InfraWorks 360, Get More for Less!

Have you considered purchasing InfraWorks 360 but thought to yourself, “Man, all this choosing modules things is just too confusing!”?

Northing Easy

Autodesk just announced a simplified approach to InfraWorks! You no longer have to choose which modules you want, you simply get them all!

Hallelujah!

Hallelujah!

When you purchase InfraWorks 360, you get InfraWorks, the Roadway, Drainage, and Bridge modules, all included!

But Wait

Now, I’m sure your thinking, “What is this going to cost me? It must be a LOT of money for all this added value!” and there, you would be wrong!

How much would you pay for this

Autodesk is actually REDUCING the cost for InfraWorks 360! That’s right, REDUCING!

Sorry for the infomercial themed post, I couldn’t resist. I just couldn’t help but think of Ron Popeil!

All kidding aside, here’s the real deal…

Autodesk has decided to simplify the purchasing, installing, and managing of InfraWorks 360. The modules are all now included in the base version of InfraWorks 360. If you currently have InfraWorks 360, all you have to do is download the latest version and you’ll have access to all the modules. Additionally, Autodesk is reducing the cost to access these tools.

If you have the version of InfraWorks that comes with one of the design suites (Infrastructure Design Suite Premium/Ultimate or Building Design Suite Ultimate), you won’t have access to these modules. Instead, you’ll get InfraWorks 360 LT (Limited Technology). InfraWorks LT doesn’t have the three modules, model builder, or the ability to sync to InfraWorks360.

The following table will give you an idea of what each version will provide. If you have InfraWorks 360 LT and need the something that’s not included, you’ll need to purchase InfraWorks 360.

PRODUCTS
InfraWorks 360 InfraWorks 360 LT
EARLY-STAGE DESIGN
Intuitive user experience
Sketching and layout capabilities
Quickly create multiple proposals
ANALYSIS
Create model with imported data (CAD, 3D model, GIS, raster)
Dynamic site analysis
Measure distances and areas
Shadow and lighting analysis
Theme palettes
MODEL CREATION
Automate model creation
Access GIS data from USGS, OpenStreetMap, and more
Point cloud enhancements
VISUALIZATION
Visual storytelling
Realistic visual effects
Explore live models in the cloud
Screencast recorder
CLOUD COLLABORATION
Manage and publish models
Quantitative, real-time feedback
Perform cloud data translation
Autodesk cloud credits
Model network storage
DATA EXCHANGE
Migrate roads and pipe networks to Civil 3D
Import detailed Civil 3D objects
Export data to other design tools (WaveFront, Collada, Autodesk IMX)
3D Collada models with animation
ROADWAY DESIGN**
Standards-driven roadway design
Standards-driven intersections
Standards-driven road markings
AutoCAD Civil 3D drawing creation
Profile optimization
Slope and fixed width grading
Sight distance analysis
Data migration from Civil 3D to Roadway Design
Data migration to Civil 3D from Roadway Design
BRIDGE DESIGN**
Review material quantities
Check conformance to clearance envelopes (bridge quantities)
Lay out rule-driven girder bridges (precast girder catalog)
Evaluate multiple bridge design alternatives
Data migration from Civil 3D to Bridge Design
Data migration to Civil 3D from Bridge Design
DRAINAGE DESIGN**
Standards-driven watershed analysis
Delineate watersheds (cloud service)
Standards-driven culvert placement and sizing
Storm sewer network modeling (culvert reporting)
Drainage catalog and quantities
Automated pavement drainage layout
Inlet and pipe design
Outfalls design
Data migration from Civil 3D to Drainage Design
Data migration to Civil 3D from Drainage Design

Bing Imagery in InfraWorks

How did I not know you could do this? Did you know you can bring Bing Images directly into InfraWorks360?

Here it is before. I exported an IMX file from one model to make a new model (doing some testing) and the imagery doesn’t come along with an IMX file.

Boring Model

Boring Model

After bringing the Bing imagery in, it’s much better!

Exciting Model!

Exciting Model!

To do this, simply add the Bing imagery as a data source. To learn how to bring up the data source connections in InfraWorks, simply click HERE.

On the Data Sources panel, click on the “Add database data source” button. This is to the right of the one you would typically click to connect to data.

Add database data source

Add database data source

Now, simply choose the Bing data type and the imagery level you want. The larger the number, the higher the detail in the image. For my example, anything less then 17 seemed to be insufficient to show the necessary detail and using 19 took quite a while to load. You’ll need to balance performance with the data you need.

Choose the data

Choose the data

This will work great if you create a model using Model Builder but need better resolution for your images!

AutoCAD Linework into InfraWorks

So, you have some linework in AutoCAD that you would just LOVE to show in InfraWorks! Great! What do you do?

Well, unfortunately, InfraWorks does not display lines, doesn’t have any line objects, and it just can’t. If you think about it, InfraWorks is modeling the actual site and if there was a line on the site, you wouldn’t see it because it doesn’t have a width. Besides, your linework, what does it represent? Does it represent a roadway? Bring it in as a road! Does it represent the area of a water feature? Bring it in as water!

Nope, no lines

Nope, no lines!

But what if it is actually a line? Like, say, striping in a parking lot? Once again, that’s not really a line, it’s an area that is covered in paint so, bring it in as a coverage area!

It's an area, not a line!

It’s an area, not a line!

I’ll list the steps you need to follow here:

Export the linework as a .sdf file

So, the linework in AutoCAD won’t come into InfraWorks as linework so, we have to convert it to something that InfraWorks can use and that is a .sdf file. You can think of a .sdf file as the Autodesk equivalent to the ESRI Shapefile.

OH NO! Not the GIS Donut!

OH NO! Not the GIS Donut!

The command you’ll want to run, unfortunately, isn’t in AutoCAD, it’s in Map 3D (which is also a part of Civil 3D). The command is MAPDWGTOSDF. I’m sure this command is up there on the Ribbon in the Planning and Analysis workspace somewhere but, I’ve never found it. Run the command and grab the linework you want to use in InfraWorks. But what about parking lot striping? It doesn’t have an area in AutoCAD? Yep, you can export that as a .sdf file too!

A couple caveats though, if you want to use the linework as a coverage area (parking lot, grass area, water area, etc.), make sure you toggle on the option, “Treat closed polylines as polygons”. This will make sure you have an area data source and not a linear one.

Import Options

Import Options

Another caveat, when you import the .sdf files into InfraWorks, there is no way to control the display order (and coverages can’t have holes in them). What this means is you’ll likely have to repeat the export process several times in order to be able to control the final display.

Import the .sdf file into InfraWorks

This part is easy and if you don’t know how to do this, go search for the instructions. What I typically do is simply drag the .sdf file into the model area and it creates the connection for you. You’ll then need to configure it appropriately. If you aren’t sure how to import data into InfraWorks, click HERE.

Configuring the data

This is where it can get a little tricky. If you are bringing in data that’s already an area (parking lot, grassy area, etc.) just do it the same way you have always done it but, make sure you do it in the correct order. What I typically do is work my way from the outside to the inside. For example, if I’m trying to show the grass, then the sidewalk then curb and gutter then parking and then the islands (which have curb and gutter and grass), start outside and work inside. When you bring a coverage in, it will completely cover what’s already there. In the following image, I brought in a simply design and it had three coverages, one for the entire site, one for the road and one for the interior grass, you can see the progression as they came in and how one overlays the other.

First Import

First Import

Second Import

Second Import

Third Import

Third Import

And now, I’m FINALLY getting to importing the lines! As mentioned previously, InfraWorks doesn’t handle lines so we need to bring them in as coverage areas. “But Brian! They don’t have any area!!!” You’re right, they don’t, at least, not yet.

Bring in the .sdf file for your lines the same way you did for your coverage areas but prior to completing the configuration, add a buffer width to the “coverage area”. THIS is what gives your lines a width!

Buffer Width

Buffer Width

InfraWorks Striping

InfraWorks Striping

Once I figured out that little “buffer width” trick, bringing linework into InfraWorks became so much easier!

Now get out there and do something amazing!!!!

Terrain Data from Shapfile Contours

Terrain Data from Shapfile Contours

So, you downloaded some terrain and you ended up with an ESRI Shapefile that contains contours and you want to add that to your model as terrain. Well, it really isn’t difficult, you just need to understand a couple things first. For this example, I’m going to use a shapefile containing contour data for the entire City of Denver. You can get your own version of it at data.denvergov.org if you want to try this too. This shape file has around 650,000 contours that range from 5,110′ to 5,754′ at 2′ increments.

Contour Data Shown in Map 3D

Contour Data Shown in Map 3D

First of all, you add the shapefile to your model exactly the way you do any other shapefile, simply drag it into your model (drag the file with the extension .shp). Once you’ve added the shapefile, you’ll need to configure it. If you did the drag and drop, the configuration should just pop up for you. first thing you’ll need to do is tell it what type of data the shapefile contains.

Configure Data Type

Configure Data Type

If we simply stop here (which is what I did the first time I tried this), we won’t get any terrain information. Shapefiles have about as much standardization between organizations as layers do. We need to tell InfraWorks what the elevations of each contour is. In this example, the elevation of the contour is found in the data property called ELEV. We now need to map that value to the contours. This is done on the Source tab.

Setting Elevations

Setting Elevations

You’ll notice that I assigned elevations to the data being brought in from the data source “ELEV”. You’ll also noticed I multiplied the elevation by 0.3048. Your InfraWorks database is ALWAYS in meters. If you bring data into your model that isn’t being converted via a coordinate system (such as elevations) you’ll need to convert that data yourself. I also toggled on the “Clip to model extents” option. This just makes the data process faster as it doesn’t do anything outside of the model extents (not really sure why you would ever want to leave this unchecked).

And here’s the result!

Terrain from Contours

Terrain from Contours

Now, if you notice, the surface looks very gridded. When I created a surface in Civil 3D from this same data, it looked much better. This is because we told it to be gridded. If you have very complex data (such as contour data from a shapefile) you can simplify the data by putting it in a grid. It will process much faster and your model will work much better but, you’ll sacrifice the detail for performance. If you need the detail, you can change the grid factor or simply turn it off. The settings can be found on the Converter tab when configuring the data. You can adjust the size of the grid to control how much detail you get or you can turn the grid off complete to maximize the detail.

Grid Options

Grid Options

To see the results, I’ve turned the imagery off so the surface can be seen better. Here it is with the grid turned on.

10 Meter Grid

10 Meter Grid

And here is that same area with the grid turned off.

Grid Turned Off

Grid Turned Off

Hope this helps understand how to add even more data to your model. Now, get out there and do something amazing!