A quick tip and reminder on Data References in Civil 3D

The most common question I get regarding Drefs is “What do I have to do to see the Shortcuts?”.  This is almost always related to the ‘Working Folder’.


The Working Folder is really simple, but Autodesk has not dummy proofed the naming convention or the menu structure for Drefs.  Because of our large quantity of projects, finding our Shortcuts often slows me down too.  Not to worry.

Simple Explanation

In the simplest terms, the Working Folder is the folder where all you projects are stored. Since ours is divided by Year, our working folder is not the Engineering projects folder (‘Eng-Proj’), but each sub-folder organized by year.  Under each of these are the individual project folders.


Once you pick the correct collection folder, the Shortcuts appear automatically.

My Recommendation

There is nothing wrong with the Working Folder concept or operation per se. However Autodesk should consider moving the Set Working Folder to the top of the menu.  I think the attempt was to put the most common uses at the top, but this is not working well.  It is such a small menu, there is little benefit.  It scares off many new users and the power of Civil 3D goes unappreciated.

Look at Land Desktop.  The menus were organized in order of typical workflow, start to finish.  I think re-organizing this list and getting some tooltips in this area of the Prospector would increase the adoption of this powerful feature.