Data shortcuts are a great way to collaborate (teams or individuals may work on separate components that define the whole) in Civil 3D and also help to keep files light:

When setting up a project in Civil 3D it helps to set up the folder structure so that one may easily work with Data Shortcuts, especially if multiple projects may be opened in an instance of Civil 3D. Seen below are folders A and B, each with three drawings. “Surface” and “Alignment” are files within which Data Shortcuts are created, and “Profile” from within which references are made to the shortcuts.


When files from A and B are open, then I may be challenging to change the working folder all the time. To overcome this, associate the project to all files within the folders.


Here is a simple recipe for a client wishing to work easily with data shortcuts in Civil 3D 2017:

  • Store all Civil 3D files in one project folder (…\A)
  • Set the working data shortcuts folder (…\A)
  • Create a new data shortcuts folder (…A\Data)
  • Associates the project to multiple drawings
    • Working Folder: …\A
    • Selected Project: Data
    • Folder containing the drawings: …\A
  • Create data shortcuts in the “child” drawings
  • References to the data shortcuts from within the “parent” drawing

New in Civil 3D 2017 is an enhanced corridor data shortcut (DREF) capability: When creating the corridor shortcut, shortcuts for the items that define it are created automatically. When reference is made to the shortcut, the items composing the corridor shortcut are automatically referenced as well.