New AutoCAD Drawing Format – How Does That Affect Civil 3D?

New AutoCAD Drawing Format – How Does That Affect Civil 3D?

With each new version of the AutoCAD-based Autodesk products the big questions are, “Will I be able to share my project drawings between versions?” and, “Can I save down to a previous version?”

Autodesk has historically changed the drawing format every third release or so, but that changed with the AutoCAD 2013 drawing format. That format has been used from release 2013 through release 2017.  Companies using AutoCAD have a variety of choices in what version of AutoCAD to use when collaborating with other companies also using AutoCAD. Even now, with the change in drawing format from 2013 to 2018, those companies using “vanilla” AutoCAD have the luxury of a built-in command that allows users to save all the way back to R14 drawing format with a minimal number of objects suffering during the save-back process.

The AutoCAD vertical products like Civil 3D, on the other hand, are greatly affected by a new AutoCAD release and even more so by a drawing format change. While Civil 3D products are built on AutoCAD, the added intelligence of the product-specific objects makes going backward more challenging. Assuming that the intelligence of Civil 3D grows with each release, to go backward would require “dumbing down” the new objects, and that would just mean slower forward progress with the development of the vertical/discipline Autodesk products.

So how does that affect Civil 3D? Greatly! That is a major reason that subscription and maintenance contract holders are granted the approval to use the current version and three previous versions; they may have multiple concurrent projects in multiple versions.  It is recommended that projects not be updated until all collaborating parties are committed to the newer version.


By Deni Cox
CAD-1 Technical Specialist

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