Software

April 2008 » PROGRESSIVE ENGINEERING TECHNOLOGY
Software for civil engineers
CE News Staff
As the length of this month’s product guide indicates, the number, range, and capability of software programs for the civil engineering profession are expanding almost exponentially—project management and collaboration, design and 3-D modeling, presentation and visualization, surveying and GIS, communication and document management, and others. Nevertheless, the following information, provided by software developers in response to a request from CE News, also indicates increasing effort and success integrating many programs for more efficient use.

Adobe Systems, Inc.’s Acrobat 8 Professional includes support for large-format page sizes, AutoCAD, and MicroStation integration, and measurement tools. According to the company, Acrobat 8 can help AEC teams communicate and collaborate more effectively across a variety of disciplines, numerous hardware systems, incompatible applications, and multiple locations. Team members can create, optimize, and share drawings and project information; combine files from multiple applications into a single, searchable Adobe PDF file for easy distribution and archiving; streamline collaborative workflows throughout the entire project lifecycle; collect and exchange data using interactive forms; and protect design and confidential information from unauthorized access.
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AEC Software, Inc., released FastTrack Schedule 9.2, the latest update to the company’s flagship project management software for both Windows and Mac environments. FastTrack Schedule 9.2 adds Microsoft Windows Vista Certification and enhances data exchange with Microsoft Project and with Mindjet MindManager. FastTrack Schedule 9.2 is a free update for users of FastTrack Schedule 9. According to the company, FastTrack Schedule 9 enables individuals and teams to effectively plan, track, and communicate project objectives.
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Autodesk, Inc., says its recently released AutoCAD Civil 3D 2009 provides a better surveying, design, analysis, and documentation solution for civil engineering, including land development, transportation, and environmental projects. By automatically updating documentation as design changes are made, AutoCAD Civil 3D enables project teams to work from the same, consistent, up-to-date model so they stay coordinated throughout all project phases. Integrated tools for developing 3-D visualizations help civil engineers clearly communicate design intent. Civil 3D supports large surface models while maintaining dynamic relationships to source data, including contours, breaklines, corridor models, and grading objects. Three new extensions to Civil 3D 2009 are available for stormwater hydraulics and hydrology, including storm sewer design, watershed analysis, detention pond modeling, and culvert analysis.
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Bentley Systems, Inc.’s StormCAD V8 XM Edition is a storm sewer network design and modeling solution with multiplatform interoperability. Users can build, edit, run, and analyze StormCAD models directly inside MicroStation, use StormCAD for AutoCAD, or use StormCAD’s stand-alone environment. New features of StormCAD V8 XM include active topology alternatives—users can set up different scenarios to examine multiple proposed system expansion strategies; LandXML import/export; support for trapezoidal, rectangular, and irregular (user-defined) open channels; terrain elevation extraction; support for several time of concentration methods, including SCS Lag, TR-55, Kirpich, and Eagleson; scaled catchments, gutters, and diversions; inlet capacity curves; user-defined flow-headloss curves; and contours—create a contour plot of model input or results and export plots directly to MicroStation, AutoCAD, or DXF format. Additionally, users can customize and extend StormCAD using the WaterObjects.NET application programming interface.
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Blueridge Analytics offers SITEOPS Single Pad 2.0 web-based site-planning software with layout, grading, and stormwater drainage optimization solvers that the company says enable civil engineers to produce land development design options and accurate cost estimates within 24 hours. SITEOPS automatically draws parking, curbing, truck drives, retaining walls, piping, and inlets; produces an optimized grading plan; automatically sizes and grades ponds; validates site drainage feasibility; and creates a finished grade and subgrade layer with a cost/volume report of all materials that need to be moved. SITEOPS Multi Pad 1.0, expected to launch in April 2008, includes all Single Pad 2.0 functionality plus support for properties with multiple building footprints, such as shopping centers and office parks.
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BOSS International’s StormNET stormwater and wastewater modeling software enables users to analyze and design urban drainage systems, stormwater sewers, and sanitary sewers. According to the company, StormNET easily interfaces with Autodesk products and is the only model that combines complex hydrology, hydraulics, and water quality in a completely graphical, easy-to-use interface. StormNET includes hydrology models such as TR-20, TR-55, Rational Method, and EPA SWMM.
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MS4 Permit Manager 4.0 from CBI Systems, Ltd., is a software program for implementing Phase I and II NPDES Stormwater Permits. Features include SWMP development; an embedded street map plus connection to ESRI products; enhanced security, including custom profiles; drop-down lists; a streamlined and more reliable interface; enhanced reporting, with automatic generation of annual reports; unlimited photo and file linkage capability; and enforcement status for construction inspections. A Field Data Collection Module enables collection of all necessary field data using notebook or rugged notebook computers, as well as simple synchronization from the field to a network database
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CEDRA’s AVseries software works directly within ESRI’s ArcView GIS and ArcGIS software, eliminating the need to switch back and forth between programs. CEDRA says its AVseries software bridges engineering and GIS by addressing a wide range of applications, including CAD, surveying, COGO, roadway and site design, tax mapping, and land parcel management. Users can create engineering databases of water distribution and sanitary/storm/combined sewer systems, and model and maintain them all within any of ESRI’s software in a tightly integrated environment. CEDRA’s DXFexport software provides expanded functionality in exporting GIS data to AutoCAD; the CEDRA DataEditor enables users to populate and edit GIS database attributes in accord with predefined user controls.
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ColumbiaSoft Corporation released new integration technologies in its latest version of Document Locator, which now supports custom integration with many third-party business software applications. The integration technology released in Document Locator version 5.1 allows ColumbiaSoft’s Professional Services team to develop custom integrations rapidly for customers so they can associate documents and communications with information in other business systems that manage everything from financial records to project records. Users of these other business systems can quickly search and retrieve all related files with a simple key-and-click action on any field in their business application. Additional integration points have also been added to support back-end integration between various Document Locator actions and other applications. The first major integration package released gives users of Meridian Systems Prolog Manager software the ability to use document management services from within their existing construction project management application.
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Deltek Vision, a web-based software program designed for project-focused professional services firms, is a single application with modules that users can choose to "turn on." Modules include resource and project management, financial and project accounting, client relationship management, proposal automation, document management, time and expense management, billing, payroll, purchasing (including inventory), visualization, mobile applications, and multi-currency. The Vision Dashboard combines information from various areas of Vision, as well as external content from websites and Microsoft Outlook. Each team member can configure a single page that brings together all the reports, charts, performance metrics, and key information about projects and the business.
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Dexter + Chaney introduced Spectrum Mobile, a new module for its Spectrum Construction Software that enables field supervisors to submit daily field reports to the main office quickly, easily, and accurately. Spectrum Mobile eliminates the practice of filling out paper time cards in the field and re-entering that data into Spectrum’s payroll system. Instead, supervisors enter labor, equipment hours, and production quantities directly into a mobile device or laptop, and the data flows to payroll for processing. Spectrum Mobile comprises a PC server application and client software running on Microsoft Windows Mobile handheld remote devices, laptops, or PC workstations. The system can be set up using a wireless network or WAN for rapid data delivery, or with batch communications.
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DocuLex WebSearch is a web-based document management program to enable secure, instant document access from any location in a way that is similar to an Internet search engine. Searches may be performed using document-specific meta data descriptions, full text content, as well as date ranges, search history, search lists, and saved searches. Users can share and amend native format documents, while organizing and tracking each amended version. Documents of any file type can be uploaded directly to WebSearch, indexed for native format storage and ease of access, with additional document-identifying meta data added remotely, if necessary. The program manages multiple levels of security, including organization, community, group, and users, as well as individual files.
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Eagle Point’s Task Navigator for Civil 3D installs directly inside AutoCAD Civil 3D and provides defined workflows for common, every-day surveying, engineering, and design tasks. Workflows present detailed, step-by-step instructions, with links to the AutoCAD Civil 3D commands to use at the appropriate time. Task steps can also integrate links to technologies such as e-mail, Internet pages, documents, and other applications to streamline access to additional office tools. Task Navigator also has the ability to record the fact that a task has been completed. An included, lite version of Process Mapper allows users to perform minor edits to step instructions and tool links. According to Eagle Point, Task Navigator allows firms to communicate best practices in a compact, intuitive interface.
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Engineering Design Innovations offers ASE Civil 2008, design software that works inside of AutoCAD, Land Desktop, or Civil 3D to manage the vertical design. According to the company, ASE Civil’s tools allow engineers to focus on the overall design concept while eliminating the time-consuming burden of manual checking of detailed vertical design data, calculations, or the associated output. The program provides automatic 3-D road modeling, including detailed, multi-line road profiles; reactive pad management; site earthworks and contouring; and drainage flow indicators. After road models are generated or pads are defined, ASE Civil automatically builds and dynamically updates surfaces for each corridor and for the entire site using the available Autodesk Land Desktop or Civil 3D TIN engine.
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ESRI’s ArcGIS 3D Analyst enables users to create dynamic, 3-D models and interactive maps to visualize, analyze, and communicate geographic data. With ArcGIS 3D Analyst, users can perform spherical 3-D visualization, fly-throughs, and animations; visualize surface, subsurface, terrain, and draped features; perform viewshed, corridor, and line-of-sight analysis; create contours and terrains; and view lidar data.
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First Trace, Inc., released Service Pack 2 (SP2) for Enterprise Document Management, powered by Kinnosa. SP2 includes seamless integration and support for AutoCAD 2008 and SolidWorks 2008, providing comprehensive document management and process management. Windows Extension Service permits Enterprise Document Management features and functionality to incorporate into users’ Windows Desktop and Microsoft Office programs, as well as OpenOffice. Kinnosa organizes data into a "virtual repository," rather than a centralized data vault, allowing users to manage and search information scattered across a distributed environment as if it was stored locally.
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In early March, General CADD Products, Inc., announced the pre-release of Surveyor 3D software for surveyors. The program allows users to automatically create points, symbols, and line work from field data or any ASCII point file; to create 3-D surfaces and contours based on selected points, borders, and breaklines; see a drawing in 3-D with smooth shading and light control and take snap shots for placement in a drawing; download and automatically place geo-registered U.S. Geological Survey aerial images or topographic maps; automatically create graphs showing cross sections of 3-D surfaces; create auto-labeled contours from legacy drawings or imported entities; and perform volume calculations. Surveyor 3D is packaged as an enhancement to the company’s General CADD Pro Version 6.1.
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Intergraph Corporation’s newest design and asset management software now supports Oracle Locator for storing geospatial data, allowing for greater interoperability among other corporate systems and further compliance with corporate and industry data storage standards. The software integrates geospatial data with corporate systems such as work management, outage management, and network analysis to fully support planning, design, construction, operations, maintenance, and emergency response functions. Users also can review and maintain elevation data of mapped facilities, enabling additional data analysis and improved decision support. The new version of Intergraph’s design and asset management software makes it simpler to take advantage of geofacilities data throughout an enterprise with data analysis and display tools. It also optimizes incorporation of location data maintained elsewhere into design and asset management workflows.
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Hard Dollar Corporation launched the latest version of its enterprise and workgroups project management solutions. Hard Dollar version 2008.1 further simplifies the transfer of project information between departments through additional integration points with Primavera and Microsoft. According to the company, Version 2008.1 provides more flexibility to create cost models dynamically according to each client’s needs with less administrative effort, resulting in faster turn-around of estimates. This flexibility will also create more compatible workflows and schedule management between project owner, contractor, and subcontractors, further reducing errors and time spent re-keying data. Hard Dollar version 2008.1 provides support for Microsoft Excel 2007, Microsoft Project 2007, Microsoft SQL Server 2005, Microsoft Windows Vista, and Primavera 6.0.
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Civil Tools Pro from Harper Houf Peterson Righellis, Inc., provides 50 civil engineering routines for streets, earthwork, coordinate geometry, hydraulics, general mathematics, and cost analysis. Users can work in either English or metric units, as well as enter data in one unit then convert the data and results to the other unit. Multiple tools can be opened at the same time. Help files help users understand and use each tool.
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HydroCAD Software Solutions LLC says its HydroCAD Stormwater Modeling software makes it easy to model any kind of stormwater storage, from traditional detention ponds to underground chambers in a stone drainage field. New version 8.5 adds support for thick-walled concrete chambers, plus multi-event reporting, pre/post comparisons, soil group report, and automatic import of TR-20 data files.
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Leica Geosystems Geospatial Imaging released Leica Image Manager, a new solution for storing and quickly sharing imagery throughout an enterprise. Civil engineering firms often work with geospatial data too large to be centrally stored or rapidly shared. Leica Image Manager is a comprehensive, Open Geospatial Consortium and International Organization for Standardization compliant solution that solves business problems associated with securely discovering, describing, cataloging, and serving imagery to a variety of web and rich client applications throughout an organization. Providing true interoperability, Leica Image Manager seamlessly connects to numerous geoweb applications and geospatial solutions, including ERDAS IMAGINE, Leica Photogrammetry Suite, and ArcGIS desktop products. According to the company, administrator-defined privileges ensure a high level of data security.
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Maptech’s Terrain Navigator Pro (TNP) 8.0 includes 1-meter color aerial photos (Digital Ortho Quarter Quads) from the National Agriculture Imagery Program (2003-2007 data), as well as U.S. Geological Survey topographic maps at 1:24,000 and 1:100,000 map scales. An optional U.S. Streets Module overlays streets on both topos and aerial photos. In addition, users can customize topographic maps, click a Google icon, and automatically see the exact location displayed on a Google Earth image. New features include township and range grids on topographic maps and aerial photos; the ability to overlay streets and routes on topographic maps and aerial photos; and touch-screen capability. ESRI ArcGIS users can use the Maptech map formats natively.
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Meridian Systems, a Trimble company and provider of enterprise project management software for optimizing capital projects, programs, and facilities, previously announced an incremental release for Prolog 2007 software that supports the Microsoft Windows Vista operating system, SQL Server Express 2005, Citrix Presentation Server 4, and IIS 7.0. Prolog provides complete project control by automating all aspects of the construction lifecycle, from project design to close out.
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Newforma says its Project Center software creates a more productive environment for project managers and project teams by organizing project information, facilitating information exchange, and enabling efficient project process. Project Center provides workflow to streamline markup and review of 3-D models and the 2-D sheet views generated by those models by documenting and organizing a team’s input and resulting decisions. The Search function finds terms in non-graphical object property data. This capability applies to leading CAD and BIM formats. Newforma Batch Compare functionality identifies unintended changes in a revised, 3-D model-generated sheet set, and Issue Manager provides functionality to tag changes as issues, assign them to team members, and track them to resolution. The Project Files activity center establishes a project context for files, allowing access to related folders and documents from one place on a desktop, no matter where the files reside on the network.
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Primavera Systems, Inc., offers Primavera 6.0 (P6) enterprise project and program management software. Features and functionality in P6 include web-based project management capabilities for quick deployment and use; interactive Gantt charts and screen layouts; an intuitive interface; dashboards that provide the information needed for decision-making with full security and priority controls; what-if scenario modeling, portfolio analysis, capacity analysis, scorecards, rich graphics, and optimization functionality that, according to Primavera, enable organizations to manage thousands of projects in a single database. P6 produces operational reports and business intelligence using any third-party reporting tool. Additionally, firms can integrate information across P6 and SAP systems for an accurate look at history and status (requires Primavera Inspire).
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RDV Systems’ new stand-alone application, Rapid Composite Imaging System, provides users with the ability to create photo-realistic imagery of a proposed project combined with real photographs of the existing environment. The Rapid Composite Imaging System was designed to guide users through the process of creating compelling imagery of their projects in a real-life environment. According to the company, changes can be incorporated quickly and easily. The program includes tools for viewpoint calibration, realistic lighting, shadowing, and rendering, as well as final compositing and editing.
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Richard Sampson Associates’ Construction Communicator helps engineers and architects easily respond to submittals and RFIs, track required actions, and manage electronic documents. According to the company, the easy-to-use online document management software dramatically reduces the time spent searching for documents because they are available online. Architects can refer RFIs and submittals to engineers, who can respond online. E-mail messages alert engineers to new RFIs. Data is automatically date stamped and logged in real time. Intuitive screens eliminate the need for training, and principal engineers can monitor the staff’s online communication. No initial set-up is required by users. The software runs on both Internet Explorer and Firefox browsers.
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SmartDraft version 8 works in both Land Desktop and AutoCAD Civil 3D environments and uses software tools with dynamic functionality. SmartDraft version 8 uses dynamic blocks, allowing users to modify the location, placement, and text directions of labels placed in either plan or profile views. Elevation flags placed in plan view can be updated with a touch of a button when a new vertical alignment gets updated. Other features include a reverse curve tool; cul-de-sac generator; transportation signage, striping, and symbols; parcel data management; legal description writer; driveway slope calculation and labels; elevation flags (static or dynamic); profiles (generate three-line profiles); quantity estimate generator; and more.
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Softcover International, Ltd., released Scan2CAD v7.6, a new Microsoft Vista-compatible version of its raster-to-vector conversion software that adds improved automatic color reduction and reads, writes, and converts PDF (raster image only) files. Users can open scanned images saved as PDF files and quickly convert them into DXF files. Among the main new features in Scan2CAD v7.6 are updated raster file support, improved automatic color reduction, and the ability to scan and save scanned images as PDF files and save archived raster files as PDFs, individually or by batch, (Pro version only). Scan2CAD offers CAD users with wide-format scanners or images a scanning, raster editing, and automatic raster-to-vector conversion capability. It is available in two versions, Regular or Pro.
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Topcon Positioning Systems’ new TopSURV 7 software package uses a large graphical and intuitive user interface, features map view data collection and graphical stakeout, conveniently stores configurations, and is available for Windows PC or CE Mobile systems. Large icons (survey, edit, import, export, and view map, among other functions) dominate the bright display. Meshed with Topcon’s new FC-2200 controller, TopSURV 7 is housed in a rugged handheld controller with alphanumeric keyboard and built-in, high-resolution camera. A surveyor can create, edit, upload, and download data. TopSURV 7 stores configuration files for every Topcon instrument. According to Topcon, the new database engine has cut file size by 60 percent. TopSURV 7 supports all major file formats and lets users visually create custom codes and ordering.
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Vela Systems’ mobile field software works on any standard PC, but is optimized for use on a Tablet PC so that field personnel can make annotations on the screen using a tablet pen. Vela Systems has multiple modules, each of which corresponds to a specific work task, including field reports, safety inspections, work lists, punch lists, schedule updates, and other critical field activities. When field personnel return to the office, information recorded in the field is automatically synchronized with Vela Systems’ central database. Vela Systems’ pre-built integration adaptors enable rapid, automated integrations with common back-office construction software such as Primavera and Meridian Systems’ Prolog.
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Wallingford Software launched a new product, InfoWorks SD (Storm Drainage), a fully dynamic, hydraulic modeling solution. According to the company, InfoWorks SD can model frequently encountered stormwater hydraulic structure, including inlet capture and bypass, gravity and pressure piping, pumps and their control systems, detention ponds, outlet structures, open channels, culverts, and overland flow paths. Wallingford also launched simultaneously a new and fully integrated module, InfoWorks 2D, which is available for InfoWorks CS v8.5, InfoWorks SD v8.5 and InfoWorks RS v9.0. InfoWorks 2D delivers detailed surface flood modeling and, according to the company, is ideally suited to modeling flows through complex geometries such as urban streets and buildings, road intersections and other transport infrastructure, and open ground where either source or direction of flow is problematic to assume.
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Water Resources Consulting Services (WRCS) collected and compiled more than two dozen software programs that represent a wide cross-section of hydrologic and hydraulic modeling utilities developed for various applications in water resources engineering. The WRCS Hydrology & Hydraulics Software Suite enables engineering and design companies to have immediate access to hydrologic and hydraulic engineering utilities and software program packages in common use across the United States. The programs, user’s manuals, and supplemental documentation files are formatted onto one CD for easy installation and reference. The list of software packages on the CD includes ANNIE, HEC DSS, HYSEP, PEAKFQ, SITES, SMADA, SWMM, TR-20, TR-55, CAP, CHAMP, CHANLPRO, HY-8, RASPLOT, and many more.
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WennSoft released Project Management Portal, a new product built on the Microsoft SharePoint platform that allows organizations to manage documents and projects from one central location. Project Management Portal routes custom workflows and keeps project managers updated on project status, tasks, and critical dates. According to the company, core benefits of Project Management Portal include creating and tracking important project documentation; keeping projects on track with customized workflows, reminders, and tasks; and providing project managers with live, up-to-the-minute cost and project detail. Users can create and track common project documents, including change order logs and associated documents, correspondence, contracts and subcontracts, architectural drawing check-in and check-out, meeting minutes, photos, requests for information, shop drawings, submittal logs and associated transmittals, and Outlook integration and tasking.
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