using the toolspace


Think of the Toolspace as the Civil 3D “command center” where all Civil 3D data and settings are laid out in a nice, orderly arrangement. It has several main functions that are represented by the different tabs it can contain. Altogether, the Toolspace can house four tabs: Prospector, Settings, Survey, and Toolbox.


Prospector tab

Prospector is arguably the most important  part of the Civil 3D user interface.

As you build your design, Prospector arranges the different components of your design in a tree structure (see Figure 1.7). Why a tree structure and not just a list of items? Later in this app, you’ll study how Civil 3D creates relationships between different parts of your design. In some ways, this tree structure helps represent some of those relationships as a hierarchy. Another, more practical reason for a tree structure is that it’s an efficient way to show a long list of items in a relatively small area—the branches of the tree can be collapsed to make room to expand other branches.

Fi G u R E   1 . 7   The Prospec tor tab with a por tion of the tree struc ture highlighted in red

Another way to think about Prospector is that it arranges your design categor- ically rather than spatially. In other words, in your drawing area, you might see road centerlines crossing through  parcels, which cross through  contours, which cross through  survey points. Everything is in the right place spatially, but from an organizational standpoint, it’s kind of a mess. Prospector sorts out this mess and puts all of the points in one place, all of the parcels in one place, and so on. Prospector also knows exactly where those objects are in the drawing. You can right-click an object in Prospector and use the Select command or Zoom To command to locate that object within the drawing.

To explore the Prospector tab, follow these steps (you should still have User
Interface.dwg open):


       1. If the Toolspace is not already open, click Toolspace on the Home tab of the ribbon.

2. Click the Prospector tab of the Toolspace to bring it to the forefront.

3. Explore the tree structure of Prospector by clicking the plus signs to expand the different branches.

4. Expand Alignments a Centerline Alignments a Main Road A a Profiles. This hierarchical arrangement provides effective organization and suggests a relationship between the alignment and its profiles.

5. Click within the left viewport to activate it.  Then on the Prospector tab, right-click Side Road B, and select Zoom To. Notice how

Prospector knows the location of the alignment named Side Road B, even if you don’t.

6. Keep this drawing open for the next exercise.

It’s important  to point out that Prospector isn’t just a place for viewing your design; it’s also a place where you can change the appearance of your design, create new components for your design, edit your design, and so on. These types of functions are accessed through  contextual menus such as the one used in step 5 of the previous exercise. A good rule of thumb when using Prospector is, “When in doubt, right-click it.”

Settings tab

Civil 3D has a lot of settings that control nearly every aspect of how the software behaves. In fact, one of the things that makes Civil 3D so powerful is that you can customize its settings to accommodate nearly any type of design, company standard, or any other factor that defines the environment  within which you use it. The Settings tab is where these settings are managed; however, you won’t be spending much time here in the early part of your Civil 3D career. This area is more often the territory of a CAD manager or Civil 3D guru.

To explore the Settings tab, follow these steps (you should still have User
Interface.dwg open from the previous exercise):

1. Click the Settings tab of the Toolspace.

2. Expand Surface a Surface Styles, and take note of the list of styles shown there. These styles control the appearance of models that rep- resent the shape of the ground.

3. Expand Surface a Label Styles a Contour, and take note of the list of styles shown there. These styles control a certain type of label that is used to annotate surface models.

4. Keep this drawing open for the next exercise.

Survey tab

The Survey tab is specifically designed for working with survey data. You could call it “Prospector for surveyors” because it serves the same functions and works in much the same way as the Prospector tab. It displays survey data in a tree structure, and it allows you to launch commands through  contextual menus

toolbox tab


As if Civil 3D didn’t have enough stuff packed into it already, the Toolbox is a place where other add-ons can be plugged in. Your company may have some custom pro- gramming that is designed to run in Civil 3D, or some add-on modules provided by Autodesk. This is the place where you can load and run these additional enhance- ments to Civil 3D.

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