If you’ve used an AutoCAD-based product you have used a template file. You may not know you’re using one. In fact, when running at their best, most users would never even think of them. That’s what makes them so great. They provide a clean starting point to every project while providing a host of settings that are useful in every project. A user should be able to assume that these settings that make their life so easy are just always there.
This is even truer for a product like Civil 3D. Besides the normal AutoCAD settings, like text styles, dimension styles, layout tabs, Civil 3D works best with object styles, label styles, and other command settings. These object-specific styles aren’t just nice to have. In some cases you need them just to see the object at all, let alone see it in a way that makes sense in your project. If you have the styles you need, in the template file, life is SO much easier!
Out-of-the-box Civil 3D files start with the base-AutoCAD template file, ACAD.DWT. The first thing Civil 3D users should do after opening the program for the first time is switch this default template to one of the Autodesk provided Civil 3D specific templates (see Fig. 1), or to an already created company-specific template.
The AutoCAD template file has no idea what a Civil 3D style is so it gives you a placeholder rather than a workable style (see Fig. 2). I have seen many projects started with this placeholder style. My first thought is “the poor user!” They have to go in and either create a brand new style, or continuously tweak the existing placeholder, throughout the project. Then, on the next project, this routine will begin again.
This all leads to advice of, build a template file that is right for your group. If you look at the Autodesk provided template file and it is appropriate you could just stick with that. If you have firm standards, and want to continue those, building your own template is the way to go. You’ll have much less deviation from standard layer assignments, linetypes, labeling (all controlled in the styles) and a much faster progression into design. A little bit of work up front can pay big dividends in time saved and problems avoided in the long run!