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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 .....





Alan Sharp

2D Takeoff in TBC v5.0

Posted by Alan Sharp Oct 31, 2018

Thought I would share this video with you all - it demonstrates 2D Takeoff processes using TBC v5. I have a session at Dimensions next week on this and I get a lot of requests on how to do this efficiently in BC-HCE.


To do this in a team environment you would need either a Survey Intermediate Edition to do all of the work in one license, or you could do the Image Management and Georeferencing and placement of image boundaries etc. in a Survey Intermediate Edition and then hand over the project to another user using just the Field Data Edition to do the digitizing of Areas, Lengths and Counts. The user of the Survey Intermediate Edition could then reopen the project and do the Area Length Count Reporting and add background imagery and also do all of the labeling and annotation and generation of tables etc as needed.


Once the data is in Excel, the video shows how you can use a Pivot Table to get nice summary reports as well as how to use the Text to Columns function to split comma separated name field into multiple columns to facilitate quick volume calculations from the area data, or to add cost codes to the report before handing off to the Estimators.


Let me know if you have further input here as to things that we could improve for the 2D Takeoff work that you have to do.






As you may have heard, we announced Trimble Business Center v5.0 jointly with the Geospatial Division at the Intergeo Trade Show in Germany last week. We have shared a lot of pre-release information with the SITECH dealers and they should be reaching out to you over the next few weeks. The Trimble Business Center v5 release, brings the Business Center - HCE (for contractors) and the Trimble Business Center (For the Survey and Geospatial Community) together into a single platform. 


The new platform carries all of the feature set of both products into a range of Product Editions (Packages) targeted at specific types of user and Add On modules that provide a specific feature set to a specific set of workflows.



The new product contains a lot of enhancements and exciting new tools like Macro Programming (TML) that will allow the product to gather more momentum in the market place as third party developers begin to deliver productivity enhancing tools in addition to those that Trimble is already delivering.


The new product also has a Sharp New Look and some major productivity enhancing user experience improvements, whilst retaining a high degree of similarity to the previous versions of the products.


Alignment of Licensing, Warranty, Feature /  Function Capability, and a common approach to market was a growing requirement within our larger customers, putting everything together in one scalable and extensible platform, while distributing the common product through the specialist Geospatial and SITECH channels were the prime objectives for this release - we hope that you like it.


The enclosed video covers the new product structure, how your existing BC-HCE license will map to the new license structure and also the highlights of the new release.


Let us know what you think - in use - I think you will love the changes that we have made but as always your feedback is invaluable 



Even Happier Modeling in November



Alan Sharp

Tip of the Day ...

Posted by Alan Sharp Oct 25, 2018

I was looking at some data from AutoCAD yesterday relating to Title Boxes and Borders setups and noticed that on import the text did not fit into the area of the Title Box that was provided for it. On opening the same file in Civil 3D I noted that it sat inside the box just fine. It dawned on me (actually it didn't - my buddy Gary L showed me this) that if you click on the Text in BC-HCE and can see the CAD Grips, you can use the CTRL key and then move the green triangle in Top Right of the CAD Grips to the Left or Right and this will force the Text to wrap to the width defined. 


You can use this feature in Title Boxes, or for the placement of a set of notes on a sheet where the size of the area available is Narrower and Taller or Wider and Shallower than the set of notes that you want to place. Simply drag the note set into the graphics area - placing Top Left or Center where you want it, and then use the Grips to resize the text as you need it.


I thought this was pretty awesome - all your typical drawing notes can be setup on your drawing sheets outside the drawing area itself, they can be dragged into the drawings as you need them and can be placed wherever it is convenient and then resized and reformatted as required - I recorded a video snippet here to show how it is done


Happy Drafting


Alan Sharp

Enhancement Requests

Posted by Alan Sharp Oct 18, 2018

f you are logging a request for an improvement - please use #enhancement request in the Tags in your question / post. That way it shows up in a list for product management and I dont have to tag your requests for you - that way they wont get lost in the fast action question / answer that is starting to roll here.


Please help me to help you


Awesome stuff guys - keep it coming



Business Center - HCE v4.12 Patch Released Yesterday. Use Check For Updates inside Business Center v4.11 to get the patch added to your installation.


Enclosed are the Release Notes for the Patch - Mostly Bug Fixes and Minor Improvements, but a couple of good items in here that will be useful to many


  1. LandXML import gives more options to ceate Layers during Import to separate out the data contained in the LandXML file. This makes data faster to use and understand
  2. Improvements to PDF Vector Extraction in terms of Layer Management and Layer Grouping, especially where the PDF is Layered and is coming from a known source wher you can set up a project Template with Layers and Layer Groups already defined - this means that you can organize data from a PDF quickly and easily as it is imported.
  3. Image Plotting is greatly improved for High Resolution Images
  4. Create Subgrade Surfaces has been fixed and works well again - awesome
  5. The Area Length Count Report on large data now runs in a fraction of the time it did before - Great for 2D Takeoff
  6. Minor improvements but large gains in the Standardize Layer Command - you can now use the Shift Key to select individual or Groups of Objects and assign them to a Layer and not just a while layer to a Layer.
  7. MX, 12DAZ and Trimble Earthworks .DSZ files can now be imported or have improved import capabilities


Hope that you find this release to be an improvement and has increased robustness - there are many small defects that have been addressed in the release that are not captured here in the release notes.


Happy Modeling



Many people have asked if they can access the PUG Training Class Materials from the last class held in Colorado in August 2018 using v4.11 of Business Center - HCE. In this Blog I am going to post the Materials and Videos of the session content here so you can follow the sessions in your own time. The Example Projects and Data Sets are quite Large so I have posted those on a Public Google Drive - Click Here To Access


The PUG Conference was a 3 Day event and covered a wide range f Materials. Each Session will be entered as a new Blog Entry in this thread. As the Blog Entry is made I will post the video here and all of the supporting materials on the Google Drive as a Zip File for the session.


I hope that you find this content useful and that it inspires you to attend a future PUG session here in Sunny Colorado.


Happy Modeling

Alan Sharp

One thing that I am finding when visiting customers around the US is that they have not heard of the Trimble Library. This is an awesome training and learning resource where we post a large number of training videos covering most aspects of the BC-HCE application. 


The library can be found at this URL  and can also be accessed by the CEC Forum home page (where you access the BC-HCE Community from (It is mis-named Trimble Product Previews - it is way more than demos of the product).


Try it out - it will also shortly be linked to the Trimble ID system so you will only need one login for all things Trimble. In the mean time sign up for a Library account - you can use the same credentials as you use for Trimble ID, that way when we switch over you should just be able to keep using it without a hitch.


Some of the content is Free, some titles carry a minimal charge of $1.99 and some Titles that cover an entire class of >10 hours of training videos cost ~$20.


The Trimble Library is also available as a free APP on the Google Play and Apple App Store, and this allows you to watch your content from your smart phone or tablet device.


Corporate rates are also available to license all content for X users for a year at a time, this reduces your total outlay as a corporation and gives all of your users access to all content for a 12 month period. If you need more information, email me at 


Helping Yourself is an important step in getting the best out of the BC-HCE application and making yourself as productive as possible. Just like the forum it is a great tool to assist your development as a user.





2 weeks out now and we are ramping up for what we hope will be an awesome event. Having changed venues to the ALOFT Hotel to increase capacity we are now full, and ready to get to work on "Topping Up" those user skills for the attendees. 


This Blog will track the event and get user input during each day as to what is going on and what they are finding useful, please follow and contribute as you see fit to capture the essence of the conference for people that could not attend.


Looking to see all of you at the ALOFT bright and early on August 21st


PUG 2018 Conference LogoAlan Sharp

Business Area Director - CEC Software Solutions

The Trimble Business Center-HCE Lunch & learn Events the last few days were a great success! Trimble and our SITECH Partners are helping Civil Contractors reduce rework and increase profitability. Reach out to us to assist with your next events / Business Center - HCE | Trimble Civil Engineering and Construction 

Yesterday I was with a key customer on the Road Corridor side of the business. We got into discussions about what methods they could / should use for importing data primarily from the Civil Design Packages out there (they were using InRoads on Design Build Projects). They were unaware of a very small change that we have made in v4.11 of BC-HCE that when importing a LandXML File you can now use the Description Field associated with Feature Lines (as well as the Code Field) in the Landxml file to create or use Layers that exist in the project.


The key benefit of this is that before this all LandXML data ends up on Layer 0 irrespective of how it is meant to be used or how it was in the source CAD system. This also means that the Layers can pre exist in your template with Colors, Linestyles, Lineweights and those will be adopted after import - giving you a Layered, Grouped, Colored Linestyled, Lineweighted set of data to work with - This is huge in the Data Transfer space.

I was working with some users yesterday on a large project that they are flying monthly with drones to create point clouds that they then use to create "Work In Progress" surface models for volumetric analysis purposes. As we all know Point Clouds can be "huge" and we typically don't need to model the surface with every point in the point cloud. In the discussion the users asked me how to model different areas of the project at different point densities - so that they could model some areas with High Density (HD) and some areas at a Low Density (LD). I thought that this was an interesting workflow to document for the benefit of all users out there. Attached to this post is a Word Document that you can download that describes the process, and workflow benefits that Business Center - HCE provides in this process.


Below is a "Zoomed In" view of the final model TIN that shows the variable Point Density areas


Zoomed In Area of an HD/LD Surface Model in Business Center - HCE


This approach allows you to model complex project areas at one resolution and less complex areas at a lower resolution for volume purposes, the overall intent to keep the surface model size as low as possible whilst keeping the "fidelity" of the surface model high in the areas that matter most.


I hope that you find this useful


Alan Sharp

laser point clouds