know when you start to use TBC's CAD capabilities more.


If you have specific How To questions relating to CAD Editing please put them in this BLOG so we can keep all this type of information together in one place.





I get a lot of Questions around creating and managing data for the GCS900, Earthworks and Siteworks / SCS900 systems. So much so that I feel that the creation of a Blog Post (that is easy to locate) that captures all of the issues that I hear about in one place for the benefit of all users out there. 


Please post Questions and Answers to commonly encountered data management issues here so we can create a really useful Blog for field system Managers and Users.





Alan Sharp

Image Management in TBC

Posted by Alan Sharp Jul 29, 2019

I am often asked for more detail on the use of Digital Globe Satellite Imagery in TBC - here are some FAQs and Responses


Question 1

Is TBC directly connected to the Digital Globe Image Server when you turn on the background map function?


Answer 1

Yes - the Trimble ID login gets you to Connect Services and those services parse your project data and send on the request to the Digital Globe Image Server to retrieve the image set for your project / graphical display area. We do not make a copy of the Digital Globe Satellite Imagery so it is 100% up to date with the Digital Globe Images that are available.


Question 2

Is the Digital Globe Imagery the highest resolution imagery that is available from that service provider?


Answer 2

Yes - Google Earth is higher resolution in some areas because they supplement the Satellite Imagery with low elevation image data from terrestrial flight imagery. Digital Globe Imagery is all Satellite based imagery.


Question 3

What is the accuracy of the Digital Globe Imagery?


Answer 3

The Digital Globe Imagery is typically accurate to better than 10m with a >90% confidence in that accuracy. If you see errors greater than that it is likely that it is to do with the Coordinate System and Projection that you are using in your project and the "reprojection" of the Digital Globe Imagery that TBC is doing. Please share example projects where the errors are greater than these stated accuracies for us to take a look at.


Question 4

How old is the Digital Globe Imagery?


Answer 4

The Digital Globe Imagery is typically updated every 2 years on a rolling coverage basis. When compared with Google Earth imagery it can be both more current or older because the rolling update cycles of Digital Globe and Google are not the same.


Question 5

Why do Trimble use Digital Globe Imagery vs Google Earth or other Image Servers?


Answer 5

Digital Globe is a) Global and b) cheaper to offer as a service than other providers. While Google is higher quality image data it is significantly more expensive to license than Digital Globe. With the advent of Drone Flying being common for contractors, many projects have high accuracy high resolution data of their own available. We don't see the need to contract with a higher quality image provider because we would have to pass that cost on to you as consumers and  we feel that it is a "fill in" rather than a primary service. You also get the optional Street Maps within this background image function which allows you to map Haul Roads and Site Access Points accurately from existing infrastructure. Trimble Sketchup for example has recently licensed Nearmap for high resolution imagery, however that covers urban areas more than green field areas which may be good for Architects but less so for Civil Contractors. It is also not a Global Coverage service.

  • First you need a Trimble ID - if you don't have one go to this website and follow the steps to Sign Up for a Trimble ID (this will give you a Connect Services Login (uses your email address and password)


      Click Here For Link


  • Now that you have a Trimble ID - In TBC go to Support - Options - External Servces - Profiles and create a Trimble Connect Service Profile. Enter your rimble ID Username and Password and then tap "Test Settings" and if it passes, Tap "Sign In" and then "Set as Active". This will start the service each time you start TBC.
  • Now you need your Project to have some data in it (a Point or Line is a minimum) and it must also have a coordinate system - that can be a Site Calibration File imported (DC, CAL or CFG file) or can be set using a Coordinate System (Projection and Datum etc.)
  • Now you can tap the Background Map Service Toggle Button at the base of the graphics screen area -  to activate the Map Service.
  • Once active if you want to toggle between Satellite Image and Street Map you can go to Project Explorer and go to the top of the tree and find the Project Name and then look at its properties - In the Background Map section the Type can be "Trimble Mapview" (the Street Map) or Digital Globe Imagery (The Satellite Imagery). Here you can also set the Transparency of the Background Map.


Here is the result of showing the imagery behind a TIN Surface Model of the Trimble Building Facility in Colorado, USA.



Hope that this is useful information



I see a lot of traffic internally and through the Forum on this subject and have decided that a Blog Post where we can capture all "Working With AutoCAD and Civil 3D questions" in one place as a resource for you all to use. Please post questions here relating to anything regarding AutoCAD, Civil 3D, DWG, DXF, Trueview or related activities. We will use the Q&A as a resource to improve TBC going forwards and hopefully you will get answers to commonly asked questions and problems. 


My colleague Mike Carris is our resident Civil 3D Guru, he worked for several years as an Autodesk Trainer for Civil 3D so he knows the system better than most. He has a number of videos (K-APP) that are available on the Trimble Library that you may also want to review as a part of your quest to make Autodesk data more usable in TBC. The link here provides you with a Voucher to access some of these K-APPs for free on Trimble Library (this one covers CAD Data Objects and how to manage those in AutoCAD / Civil 3D i order to create those objects in TBC


Understanding CAD Data kApp Voucher Code


The Voucher will add the K-APP to your personal Trimble Library. Trimble Library can be accessed from the Support Menu Ribbon in TBC or at the following link


Trimble Library Link


You will need a Trimble ID to access the Trimble Library - you can get a Trimble ID at the following link if you don't already have one


Trimble ID Link


To kick this off, the first post, which I will complete next week (but am publishing now), posed some questions to Mike as a response to some user questions this week - Mike is going to provide a more detailed response to me shortly, however his initial responses are pretty handy to have today.


Let us know what you need to understand and we will collectively try to assist you




After another successful PUG Power Users Group Conference in April, I am pleased to provide those of you that could not make it to Colorado with the Training Exercises that we went through at the event. I will be uploading these over the next few days (there is a lot of video content here - so please be patient with me), and I will also post the example files and exercise handouts as well.


Looking forward To PUG 3.0 in October ...


Hope you find these useful



Trimble Business Center v5.10 Releases Today (May 31 2019)



The Trimble Business Center Version 5.10 releases to users today (May 31st 2019). The installation package will be available to all users by the end of the day. 


This release brings a host of new and improved capabilities that increase usability, productivity, capability, flexibilityand more in the following areas


  • Corridor Modeling including
    • New Improved Sideslope Instructions
      • Slope and Bench
      • Mine Slope, Bench and Haul Road
      • Variable Depth of Cut and Fill Side Slopes
      • Multi Element Sideslopes
      • Sloping Ditch Segments
      • Slope to Material Layer
      • Slope to Remote Surface
      • Model Subgrades with Side Slopes

New - Multi Element and Bench / Sideslope Capability



Mine Haul Road and Bench / Side Slope Computations


  • Improved Slope and Shareable Slope Tables (include vertical curves)
  • Copy and Paste Template Instructions
    • Inside a Template
    • Between Templates
    • Between Projects
    • You can now store your Master Templates or Master Template Elements in one project and copy them into you working Template
  • New Properties that constrain your model better
  • XLINES equivalent capability for model building
  • Improved Import of Station / Offset / Elevation and XSR / GEN Files (Cross Sections)
  • Improved CAD Cross Section Conversion
  • Snaps and Offset, Elevation and Slope Extraction in Template View
  • Accurate Measurements using Snaps in Template View 
  • Improved Earthwork Computations
  • Sideslope Modeling including
    • All of the above corridor features but linked to a linestring or alignment
    • Copy No Edit capability for rapid use of the same Template for multiple instances e.g. for Wall and Pier Footings, for Curb and Gutter Sections
    • Improved handling of steps, offsets, angular corners and cross slopes from angular alignments


New and Improved Sideslope Command Functionality


  • Plotting and Drafting
    • Dynaviews now support Grips and Snaps - easier placement and movement of the Dynaview on a sheet
    • Improved PDF output quality
    • New Smart Text capabilities
      • Alternate Units
      • Math Tools in the Smart Text (+ - / *)
      • Horizontal and Slope Lengths of Segments and Lines
      • Depth of Cover / Clearance Height Labeling and Querying


New - Smart Text Capability


  • Takeoff
    • New Custom Takeoff Reports - Fully Customizable Takeoff Reports
    • Includes screen shot of project
    • Easier to read and understand
    • More flexible content control


New - Custom Takeoff Report


  • Geospatial
    • Feature Code Library now embedded in Project Explorer
    • Attribute entry and Editing directly in Create Point command
    • MX9 Scanner Support Improvements
    • Crossing Geometry Report (Works without a Surface) (Clearances and Clashes between 3D Lines)
    • Update to UAS Master Software (that ships with TBC)


The New Crossing Geometry Function for Bust and Clash Analysis


New - Feature Code Library in Project Explorer




  • Import / Export
    • Support for Sketchup 2019
    • Improved IFC Import and Export (Reads more BIM Properties from IFC Objects)
      • Can now Georeference IFC Objects, Subset the Objects and Export IFC to Trimble Access
    • PDF Sheet Import and Automatic Placement and Vector Extract into Sheet View


Improved IFC Format Support and Trimble Access Interface




  • TML Macros
    • TML Status through Rockpile Solutions - Check availability, manage versioning, licenses capability
    • New TMLs from Rockpile Solutions
    • New TMLs from Trimble


TML Status Capability From Rockpile Solutions


We will be posting new Videos covering today's release webinar, product demos covering all of the new features and functions and also over the next week we will be releasing Video content of the detailed training materials covered at the recent PUG Conference.


A Very Happy Modeling Day!


Looking forward to hearing your feedback - I think you will like the new tools


Alan Sharp

Alan Sharp

Happy Memorial Day Weekend

Posted by Alan Sharp May 22, 2019

I am checking out for a long weekend - apologies but I will get answers to your questions early next week after the break.


Just wanted to thank all of those people out there that are serving or have served in the US Military protecting us all and keeping us out of harms way - we really appreciate all that you do / have done for us! 


Don't forget the following important Events in the TBC Calendar


  1. Next Week we have the TBC v5.1 release Overview Webinar on Friday 31st May at 10:00 am MST (See Events)
  2. October 2019 - the Next PUG Event is now 60% full, please get your reservations in soon to avoid disappointment


Will catch up next week



Alan Sharp

Working With The Forum

Posted by Alan Sharp May 16, 2019

All of the TBC Users out there that are using the forum as a reference, I am going to ask you to help me in my quest to give you better support and help on the product by using the forum to a greater degree going forwards.


As you may see when you are in the Forum, the forum captures a lot of useful data, here are some examples


  1. About where people are logging in from - this helps us determine the Global Reach of this tool and how well it is supporting you globally rather than just locally in the USA - it also helps us to understand how important TBC is for Contractors in different regions of the world and that helps us to focus our efforts on better solving those regions problems etc.
  2. What Questions, Blogs, Discussions etc are most interesting or useful to you. We have some categories that we track for example like Corridors, Data Prep, Takeoff, Field Data, Plotting and Drafting, Mass Haul etc that help us to track the importance of those subjects to you as users and from that we can gauge where our focus should be in product development
  3. Sentiment - when you say you like something, that gives it a sentiment scoring - the more likes an article or post gets the higher the sentiment value it gets - that helps us determine where to spend our time - we want to give you more of what you like and less of what you don't like etc.


So all of the above depends heavily on the following


  1. We know that a huge number of people use the forum daily, however a large number of you don't log in so while you "hit a page / blog / question etc" and view its content, we only know that you hit it, we don't know who, where from or any sentiment about what you thought, because you cannot interact with the forum if you don't log in -  so my request here is that you get a Trimble ID (go To Connect.Trimble.Com and select Get Started and that will walk you through the process of getting a Trimble ID - note you can use that Trimble ID in TBC to set up a Profile (Options - External Profiles - Connect and enter your email address and Password (your Trimble ID) and now you have access to the Background Map Service and the ability to use Trimble Connect as a Web Repository and tools like Save Remote File, Open Remote File etc. Now you have a Trimble ID - please log in to the forum to help me better track its use and to drive increased funding for this initiative in Trimble.
  2. While using the Forum, now that you are logged in, if you read a Question / Answer or a Post on a Blog, let us know if you a) Liked the Post and b) found it helpful - those are simple one click switches at the base of the post that you tap once to register a Like or a helpful - that helps to get the statistics better for me to gauge what you are finding useful or interesting etc. and that will help drive my / our behavior on your behalf.
  3. Please also post comments - even if short if you have any as those really help me to gauge how bi a problem something is and I can then try to create more materials or videos etc to better clarify the problem and solution etc.


I will also take this opportunity to thank all of those that are now hitting the forum daily - I can see that some of you make it a part of your daily routine now to look at what is going on. We have fixed so many small bugs and defects and improved so many workflows already because of your collective feedback, it has been awesome so far. I ran some quick numbers the other day that you may find interesting as a reference to this


  1. In the last 10 months (we started in July 2018) we have
    1. Posted 33 Blogs - that have multiple entries and have had an estimated 39000 views
    2. Posted 168 Documents - that have had an estimated 9300 Downloads
    3. Had 39 Discussions that have had an estimated 10500 Views
    4. Answered 483 Questions that have had an estimated 283000 Views
    5. We have posted many videos in Posts and Blogs etc, but in addition we have posted 5 extra videos as uploads that have had an estimated 2000 views
    6. We have posted 7 Events so far and we don't know specifically how many views, but we do know that we have filled 3 PUG Events and had a massive increase in Webinar Attendance as a result of the Forum


When you consider the Snowball effect of this overtime, the hit rate and interaction rate is increasing rapidly today, but even if we look at the above over a 10 month period, this has generated over 380000 separate interactions which is an average of 38000 / month or ~10000 per week which is awesome as a start and we know we are only scratching the surface here.


Thank you for your continued support and encouragement, I see huge value in this dialog between Trimble - SITECH - User that has been generating a lot of internal momentum - we really appreciate your energy, enthusiasm and passion for what we are trying to do here and with the product, and I personally greatly appreciate the industry friendship that this has created for me




Alan Sharp