Converting PDF Sections (TX DOT) in less than 15 minutes

In discussion with a customer today we agreed to process a set of cross sections and record the below video to show the process of converting a set of sections that they know into 3D linework that can be used to model finished grade and existing.

The user commented that to digitize Existing and Finished Grade would typically take 2-3 minutes per sheet. For one alignment there were 88 sheets so to do the digitizing work would take between 176 and 264 minutes (3 - 4.5 hours) to complete. The video shows how to do Finished Grade, Existing Grade, Subgrade, Walls and Barriers in 13 minutes straight.

This represents a time saving of 90%+ and a productivity gain of >1350% over their current methods with this specific data set.

This PDF had Text not Polyline Text which makes it easier to prepare than many PDF Section Sheet Sets. The requirement was to generate Finished Grade and Existing only, however it was relatively straight forward to also do the walls and barriers and also the subgrades for the project at the same time.

In this exercise video we only prepared the first 5 sheets, however in a follow on process we processed all 88 sheets in the same amount of time as the 50 sheets - the selection process to separate the data for 88 sheets was exactly the same as for 50 sheets and made little difference to the overall preparation or section to 3D conversion time.


First of all, thank you! Awesome technic. but, I have a particular cross section plans that does not separate existing and proposed in layers. I tried OCR and still did not work. Any ideas on how to get them to work? I tried it on another project and it worked great and the outcome was same as your training, but the particular one I am on it does not.

This file is the worst case scenario as discussed this morning for the following reasons

  1. there is no text in the drawings only polyline text which is currently useless so that forces a Plan B approach (see below)

  2. Data as you say is poorly layered - that in itself is not a huge issue - the grids can be selected and relayered relatively easily and you can use Geometric Selection for that - and once you get those out of the way the existing is easy to select and relayer and then once that is done the design data remains - however there is some stuff in there that has to be separated out and I found no quick way to do that - also the wall footings and the capping stones and also the barriers and guard rails need to be separated out - you can do some of that with Geometric Selection and some with manual select and the RPS Relayer command.

  3. one sheet was skewed by an amount that stopped those sections from converting all the other sheets worked fine

The Plan B is to use just one horizontal grid line and one vertical grid line per section. The vertical 0 offset grid is one line but it has to be broken into 3 parts so there is a gap between sections - then the 0 offset lines needs an elevation of 0 (use set line elevation) and the horizontal grid line needs the elevation that it represents. Then you need to use Increment Text command to label the stations for each section

Once Plan B is implemented I would explode the finished grade lines at large deflections greater than 45 degrees to create lines to use for modeling once you get them into 3D. Now flip the data and start to model.

This is quite complex data - you can do work in the sections to help build surfaces faster in 3D after flipping as needed.

I will post a video shortly - this is a little longer than the last one …

If you can get the DGN sections as discussed we. An do this a heap faster



Alan, when I select the whole set in the view drop down no sheets are visible, nothing is visible. What am I doing wrong?

You need to press and hold the SHIFT key down when you select the PDF Sheet Set level to get Multi Sheet view - you have to keep the SHIFT key held down for a few seconds for the it to register for the Multi Sheet View




Never seen this happen before. any Clue? Dealing with a difficult designer that doesnt want to provide anything. I tried 50 sheets out of 230+ with multiple xsections. This worked perfectly in minutes but for some reason getting multiples that are not on the Sheet View. Thank You.

Kind Regards,

1 Like

I’ll Send you the VCL.

It’s seems as some of your labels are to close to others station cross sections making them read as other. To me it’s frustrating with some cross sections. Trying to get the right offset for the labels.

Thank You, I appreciate the feed back.

Kind Regards,