What’s New in Civil 3D, ReCap, and InfraWorks 2022

In the past few versions of Civil 3D, there hasn’t really been any changes that I think could really change the game and give your productivity a big boost.  Yes, there were a lot of little things, and some nice additional, but nothing that made you go WOW!!!  Until now, there are a couple things in the upcoming release of Civil 3D 2022 that I think could be real game changers and I’m happy to share them with you.  Anymore though, we can’t just look at what’s new in our hero product, but all other complimentary products as well, so I will briefly mention a few of those.

Civil 3D - Project Explorer

This came out as an add-on for Civil 3D sometime last year in one of the products final updates.  It installs for Civil 3D 2020, 2021 and now 2022.  Once installed, it can be found on the Add-ins tab of the ribbon.

Project Explorer provides users with an easy-to-use Civil 3D design model review tool and user-configurable report generator. Civil 3D users now have a more efficient way to access, interact, and share the staggering array of design information that is in a Civil 3D model.

  • Simplifies project data navigation, review, and editing of your Civil 3D models.
  • Custom reporting and tables
  • Discover and evaluate design criteria to help meet design standards

Typically, to manage project and drawing objects, users would use the Toolspace>Prospector tab in Civil 3D.

Now, you can view and edit Civil 3D designs in a tabbed series of object lists, profile and section views, parameter lists, and many other design review tools.

All information displayed in the Project Explorer window is live geometric project data from the Civil 3D model. Therefore, if something is modified or added to the Civil 3D model, the content in Project Explorer will update automatically.

If you use dual monitors, I’d consider keeping Project Explorer open on your second monitor while you work in Civil 3D.

Being able to see all alignments, profiles, and sections in one area, and to be able to switch between features is key to streamlining workflows.  And being able to make edits, perform changes to geometry or styles without jumping all over the place in your model settings is extremely helpful.

The options within Project Explorer for pipe networks are never ending!  You can easily switch between pipe runs, edit multiple lines, SWAP MULTIPLE parts, and make global changes that you’ve always wanted to make, but never had the option to.

And new in Civil 3D 2022 Project Explorer, you can now view and edit PRESSURE NETWORKS, where in past version you were only able to edit gravity networks.

Validate Your Design Using Project Explorer

Dynamic violation reporting is an important feature within the Project Explorer window. Violation reporting quickly draws your attention to:

  • Areas of your design which may not fully meet your design goals.
  • Objects within your civil model which are considered to be in an abnormal state.

Because Project Explorer always displays live information from the civil model, you can monitor how each violation is impacted by every design decision you make.

Report and Share Data Using Project Explorer

Within your Civil 3D files there is an abundance of information. As you know, there are many reporting methods for creating tables and exporting reports.

Project Explorer has its own built in, customizable and exportable, reports and tables.  These can be built from individual objects as well as a group of “Object Sets”.

Also within Project Explorer are the options to export out to 2D AutoCAD drawings.  This export ONLY the Civil 3D Entities, and no other linework.

Object Sets

The Object Sets tab in the main Project Explorer window allows one or more sets of objects to be persistently defined in your AutoCAD drawing. Object Sets are particularly useful for automating the generation of one or more reports from your drawing.

Actions may be associated with each Object Set, and these actions can be triggered with just a single mouse click. For example, a report generating action could be used to create a report file using a pre-configured Layout Style, Report Style, Output File Name, and Path.


There are two key methods for generating reports and spreadsheets from Project Explorer. The quickest and simplest method is to use the Quick Report to File option. Alternatively, if more control is required over the content or scope of the report, or if it is likely to require updating repeatedly, an Object Set can be used to control the generation of your report.

Civil 3D 2022 - Grading Optimization

Although I feel like this tool needs some help and will only get better, the Grading Optimization for Civil 3D is something people have been screaming for since Civil 3D came out!

Grading Optimization for Civil 3D is a tool that intends to help us design complex grading plans. It does it in an interactive way, where we model different grading requirements with the help of grading elements. Grading elements can be used to create drain patterns, set slope, offset, and elevation constraints. You can see as it translates these grading elements into mathematical constraints and objectives. Grading Optimization finds the best possible solution for the given model. We can use Grading Optimization to visually analyze the result, adjust or completely change the grading elements, and rerun the optimization again until a suitable solution is found.

Grading Optimization is accessed on the Analyze Tab of the Ribbon and from the new Grading Optimization panel where you see the following options:

There is a new tool palette that provides you the options to create all your site characteristics, prior to running the Optimize tool.

You can quickly create zones for building pads, sidewalks, ADA access points and specific drainage features within your site.  Once you have placed these features to show your design intent, you can then choose OPTIMIZE.

In the grading optimization dialog, you have full access to all parameters and the optimization tool will go through iteration, after iteration, after iteration keeping in mind your site constraints and expected earthwork volumes.

This tool is a game changer when it comes to site design of parking lots, building pads, etc., but also key when trying to find the best and most cost-effective grading design of a subdivision.  These results are then directly brought into Civil 3D!

As this is one of the best new tools in Civil 3D in a long time, I’m sure you’ll be seeing plenty more information to come.  I can’t wait to give it a shot on a live project, preferably a subdivision in the near future.

Civil 3D 2022 Connected Alignments

The use of connected alignments in 2022 has been expanded to include more options for complex intersections and/or interchanges.  You can specify the exact input parameters for the curves and now even create loop ramps using these same connected alignment options.

On a simpler level, these work great for a simple subdivision intersection curb return.  With all dynamically connected alignments and profiles, you can make intersection design workflows simpler than ever.

AutoCAD Platform Items

Here are few new things to look forward to in all AutoCAD platform products:

    • Trace is an exciting new multiplatform feature to streamline the review process and enhance collaboration.
    • You and your collaborators can safely markup DWG files without altering the existing drawing. Your collaborators can create a trace in the AutoCAD web and mobile apps and markup their design changes. Then you can open the trace in AutoCAD, view the feedback in context, and incorporate the changes.
    • Count automates the counting of blocks or geometry. It cuts down on manual counting helping to avoid miscounting parts and the ordering of incorrect quantities. You can export your data to a dynamic table and get updates quickly.

These are just a couple of the AutoCAD platform changes.  Check out the full article on What’s New in AutoCAD 2022!

ReCap Pro 2022 – Scan to Mesh

One of the exciting new things in ReCap Pro 2022 is the ability to quickly create a mesh object.  I believe this was in beta/trial mode for a while a couple years ago, but has not come back into the program until 2022.

Scan to Mesh is a cloud feature in ReCap Pro 2022 that converts a selected portion of the point cloud into a textured 3D mesh. The user selected portion of the point cloud is uploaded to the cloud service for processing, resulting in a much smaller file in size and a better representation of what was scanned. The textured 3D mesh is copied to the user’s Autodesk connected drive account (Drive, BIM 360, or Autodesk Docs).

InfraWorks 2022

Enhanced Model Builder Interface

  • New interface for InfraWorks Model Builder.It has the same functionality but is a bit more streamlined and/or modern and easy to use.You can now set your coordinate system upon creation of your model.Simple, but still a time saving exercise.And as the model is prepped, it gives you a summary of your model creation.

Active Linear Road Decorations

  • With roads that are imported from Civil 3D, you can now add road decorations to it.You were unable to do this before and had to create a component road to do so.
  • You can also select a road corridor, right-click and choose Place Decorations and you can add decorations onto any of the model corridors.Also, once placed, you have a lot more control over the creation and editing your model on the fly, without constant regeneration of the model.


I may not have covered all the features and there may not seem like a ton of new features, but the new features and enhanced features will help in your everyday workflows.

I also did a session at AU 2020 on Project Explorer, here is the link if you wish to explore a bit more.

I would love to hear from you regarding the new features and features you would like to see added or enhanced, so feel free to call or email me anytime.

Shawn has been a part of the design engineering community for roughly 15 years in all aspects of design, construction, and software implementations.  He has implemented and trained companies across the Country on Civil 3D and other infrastructure tools and their best practice workflows. Shawn can be reached for comments or questions at

Appears in these Categories