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Alan Sharp

TBC TMLs Forum

Posted by Alan Sharp Nov 30, 2018

If you haven't already checked this out, you should - you can get a number of "free" macro tools to use with TBC v5


The Macro Forum can be found at this link


Click Here


The following Macro's are out there today for you


  1. Insert Line Segment - an easy way to insert additional nodes into existing linestrings without the overhead of the Linestring Editor
  2. VPI at Elevation - Creates VPIs on a selected Linestring at a specified elevation, wherever the elevation exists on the linestring as it is defined currently. This is helpful if you have 3D Lines e.g. that represent Bridge Piers, and you are trying to create locations on those lines for e.g. a Concrete pour at a specified elevation. Note that you can also draw additional lines that snap to the VPI locations once created if you need to create the slab itself etc.
  3. Find Surface Area - allows you to select any boundary area on a surface Model that has been textures, site improvement or just a closed line that is an area for which you need to know the Surface Area of the triangles included within the area. You can single or multi select lines to get combined areas. The "mini report" can be placed on the drawing as text if needed to label the areas
  4. Offset Surface - Allows you to select a surface and apply a surface offset above or below the existing surface to create a second surface at the offset value
  5. Surface to Grid - Allows you to create a Grid of Points on a defined Grid pattern from a 3D Surface Model. This saves having to use the Create Surface Elevation Grid that has a lot of Text, and it works super fast on large area surveys. A great way to cut down Drone or Scan Point Clouds to a regular grid. You can do this reference to an alignment and specify Station and Offset Intervals separately, you can export a points file and then auto reimport the points as a point cloud if needed. You can also compare the selected surface to another surface and report the deltas between the Grid points and the second surface for QA purposes. Awesome TML!
  6. Assign Name from Layers - for those of you that want to rapidly name a lot of lines using the name of the Layer that the Line is on as the new name for the objects (optionally ignoring names if they already exist) as a process before sending data to the field - you now have your tool!


Keep watching the Macros Forum - awesome productivity tools



Get Yourself a Logitech G600 Gaming Mouse! Best $30 you will ever spend - Where have you been all my life ....
Thank you Wayne Welshans - You just made TBC v5 at least 20% more productive. If you don't have one of these, get one (or something similar) and buy Wayne Welshans a Beer when you next bump into him (you will have time for more than one beer with the time this baby will save you).

For Demos / Practical Use this is an awesome addition for $30 if you are selling / showing / using software. There are 12 programmable keys on the mouse with 2 functions per key. You can create Profiles (for different work methods / processes) and you can cycle profiles with one click). 

You can record Macros and assign the macros to a key (so if you have a key stroke sequence that you are doing a lot e.g. in Linestring command you want to always hop from one field to another field that s normally e.g. Tab Tab Tab Tab you can record a Macro to do that and assign it to a key on the mouse so you press one button and it jumps over the 4 tabs in one click!
You can add Enter, Tab, Shift Tab and Space Bar to the 4 easiest access buttons, and then when you are digitizing you can press Enter on the mouse to accept a value / null value and create a node on a linestring, if you are adding VPIs to a 2D line you can do it all on the mouse with one hand and the numeric keys on the other 
No more Wimbledon effect (going left to right on the screen to access fields on the dialog boxes - ooooh (for those Americans that don't know Wimbledon it is a Tennis Tournament in England and also the home or the Wombles (look them up!)
Productivity Gain or what !!!! Thank you Logitech

We are getting the occasional question about our support of Spiral Types other than the traditional Clothoid Spiral that is used in Road Construction. There are many types of Spiral out there that get used in different parts of the world and primarily for Railway work. Spiral Types include

  • Clothoid
  • BLOSS Curves
  • Cubic Parabolas
  • Korean Cubic Parabolas
  • Half Sine Spirals
  • NSW Cubic Parabola


Business Center - HCE and Trimble Business Center supports all of the above Spiral Types. There are Spiral Types that it doesn't support. This is however only half the challenge.


If you create a Corridor Model that uses these types of Spiral, can you use the data downstream in any of the Trimble Field Systems. Below I will try to address this issue.


Trimble GCS900 / Trimble Earthworks / Trimble PCS900 Machine Control Systems

These systems all employ either SVD / SVL or DSZ file formats for the design models. The SVL or DSZ file is what carries the alignment geometry. Those file types actually use a chorded approximation of the alignment, chorded to a density that is unnoticeable on the machines. In the file format the chords all have the true stationing at that location stored as a part of the file format, so while in each chord, as you move towards the end of the chord, the station will be off fractionally, it will be unnoticeable on the machine. 


As a result of this approach, the Machine Control Systems all work with all of the above Spiral Types because they are not actually dependent on the alignment geometry or a calculation engine for the computation of Station and Offset from these Spiral Type elements.


Trimble SCS900

Trimble SCS900 utilizes the Terramodel PRO file for its corridor models. The PRO File format only supports the Clothoid Spiral. There is no support in SCS900 or the Field Data Exporter for Alignments or Road Surface Models for any alignment other than one that utilizes a Clothoid Spiral.


Trimble Siteworks

Trimble Siteworks is officially the same as Trimble SCS900. However Siteworks also has initial support for TBC VCL files as a Design Model. Currently you would have to select an Alignment and a Normal Surface Model (not a corridor surface model) and any linework required, and then run the normal Exporter, Select VCL File and output the data to the correct Design Folder for the correct device(s). When you open this type of file in Siteworks, the alignment will support all of the above spirals with the exception of the Half Sine Spiral currently. This is a VCL File Version Issue - Siteworks has not yet been updated to the BC-HCE 4.12 or TBC v5 VCL Version, once that is done, it will support all of the spiral types from TBC using the VCL format.


Trimble SitePulse

This has the same data structure as Trimble SiteWorks and also supports VCL format in the same way. It also has the same VCL version issue for Half Sine Spirals.


Trimble Access

Trimble Access Portal states that it supports the following Spiral Types in its Road Model definition (RXL Format)


  • Clothoid Spiral
  • Egg-Shaped Clothoid Spiral
  • Cubic Spiral (Cubic Parabola)
  • Korean Cubic Parabola
  • NSW Cubic Parabola


Note that the Egg-Shaped Spiral is not currently supported in Trimble Business Center v5.0.


People often ask - Can I just change the spiral type, and if I do what difference will it make? The simple answer is No you cannot just change the spiral type and expect it to give you the same numbers exactly. If you change the spiral type several things can happen


  1. The spiral can change position along its length
  2. The spiral may start at the same location but it may end at a different location
  3. The Spiral elements may no longer be Tangential with the inbound or outbound alignment elements


The errors associated with a change of Spiral Type will of course depend on the following

  1. The start and end radii of the spiral
  2. The length of the spiral
  3. The formula used to define the spiral


In some scenarios, it may be possible to change the Spiral Type and still get results that approximate to within an acceptable tolerance of the original data, however you would need to validate every part of an alignment after making such a change - Trimble cannot support that this is either viable, acceptable or good practice. As an industry professional you would be entirely responsible for making such a decision and the consequences of making any such change. Business center provides you with the tools necessary to explore these types of changes to see what effect it may have on the data. 


When checking or validating such a change, be sure to create a set of points from the original data that are fixed in space, that follow the entire original alignment, so that you can compare their position to any adjusted alignment. You have to validate along the entire length of all spiral elements not just at the end points, as some spiral types bulge more or less than other spiral types.


I hope that this helps provide background to this subject area



Today's Tip started out as a question from George Henry Schneider.


He was asking about how to model scenarios where e.g. a Layer or more of the subgrade Site Improvement beneath e.g. a Parking Area extends a distance below the curb and Gutter Section which also has a Site Improvement on which it sits.


In the example that I created, I had a Parking Area Material Stack that includes the following


4" Asphalt

6" Aggregate Base

3" Sand


Beneath the Curb which is itself 6" deep at the interface with the edge of Asphalt, we had the following material stack


4" Aggregate Base (this is 4/6 of the Aggregate Base beneath the Parking Area)


In addition the design calls for an additional 3" sand layer for a distance of 6" beneath the Curb section, extending from the subgrade beneath the parking area.


Beneath the Sidewalk we have


6" Concrete

2" Sand


So Something like this


So the steps to model this that I took were as follows


1) Create the "Earthen Select" Materials in the Materials And Site Improvement Manager for the following



Aggregate Base I

Aggregate Base II




2) Create the Subgrade Site Improvements as follows


Subgrade: Parking Area (Site Improvement I)

Asphalt Layer 4"

Aggregate Base I Layer 2"

Aggregate Base Layer II 4"

Sand Layer 3"


Subgrade: Curb and Parking Area (Site Improvement 2)

Aggregate Base II Layer 4" 

Sand Layer 3"


Subgrade: Curb Area (Site Improvement 3)

Aggregate Base II Layer 4"


Subgrade: Sidewalk Area (Site Improvement 4)

Concrete Layer 6"

Sand Layer 2"


Note that the 6" Aggregate Base Layer under the Parking Lot has been split into two Aggregate Base Layers - one 4" thick and the other 2" thick, and the materials used are Aggregate Base I and Aggregate Base II. This is so that we can match up the layers beneath the Curb Section correctly. The dashed green line in the picture above.


In the Design Model for Finished Grade we have the following lines for the main features as follows


Edge of Pavement

Flow Line

Top Face of Curb

Top Back of Curb




Because the application of site improvements will not work beneath a finished grade surface that tracks the Edge of Pavement, Flow Line, Top Face of Curb, Top Back of Curb shape, I recommend offsetting the Edge of Pavement String and Top Back Of Curb strings to the bottom of curb and then using those offset lines along with Edge of Pavement, Top Back of Curb and Sidewalk to make the Finished Grade model. That way when we apply site improvements below the curb area of the surface it will offset below correctly.


If you want a Top of Curb Surface then you can take the Edge of Pavement, Flow Line, Top Face of Curb and the Top Back of Curb strings and make a surface called Top of Curb. Note that when you do this - in the example shown in the video you will also get the Pavement surface of the parking lot in this Top of Curb Surface. To stop that from forming, I then applied a Null Site Improvement to the Top Of Curb Surface in the area of the parking pavement to remove those triangles from the Top of Curb Surface.


Lastly, we need to create the offset line for the 6" offset (where we need to extend the Aggregate Base and Sand Layers beneath the Curb section. I then draped that offset line on the Finished Grade Surface (the one that runs around the base of the curb section).


Now we can apply the Site Improvements to the Finished Grade surface as shown in the diagram.


Lastly we can create the Subgrade Surfaces for the Bottom of material layers that we need for the Volumes or machine control / site positioning applications using the Create Subgrade Surface command.


Check what you created using Surface Slicer and 3D Views etc. to make sure you didn't make any mistakes and you are done. The video shows all of these steps.



I enclose the TBC v5 Project so that you can take a look at it in your own time, let me know if you have any further questions


Happy Modeling



Alan Sharp

Happy Thanksgiving TBCers

Posted by Alan Sharp Nov 21, 2018

Hey everyone - I just wanted to wish all those US based users a Happy Turkey Day - Being British we ate our Turkey on Monday Night - but I know you guys cant wait for tomorrow - if you are playing in a Turkey Bowl tomorrow don't forget to don those pads and helmets - I know it is a no tackle sport but we know how much you love your suiits of armor over here - unlike us Rugby playing Brits ...


Have a great one - I will be back on line on Monday



Alan Sharp

TBC v5 Released

Posted by Alan Sharp Nov 19, 2018

With the release today of TBC v5 I am posting some information that may assist all those contractors out there move to the new version.


The enclosed Menu Ribbon Files may be useful to you these include the Side Toolbars as well as the Menus that are familiar to those of you that used BC-HCE v4.12 etc.


There are 3 Ribbon Files -


  1. Full Ribbon - All Menus and All Commands
  2. Cut Down Ribbon - Has some of the Menus removed / turned off and has commands duplicated on Toolbars and Menus
  3. Cut Down Ribbon with Duplicate Commands removed from the Ribbons where the commands are on the toolbars provided (This is the one that I use most - it forces you to use the Context menus and the Toolbars rather than keep hopping between Menus - when you get used to it it does make you a faster and stronger user.


I even Took Wayne Welshan's advice and purchased a Gaming Mouse (I may never forgive you Wayne ....) - now I have Flashing Lights and a host of Shortcuts on my mouse to get used to - Never was one for playing the Piano but I am getting close - who says you can't teach an old dog new tricks - I will let you know how I get on with it ....


You may get an Error Exception when you load them, that is caused by the Support - Set Ribbon Tabs command - In there you will find an Option that states "Show Only Licensed Tabs" - turn that off and you will be good to go and can ignore the exception that was thrown.


In that same command you can turn on and off Menu Tabs that you do / don't want from those in the Menu Setup provided. Use this to Turn things On / Off. If you want to customize the Ribbons you will need to start from here and use the Customize Command to change the Menus Layouts to what you want.


You will also find under Support - Options that at the top of the Dialog you have the option to select Theme Options - Traditional (BC-HCE Look and Feel)  or Light (TBC v5 Look and Feel). The setting for Use Large Icons for Quick Access Toolbars is also now in this dialog (Used to be in Set Menu Layout before).


Hope that this answers the immediate questions, I am sure you will have many - please don't hesitate to ask.


  1. Download the Ribbons and place them somewhere in My Documents
  2. Load them using Support - Customize Ribbon - Import
  3. Use Ste Ribbon Tabs to select the Menus you want turned on
  4. I recommend Exiting TBC that way the Setup is saved for the future.
  5. You may also want to Export your preferred Setup using Customize Ribbon - Export so you have your defaults as you need them.


Happy TBC 5ing....



This is a common question - I am buying a new PC to run Trimble Business Center / Business Center - HCE, what Spec of machine should I purchase and where will I get the biggest bang for my Buck, Euro, Pound etc. The following information should help you decide. We all understand that buying a new Laptop is a great opportunity to "improve your lives" and "to get a faster more productive machine" and that these opportunities typically come along every 2-3 years at best, so we don't want you to make a mistake, however having said that, we also do not continually benchmark new machines and new graphics cards as they become available because that really is not necessary these days for a software company - we simply cannot keep up with all the changes that happen annually. 


Some Background that you may find helpful


Multi Core Computers will provide increased capability to run multiple applications at the same time (each application takes up a core for example - meaning that multi applications can run on separate threads. So if you are a MultiTasker - Multi Core technology will help you. When running a single application like Business Center - HCE or TBC v5, only certain computations can be "multi-threaded" and will use more than one core - however where most of our computation time is created by TIN Surface Modeling methods e.g. for creating a surface, creating a volume between surfaces, running a Takeoff Report, Running a Corridor Earthworks Report etc. the TIN Model Process is the most process hungry element, and our developers tell me that you cannot multi-thread that process i.e. you cannot see many locations for a surface and compute a radial sweep triangulation starting in many points to divide the work, because at some point the triangles along the "edges" of the sweeps will not be the same - so multi threading while maybe not impossible is at least extremely hard to do (and has not been done). So going out and buying a Multi Core computer, while it will help you in some areas will not help you in others - so spending big in this area (at least today) should not be done on TBC's behalf


Where you will get the biggest improvements in BC-HCE / TBC are the following


  • Run the latest Windows and run the 64 Bit version of Windows and the TBC / BC-HCE application.
  • Always keep your Operating System, Drivers and Bios up to date to get the greatest performance from your hardware. We appreciate that vendors sometimes put out problematic versions of these items, but more often than not they are always an improvement.
  • Solid State Drive vs Spinning Drive. When we open projects, save projects or edit objects we are reading / writing to disk and writing the undo buffer, so this can be a bottle neck on large processes. Getting a faster Solid State Drive with great Read / Write time performance will help you significantly. When working with Point Clouds and Images the same applies.
  • Graphics Card and Memory. Business center - HCE / Trimble Business Center is not developed for any specific Graphics Card to get the "best performance". We use whatever graphics card you have available. A higher performance card will typically perform better than a lower performance card. Getting a card with more memory helps a lot, especially when handling Imagery and Point Clouds or Large Rendered Surface Models. Purchasing a larger memory card will get you better results. Graphics cards vary wildly in price.  The Nvidia GTX 1080 series is a good mid range buy today for the money, but you can't go wrong with the ones at the top of the ratings either. More Graphics Memory e.g. 4GB or higher is good to have.The following chart is helpfulimage.png
  • RAM - Business Center - HCE will consume and use available RAM - the amount pf RAM you have is going to dictate speed of operations on the larger jobs. We recommend that 32GB or 64GB is typically sufficient for most projects, but that does depend a little on how many applications you run simultaneously and also how big your data gets - if you are handling large Point Clouds, More RAM and more Graphics Memory combine to assist you. More RAM is a good investment. The speed of the RAM is also important - get the fastest RAM for the CPU that you are buying to get the best performance.
  • CPU Speed and Number of Processors - CPU Speed is important - TBC / BC-HCE will use the Speed that you have, in places BC-HCE will use the Processors that you have. BC-HCE / TBC rarely uses more than a couple of Processors, so buying a Quad Core or 8 Core machine will not really benefit you. We dont really differentiate between Chipset Providers - however I have heard that Intel Chipsets typically perform better than AMD Chipsets - however that is a Chipset thing not a Business center thing.Since single threaded use is the most common use (at least today), you should look at the CPU Single Thread Benchmark Tests out there to judge the value for money on your CPU purchase - here is an example from CPUBENCHMARK.NET website (a good reference)

         As you can see, the last 3 generations of CPU have yielded only ~25% improvement in performance - The top of          the Line I7 Processors are good value for money at present and do not perform that differently to the I9          processors.

  • Graphics Card Resolution - we are doing more and more work with High Resolution Screens - getting a good 4K monitor will benefit you. We have been reworking the User Interface in TBC v5 to better leverage the Higher Resolution monitors, it is good in TBC v5 and will get better and better as we move forwards. So getting a High Resolution Screen will help you in the long run.
  • Touch Screen Technologies - I have no doubt that we will make more and more use of Touch Screen Technologies as we move forwards - while use of that is possible today, it is limited, but with the new active stylus technologies I am sure we will put the screens to good use in the future - I cannot tell you when, what for or for what purposes, but this technology is gaining momentum for sure.


Lastly I would comment that where people "complain" about speed or performance issues, when we review the projects that are "considered to be slow", we find that better management of the data in the project to minimize computation times is a far bigger issue than the computer that people are running on. There are many things that you can do to improve speed while working with Business Center - HCE / Trimble Business Center v5 and I have captured these in a document that has been posted on the forum for the past few months - below is a link to that document. Observing best practices and getting a "decent" computer go hand in hand and will save you hours a week when you get the balance right.


I hope that this helps - as I stated at the start of this Blog, we do not benchmark computers, Graphics Cards, RAM, Disk Drives or CPUs specifically and as a result we cannot be held accountable for a poor performing computer or associated hardware. The above are guidelines, and we cannot be more specific because we do not benchmark all of the latest technologies - we try to run on everything and run well.


We sometimes hear that people purchased a top of the line flying machine in the hopes to get great performance but failed to realize what they set out to achieve, we also hear people purchased mid line, good performance machines and got amazing results. Bottom line, TBC uses what you have as listed  above, so choose wisely and spend wisely - a $3000 laptop computer should work great. If you have the chance to Try before you Buy that is recommended and pick your projects well to test out the hardware.


If you feel that you purchased a "winner" please feel free to comment on this post for the benefit of those entering the laptop purchase crap shoot!



For those of you you that were at the DImensions 2018 conference, you will have seen and likely used Trimble Business Center v5 (see previous post) as well as had the opportunity to meet the teams and take a look at the software elements of the CEC Software portfolio.


In addition, during the conference you will have also been exposed to the new Graphic below which is a continuation of our former messaging around CEC Software. So what changed?



In the past you have heard us talk about the Connected Site, to most users that is the connection between the Office and Field Systems using Trimble Connected Community (TCC) which provides 3 valuable services, those being


  1. Two Way Data (Wireless Data Sync) between the office (Business Center - HCE) and the Field (SCS900, Siteworks, Site Pulse, GCS900, Earthworks, PCS900, DPS900, Groundworks), providing Site and Design data to the field and completed Work Orders or Production data Files from the field without having to drive to site or visit machines personally.
  2. Internet Base Station Service - providing increased flexibility of GPS operations on site through connection of Base Stations to the TCC service, that then facilitates internet connections from field systems and the delivery of GNSS Corrections via the web, thereby extending operating range, facilitating rapid mobilization of field crews and providing more people and adjacent projects with access to the GNSS Correction streams
  3. Remote Assistant - providing field support from office locations using a remote connection into the controller or control box for the purposes of remote troubleshooting and fault diagnosis, reconfiguration of displays and settings and providing remote training and support to operators, getting field crews working more rapidly without the need to visit the jobsites


For those of you that attended the Dimensions 2018 conference, you will also have seen a preview of Connected Site v2.0. This will eventually replace the TCC system and provide a modernized equivalent to the above services provided by the existing TCC, as well as providing a new platform that paves the way towards additional production management tools. The Connected Site 2.0 was received well by the attendees of the conference - these were some of the highlights


  1. 3D Graphical Views
  2. See all projects in a 3D "Google Earth" like environment
  3. Dots on Map to show where assets are Located and where they are working
  4. File Version Control
  5. Colored dots to show when assets are working on old or current file versions
  6. Colored Dots to show Working / Not Working status of assets
  7. Drag and Drop of Designs to a Project (All Assets) or a Specified Asset(s)
  8. Ability to create Design Packages from provided files directly through the web (Like SCS Data Manager)
  9. Simple, easy to use file management system
  10. Utilization of the Trimble Connect Backend Services including Project Management, Device Management, User Access and Trimble ID


You will also have seen the other elements of the CEC Software Portfolio including


  1. Quantm - Route Finding and Alignment Optimization
  2. Novapoint - Civil Design Suite
  3. Quadri - BIM Level 3 Server for Civil Construction
  4. Quadri - Easy Access - Web Collaboration Portal
  5. TILOS - Linear Planning and Scheduling Tool providing Time Location Charts for linear project schedules
  6. VisionLink - Unified Fleet - Mixed Fleet Asset Management Platform for Health, Maintenance, Utilization and Asset Management
  7. VisionLink - Unified Productivity - Mixed Fleet Cycle Monitoring, Load Count Tracking, Payload Monitoring, 3D Production Tracking and Intelligent Compaction
  8. VisionLink - Landfill - Mixed Fleet Landfill Compaction Operation Management


In the past we have talked about the Construction Continuum - that being the management of the Civil Construction Process from Conception through to Completion and on to Maintain / Operate, and while that is still a part of the new message, it was felt that connecting Design - Construction and Office to Field Operations throughout the Project Lifecycle was more in line with what we are doing as a business - hence the change to


Trimble Connected Construction


As we start to close out 2018 and look forward to 2019, the Connected Site 2.0 will be in test during Q1 and released to market in Q2 - this will be an exciting year for Trimble System users



Alan Sharp

Dimensions 2018 Follow Up

Posted by Alan Sharp Nov 12, 2018

A number of you asked me for a copy of my DImensions Presentations on Basic and Advanced Corridor Modeling, 2D Takeoff and Creating Project Deliverables. I enclose the presentations here for you all to download. It was great to meet so many new faces this year, if you want to share your contact details with me and get onto my mailing list please email me directly at


There will likely be 2x Power User Group (PUG) Meetings in 2019 - one n April and one in October, if you are on my mailing list you will be invited, you will also see them posted here on the Community Forum once the dates are finalized.


I will be recording videos of these Dimensions Sessions this week and will post them to this Blog when ready. The 2D Takeoff one is already posted.


Thanks again for being Business Center - HCE users and for attending the DImensions Conference, It was great to see so many enthusiastic attendees / users over the 3 days. If I can assist you in any way, please don't hesitate to contact me.



I have been at Bootcamp this week for the Global SITECH dealer network - an awesome week with over 400 SITECH professionals in attendance. While running a Corridor Modeling session, one of my Trimble colleagues asked me if there was any way that we could Edit a Horizontal Alignment in the same way that we can edit a Vertical Alignment - using Grips. While my initial response was that it wasn't currently possible - I am retracting that by >50% .....


If you use the Linestring command to create the alignment (Straight and Arc alignment segments only at this stage), you can use Grips on each segment to drag the segment in and out or along the alignment - changing the VPI locations and the radius of the element. When you are satisfied - you can then do one of the following


1) Create a Horizontal Alignment and append the linestring that you edited - this will then become a HAL that you can use for a corridor


2) Add the Vertical VPIs to the Linestring and here you can add vertical Arc or Vertical Curve segments to your HAL - that can then become a VAL in an alignment - or just a geometrical 3D linestring. If you dont want to take the step to create an alignment - you can now (in TBC v5 soon at least) use the new Create Sideslope command to create a corridor along the 3D linestring


For Site and City Roads where spirals are not used - this is a pretty good solution for those engineers out there that want to "tweak" an alignment - or to design a Haul Road for a project where Tweaking is a requirement.


Enclosed is a quick video for all those "tweakers" out there





Happy Model Tweaking .....



As I spend more time with Dealers and Customers, I have found that there are many things in Corridor Modeling that are either unknown or mis-understood. Over the next few weeks  am going to post some blog entries here that address a number of things that I commonly encounter


In the enclosed video - I cover the concept of Composite Modeling - what is that? 


Many people that I meet believe that Site Modeling (Data Prep) and Corridor Modeling (Roads) are two completely separate disciplines. This is a mis-conception. In order to build many roads and their associated features, you cannot compute everything perpendicular to the center line - examples of this would include the following


  1. Bus Lanes or Lay Bys / Turnouts. While the pavement of the turnout may be at the slope of the pavement computed perpendicular to the centerline, the shape of the turnout is such that if there are features such as curb or sidewalk etc elements that follow the edge of pavement and require true cross slopes - you have to model those elements at least through the bus lane perpendicular to the edge of pavement / lip of gutter feature node.
  2. Bulge corners on subdivision roads - again same as above, the bulge corners deviate from the centerline, so all subsequent feature lines for Flow Line, Curb Face, Back of Curb and Sidewalk need to again be modeled separately
  3. Cycleways - many cycleways may parallel a highway in places, but then deviate away from the highway centerline - that means they either have to be modeled as a separate corridor or that they get modeled using Site Modeling methods and then get added back to the overall model for the project.


Each of these scenarios requires the "composite modeling" approach that is demonstrated in the enclosed video, and this approach delivers a lot of flexibility and great results.


When modeling corridors - look at the drawings closely and identify areas that will require the "composite approach".


In the example shown in the video, you will also see the use of Tables in Template instructions (Both Corridor and Sideslope Templates), and how you can use those to start and stop elements of a Template - this is a second thing that I have found over the last year that is pretty much an unknown feature of corridor template instructions that is one of the most powerful features of templates - and that is the use of ? in an Offset or Elevation Table that states that from this station forwards the Offset or Slope is "Unknown" or "Undefined" and acts as a Stop to the feature being created by the instruction i.e. a set of Station / Offset values such as these below


Station = 0          Offset = 12

Station = 50        Offset = 12

Station = 100      Offset = 24

Station = 200      Offset = ?

Station = 300      Offset = 24

Station = 400      Offset = 24

Station = 450      Offset = 0

Station = 450.01 Offset = ?


will create a Gap between stations 200 and 300 and will stop the feature at Station 450.01


What is more, I also find that many users do not understand the difference and benefit of selecting Previous Node or Specified node as the reference line for a new instruction


  1. When you select a "Specific Node" - the instruction being completed can only be created if the Specified Node exists - so when you use tables that use a ? to stop the reference feature over a station range from being created, then if you select that stopped reference line as the reference node, then the instruction will also stop over the same station range without having to define any tables on the instruction. The same applies to subsequent instructions, if they are dependent on a prior instruction - then they too will stop in the same gap areas. This is a great way to create "feature sequences" that meet the need of changing Typical Sections along the highway.
  2. When you select "Previous Node" then the instruction will always be created and will use whatever the last node that was created in the instruction list prior to the instruction being created. If you want the new feature to "skip" a range of stations, then you can use a Table containing the ? at a specified station and it will cause a gap in the instruction for the defined station range. For example if you have a Pavement section of 12' at -2% for the full highway, and then you have a Taper that starts at station 50 (as per the above table), then stops at Station 450.01 (as per the above table), but you want a shoulder that runs along the Edge of pavement from 0 to 50 and from 450.01 to the end of the road and along the Taper from station 50 to 450.01 but with a gap for a T Intersection from Station 200 to 300 then using Previous will do the trick because the previous node will be EOP first and then TAPER and then EOP over those station ranges - if you did not but a Table with the gap between 200 and 300 stations, then the shoulder would step in and be parallel to the EOP through the gap section (which would be undesired).


So combining all of the above, allows you to skip areas that you will later fill in with site modeling techniques that will then get added back into the corridor as 3D Reference Lines and then Connect instructions to join the strings into the corridor model, or added to the corridor surface model as additional breaklines using Add and Remove Surface Members.


The video below shows all of these things. In my experience, when you master these "tricks", you will be a far better and faster modeler of road projects



Hope this is useful

Even Happier Modeling .....