Over the last several months I have been working my way through the ever popular Mastering AutoCAD Civil 3D 2008 book, written by the gang over at Civil3D.com (Engineered Efficiency). As a fellow member of the blogosphere, I have had the privilege to establish a professional relationship with a good portion of the Engineered Efficiency (EE) team. For those unfamiliar with EE, they are arguably the best Civil 3D implementation team in the business!
I’ll never forget last spring when I went to the Experience the Possibilities Tour in Washington DC. During the presentation I asked a question about Civil 3D that was in fact both rather detailed, and quirky. The Autodesk representative answered the question, but with some loose ends remaining. After the session broke, Dana Probert of EE (who I had never met in person), found me in the crowd to both answer and explain the details about the feature I was questioning.
My point in sharing that story is that the EE team has many years of experience solving the real-world problems firms implementing Civil 3D. More importantly they simply know how things interconnect within Civil 3D, and can easily recommend the best approach to a given situation. To that end, the book has been structured in way such that you are learning best practices as you go. Taking that one step further for many of the complex concepts, the Mastering AutoCAD Civil 3D 2008 book expands on the why and how of many details.
Although the book does provide an explanation for nearly every option in every dialog, the book is not one of the AutoCAD Bible books. In my experience the Bible books have served more as a desk reference, not a learning tool. The Mastering AutoCAD Civil 3D book is written more as a textbook than a desk reference. Each topic is concluded with an exercise whose dataset is provided with the included CD-ROM. Making the CD-ROM even more valuable is the way chapters are broken down. Chapter 12 on advanced corridors is broken into enough pieces that you could easily pick up the book and work through intersections today, culs-de-sac tomorrow, and widening the day after that.
Admittedly the book can come across as rather elementary at times, well below the mark for more advanced users. Personally as I worked through the book I found myself completing the exercise included in the book, but then applying the same concept in a more advanced way. For instance, you can easily take the cul-de-sac exercise and make it a little more complex by adding a shoulder and sidewalk.
Still if doing that is still too elementary for you, there are numerous chapters that in my opinion are more for the CAD Manager than the CAD user. For instance topics such as styles and the dreaded part builder are covered in addition to the basics. At the end of the day, a person who completes this book should have a rather through understanding of Civil 3D. Even if you don’t read the book cover-to-cover, chapters are broken down such that you can easily use it as a learn-on-demand resource, pulling it off your bookshelf only when you need to use xyz feature. Quite simply if you use Civil 3D, YOU NEED THIS BOOK!