What type of files do you start with? Raster PDF, Vector PDF, CAD File?

We would like to ask the group what type of files you get from the engineers?

Raster PDF
Vector PDF
CAD File
Any others?

Also, do you experience any issues when receiving this data? IE: incomplete data, multiple sheets you are trying to stitch together, etc.

We would appreciate your feedback.



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We generally get vector pdfs but will receive rasters occasionally. We also insist on being provided the CAD as the engineers rarely draw their plans or provided adequate information to accurately reproduce the intent without it. However, we won’t act on the CAD solely without the contract pdfs as a rule. Usually, we need to sign a release agreeing that the CAD is provided as a convenience to be used at our own risk, not a contract document, and the engineers won’t stand behind the info in the CAD file.


We typically get CAD files and PDF. We always verify the CAD by overlaying the PDFs in TBC. To that end, some of our guys take the time to use image boundaries via rectangles made on the matchlines of the PDFs to crop the PDFs, some don’t; a workflow to stitch these sheets together would be really nice for a process we do on all projects.


We get the usual PDF plans which are normally vector sheets. If, and when we get award a project we request from the engineer firm for the project CAD (DWG/DXF/DGN) file that was used to create the project. which is 99% just 2D lines and no surfaces. For estimating we have the PDF or at times will get DGN files.

The stitching will always be done manually as it needs to be scaled and rotated. Until someone comes up with a export PDF that has some kinds of station recognition. We will have to place the sheets manually.


Like others here, we get a mix of raster/vector pdfs. Often, the approved set will be a scan of a physical paper set that was reviewed by the local city etc (most municipalities don’t seem to have paperless capabilities) and bears the appropriate signatures. If possible, we’ll request a vector copy from the engineer/project general but availability varies depending on who we are working with. We’ve made it a standard to obtain DWG or DGN files for every project if at all possible, for the highest precision possible and to eliminate manual tracing. As Richard mentions above, CAD doesn’t carry any authority or protect against liability, so we trust it only as far as it agrees with the paper plans (which may be raster or vector). Personally, I georeference lots of plan sheets because it’s the most thorough way to spot any discrepancies. If we see significant differences, we investigate whether our paper plans may be out of date and request new copies.

Having tons of plan pages georeferenced makes a project unwieldy, with heavier files and larger memory requirements; and TBC doesn’t offer much to organize. I use naming schemes and selection sets to manage larger collections, at least I can use a selection to toggle visibility of a particular set of sheets.

Randomly and for only some sheets, TBC will suddenly take a performance hit for no apparent reason. Displaying a georeferenced sheet always adds a bit of lag to panning etc, but some sheets will suddenly go from this normal lag to obscene levels of lag - less than 1 FPS sometimes, and tools will just freeze for seconds at a time. Turning display off for that sheet will eliminate the lag, but the only thing I’ve found that restores it to normal lag is to delete that sheet, remove the associated files and re-import and georeference again. I don’t know if there’s a tile cache or something that needs purged but that’s the only thing that seems to fix this and it’s time consuming, but necessary since displaying the sheet renders TBC unusable and therefore defeats the entire purpose of having georeferenced it.

One feature that would be super nice is if we could paste screen clips from PDF’s using RPS Paste and have these behave like georeferenced sheets - be able to turn selectable=off, change display options, possibly snap to vector data (Bluebeam is capable of capturing vector screenshots from vector-based documents, very handy for high quality). I currently paste clips where 1 PDF page has several detail views on it - I just screenshot a single view and RPS-Paste it into TBC. I like that it associates with a layer, that helps with organization - but I don’t like that they can’t be made unselectable.

The CAD data we work with is probably 90% DWG from Civil 3D and 10% DGN from Microstation. I have a copy of Civil 3D on my computer and will open the DWG’s in Civil 3D first and export any advanced objects as CAD primitives so they will recognize in TBC (otherwise some things import as placeholder boxes with a CAD text associated). If the DWG has alignments, points or surfaces I export from Civil 3D as LandXML so I can get the native TBC versions of those objects into my project. LandXML will even preserve Civil3D’s point groups as named selection sets in TBC.


Yes. We get all these types and sometimes we have to stitch them too. And there are many more challenges as many a times these files issue from or generated by non professionals or ill informed professionals.

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One tiny thing that one project manager I worked with that would use TBC did to have a smaller project file size. He would turn off the “History Log”. This would keep TBC from storing every move you make increasing the project file size. For me I rather have that feature turned on and saved me big time on one project.


Francisco, does that simply affect file size on disk? or does it speed the program up significantly? I don’t really care much about file size on disk but I’d be interested in any live performance boosts. Like you, I prefer to have the functionality the history log provides and it’s been useful many times for me.

I have a laptop with discrete graphics (Quadro P520) but TBC still struggles with georeferenced sheets and a few other things. Oh, and the stupid bug where the snaps indicator disappears (and sometimes snaps stop working altogether) seems to be connected to georeferenced PDF’s somehow and seems to be here with us to stay - been here for the last few updates now. So multiple times per day I have to close TBC and wait ~3-5 minutes for it to restart.

I do believe the PM said turning off the history log sped up TBC as the file size went from 100,xxx to about 1/2 the size by just turning off the History Log.

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From NYSDOT when the job is released for bidding we get dgn files of all their existing and proposed linework, LandXML and .dtm files of the existing and proposed finish grade surfaces, and vector pdf files of the plans. When the job is awarded we may get a few extra dgn files of survey baselines or roadway alignment .alg files.

From engineers on private contracts we get anything from 3D linework cad files to literal hand drawings on the back of bar napkins.

I generally receive cad files and occasional xml’s from the engineers on residential and commercial development. These jobs being privately owned allow for more leniency in the bid process. When bidding public projects I almost always have to work with Vector PDF’s.

We typically get vector pdfs and either converted or unconverted Civil 3D files. We can convert C3D files with reasonable success using DWG TrueView, but that typically doesn’t bring over the Civil 3D surface triangles. It would be ideal to be able to bring an unconverted Civil 3D file directly into TBC and still be able to manipulate the Civil 3D data (surfaces, corridors, gradings, pipe networks), not just the CAD objects it creates.