Takeoff Lines Command

D_RPSTakeoffLines_600ppi   Takeoff Lines

Command Licensing and Default Menu Location

  • The Takeoff Lines command is part of the RPS Modeling Toolbox
  • The command is located on the Modeling macros menu ribbon
  • The command is located in the Takeoff menu group

Command Description

Creates 2D and 3D linestrings with a range of controls to manage elevation input and formulaic adjustment including 2D, single height, multiheight, multiheight auto and multiheight from surface. Also includes ability to create lines with a preset number of nodes, can autoclose and provide grip editing while in the command. Can also create curve elements and VPI only nodes also. Ideal for takeoff digitizing of linework or for data prep purposes.

Command Training Video

The following video shows how to utilize the Takeoff Lines command

Latest Updates

March 2023

  • Added a hotkey to enable vector snapping On / Off. Use the letter V to turn Vector PDF snapping On and Off. The V works when the cursor is in a coordinate field. The Vector Snapping On and Off control is limited to just the command while in operation. When the command is closed the Vector Snap status that was active on starting the Takeoff Lines command will be restored.

November 16 2022

  • We have added traps to stop 3D snaps from affecting 2D lines or 2D lines with single elevation
  • We changed the command so that all nodes created are 3D nodes defined in the horizontal tab of the linestring editor. This means that when you add VPIs to arcs the arcs are split at the VPI points - the arc elements have the same radius.
  • We added additional controls to the Elevation formula so that you can limit adding the formulaic data when you click on a 3D node e.g. with a formula of {Z}+3000 used to limit data entry of Z values to e.g. 29.56 (to create 3029.56) when you clicked on a 3D node already at 3033.54 it would add 3000 to the value creating a Z of 6033.54. Now you can add limits to only apply the formula when the value entered or clicked is within a certain range e.g. between -100 and +100 allows you to enter 20, 30, 40 etc. to create 3020, 3030, 3040 but a value of 102.5 is outside the range so it creates 102.5, and if you click a node at 3045.65 it is outside the range so you get 3045.65 etc.
  • We added a data entry field to the override segment length checkbox so that you can enter a value of your choice. If you do not want to subdivide lines in a surface model then you can leave it at the default value of 50000. If you want to subdivide lines in surface model then enter a value e.g. 10 or 5 etc. to subdivide the line in the model.

August 12 2022
When you have Plan and 3D views open at the same time in tiled form, you can now draw in either window snapping to 3D lines or 2D lines as needed. Before the command would appear to lose focus when you moved from one window to the other.

The Takeoff Lines command has been enhanced to fully support the use of Reference Surfaces added to TBC v5.60.

Command Shortcut

If you are utilizing the Rockpile Custom Menu in TBC: CTRL+T will open the command

Command Interface Description

The Takeoff Lines command dialog looks as follows

Show line direction checkbox:
Check this checkbox if you wish to see the line direction indicators and / or the start and end of line flags on the line that you are creating.

Select the layer on which you want to place the lines you create.

To create a New layer, click the New button to access the New Layer control. The New Layer control provides the ability to create new layers and new layer groups and to set up all of the layer properties for CAD and Takeoff purposes. For a detailed description of the control Click Here

Add to surface checkbox:
Check this checkbox if you want to add the lines being created to a surface model. If you check the checkbox then select the surface to which you want to add the lines, or select if you want to create a New surface model. Note having created a New surface model, you will need to select the surface from the pull down list. We do not auto select it because that will also affect the surface selected for the drape over surface function (lower down in the dialog)

Note: Reference Surfaces that were added to TBC at v5.60 cannot be selected here in this command because a Reference Surface does not support the addition or removal of surface members.

Elevation settings:
The Takeoff Lines command has many ways to create 2D or 3D lines. Select the method required from the options listed in this section of the dialog. Each option is described below.

2D - No elevations
In this option, the elevation function is disabled and you can create 2D lines through a series of coordinate location clicks without the need to enter or accept a no elevation data entry. This is ideal for simple 2D Takeoff lines for area and length type calculations.

3D - Single elevation on first point only
In this option, the elevation of the line is constant and is requested after clicking the start location for the line. If you click a 3D location, the elevation will be populated so that you can accept it or modify it before acceptance. You can modify the elevation by editing the displayed value, by overtyping the value or by applying a math function to the value displayed e.g. add -0.5 to the value to subtract 0.5’ from the displayed value before pressing Enter to accept. After the first elevation point, all subsequent points on the line will be auto created on the coordinate location selection. This mode is great for entering Building Pads with a single floor elevation or contours with single elevations.

3D - Elevations on multiple nodes
In this option, the elevation of each node will be requested after each click. To enter an undefined elevation simply press Enter. If you click a 3D location the routine will pause to display the elevation and you can accept it or overwrite / modify it as you need. You can also apply math functions to the displayed value e.g. to add or subtract delta elevations from the displayed value. This mode is great for creating 3D lines where the elevations are changing and you want to leverage 3D information in the drawing / model but override it often with different values e.g. digitizing pipe from manholes where you have 3D locations for the manhole centers but need to enter the invert values from the pdf image etc.

Auto 3D - Elevations automatically accepted where present
In this option, the elevation of each node will be automatically accepted if the location clicked is 3D (non zero). If you click a 0 elevation or undefined elevation, the command will prompt for an elevation value. You can press Enter to set the elevation to undefined. This mode is great for when you are digitizing 3D lines where some points locations will be 3D and some will need to be entered by hand. If you want to click and accept 2D locations automatically, set the Auto Advance button next to the elevation data field to On (orange tint).

3D - Elevations from surface
In this option, the elevation of each node will be automatically derived from the selected target surface model at the location clicked. This mode is ideal for digitizing different pavement areas onto a finished grade model, or e.g. for digitizing water main that needs to be set at a fixed depth below finished grade e.g. 5 feet below FG. In the latter case you can use the Elevation formula (see below) {Z}-5 to adjust the derived surface elevation by -5’ for each node created.

Takeoff lines now supports the selection of a Reference Surface (added in TBC v5.60) for the determination of elevations from a surface.

Drape over surface checkbox:
When elevating the created line from a surface model you can elevate just the nodes that you click or you can drape the created line over the surface model selected so that it creates 3D nodes at all locations where the line crosses the triangle sides of the surface model as well. Check this checkbox to drape the line over the selected surface model.

Takeoff lines now supports the selection of a Reference Surface (added in TBC v5.60) for the draping of the lines being created on a Reference Surface.

Use Case Notes

If you click through a line and digitize the last point in the same location as the start point, the routine will auto close the current line and start a new line automatically.

If you want all the lines created to be of a specific number of nodes e.g. 2 point lines or 4 point lines for pads etc., then you can use the Line endings settings below to achieve that.

If you want all the lines created to be closed areas, then you can set the Auto close flag in the Line endings section below. When set the line will either end and close after n points are created (using the Auto end after n points setting), or when you click New to start a new line. i.e. for Building Pads with 4 corners set the Auto end after n points to 4 and set the Auto close setting to on.

Elevation formula
The elevation formula can be used to automatically adjust the elevations determined by the command. Here are some examples of how you can use it.

5400+{Z} - In this case the elevation value entered will be added to 5400 to create the elevation value. This can be used where your project is above 5400’ and you want to reduce typing for each elevation value entered. i.e. on the plans it says elevation is 5428.23 so you can enter 28.23 and it will add 5400 to that value and store it as 5428.23.

5400+{Z}-.5 - same as the example above, but in this case, the elevations provided are Top Back of Curb and you want to reduce them down to flow line which is -0.5 below the Top Back of Curb provided.

5400+{Z}/100 - same as example above, but you want to save one more key entry (the decimal point) on data that you enter. Now you can enter 2823 to create 5428.23 for example. While it doesn’t sound much, if you have 500 labels to enter and you can save 3 key entries per elevation that reduces your total keystrokes for the entry by 37.5% which has to equate to a time saving (as well as wear and tear on the keyboard and your fingers!)

Note that the elevation entry is always uppercase Z and is inside two brackets {Z}. A lower case Z or incorrect bracket type will not work i.e. {z}, (z), [Z], [z] or (Z) will all fail.

The command now supports the use of a Reference Surface (added in TBC v5.60) as the source of elevation values that can then be adjusted using the elevation formula.

Only apply formula for Z between Z1 and Z2 checkbox
When you are using the 3D or 3D auto modes of Takeoff Lines, it was possible that you would click an already elevated location to which the elevation formula was then applied. e.g. if you had a formula of {Z}+3000 so that you could enter e.g. 24.56 to create a Z of 3024.56 to minimize typing, if you then clicked on a 3D location of e.g. 3056.34 then the formula would add 3000 and create 6056.34.

This checkbox was added to eliminate that possibility - if you enter -100 and +100 in the two value fields then when you enter or click on a 3D node that has an elevation in that range it will add 3000 to it, however if you click on a 3D node or enter a value outside that range it will ignore the formula and use the value clicked or entered.

i.e. If you enter 24.56 you will get 3024.56
i.e. if you enter 134.66 you will get 134.66 (because 135.66 is above the +100 limit)
i.e. if you click on a node that has elevation of 3056.76 you will get 3056.76 because it is above the +100 limit

Line endings:
In this section of the dialog you can add some controls that help to speed up the creation of linework in certain scenarios

Auto-end after n points checkbox:
If you are doing certain types of work, e.g. editing cross sections or entering pipe sections or pad areas there are times when the data being created follows a repetitive pattern of 2 points or 4 points etc. In some cases the lines may also form closed areas e.g. pad areas.

This checkbox when enabled allows the line creation process to auto restart when you enter the nth point in a sequence i.e. you do not have to click New after each line is created - this saves moving the cursor over to the dialog area to click New (a big move and a single click followed by another big move) or having to right click and select New (2 clicks) each time you start a new line. Again time saving features and click reducing features. For 2 point lines enter 2 in the data field associated with the checkbox. For 4 point lines enter 4 in the data field etc. For pads that are closed you can also check the Auto-close checkbox to close the line after e.g. 4 points, alternatively set the n value to 5 and click the first point again at the end of the line which also acts as Auto-close and start a new line.

Auto-close checkbox:
When creating lines, if you know that they are all going to be closed polygon areas, then you can check this checkbox to auto-close the lines when a line is completed. The line can be completed when you get to n points when the Auto-end method above is invoked, or when you click New to start a new line or when you click the first point of the line being created a second time indicating that the line has been closed out as a polygon.

Override segment length checkbox:
In TBC when you add lines to a surface, the project settings for computations of surfaces - breakline approximation parameters are applied to the lines to subdivide the lines in order to densify the surface based on additional nodes created at intervals along straight lines and at chord locations controlled by an arc to chord tolerance on curved lines. If you do not wish these parameters to be applied to the lines that you create you can check this checkbox and it will set the override distance of 50000’ to all lines that you create. This is really helpful when you are connecting cross sections that have been flipped with linear features that constrain the surface models that you will create. It can also be used when you add breaklines to a surface model to modify the triangulation of the surface.

If you wish to override the value displayed, you can enter your own value - the default value is 50000. i.e. if you wish to subdivide the line being created in the surface model that includes the line you can enter a value e.g. 10 or 5 here and it will use that value when the line is added to a surface model. Each line that you create can have its own override. If an override is not applied, then the surface model will use the project setting defined in Computations - Surface - Breakline Approximation Parameters.

Extend vertical checkbox:
In TBC when you create linestrings that have 3D on some nodes and 2D on other nodes, it is quite common to have no elevation on the end nodes of the lines. When that happens TBC has a property on all linestring objects called Extend Vertical which when applied will extend the elevations of the line that you do know out to the ends of the line based on the slope between the last two elevations that have been provided. This can create erroneous elevations and in many cases you may want to disable this feature on the lines being created by this command. uncheck the checkbox if you do not want the unknown elevations of the line ends to be created using the extend vertical function.

Enter the name for the line being created. If you are going to be creating many lines of the same name, click the Auto advance sticky button on the name field, so that each time you start a new line, the name is automatically accepted and you can just keep digitizing. The sticky button is enabled when the blue icon has an orange background.

The coordinate field is the usual coordinate entry field for the points / nodes of the line. You can click a location, enter a coordinate, enter delta coordinates using e.g. @10,@10 to be 10’ North and 10’ East of the last point clicked or use the snap modes to select other data already created or the right click snap modes to enter / select data using the COGO Snaps. The data in the field is automatically selected each time the command returns to this field.

Auto Pan checkbox:
When you are tracing lines and you get close to the edge of the screen graphics area, you have to pan the screen in order to continue drawing the lines. If you enable Auto Pan checkbox, the screen will pan automatically when you get close to the screen edges. It will pan in the direction of the last segment that you created.

Depending on which mode you set in the Elevation settings, you will either be prompted for an elevation value or not. i.e. if set to 2D you will not be asked for an elevation, if set to 3D - Single elevation then you will be prompted for an elevation on the first point only, and if in any of the other 3D modes you will be asked for an elevation or to accept / modify an elevation based on the method being used and the location selected - if you click a 3D location (a point or on a line or line node etc.) then the elevation will either be automatically accepted (Auto 3D mode) or you will be shown the value and allowed to modify or accept it (3D Mode). In the 3D mode you can also click the auto advance sticky button on the elevation data entry field if you want to auto accept elevations, however you are better working in Auto 3D mode if that is what you need.

Rock Grips button:
Traditionally in TBC, the Grip functionality is disabled whenever there is a command dialog open. We have found a cool way to activate it from within a command, so that you can click the Rock Grips button to activate the grips on the line currently being created to adjust the line to fit the path that you want it to take or that you are trying to digitize.


Switch Ends button:
The switch ends button allows you to toggle between the ends of the line that you want to draw from, you can do this at any time and as often as you want to while creating a line - sometimes it is convenient to start in one place and work in one direction and then switch ends to complete the other end of the line rather than having to always find the start of the line to digitize from.


Build Takeoff Surfaces button:
The build takeoff surfaces button will trigger the build / rebuild of the Takeoff Surfaces (Original ground, Finished design etc.) which will only build on user command.

Use Case Tips

Curve sections of lines
When digitizing curvilnear lines you can add tangent tangent arcs by using the CTRL key when you click the coordinate location of the end of the arc. So a sequence of clicks for a Tangent - Arc - Tangent would be as follows

Click - Start of Tangent Section
Click - End of Tangent Section / Start of Arc Section
CTRL Click - End of Arc Section / Start of Tangent
Click - End of Tangent Section / Start of Arc Section
CTRL Click - End of Arc Section / Start of Tangent Section
Click - End of Tangent Section

If you have a non tangent arc i.e. end in a right angle corner of a parking lot, then create a short tangent section at the end of the arc to create the arc.

If you have back to back curves that reverse direction or that continue in the same direction, separate them with a short tangent section between the arc elements to create the geometry you need. It may not be 100% perfect but for Takeoff it will likely be good enough.

Note: Only hold the CTRL key down when clicking the coordinate field not the elevation field for the location. If you make a mistake before registering a node, you can click back in the coordinate field and reselect with the correct CTRL or CTRL+SHIFT key selections. If you create a node of the wrong type, provided that you have not closed off the line and started a new one, you can Undo and Redo as necessary and then continue editing.

Note that the curve will only be drawn once you have completed both the Inbound and Outbound Tangent into which the curve can be transcribed, until that point the curve will show as a chord across the arc.

For cul-de-sac bulbs you can just digitize the start and end of the curves of the same radius even if they are greater than 180 degrees of arc which is very common fir these types of line.

If after creating curves you find that they are not fitting exactly to the plans, then use the Rock Grips function above to switch on the grips and adjust the grip locations for the arc to get them as you need them to get the arc that you require.

Note that “eyeballing” a tangent point location is sometimes not so easy, however when digitizing over PDF files, you will often find that at the end of arcs / start of straight sections there will be a little glitch in the PDF image indicating where the tangent point is - either on the line that you are editing or on an adjacent parallel line that you can use to find the location more accurately - see image below

VPI only points
When digitizing around curves or along straight sections of lines, you may need to add VPI only points to locations along the line that do not control the geometry / position of the line. This can be helpful to keep your “long straight lines” straight (rather than multi-node) and your curves smooth. To add a VPI only point use the CTRL + SHIFT key when you click the coordinate locations (not on the elevation selection or entry). You can enter as many VPI only points along a line as needed. Note that a curve will only be created when you have two full tangent sections defined, so the start and end of straight sections need to be either a CTRL Click (End of Arc start of Tangent) or a Click (End of Tangent / Start of Arc), they cannot be a CTRL+SHIFT click which only creates a VPI. On creation of a VPI you will see a VPI marker that indicates that you have created a VPI point, however the line will not be created until you do a Click or a CTRL Click to complete the section of the line.

Note that while the computation of the VPI point does not affect the horizontal geometry, with the changes made in November 2022, all VPI points will be generated as 3D nodes.

Command Tips

The command tips can be expanded and minimized using the small orange arrow in the top left corner of the command tips dialog area. The command tips provide useful tips and information about available command hotkeys.

Command Hotkeys

  • N - Starts a new line
  • V - Toggles Vector PDF snapping
  • G - Activate/Deactivate RockGrips
  • Q & E - Rotate screen by 15 degrees
  • Shift+Q & Shift+E - Rotate screen by 30 degrees
  • WASD - Pan screen Up, Left, Down, Right

Header Bar Commands

In the header bar of the command you will find that we have added a number of commonly used commands for fast and easy access while working. We have also connected those into the Takeoff Lines command functionality, so that the current line being created is automatically loaded into the called command (from the header row) and ready for editing. On completion of the edit process, when you return to Takeoff Lines, the line will be in a state that allows you to continue editing. Here are some use case examples.

You want to join the line that you are creating to another line. Click the SmartJoin command, the current line is selected and you can now select the line that you want to join it to.

You want to break the line that you are creating. Click the Break line command, the current line is selected and you can simply click the break locations required.

You entered an incorrect elevation for a VPI or a 3D node of the line being created. Click the Edit button to open the linestring editor, select vertical mode, select the VPI and change its elevation, switch back to the Takeoff Lines command.

You are about to complete a line and you want a line at an offset to the line with or without a slope or elevation delta. Click the offset line command and enter the offsets required and OK to create the offset line and then switch back to Takeoff Lines command.

You want to create a variable offset line along the line that you have just created. Click the Variable Offset line command, create the variable offset line to the current line and then return to Takeoff Lines.

You want to change the elevation of the line that you just created - either by extracting elevations from a surface model, or setting it to a specific elevation etc. Click the change elevation command, select the option required and change the elevation, then return to Takeoff Lines.

You want to add a series of lines that already exist to the line that you just created in Takeoff Lines. Select the Append Tracked command and then select the lines or sections of lines that you wish to add, and then return to Takeoff Lines.

Note that in all cases, when you return to Takeoff Lines, the line will till be the current line to be edited, but will now incorporate all of the edits that you have made.

Note you can also use the Arrow key in the header bar to jump quickly between concurrent commands that are open. So if you are hopping back and forth between commands leave them open and use the pull down to switch commands.

Starts a New line. You can use shortcut key “N” to start a new line also.

When you tap apply or press the Enter key, the value entered in the coordinate or elevation field will be created / applied.

Closes the command without further execution.

Use Case Videos

The following videos show the use of the Takeoff Lines command in a work process context

Feedback and Enhancement Requests

If you would like to provide feedback on the use of the Takeoff Lines command or to request enhancements or improvements to the command please click “Reply” below and enter your comments or feedback.